Written by Caitlyn Montoya. Posted in Conversations.
This is the most crucial type of listening we can have as parents. In this type of listening, we are digging to the depth of what is being communicated. Our objective is to look for the identity issues that are involved. This skill is a life skill and is required for most conflict management techniques. Our Question Asking skills will be put to the test as we look for the "edge" of things. We are uprooting the issues that are intertwined with identity.
This type requires an example for full comprehension. John has a problem with Jake, a boy in his team project at school. This will be a common problem that will come up with all our children. You might start by asking John how Jake's actions are affecting him. John will tell you about how if the project isn't done well or on time, his grade will be affected. Your next question will be to identify what happens if John does get a bad grade. John would then say that he couldn't be a good student if he got a bad grade. At this point, you have reached the "edge" of the issue where John's identity issues are. John can not picture a world where he can be both a good student and have a lousy grade. Your job now is to help John unlock these two things. Help him to see a world where John is both a good student and he has a bad grade.
For those of you who are like me, you may be thinking, "but I want my kid to get good grades." Unlocking John's identity will allow him to think of more effective ways to approach Jake about the conflict that is between them. When John's identity is tied to this, he will naturally devalue Jake elevating the project, a material thing, over Jake as a person. When we can unlock material issues from our identity, we stop seeing people as obstacles that must be overcome. Seeing people as obstacles blocks our ability for empathy, compassion, and love.
Here's another common issue that might come up. Jane has told her mom that Joana is being mean to her at school. Mom has identified the mean behavior as Joana rolling her eyes when Jane speaks, and other overall symptoms that Joana doesn't like Jane. Mom has discovered that Jane has tried to be kind and loving. Mom has taught Jane to live and love like Jesus and Jane has done what she's been taught. This kindness has always resulted in other kids liking Jane. Jane's identity as a kind Christian is locked with being nice. Jane cannot picture a world where she can be both kind and unliked.
Once Jane can picture a world where she can be both kind and unliked, you can then help her set healthy boundaries and give her a deeper understanding of what it means to love as Jesus did.
I hope these examples help you to understand what it means to listen to unlock. We are looking for the end of the problem where two things are locked together and helping our kids untangle these things.