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Parent's Don't Understand

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Parents Just Don’t Understand Foundations of Interpersonal Communication March 11, 2013

Parent’s Just Don’t Understand As a parent, there are many things that I will have a hard time coping with and could be upsetting or difficult to understand concerning my children and the activities they choose to participate in. Listening to them justify these things can be sometimes be difficult to do and makes me feel as though I just don’t understand. One area in my life where I find that I have trouble listening occurs when my son wants to talk to me about his video games. He is the product of a divorce and his father is also very much into video games so that is an activity he they spend a significant amount of time and attention on. It is a passion they have shared together for almost eight years now. He has become very good at them and beats them almost immediately after purchasing a new one. He gets very excited when a new one comes out, and he cannot wait to tell me the intricacies and how he defeated them. It is a problem for me because I do not believe he should be spending so much time playing them and feel like that he is too “into” them and not out participating in physical activities. I sold the gaming system that he had at my house almost a year ago so he does not play video games when he is at my here. It is a decision received very poorly at my house but oh well. Parents are not always popular in their households. I find that I display attributes of a self-absorbed listener who also has trouble with differing speech rate and thought when he comes home from his father’s house and wants to discuss the latest and greatest video game. As a self-absorbed listener, I feel myself becoming agitated and annoyed when the subject is approached and I interrupt or cut him off frequently. If the subject is brought up while in the car, I may go as far as turning up the volume on the radio or might tell him that I need to concentrate on driving. If at home, I may tell him I am trying to watch a particular show or need to make a phone call. I could even say I need to start making dinner or put a load of laundry in and get up to do so - anything to get out of having to hear about the game. When I see the disappointment that naturally ensues on his face, I naturally feel bad and ask him to continue telling me about the game. This is where the differing speech rate and thought comes in. He goes on and on about his game, as I nod politely and every once in a while throw in a “cool!” so he thinks I am really into what he is saying. In reality, I am thinking about checking my e-mail, or what might be coming on TV tonight, or what I should prepare for dinner, or any number of other things that may be on my mind. According to the text, these barriers contribute to my inability to listen effectively because a self-absorbed listener actively involves themself in doing several things other than listening and may interrupt or focus on what they will say next. Oftentimes, the self-absorbed listener cannot select and attend to the other person’s message (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011). The authors go on to say that differing speech rate and thought can give the listener time to daydream or tune out the speaker while possibly giving them the idea that you are more attentive (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011). To overcome the self-absorbed barrier to listening, the authors suggest that one should first diagnose it. I should be conscious when I find myself drifting off and need to adjust my concentration level when I find that I may have internal messages distracting me from listening well (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011). To turn listening speed into an advantage, I should use the extra time to summarize what the speaker is saying to me. If I periodically sprinkle in mental summaries during a conversation, I should be able to increase dramatically my listening ability, thus making the speech-rate/thought-rate difference work to my advantage (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011). By applying these strategies for counteracting listening barriers when my son wants to share his gaming knowledge with me, perhaps I will be able to acknowledge that he is trying to share something important to him, even though I may not agree with it or accept it. I would hope that implementing these strategies will help me to understand his interest in this field better and perhaps he and I will be able to bond in an area important to him. If anything, I want to apply these skills so that I may shift the focus away from the gaming aspect and encourage him in learning more about becoming a video game developer. Perhaps we will both find peace in a world full of games and this parent just might understand.

References Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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