Silence is essential for inner growth. It creates
space in the mind to take in new lessons and experiences.
Children especially benefit from silence because their growing
brain is constantly taking in new information. They need
quiet time to decompress, process, imagine and daydream.
Adults tend to have a different relationship with
silence. Somewhere along the way it becomes something to
avoid, something deeply uncomfortable. One of our greatest
tools for clear and healthy living gets lost in our need to be
constantly productive and socially acceptable.
Deb Casey, fellow
freelance writer and mother of four, was faced
with the discomfort of silence during her daughter's
playdate. Her awareness encouraged her to allow for it rather
than change it, and the experience prompted her to write the
following essay. She was kind enough to share it with this
You know the feeling: you're talking with someone new, holding
your glass of Pinot at a cocktail party or maybe standing next to
the curvy slide watching your kids play, and there's a pause. A
moment of no conversation. The awkward silence.
As adults we've been taught that silence in conversation means
the conversation is not going well, that we have nothing to say,
that we aren't getting along. But what does it mean for children?
Do we put the weight of the awkward silence on their conversations
with their friends as well?
Recently my 7-year-old daughter had a play date with a friend
that she's known for years but doesn't see as often as she'd like.
The two girls played pretend and some other games for a while and
then sat at the kitchen table to paint ceramic butterflies and
flower fridge magnets. They talked for a little while.
And then it happened: the silence. I set down the laundry I was
folding and started walking into the kitchen, thinking of questions
my daughter could ask her friend or that maybe she could tell her
friend about her recent trip to a Blackhawks game.
But when I stepped into the kitchen, just as I was about to open
my mouth to help start up the conversation, I saw them. Quietly
painting. Two little girls, happily painting next to each other.
Smiling. Enjoying being together without talking.
I quietly slipped out of the room without saying a word. And
there you have it. I got the pleasure of learning from my daughter
yet again. Friendship is not about constant conversation, constant
questions and stories. Friendship is not only about the constant
sharing of words. Friendship is sharing your space, your
time. It's about being together, sometimes with words and
If I had any lingering worries that they needed my help in
directing their fun, it was quickly set aside during their game of
Apples to Apples when they ended up under the table because they
were laughing so hard at the silly suggestions each of them made
during their game.
So next time you're chatting with a mom or dad next to the slide
watching your kids play and have a moment of what feels like
awkward silence, take a lesson from my daughter and her dear
friend: silence occurs for a reason. Enjoy the moment.
And next time your children are playing with friends and there
is silence, let it be. See what happens. I bet they'll be rolling
under the table laughing in no time.
Deb Casey lives in Elmhurst, IL with her husband
Chris and their four children. Contact Deb directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts about silence? Feel free to post a
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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