Sweet SilenceThursday, February 18, 2010
The Self-Aware Parent
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 blog community…..
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 sometimes without.
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 email@example.com
Thoughts about silence? Feel free to post a comment.