Over 100,000 teenagers were asked what they wanted more than anything in the world and overwhelmingly their number one answer was “My parents to listen to me.”
I don’t believe, however, that it’s just teenagers who need this. I think we ALL want to know that our feelings are important, and that when we speak, we get heard. We want to know that we matter and what we think is worthy of being listened to. All of us.
This past Saturday morning, my amazing 87 year old mother-in-law, made a pronouncement. Although she does not go out very often, she announced that she wanted to go down to the Sarasota Bayfront and join the thousands of people who would be walking in support of her candidate for president. My first thought was…oh wait. Is this a good idea? I went on to compile a list in my head of why it might not be smart to do this. It’s going to be 90 degrees out there. People will be walking a two mile trek across a bridge in the blasting sun at midday. She doesn’t walk well on uneven ground. She doesn’t hear well and she has arthritis so bad that holding up a sign for even one hour could be difficult for her.
And then I remembered. We ALL just want to be heard. We want to be able to say, “This is what I think,” and know that someone is listening. And I realized – she absolutely HAD to go. It was really, really important for her to go.
So we got her a chair, a bottle of water, a little bag of grapes, and a sign she could hold up. We nestled her under a shade tree at the beginning of the walk, and off we went. And as we were coming back I noticed that every time someone went by in their car and honked their horn, my phenomenal little mother-in-law proudly raised her sign high in the air. Smiling. Knowing that she got to declare how she felt – at least about this one thing. And people appeared to be listening.
Please, God, remind me often to give people the floor, let them speak – and really listen.