Have you ever been that person on the plane?
You know, the one uncomfortably squished next to someone you didn’t know. Have you ever walked into an elevator followed by one other person and then had the door shut. And suddenly it was just you and a stranger. Awkward silence? Yes – these are potentially awkward silence situations.
Being in the kitchen with a child who just doesn’t want to answer your questions or schmooze with you, no, that’s not necessarily an awkward silence. That’s possibly a silent bonding moment!
Togetherness doesn’t always need words. Look at this past week’s parsha, Vayayrah. Gd just appeared to Abraham. No words. Just company.
Isn’t it funny, sometimes you see a couple sitting together, and not talking. It could be in a restaurant or even in their own living room or kitchen. Sure, there are times they are totally at peace with the silence, just glad to be together. But, I’m talking about those other times you kind of figure they should be making a little more effort to interact, but they don’t. Then you see that same couple with their kid. They are almost interrogating them for information. I mean the kid just doesn’t seem to want to talk, but the parent seems to feel it’s necessary to keep at it in order to nurture the connection.
Might it be it be kind of good to switch it up?
You know- maybe the parents could put the energy into connecting with each other, and just be ok with the kid just sitting quietly.
Sure, I know we’d all like our kids to look up from their phone, x box, computer, or whatever has got their attention, and notice we are accepting their silence! And absolutely, sometimes you need to discuss and set boundaries on the use of these objects. But there is that stage where a kid just doesn’t want to talk. And letting them know- “I’m ok with you not talking” is the connection that you can make.
Silence is situation specific. There’s one saying that says “silence is golden”. There’s another, that states “shteeka kihoda’ah=silence implies approval”.
Parents panic, that if their child is not relating verbally, that they are not relating. They are approving of the non-communication. But there could be a different way to look at things.
Let’s take a situation and look at it.
Example – A guy comes home after a day at work. A wife happened to be the first home. So she’s been home with the kids already an hour or two. She’s kind of had her own exhausting day. He walks through the door and she has already had it. She launches a barrage of complaints. He turns and walks away. She shouts after him, oh sure you just don’t want to communicate. Question- has he communicated?
I think loud and clear. He has clearly communicated that I don’t want to interact in this way! He has communicated with silence.
Way before technology shut kids up, there were those times, and especially as they hit teen years, that kids just didn’t want to talk. They could be communicating; “I need some independence”, or, “I need to be allowed my private thoughts”. They could be testing, “can you accept me even if I am not exactly, how or, who you want me to be”.
So you could kind of surprise them, and let them be. And then when you catch their attention, just say something as simple as, “it’s nice having you around!”
Accepting that silence, embracing their company, their presence, might be a first step to letting them know, “I accept you, like just being with you”.
And in the meantime, all that great conversation you have bottled up in you can be utilized to find out -how your mates day was, who he or she hung out with, what interesting facts they learned, what they want for dinner……Who knows, once you model all that communication with words maybe your kid might even have something to add in!!
Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-705-2004 or email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org