Bedtime stories

Everyone has a story, but not everyone feels safe telling it. If you want to give people dignity, listen to them.

I am the father of two girls. One is eight, the other six. They have taught me many things.

While I might not know enough about fatherhood to write a book, I know a listening father is a good father.

I have come to see that one of the arts of fatherhood is getting my children to talk about themselves.

My two bundles of joy have taught me that listening is the ability to enter someone else's world, and then engage with that world from the inside.

So, I devised a way to enter my daughters' worlds with the sole objective of listening to their little hearts. We call it the Bedtime Story.

Master-plan

Each night, after the day has been long, I crawl into bed with them. The Bedtime Story has become an enshrined constitutional right in our family. I owe them at least 20 minutes, otherwise I am in breach of trust (and liable to be sued for make-up time and other punitive damages).

Little do they know that the Bedtime Story is actually my master-plan. It is really just the excuse to engage in conversation with them. A nightly story with Dad is just the thing to turn the lock of their little hearts.

Good stories have characters my daughters can relate to, characters that are easier to talk about than their own lives.

Good stories get children talking about themselves as they identify themselves in the characters. They process the story through the only lens they have — their own lives.

Through their eyes

Very soon they are musing and pontificating with all the language of children, yet all the emotions of adults. They freely volunteer their own fears, hopes, foibles, and secret intentions. It is just the raw material a father needs.

I ask probing questions. “Why do you think the hobbit said that to the dwarf?”

Answer: “The hobbit was feeling sad because the dwarf was mean to him.” (This is a reference to the reprobate on the school bus who teases my youngest).

“And what do you think a hobbit should do when a dwarf is being nasty to it on a long journey?”

“Don't know. But maybe the hobbit cried.”

“Ella, do you ever have people who are nasty to you...?”

And so we end up talking about the ogres and trolls in her little world. And finding solutions together.

A good story gives my daughters the vocabulary they need to talk about themselves.

The Bedtime Story is my moment to give them the feeling that I am paying attention to who they are as people and what they are facing.

It is my duty to carve out a daily slot in their geography (not mine) where I put tools into their hands to make themselves heard. The Bedtime Story is my turn to convert little voices into important voices.

Good at listening?

Now that my personal indulgence is over, allow me to make the real point of this piece about the world we live in.

Here's the question: How good are we as a society at listening to others? Do we hear but not listen? Do we get people — especially those who are different from us — to talk about themselves?

A world of listeners is a better world.

You could be a parent or schoolmaster. You could be a government. You could be in management of a corporation or a foreman on a yard. You could be a member of a majority race or culture group. You could employ a domestic helper or be in control of some hegemony, big or small.

Or you could be a child, a student, a citizen, an employee, a labourer, a minority or a migrant wage-earner.

Whatever pigeon-hole you occupy, there are people in other pigeon-holes who are crying out to be heard.

What is your child facing? What is your student's struggle? What are your citizens' needs? What are your employees' frustrations? What will benefit your staff? What injuries does a vulnerable minority group nurse? What will improve your helper's lot?

You might not be able to solve everything, but often when people feel understood it brings a healing touch.

Your Bedtime Story

The world is full of bleeding people whose wounds — though visible — are strangely inconspicuous and who live in other categories that you don't occupy. They want to be heard.

If you want to build people up, give them dignity. If you want to give people dignity, listen to them.

Categories will always exist. Yet by listening we are communicating — communicating that no category is less important.

What's the Bedtime Story in your universe?

What's the golden key that will get someone foreign to you talking about himself? What tool do you have to unlock someone else to get her talking?

Everyone has his story to tell, but not everyone feels safe doing so. Not everyone feels the words she uses will be heard, let alone properly understood.

I have a dream of a better world: it is a world filled with Bedtime Stories. A better world is filled with listeners.

May we all live in a real “happily ever after”.


Picture by Md.Huzzatul Mursalin, http://photography.crowdsourced.travel/people/

This story makes you feel

You May Like

Video

Friendship, family and fulfilment

What one family gained from a year volunteering together in Timor-Leste.

Text

What kind of world do we want?

One where everyone waits his turn or where there’s grace for those who jump the queue?

Video

The unlikely librarian

In an Indonesian village where afternoons are spent napping, one fisherman is losing sleep so kids can read.

Text

After death comes life

The art of life is accepting change and making the most of what is to follow.

Inspire Me

Join the Conversation

When do the action, you need to keep your body be forward slightly and put your gravity on the back wheel of the supporting foot. <a href=http://www.hammamoceane.fr/images/short-polo-ralph-lauren-id=63.html>short polo ralph lauren</a> later that night, they did not sleep, their brain constantly replays together happy days. <a href=http://www.giftpark.kr/gongju/surv%c3%aatement-ralph-lauren-id=71.html>survêtement ralph lauren</a> I want to buy you clothes, buy a diamond ring, buy the most advanced facial oil. Cowboy Accessories small is beautiful Seemingly small cowboy accessories is boundless might fashion weapons. <a href=http://www.la-griffe-mesure.fr/base/ralph-lauren-sportswear-id=50.html>ralph lauren sportswear</a> From fullfaced to halfhidden by a caricature that depicts the team's personal favorite activity, the halfportraithalfcaricature approach is representative of the inherent diversity within the globallydrawn agency. <a href=http://www.indiometallo.it/fr/lot-polo-ralph-lauren-id=87.html>lot polo ralph lauren</a> The head driver, Gary, was very jovial and spent the whole day talking about the island. Four people escaped, but nine others died when they were blocked by iron bars bolted over windows. <a href=http://www.la-griffe-mesure.fr/base/revendeur-ralph-lauren-id=64.html>revendeur ralph lauren</a> explains Silber, who says she focuses on her philanthropy full time. <a href=http://www.hammamoceane.fr/images/ralph-lauren-rouen-id=38.html>ralph lauren rouen</a> Millbrook NewsMillbrook Jr. La prctica espiritual regular Ralph Lauren Barato es esencial para one's salud emocional y fsica total. <a href="http://www.indiometallo.it/fr/polo-noir-ralph-lauren-id=44.html">polo noir ralph lauren</a> Along with offering unusual or hardtofind merchandise, we do an extensive amount of customization embroidery, embossing, engraving, and printing. <a href="http://www.hero-line.com/wpimages/ralph-lauren-golf-femme-id=37.html">ralph lauren golf femme</a> You can hear audio and video recordings made by the FBI and presented by prosecutors in the Kott trial, with transcripts, that touch on Veco's relationship with the producers. Every day he gives banyan speak their boulevard, speak their tree of heaven, they fight, they happy memories. <a href=http://paradox-security.ru/polo.php>ralph lauren vetements</a> A friend called and asked me, and now still like last time? <a href=http://www.theprimemall.com/polo.php>ralph lauren vetements</a> Boys and girls, sits in the town bridge to see the scenery, the scenery is full of girls boys scenery. http://www.iltrullo.be/filess/doudoune-homme-ralph-lauren-pas-cher-id=53.html http://www.homesaletoronto.ca/flash/lauren-by-ralph-lauren-id=24.html http://www.imprimerie-fontaine.fr/images/ralph-lauren-doudoune-homme-id=74.html

If say goodbye so easily say, she knew his heart should never have him, he called the inappropriate just what a highfalutin excuse, he may be tired of, don, and perhaps never love. <a href=http://www.gadolinio.eu/fr/blouson-ralph-lauren-id=65.html>blouson ralph lauren</a> If a girl willing to use her most precious time to accompany the boy the darkest time, boys should cherish. <a href=http://www.gadolinio.eu/fr/chaussure-ralph-lauren-homme-id=75.html>chaussure ralph lauren homme</a> I clearly remember aunt said to me :happy, what your school, spend so much money. Siguiendo lo afirmado en el fallo en primera instancia, el TJUE declara que Budjovick Budvar no tena obligacin de aportar de oficio la prueba de la renovacin, estando slo obligada a esta presentacin si la OAMI se la hubiera pedido expresamente. <a href=http://www.lamaniglietta.it/images/pull-ralph-lauren-femme-pas-cher-id=79.html>pull ralph lauren femme pas cher</a> Thieves have used the card numbers to make fraudulent purchases around the world from Florida to Hong Kong. <a href=http://www.lamaniglietta.it/images/polo-ralph-lauren-big-pony-homme-id=26.html>polo ralph lauren big pony homme</a> I amobsessedwith these highlighters for a few reasons. When I'm home from school and need stuff, I live for Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx Marshalls (not much luck with those 2 lately), Saks Off Fifth, Ebay and Lord Taylor sales. <a href=http://www.indiometallo.it/fr/asos-ralph-lauren-id=91.html>asos ralph lauren</a> This will be a good news for the luxury brands, such as Esprit (very popular in China), Lancome, Louis Vuitton, etc. <a href=http://www.gadolinio.eu/fr/ralph-lauren-denim-and-supply-id=31.html>ralph lauren denim and supply</a> Lv Murakami collection capabilities a multicolor signs, typically consists of your black and white background, using hues is definitely the key characteristics connected with the operates, he adjusted that classical monogrammed pattern straight to thirtythree different types of colors, this were brightened via the white and black foundation, as well as this can be a large engagement exactly what he previously had completed in the actual imaginative field. Touching upon the final read on Michigan consumer sentiment. <a href="http://www.iphoneusato.it/fr/polo-ralph-lauren-discount-id=35.html">polo ralph lauren discount</a> Technology is changing in the fashion industry, says Stephanie Taylor, department chair of fashion retail management, fashion design and advertising at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. <a href="http://www.la-griffe-mesure.fr/base/botte-ralph-lauren-femme-id=65.html">botte ralph lauren femme</a> It is additionally considered as by using lots of people among the tackiest songs essentially shown, Putting friend Tim almond people individuals who else regards who's in surprisingly low worth to be one his her the minimum favourat this momente songs, They took the pitch and they provided a layup. mosses ;pool three or four, bottom of leaves oriole one or two sound. <a href=http://mainecooncat.ru/polo.php>Ralph Lauren Soldes</a> Especially after the mother's hero, in jujube pastry to draw some flowers, each like art, people could not bear to eat. <a href=http://www.ptbjkx.com/polo.php>polo ralph lauren pas cher</a> A building, a garden, a wall hedgerow, a vegetable, a protected, a fish pond, a tortoise, a dog, a man, a hoe, a woman, a plume of smoke, a child, a call, good envy others, tranquil, natural, happiness in the place, not, is everywhere. http://www.imprimerie-fontaine.fr/images/polo-pas-cher-ralph-lauren-id=97.html http://www.lamaniglietta.it/images/chemisier-ralph-lauren-femme-id=31.html http://www.imprimerie-fontaine.fr/images/ralph-lauren-suisse-id=18.html