The Most Effective Response to a Child

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Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

My friend Reid says I need to mix in some stories about the good things I do as a parent. He says people will like these posts too, and will be able to relate to me better. He may be right. But I’m struggling to think of what to write.

But then I thought of this. I am most effective as a parent when I either say nothing at all, or nod in an encouraging way and say “mm-hmm”.

Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines “mm-hmm”:

Definition of mm-hmm

— used to indicate agreement, satisfaction, or encouragement to continue speaking

Here’s how it works: my daughter comes to me with an issue. It might be about a friend or something awful that happened at school.

More often than not I leap right in and try to solve her problem. I’m a competent, professional sort, and like things done properly. Too often I forget, that’s not why she’s telling me.

She wants to know I’m listening. And that I care. She may want a cuddle and a smile, and the opportunity to say more. She doesn’t want me to solve her problem.

Nine times out of 10, if I respond “mm — hmm”, she is soothed and trots off happier than if I’d shared, what I would consider, a pearl of wisdom.

How’s that Reid?

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