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Good listening skills build trust and are fundamental to any relationship. As your child grows into a young adult, it’s still important to continue listening and encouraging open dialogue.
Here’s an example of how to practise good listening while talking about drinking and other substance use.
Listening builds trust, the cornerstone of connectedness and influence. You know you’re practicing good listening skills when you could strip away your part of the conversation and the other person’s story flows and finds its own form of resolution.
This parent is using good listening skills when talking on the phone to their son who’s away at university:
Parent: So, how’s school going?
Young Adult: Pretty good so far. It’s a lot of work though.
Parent: You have a heavy course load.
Young Adult: Yeah, and Annie doesn’t always get that I need to study.
Parent: Sounds like she wants you to spend time with her instead.
Young Adult: She likes partying a lot and wants me to go out with her and her friends all the time.
Parent: And you … ?
Young Adult: I’m trying not to fall behind, but I want to have some fun too. So when Annie comes by to drag me out, I usually resist at first and then figure it’s Friday, it’s okay to let loose a bit.
Parent: I hear a “but” coming.
Young Adult: Well, I usually feel like crap the next day, and I get mad at myself and at Annie for making me go out. Thing is she never gets a hangover.
Parent: That must tick you off. How come she’s OK the next day?
Young Adult: Well, I guess, she’s more social and doesn’t need to drink much to have a good time.
Parent: You have a hard time socializing without drinking a lot.
Young Adult: Yeah, I guess. Never really thought about it before. I’ve also never tried not drinking too much at a party. Maybe I should try it.
Parent: Well, I’m naturally biased but it wouldn’t surprise me if you could manage quite well at a party without drinking so much. I agree with you that it’s worth trying.
Young Adult: I’ll give it a go.
Parent: Maybe Annie could help you with that.
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