Maryann Bucknum Brinley

167 Cooper Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-1810

973-202-5909 (cell)

The Secrets of Happy Parenting

More than 16 years ago, I wrote a book about the secrets of happy parenting. My children, Zach and Maggie, were still children then but the world was just as complicated for parents trying to be happy. In fact, I have researched and written a lot about pregnancy and parenting issues – once from the perch of the director of the Infants and Children’s Laboratory at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Zach is a father of two now. His son, Finn, is 2 ½ and my granddaughter Charlotte just turned 1. Now, Maggie is pregnant with her first, a daughter who will be born sometime around Dec. 4. I am deeply in love with this role of grandmother. So as I look back at parenting and my daughter Maggie looks forward, I have decided to launch a blog, retooling some of those secrets I shared way back when and, at times, examining parenting from two different generational points. Maggie, a wonderful writer as you will discover, is a nurse at New York University’s Langone Hospital.

Happy Parents...Listen, Listen, Listen

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Friday, October 25, 2013

To be a good listener, all of you – your mind as well as your body – has to be there. Mothers suffer terribly from what I like to call “crowded brain syndrome.” When your brain is crowded, there isn’t room for anything else in there. 

To listen, put aside other thoughts. Concentrate on the speaker. Don’t worry about your to-do list. It won’t ever go away. Only then can you listen to what your kids are saying, understand what you are hearing, and acknowledge their feelings.

Have you ever tried to hold a conversation with someone who really wasn’t interested in what you had to say? How did that make you feel? Have you ever found yourself just waiting for your turn to speak without really paying attention to what is being said to you? I think we all do this a lot to our children. They may be speaking but we are waiting to tell them something. And yet we ask, “Will you listen to me?”

* We discipline them.

* We instruct them.

* We correct and direct them – even criticize them.

* We do all or most of the talking so much of the time.

Here’s an exercise for parents who want to become better listeners:

Put your mind in the same place as your body.

Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps which is heard on NPR, said it so well in this week's Sunday New York Times: The act of listening "reminds people that they matter." So very important for children growing up! And I want to pass along a wonderful thought from Mark Nepo's new book, Seven Thousand Ways To Listen (Simon and Schuster): "Intuition is the very personal way we listen to the universe in order to discover and rediscover the learnings we were born with. As such, intuition is a deep form of listening that, when trusted, can return us to the common, irrepressible element at the center of all life..." So next time you are with your child or children, listen, listen, listen.

(Here I am in awe of Charlotte when she was a newborn. And yes I was listening to the sound of her breathing.)

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