What Are You Telling Me?
Leadership Lessons by Sheri Miller
One of the hardest jobs I have EVER had has been being a parent. I can’t say there aren’t “manuals” on what to do as so many books are available on this subject and each friend, family and foe are happy to share their opinions, even when we don’t ask. Still with all of this, I have made MANY mistakes. As a single mom, I tried to raise my kids and at the same time have that be only a portion of what I was doing.
So, when my sister shared with me that she heard through the grapevine my daughter was getting into inappropriate behavior for a 15 year old, I was stopped in my tracks. The beautiful girl that I saw with her long, curly red hair, funky clothes over her adorable figure and the smile pasted on her face was NOT that happy! My sweet child who had an armful of bracelets adorned on both forearms, who went out with me weekly for our mother/daughter dates and who told me I was the best mom ever was living a life I was unaware of.
The next years were living hell as our tight bond was tested over and over. My daughter would do something outrageous and I would react. She would react to my reaction and away we would go. Our lives changed when we were in a weekly meeting with a therapist. My daughter commented on something, I reacted and Darryl, the therapist held up the mirror. “Sheri, did you hear what Chelsey said?” I can’t recall the exact conversation. What I clearly recall was that I had my big ah-ha moment. I hadn’t been listening and thus I WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM! I wasn’t truly listening or trying to understand her point of view. All I was doing was waiting for my daughter to stop talking so I could talk. It was that moment that changed the trajectory of our mother-daughter bond. I began hearing her, taking in what was being said, processing it, lining it up to my beliefs and then responding. This was a HUGE leadership lesson! Be open to hearing what someone else has to say and in fact, invite it so a bigger piece of the picture can be seen. What a shift from me thinking my way had to be right and continuing to fight tooth and nail to prove it. Today, we are very, very close. I am proud to call her my daughter and my friend. She was and continues to be one of my biggest role models. I would love to hear your thoughts.