Fine Tuning

by Lucie Hemmen on November 20, 2011

“I don’t want advice from my parents. I just want them to, you know, get it.”

I remember hearing my first teen client express this wish years ago. Subsequent clients, using various word arrangements, regularly express the same hunger: to share, to be “heard”, and to feel truly and genuinely understood.

Because parents are conditioned to guide and teach, we often unintentionally crush possibilities for intimacy with our teens by interacting too heavily with the content they share. Reflexively, we hear what they say and lapse into “management mode”, offering warnings, solutions, considerations or by asking questions. When parents enter management mode, content becomes the focus and connection may get lost. Teens end up feel judged, annoyed, one-down, distrusted, and hurt that they received management instead of emotional connection.

What we can do instead? Next time your teen shares something, whether it’s how unfair the chem. test was or something more personal, push your internal pause button and explore the experience of becoming fully present. This is known as emotional attunement.

Emotional attunement occurs in your heart, not in your head. It means adjusting your emotional dial setting to meet the needs of the person you are listening to. It involves adjusting your personal energy to complement and allow for that person’s emotional experience.

To be emotionally attuned, you don’t need to feel what your teen feels. You don’t need to fix, judge, fight with, trivialize, or strongly react to it. In fact, to be emotionally attuned, you need to resist all of that.

Instead you open and soften both your mind and your heart, which creates a state of emotional attunement, and just listen. You can say to yourself silently: “All I need to do in this moment is open up to what’s being shared and hear it with my heart”. One parent client I work reminds herself to send her “inner manager” out of the room when her daughter is in a talking mood. Her improved ability to emotionally attune to her kids has increased their interest in sharing with her and all parties are much happier because of it.

Don’t expect yourself to be emotionally attuned all of the time. Life is busy and you have a lot to get done! Simply be open to opportunities to increase connection through emotional attunement. If you can make your teen a special priority at significant junctures, even for short periods of time, you will both experience the greater well-being and enhanced connection that emotional attunement offers.

More Hints for Emotional Attunement:

  • Resist multitasking from time to time, in order to really listen
  • Relax your body when you listen.  It helps cue your system to be present and not en route to the next task.
  • Institute a 90 – 10 rule, especially if you’re a talker.  Allow 90% of the talking to come from your child while 10% comes from you.
Let me know how this works for you!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

small sized cars November 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks


Lucie Hemmen November 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Thank you! What were you searching when you came across my blog? I didn’t know I was on Yahoo News but if i find out how I got there, I’ll let you know!


Jayde December 5, 2011 at 11:43 am

Very help to me, especially in my current situation with teen daughters. Thank You!!


Andrew J. Gephart November 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

Superb posting, I share the same views. I wonder why this particular world truly does not picture for a moment like me and also the blog site creator :D


Lucie Hemmen November 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Thank you for your comment. I actually think many of us are working on improving ourselves and our attunement with others. Putting words to ideas helps organize efforts and intentions. That’s what i’m going for. :-)


Latanya December 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Thanks for all of your thoughts on parenting from a more conscious place. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.


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Reyna December 11, 2011 at 11:13 pm

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Palmer Pela December 18, 2011 at 1:45 am

great blog posts. : D, thanks for putting up. i need all the help i can find these days with two teens new to my life through marriage.


Doris December 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

This was really good for me to hear right now and I will work on your suggestion. Going to bookmark and wait to hear more from you. Refreshing to hear more than the same ol’ same ol’.
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Anthony Minshall December 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Simply want to say your article made an impact on me. I like the way you tied life to parenting, your unique perspective. Thanks one million and please keep up the enjoyable work.


Myrtle Sandles December 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

I’m so happy to read this. Appreciate your sharing this fine thinking about parenting more mindfully.


seo January 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it!


Lucie Hemmen November 26, 2011 at 2:41 am

Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you like it.


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