In the process of writing the book, I spoke with several parents who’d participated in my training programs, and they shared wonderful stories of how they took the ideas from the classes to try at home with their kids. I’d like to share those stories in this blog, invite you to share your stories, and begin a conversation about how changing what we say to our kids can change our relationships in powerful ways.

The first story is from Alice, who contributed a piece on trust that is included in the book.

Listening is the first move…

“By the time my daughter Abi was thirteen, my relationship with her had deteriorated to the point where she was essentially not speaking to me. I had a job that allowed me to be at home when she was, but she would come in the house after school and slam the door to her room, barely saying hello. She’d come out for dinner, which she would eat quickly before disappearing into her room again. I had no idea what to do about this but was pretty desperate to salvage the relationship.

“I attended the first day of Paul Axtell’s Conversational Skills program, and our homework was two-fold. First, go home and listen. Just listen. Don’t ask questions except, ‘What else?’ Or, ‘Tell me more.’ Second, write five acknowledgment notes to other participants in the workshop. So I did those things, and the effect was profound. I realized I had been doing most of the talking at home and very little listening. I realized Abi never got a chance to say anything, and when she did, she could answer with one word. I was asking stupid questions. After that one evening, plus another day in the workshop, I quite simply resolved to be different at home. I stopped giving advice, stopped asking ‘How was school,’ and began to listen. Just by being different myself, Abi became different. It didn’t happen overnight for her, and I backslid frequently, but when I did, I noticed, and our relationship changed into something quite different for both of us.”