3 Reasons Listening is Essential in the Work of Supporting Families
Lessons learned from the Seen Out Loud podcast on what it takes to be a good listener and how listening with intent can be the first step towards change.
Through this podcast, we’ve learned alongside our audience what it takes to be a good listener and how listening can have profound impacts on both the listeners and the storytellers. For practitioners and change agents in child welfare, the podcast clips below provide insight into ways we can listen that build foundations of understanding and trust with the families we aim to support.
Listening without judgement leads to deeper understanding
In Season 1, Episode 3, Dr. Bruce Perry, active teacher, clinician, and researcher in children’s mental health and neurosciences, explains how this shift is imperative for systems change. When we reframe our questions while connecting with families and approach conversations from a place of non-judgement, we can reduce the opportunity for shame and engage in more informative dialogue.
Shifting our stance from authoritarian to curious—acknowledging we don’t know everything—opens us up to greater understanding.
Listening with acknowledgement supports families in meeting their full potential
“And the judge looked at me directly like a human being, which is what I needed in that moment,” said Alise Morrissey on Season 1, Episode 4. “I was able to say, please, don’t terminate my rights. Please give me a chance. And he did.”
Today, with the help of her community, she is a passionate mother, kinship caregiver, and parent mentor who inspires and helps other parents who experience the child welfare system. According to Shrounda, being heard and seen in a moment when most would assume snap judgements and withhold empathy helped her forge a new path for her family.
By listening to what Jaquia wanted, Raven was able to build a trusting relationship with her client. With Raven’s support, Jaquia envisioned a better future for herself. Jaquia’s social worker fueled her fighting spirit, which led her to college and now, advocacy work for youth in care.
Listening to learn builds a foundation for trusting relationships
In Season 1, Episode 7, we hear from Sharee Pemberton and Commissioner Hope Haywood of Randolph County, North Carolina about the deeply rooted mistrust that can occur between historical decision makers and marginalized families. During a community town hall, Sharee offered advice on bridging this historical divide, and the Commissioner chose to be open to feedback and listen.
Hope’s desire to learn from what she was hearing was the starting point of Hope and Sharee’s relationship. This opened doors for more dialogue between the county commissioners and families in Randolph County, who are now beginning to strategize new ways to support families in their community. This relationship exemplifies how community leaders can bring about change and build trust through listening to families and meeting them where they are.
Support families by listening first
Listening with open minds, acknowledgment of one’s humanity, and the desire to learn can serve as a building block for developing lasting solutions for families.