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Musing for Meaning

Talking Without Speaking

Talking Without Speaking

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I feel way too young, and yet way too old, to be dealing with teenagers. One is full-blown, another one preteen; but just as my children started the “terrible twos” at one, teenagehood seems to be setting in early.

The other day, they were complaining that I have favorites. Of course, I favor everyone except for the one who is complaining at the time. But, interestingly enough, they all got together and voted on it. They decided that I love my youngest the most, followed by the next youngest, and then the second-to-oldest and then the oldest. They didn’t even realize that they went in order.

I will admit, at times, I don’t like them all the sameWhat I didn’t try to point out to them was that not only was this the order of their ages, it was also a perfect ranking by attitude: smallest to largest. And while every good parent will say, and most definitely put in print, “I love all my children equally,” I will admit, at times, I don’t like them all the same. And yes, it is a lot easier to speak sweetly to my little girl who thinks I am the best thing on the planet than to the one who sometimes wishes I wasn’t even on it.

As I write this blog, it is almost one in the morning. Not that this is particularly late (or early?) for me, but what is making this moment unique is that I am getting nonstop e‑mails from one of my darling daughters. She is angry at me, and won’t go to sleep. But she doesn’t want to talk. So instead, she is sending me e‑mail after e‑mail depicting in great detail what I have done wrong, along with pictures of me that she manipulated in some program to make me look oh-so-beautiful.

While I do not want to deal with the waking of my sure-to-be little monster in the morning, for now I am greatly enjoying our exchange.

Because there is a distance between us and she doesn’t see me, she can be more open. She is also actually reading my responses, whereas she would most likely not be willing to listen to my words. And, as angry as she is pretending to be, she is loving the attention she is getting and the back-and-forth we have going. You see, she is saying things that she honestly wouldn’t dare say to my face: no doubt, smart thinking on her part. But because it is in e‑mail, I am finding it funny rather than insulting as she intends. Even more so, I am able to write what I wouldn’t have the patience to say. I definitely believe that when we least feel like saying “I love you” is exactly when it needs to be heard the most. So, for every e‑mail I am getting (and I have received another five since my last paragraph), I am able to write back telling her how much I love her, how sorry I am she feels this way, and how I will try harder next time.

And guess what is happening?

No matter how hard she throws her punches, I’m not going anywhereShe is calming down, starting to joke around, and realizing that no matter how hard she throws her punches, I’m not going anywhere. Specifically because we are not talking, we are actually communicating. If we were having this conversation face to face, she would have been sent to her room a while ago, angry and upset, and I would have been frustrated. Instead, she has been able to unload what is bothering her, get my attention (albeit through the keyboard) and receive love notes for every bit of anger mail that she sent. Whether or not she wants to believe it, she is reading it. And every time I tell her how much she means to me, it goes somewhere into that brain and little body of hers and plants a seed.

Well, after 27 e‑mails, it appears she has forgotten why she was so mad at me in the first place. Now if only I could get her to go to sleep . . .


Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Discussion (21)
June 17, 2012
between the lines
I find I can resolve my feelings often by writing and through email and that words spoken aloud can sometimes in the passion of the moment be misinterpreted. In writing, itself an emotional release I can slow down, re think, reword, erase without being seen.

I just had 'words' with my daughter and in retrospect email would have been better.
It was silly. She was involved in her 'stuff' and did not yet ask about our trip so miffed I remarked on her omission and miffed she said she was going to ask. Better to sit on it or write it out first and maybe that haste would not introduce the hurt.
ruth housman
marshfield, ma
June 14, 2012
parenting
Your a great Mom , continue to see the positive things in life and your children.
naomi yavetz
June 14, 2012
You Are Still The Mother
While I agree that when face-to-face conversation is difficult, e-mail can allow for better communication, it is the job of the parent to set ground rules and limits. Parents and children are not peers or equals. Part of our responsibility in educating our children to Torah is letting them know that it is never appropriate for them to communicate disrespectfully to a parent, whether verbally or in writing.
Chana Silberstein
Ithaca, NY
June 14, 2012
The WRITTEN Torah
Firstly, great article! Secondly...for anyone wondering if communication through the written word is valid...perhaps reflect on the fact that G-d gave us both an ORAL Torah and a WRITTEN Torah, as both modes of communication were necessary and compliment one another. Yasher Koach Sara Esther and I look forward to your next piece...
Ken Brown
Los Angeles, CA
June 14, 2012
This is what I do - thank you
I loved your article. I find emailing or writing letters about how I feel about something or someone so much easier then trying to talk about the problem face to face. Its not that I am trying to hide or anything, its because I have realised the emotions of the moment can lead to your saying or doing things you sincerely regret later. My family does not believe in this but also never talk and sort problems out, consequently we have reached a stage in our lives where there is a lot of animosity between all of us siblings and my parents hate it and try and stay away from all of us.
I thought it was because of my inability to articulate properly but now I realise that perhaps my written word brought out more truths then they all wanted to face.
Sheleen
Beira, Mozambique
June 12, 2012
hard punches
I read the article and ejoyed it a lot. I have 3 children on Earth and one in heaven. sometimes I feel like they are punching me everywhere! but you are right no matter how hard they punch me I am not going anywhere!
Kadyja Brealey
SAN JOSE, IL
June 12, 2012
It works!
My ex husband and I had a very contentious divorce, but we were determined to never fight in front of our daughter, who was 2 at the time. We felt silly emailing each other when we were one room apart, but it let us both air our issues and come to conclusions in a way that I think was much faster and easier than trying to "talk it out".

To this day, our daughter has no idea that we ever fought, and now I can even say that my ex and I are good friends and a great parenting team.

I recommend email communication to anyone who needs help expressing themselves. The internet is a great neutral mediator!
Yocheved
Seattle, WA
June 12, 2012
*;-)
So timely... thank you. From a mother to a mother... very good!

*;-)
angela
June 12, 2012
Talking without Speaking
Yeah. An advantage to Internet.
chayawsilv
W Hartford, CT
June 12, 2012
very hopeful
I am going through a very contentious divorce and my 2 older kids are mad at me (even though their father is the one that decided to end the marriage). They are living with their father and not communicating with me. But I am sending them a text a day, telling them that no matter how long they stay angry, I will still love them forever. They can delete the text but I'm hoping they are reading it before deleting it.
Thank you for giving me some hope.
devastated
silicon valley, CA
Show all comments
Every situation we find ourselves in is a lesson waiting to be learned. That is what this blog is about. From the people I meet, the places I go and the experiences I have, stories emerge, each teaching me something that I hope you will find useful for your life as well.
Sara Esther CrispeSara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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