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Simple secrets of family communication   

2007-06-21 09:42:30|  分类: 英文写作及转贴文 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |

我将1994年的一篇《星期日英语》的好文章全文转贴在此,供大家阅读欣赏。译文随后贴出。

           Simple Secrets of Family Communication

                        Rhea Zakich

My doctor had discovered nodules on my vocal cords. “Your voice needs complete rest,” he cautioned. “It is imperative that you not speak for at least ten days.  A month of silence would be even better.” Two operations followed—in January and March 1969—and I remained speechless all that time.

As I left the hospital, an awful fear overwhelmed me. What if I can never talk again?

That night, I paced the dark, silent house. I’d always felt close to my family. But now I sensed a gulf between us. Slowly, I could feel a change coming over me. I decided that even if I never spoke another word, I would find a way to share my feelings with my family.

One evening I sat at the kitchen table with a stack of blank cards before me. On each I wrote a question. Some were serious: “what is your definition of love?”  Others were light-hearted: “What do you like to do in your spare time?” By responding honestly, a person would reveal a lot about himself. Before long, I had nearly 200 question cards stacked on the table. For a while, I just stared at them. What next? Then it hit me: a game board.

The game would be simple. Each player would roll a die and advance his marker. The player could land on a space requiring an answer to a question card, or a space allowing a comment to another player. There would be no talking out of turn, no winners or losers, only sharing and communication.

The next evening, Dan, the boys and I played the “Ungame.” During the first round, we drew lighthearted questions that let us talk about dream vacations, favorite foods and movie stars. When my turn came, I jotted down the answer and showed it to everyone. And they had no choice but to wait for me to finish and then read my response. I was elated. I felt as though I belonged again.

 Later Dan drew a card that said: “Share something that you fear.” He was quiet a moment. “With your mother ill,” he said slowly, “I worry what will become of us. I don’t know if I could raise you boys alone if anything happened to her.”

I was astonished. My husband knew what it was like to feel frightened, to have self-doubts.

Darin, a bright student, drew the card that asked him to talk about success. “I hate it,” he said softly. “Everyone expects me to do the best. I always feel pressure.”

I shrank in my chair. I constantly push him to do better. I realized with guilt.

Then it was Dean’s turn. “How do you feel when someone laughs at you?” his card asked. “I want to die,” he said, staring at the floor. “It makes me feel stupid.” This time, his brother, a great teaser, blushed.

Around the table we went, sharing deep, private thoughts. “I’ve learned more about all of you in these twenty minutes than in the past five years,” Dan announced. “Let’s play again tomorrow.

I was calm when I returned to Dr. Sinder, ready to accept the verdict.  When he pronounced me cured, I felt I’d been given a special gift. But I knew I’d never revert to my old speaking habits. Over those months, I had learned five secrets of real communication:

1. Listen—just listen. One day during my enforced silence, Dean came home from school shouting, “I hate my teacher! I’m never going back to school again!”

Before my vocal-cord problems, I would have responded with my own outburst: “Of course you are if I have to drag you there myself. “But that afternoon I had to wait to see what would happen next.

In a few moments, my angry son put his head in my lap and poured out his heart. “Oh, Mom,” he said, “I had to give a report and I mispronounced a word. The teacher corrected me and all the kids laughed. I was so embarrassed.”

I wrapped my arms around him. He was quiet for a few minutes. Then suddenly he sprang out of my arms. “I’m supposed to meet Jimmy in the park. Thanks, Mom.”

My silence had made it’s possible for Dear to confide in me. He didn’t need my advice or criticism. He was hurt. He needed someone to listen.

2. Don’t criticize or judge. As I was sitting with Jackie in her kitchen one afternoon, her 16-year-old daughter breezed into the house. “Hey, Mom, what do you think of abortion?”

Jackie turned pale. “I don’t ever want to hear you mention that word again! She shouted.

Why did Jackie’s daughter ask the question? Jackie may never know. And her daughter may never again try to discuss a serious or controversial topic with her. How often we parents, spouses or friends sabotage a conversation with quick comments or judgments.

 3. Talk from the heart. Several year ago, I was at a local park just as a neighborhood football game was ending. “Hey, Dad, did you see me get the touchdown?” one ten-year-old boy yelled proudly.

“How come you dropped the ball in the second quarter?” his father replied. “You need to practice your catching.”

I watched the boy sink along beside his father, his enthusiasm gone.

The boy had used what I call “heart-talk,” the language of feelings and emotion. Instead of sharing in his son’s happiness, the father had responded intellectually with “head talk.” He meant well, but his response diminished the boy’s accomplishment. And in the long run the boy would find it more difficult to ask his father for help.

4. Don’t assume. Many people have preconceived notions about their spouses or children that hamper communication. Don’t assume that you know another person’s thoughts or feelings.

Doug and Many had been playing the Ungame for about 30 minutes. Mary drew a card that asked if she ever felt lonely. “I feel lonely every night,” she whispered. Her husband blushed.

After the game end. Doug blurted out, “how could you say that?”

“Every night when we’re in bed,” Mary said quietly, “you turn your back to me.”

Doug’s mouth fell open. “I broke several ribs playing high-school football and they never healed properly. I turn over so I can sleep on the side that doesn’t hurt.”

Two weeks later, I bumped into Doug and Mary at the supermarket. “We solved our problem,” Mary told me. “We changed sides of the bed.”

5. Show your love. Actions can be as important as words. One evening, I played the Ungame with Carmen, her husband and two children. Carmen was 43, attractive and financially well-off. Here’s a women who has almost everything, I thought. Carmen drew a card that asked her to talk about a hurtful moment. “When I was six,” she revealed to her family for the first time, “my mother told me I was too old to be kissed. I felt so bad that every morning I went into the bathroom and looked for the tissue on which she’d blotted her lipstick. I carried it with me all day. Whenever I wanted a kiss, I rubbed the smear of lipstick across my check.”

Carmen’s life had not been as perfect as I’d thought. For almost 40 years, she had endured this small, private heartache. Can anyone ever make up for that? I wondered.

Several turns later, Carmen’s eight-year-old son landed on a comment space. Quietly, he got up and kissed her on the check. Carmen’s eyes filled with tears. The old hurt was gone—perhaps for good.

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