Category: parenting


By , November 8, 2007 4:27 pm

Please download the exercise from the sidebar at Creative Edge Focusing right now so you can read through. Consider whether, if everyone learned this simple structure for stopping arguments from birth, could we change the world? Here is how it begins:

“Passive Listening: Just Being Quiet, Not Interrupting!


     This is going to be extremely basic. And, maybe, extremely difficult!! All you are going to do is exchange equal, timed, passive listening turns with the other person, instead of arguing. Passive listening means you don’t say a thing, just let the other person speak without interruption.



     You are just going to practice Passive Listening – being quiet, listening, not interrupting. Try to imagine what the whole world could be like if everyone knew just this one, simple self-help skill!”


Stop for a moment to read the rest of the exercise from the download at

The Basic Procedure

Here are the subheadings from the exercise which lay out the basic steps of this very simple procedure:

Agree on a signal during a peaceful time

Set a timer and take a seat

Use the timer to keep turns exactly even

Yell at a blank wall, if needed

Just keep going

Caution: Professional help needed?

Online support for conflict resolution


And those are the basics of this very simple procedure, which can be taught to anyone in five minutes.


Is It Really That Easy?


Probably not. No, it will not be 100% effective. However, to be a “statistically significant” help, it would only have to work 60% of the time. And, after thirty years experience with it, that seems extremely likely.


And, I have not found anything else, short of professional counseling or mediation (and often, even then, I think this more powerful), which has a chance to become such a widespread “cure” for conflict.


Why does it work?


When people can speak without being interrupted, and without fear of interruption, they automatically become able to speak from their “intuitive feel” of the issue or situation, The Creative Edge, not the already-known logical arguments that cycle around and around without changing. It is from The Creative Edge, this “intuitive knowing” of the whole situation, that new ideas and action steps can arise.


And, when people share from The Creative Edge, and listen to each other, they become vulnerable, authentic, honest. They say what they really want and need. They become “lovable” and move the other person to compassion and a wish to find a solution. So, even “passive listening” creates the capacity for love and understanding.


Example: Two People Arguing In A Store


Two people are arguing loudly in a store, screaming back and forth at each other. Their child is standing nearby, forgotten in their fury. Let’s imagine, in our new world where everyone, and I mean everyone, knows about taking passive listening turns for conflict resolution – just like everyone knows about reading and writing, or standing in line, or how to use an implement for eating.


So, a sales person or other staff of the store, or simply a bystander, another citizen, can simply say, “Oh, let me help you use Passive Listening Turns.” Mind you, this has become a cultural norm, just like driving on the right or left side of the street. Maybe there are even special rooms in public places where people can retreat for Passive Listening Turns. Maybe there are even specially trained mediators around, like there might be police or traffic cops.


So, because it is a norm they have been brought up with since childhood, the arguing people stop in their tracks and say, “Oh. Thanks. We had forgotten ourselves. And take their seats in the “safe place” set aside for such conflict processing (like everywhere there are bathrooms, baby changing tables, benches to rest, bus kiosks, first aid stations). And set the timer kept available.


So, they flip a coin to see who goes first, five minute or ten minute equal turns.


She starts. She is furious, not looking at him, sighing, turning from side to side, would really like to be still engaged in that furious tangle of yelling back and forth. She decides she needs to “yell at the wall” for a while, let some steam off before she can get any deeper into what is going on (but, remember, this kind of conflict processing is a “habit” in the culture, practiced since childhood, so she knows how to do it, what to expect, what to look for inside, eventually, the “hook” between them)


So, she yells at the wall for about three minutes, using swear words, saying all the worst she thinks about him and his behavior: “You selfish b______. I work so hard and you do nothing. I’m not letting you spend my money on that s____. I am furious. I am so tired of this and of you”, etc.


But, without response, pretty soon this energy runs out, runs down, and she begins to cry: “I’m just so tired. I’m so tired of our never getting ahead. I’m worried that your work is slowing down. I just can’t do it any more, carry all these burdens.” Her five minutes (or ten, whatever they negotiated) is up.


His turn begins (he is not so mad any more, having heard her words, seen her tears, seen her tiredness instead of just her anger): “I can’t go without something special. I just need to spend $10 once and a while on something that is just for fun. I can’t stand the drudgery, everything always the same. I wanted these sports cards because, for a few minutes, I could be happy looking at them—-I’m scared about my job, about the work slowing down — I don’t like it that you are making more money than me. I don’t like it that you treat me like a little boy getting an allowance— it makes me furious and ashamed.”


Not a total solution yet, but a “softening” on each side. It may take more turns. It may take more sessions. It may take professional help at some point. But, in this moment, the “horns locked” energy between them has been broken. Hopefully, they now have some “free emotional space” to care for their child, to not let the rage wash over there as well.


As long as they are not allowed (and have been trained from childhood how not to allow themselves) to get physically violent, or to shout back and forth, the angry assault will lose its fuel, and something new, a more Creative Edge, will arise in each of them, a more compassionate “touching,” more sympathy for each other. More willingness to look for solutions.


Please try out the protocol with your significant others this week. When there is not an argument happening,  come to mutually understand the rules, find a safe spot, get a timer, and establish a “signal,” like “popcorn” that anyone (including your children) to remind you that a bad pattern of “assault” or “argument” is starting, and it is time to try Passive Listening Turns. Then, you can begin to be prepared when an actual argument arises.

Please add your comments below. Do you think this would work? Have you tried it with your partner, child, friend, co-worker? Do you think “passive listening turns” could save the world?

See also Active Listening: Short-circuit Confrontations at

Focused Listening Instructions at

Positive Parenting: Listening To Yourself, Listening To Your Partner, Listening To Your Child at

Further training through the Self-Help Package at

or Classes/Workshops Internationally at

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)


By , October 23, 2007 1:04 pm

“Core Concepts of Creative Edge Focusing (TM) approach to parenting: 

  • In order to raise children for today’s world, parents must “mentor” their children for independent and flexible problem solving and decision making.  Children need guides, mentors : Yoda of Star Wars, not authoritarian police man.
  • Children have natural access to the “intuitive sensing” central to Intuitive Focusing . This inner guide leads to independent decision making, having a “conscience,” and having a satisfying life which fulfills one’s unique “blueprint,” specific talents and aspirations.
  • Positive Parenting helps children maintain and develop this “inner guide.” Using Focused Listening,  parents learn to help children find their own solutions to problems.
  • Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are the enemy of developing this inner sensing, this conscience and guide for independent decision making.  They exactly teach children to dissociate from their bodies, from their “felt experiencing” or “intuitive feel.”
  • Educating parents for child rearing is not enough; parents must heal their own “Inner Children” before they can radically alter their behavior toward their children. The PRISMS/S Problem Solving Process, with Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening,  is needed for change at the level of Paradigms, cognitive/emotional/behavioral “schemata” that determine behavior, emotions, and thinking. The kaleidoscope has to turn….
  • Parents can learn to use Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing in their own relationship. The Creative Edge Pyramid includes applications of PRISMS/S at many levels. Parents can help each other with Inner Child healing through Focusing Partnership turns. They can also use Interpersonal Focusing to resolve conflicts between themselves in terms of parenting styles
  • Parenting support groups are absolutely essential. Parents sharing with other parents can help them weather crises in their marriages or single parenthood. The essence of support groups is (a) you are not alone. You are not the only one experiencing these things (b) you are all experts. Using the resources among you, you can solve problems, move mountains. Focusing Groups and Focusing Communities provide self-help, peer counseling models for support groups.

Four Applications of Listening/Focusing to Parenting

The Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening  can be applied to parenting in four different ways, two primarily for your children, and two primarily for yourselves as parents. I call this Inner/Outer Parenting…….”

Read more, with links to self-help skills mentioned above, and download articles on

“Parents As Mirrors: Preventing Narcissism,”

“Setting Limits While Allowing Choices” 

“Positive Parenting: Listening to Your Self, Listening to Your Partner, Listening to Your Child”

at Creative Edge Focusing, Interest Area: Positive Parenting,

Three other interesting sites about Positive Parenting:

Jane Nelson (author of Positive Discipline, my favorite book on parenting)’s site,

The Parent To Parent Training Program at CHADD (national organization for Children and Adults With Attention Deficit Disorder,

Resources and training from the Positive Parenting program,

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

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