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Listening in a World of Change
Celebrating the Skill of Listening as a Father
When I think of fatherhood, there are naturally two people I need to acknowledge right away — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they’ve both been incredible listeners and modeled the values of fatherhood. My father and father-in-law both have an awesome work ethic and were always able to balance their time with family and work well. While they have different backgrounds, they have both really honed their skill of listening to people. My dad worked as an attorney, and my father- in-law worked at IBM and also ran a bar. Whenever he worked at his bar, he’d befriend the patrons there. In their own respective ways, my father and father-in-law really value the perspectives and experiences of other people. They’re able to communicate well because of how good they are at listening. As a dad myself, I’ve realized that listening is a skill that I’ve been honing lately through this quarantine. Working and being with my kids every day has been a massive blessing but also a challenge. I’m learning, on a day-to- day basis, what a new work-life balance will look like for me. Being more accessible to my kids throughout the day means I’ve had to be a little more fluid about how I spent my time with work and family. I think my relationship with my kids has evolved through that. Many parents may have the experience of being the “fixer” at work, and they think that they’re supposed to be the fixer at home all the time too. As an attorney, I’ve definitely had that experience! It’s important to me to listen to clients’ diverse issues and put together solutions to resolve them and get the best possible outcome. But at home, my kids don’t always want a fixer. Sometimes, they just need a dad and someone who wants to listen. They just want my support while they figure things out on their own.
My father and father-in-law have always made themselves available just to listen to me. They always gave me great guidance when it came to understanding my issues and how to fix them. Though, through my recent experiences, I realize that you can’t really offer that guidance if you’re solely fixated on solutions. Not all fixes complement the person’s emotions, after all. It’s incredibly helpful to be in sync with the person and to understand the kind of help they’re looking for. This time has been taxing for the whole country, but I’ve found many silver linings in lessons learned during this period of isolation. As life begins going back to normal, our family routines may go back to the way they were before, but I know how we handle them will be different. In my personal and professional life, I’m always going to be a fixer, but I’m going to keep growing as a father and a listener as well. And, when you come to our firm with any of your legal concerns, I want you to know that I’ll be equally focused on listening to your problems as I am on fixing them. I especially want you to know I’ll treat your issues like they were my own family member’s. With that in mind, I’m so grateful for the tremendous influence and guidance of my father and father-in-law. Maybe, one day, my kids will know the big effect they’ve had on my own approach to fatherhood too.
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Have a wonderful, safe June everyone. Happy Father’s Day!
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