Karen R Koenig answered:
Of course I’m going to enlighten you on how family affects your capacity to use your voice to express your needs. The truth is that cultural and gender influences (no matter how strong) can be overridden if you grow up with parents who listen intently (called active listening), validate your ideas and emotions, and encourage you to say what’s on your mind. Women who are lucky enough to have parents like this have an operating template that predisposes them to be open, forthright, and direct. For whatever reason, you didn’t get this message. Your verbal template is of long-suffering silence, waiting for it to be your turn, offering eternal gratitude to anyone willing to turn an ear your way, swallowing your anger, mincing words, sweet-talking your way out of situations, speaking out of both sides of your mouth, back-pedaling, or saying what you need to in order to survive.
If you’re feeling a need to blame yourself, stop now. You didn’t choose your family and the communication corner you were backed into. You developed by copying what you heard and adapting to your environment. Nor is it time well spent railing against your parents and how they mistreated your utterances so that you ended up being fluent in nicespeak only. The goal is to be curious about how you developed and understand that while your behaviors were adaptive in the past (for physical and emotional survival), they are now destructive.
Speaking is a by-product of being listened to. Sure, effective parents coo at us, but they also take time to listen to our wails and burbles and respond to them in an encouraging, positive, mirroring, caring tone of voice. They create a kind of duet - sometimes using their voice in tandem with ours, mimicking us, sometimes speaking alone, and other times keeping silent so that we can spout off by ourselves. Their speech and silence and their response to our speech and silence act as guides to communication; their quiet makes space for our voice and their verbal responses reinforce our right to it.Of course I’m going to enlighten you on how family affects your capacity to use your voice to express your needs. The truth is that cultural and gender influences (no matter how strong) can be overridden if you grow up with parents who listen... More