I can’t believe you think that!You don’t trust me!I am not a child any more you can’t talk to me like that.
Even with all the emphasis we place on communicating well with our adult children—sometimes words will hurt. Feelings will get smashed. Sometimes our children become very angry with us.
As parents, we might try not to overreact to certain words or actions by our adult children.
We might even think we are doing a good job of not overreacting only to hear, “You are so judgmental. You overreact to everything.”
Even though we feel like we are being reasonable and logically presenting our concerns over how they spend their money or the friends they are choosing—they may not appreciate this (or other) unsolicited advice. Often our adult children hear screaming when we feel we are speaking in a controlled tone.
And then there are the times we REALLY ARE SCREAMING!
Your children will get mad at you. And you can bet it will be at the WORST possible time.
A few days before Rachelle (my first daughter to have a big church wedding!) got married, she and I fought over something. I can’t remember what the issue was, but I DO remember running up the stairs yelling behind me, “Don’t follow me up! I am going to my room and lock the door.” Rachelle returned the volley with, “You can’t run away from me! I am your daughter!”
That really happened. I can’t make this stuff up.
Rule #1: Contain the emotion.
Don’t act like I acted. Be the adult. Jon Gordon of The Energy Bus defines emotion as energy in motion. If your child’s decisions have made your energy NEGATIVE energy, go for a walk or ride a bike before engaging in the conversation. Don’t put your NEGATIVE energy into motion through emotion.
Rule #2: Focus on the issue … and keep it short.
If you disagree with their choice of job, habits, friends… speak your opinion and make a logical case. Then leave it alone. Avoid long explanations that validate your opinion. If you sell them on the first point you have given them enough to explore your point of view. You will not argue them into agreement.
No one ever changed their mind about something through long posts on Facebook. Your FACE-TO-FACE is no different.
Rule #3: Acknowledge the bond between you.
If emotions run out of control: DON’T RUN THE OTHER WAY.
Unlike me running up the stairs, calmly say something like, “We are not going to agree on this, but we do agree that I am on your side and want the best for you, right?”
Sometimes even this blows emotion back in your face because your offspring thinks you are patronizing. When that happens find some way to make a bridge, even a small one, back to your child.
We often tell our young children, “It is more important to be kind than to be right.”
Can you employ that motto today with your adult children?
What topics cause anger between you and your adult children? How do you show you are on their team even when you disagree. I would love to read your comments below.