As a female, asking things and telling things comes naturally. To me, it’s called “con-ver-sa-tion”! To my family, it’s often called “annoying.”
While I’m definitely not a gabber, I do want a certain amount of back-and-forth and give-and-take about how the day went, what the kids have for homework, how things are going in their lives, etc. But since I have kids who are teenagers and beyond, that is forbidden. Parents (especially mothers) just aren’t supposed to ask questions, interject, offer opinions – nothing – unless it is solicited. I hate this but am starting to accept that it’s really normal among teens and young adults (and sometimes husbands).
But I have noticed that sometimes, when they are ready (and when the moon and stars are aligned just so, I suspect), they’ll want to talk…and talk…and talk. And then, we parents had better be ready.
Sometimes, this sudden need to spill comes at a very inopportune time for me like when I’m a on deadline for work, or right before bed when I can barely keep my eyes open, or just as we’re about to get out of the car to go grocery shopping. I’m learning that I have to put everything aside and accept these moments, gratefully, and listen. Really listen. But not talk unless they ask for a response. They aren’t opening up because they want to hear me pass judgment or ask them for details. They just want to talk, at that moment, whether convenient or not.
So I sit there, calmly, with my best “I’m so understanding and non-judgemental” face on even though, inside, I may be screaming “What? You did what? And she said what? What were they thinking?!” I just nod, acceptingly. It’s so hard to do.
Fathers equally are subject to this “I don’t want to talk” attitude, but unlike Courtney, I’m not as disturbed. I believe there is such a thing as TOO MUCH communication. Silence can be golden – and effective. Talking out everything can be tiresome and often leads to more conflict. Waiting to speak at the right time, remaining calm, and choosing the right words, those are my greatest challenges.
Not that I’m an expert – far from it! NOT blowing my top at the kids when they do decide to talk, or when I’m ready to respond, is so hard when serious issues are at stake! Like Courtney, I struggle to just SHUT UP and listen. Listening – perhaps the most effective tool for parental communications – but so hard when you have strong opinions and want to share personal life lessons to spare your kids grief.
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