Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Guest Post: 10 Tips for Having Difficult Conversations, Part 1
My mom was always waiting up for me, book in hand, when I came home at night. Often we’d spend the next hour or two talking about life and the problems I was facing. During those late night talks we discussed everything, nothing was off limits. Topics ranged from heartbreak over a boy, my latest crush, how to have a healthy self-image, what to do when I felt uncomfortable in a situation, sex and drugs, and how to deal with peer pressure.
Having difficult conversations with our children is pretty much a guarantee. At some point we’re going to have to talk about all those scary topics: drugs, death, breaking rules, online safety, and sex. If we’re honest these conversations are the last thing we want to do! But, we need to have those difficult conversations with our children and have them often.
My mom did specific things to make all conversations--even those difficult ones--even better.
Here are 10 things that will make all conversations easier and better
Get down on their level
One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we don’t get down on our child’s level. When we’re not at their level, it automatically creates a barrier between us and puts both them and us on the defensive. When we get down on our child’s level we are signaling to our our children that we see them as equals and that we value what they have to say.
Sit side by side
There is a reason that so many relationship talks take place while driving in a car or sitting next to each other on the couch. When we sit across from each other it actually feels threatening and when
we feel threatened we create barriers. Sitting side by side makes both parties more comfortable which allows us to open up.
Nothing kills a conversation faster than distractions. One reason why difficult conversations are hard to have is that often one party doesn’t feel they are being heard. The more we can remove distractions the better these conversations will go. Put down your phones. Turn off the TV. Shut the door. Go for a car ride. Sit on the porch.
Know when to have these conversations
Having difficult conversations as you’re rushing to work or school is not the best time. The same goes for late at night when you’re tired. Difficult conversations need time, so find a time when both parties aren’t tired, stressed, and can spend as a long as need to thoroughly discuss the problem.
Take time to think about what you want to say
Just because you found out your child got in trouble at school does not mean that you have to have the conversation the moment you get off the phone. In fact, if it’s a topic that’s highly charged, it’s better to wait as it will give you a chance to remove emotions and gather your thoughts. It will also give your child a chance to do the same. If you’re afraid you won’t remember everything you thought about, it’s ok to write down questions or concerns you want to discuss.
To read Part 2, click here!