One of my sons told me recently I have no filters. I had to pause for a moment because even though I knew I was by no means an insensitive person in the habit of blurting out whatever popped into my head without first considering its impact on landing, I could understand where he was coming from and why he was feeling this way. As parents we mean well for our kids and our words and actions are usually of the best intentions, but unfortunately sometimes our delivery leaves a lot to be desired. We want so desperately to see our kids do well and succeed in life, we often bombard them with “feedback and suggestions” and when all else fails, we resort to coaxing and cajoling and unfortunately, this will inevitably be perceived as us being critical and controlling. Our words matter but our timing and our delivery matter even more.
This little criticism stung a little, but yeah, sometimes “the truth hurts.” Hurting is good when it prompts change. I have always meant well in the advice I offer to my kids, and for the most part they usually go over well. But times change, people change, and it appears the way I speak with my now adult sons, have to change. I still need to be open and honest, but I might need to apply some filters. So, I did some soul searching, and came up with a few things as parents we could do to improve the communication with our adult children.
Older does not mean smarter or better: I was assuming the way we approach the world had not changed. Some hypocrisy on my part I would admit, the woman who is always talking and writing blogs about how much the world has changed. We have to concede that some of the things that worked in our youths might have little relevance today. The “old” way of doing things is not necessarily better or smarter.
Learn how to trust: Specifically, we need to trust that our children know what’s best for them and that they understand what the keys for success in the world are today. Sometimes all we can do is lay the foundations, show them the way and let them follow their own paths. Right or wrong it’s a lesson they need to learn on their own.
Offer suggestions, not commands: Say, “you could” instead of “you should.”
Have a discussion not a lecture: Sometimes it’s best to first listen, really listen. Don’t just pretend to listen while we wait for our turn to speak. Don’t dismiss what we have heard, offer honest sensitive feedback, have a dialogue, and don’t forget those filters sweetened with a little empathy.
Don’t dismiss or belittle what is important to them: Children these days have interests that are way different from when we were kids. Makes sense though, the world has changed, right? We may see them as just hobbies, they may seem them as their future. Who are we to judge?