“I have tried to do my very best to tell my parents what I feel, but every words i utter seems wrong– then they stopped me. It took a lot of effort for me to have the strength to express myself, and it was a complete failure”– Christina.
WHEN you were younger you easily voiced-out your feelings and thoughts to you parents, and you had belief in their advice. You told them anything you wanted to say– any news, stories, big or small. Your parents were the first ones you ran to for guidance and advice.
Now, though, you have this inner feelings that your parents just can’t seem to relate to you anymore. “One time at our family dinner, I suddenly began to cry. I poured out my feelings, and there was too much emotions” says a girl named Mariah. “My parents were surprised so I was urged to speakout my emotions. They listened, but they didn’t seem to understand what i was trying to say.” The result? “I left the table and just went straight to my room and cried some more!”
Sometimes you rather prefer not to open up to your parents and talk. “I talk to my parents pertaining to different topics,” says a boy named Michael. “But I prefer the scenario wherein they don’t know what I’m thinking.”
Is it wrong to be silent and keep some thoughts to yourself?
Nevertheless, whether your parents don’t seem to understand you or you are repressing yourself, one thing is definite: You need to talk to your parents
Put it this way, communicating with your parents is like driving a car. If you encounter a roadblock, you don’t give up; you simply find another route. Consider two examples:
- ROADBLOCK 1
- ROADBLOCK 2
You need to talk, but your parents don’t seem to be listening. “I find it difficult to communicate with my father,” says a girl named Annalee. “Sometimes I’ll talk to him for a while and then he’ll say, ‘I’m sorry, were you speaking to me?’”
What if Annalee really needs to discuss a problem? She has at least three options.
- Option A: Yell at her dad. Annalee screams: “Come on, this is important! Listen!”
- Option B: Stop talking to her dad. Annalee simply gives up trying to talk about her problem.
- Option C: Wait for a better time and bring up the subject again. Annalee speaks with her dad face-to-face later, or she writes him a letter about her problem.
Which option do you think Annalee should choose? ․․․․․
Let’s explore each option to see where it would likely lead.
- Annalee’s dad is distracted
—and thus unaware of her frustration. So if Annalee chooses Option A, her screaming might seem to come out of nowhere. This option probably won’t make Annalee s dad more receptive to her words, and it won’t show respect and honor for him. Really, then, this option leads to a no-win situation.
- While Option B may be the easiest course to take, it’s not the wisest. Why? Because “there is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.” To deal successfully with her problems, Annalee needs to talk to her dad
—and if he’s going to be of any help, he needs to know what’s going on in her life. Ceasing to talk accomplishes neither.
- With Option C, however, Annalee doesn’t let a roadblock become a dead end. Rather, she tries to discuss the subject another time. And if she chooses to write her dad a letter, Annalee might feel better right away. Writing the letter may also help her to formulate exactly what she wants to say. When he reads the letter, Annalee’s dad will learn what she was trying to tell him, which may help him to understand her plight better. Option C thus benefits both Annalee and her dad.
What other options might Annalee have? See if you can think of one, Please write it down in the comment below. Also write down where that option would likely lead.
Your parents want to talk, but you’d rather not. “There’s nothing worse than being hit with questions immediately after a hard day at school,” says a girl named Linda. “I just want to forget about school, but right away my parents start asking: ‘How was your day? Were there any problems?’” No doubt Linda’s parents ask such questions with the best of intentions. Still, she laments, “It’s hard to talk about school when I’m tired and stressed.”
What can Linda do in this situation? As with the previous example, she has at least three options.
- Option A: Refuse to talk. Linda says: “Please, just leave me alone. I don’t want to talk right now!”
- Option B: Go ahead and talk. Despite feeling stressed, Linda begrudgingly answers her parents’ questions.
- Option C: Delay the “school” talk but keep the conversation going on another topic. Linda suggests that they discuss school at another time, when she knows that she’ll be in a better frame of mind. Then she says, with genuine interest: “Tell me about your day. How did things go for you?”
Which option do you think Linda should choose? ․․․․․
Let’s explore each option to see where it would likely lead.
- Linda is stressed and isn’t inclined to talk. If she chooses Option A, she’ll still feel stressed but she’ll also feel guilty for blowing up at her parents. Meanwhile, Linda’s parents won’t appreciate her outburst
—or the silence that follows. They may suspect that Linda is hiding something. They might try even harder to get her to open up, which, of course, would frustrate her more. In the end, this option leads to a no-win situation.
- Option B is obviously a better choice than option A. After all, at least Linda and her parents are talking. But since the conversation isn’t heartfelt, neither Linda nor her parents are going to get what they want
—a relaxed, open discussion.
- With Option C, however, Linda will feel better because the “school” talk has been delayed for now. Her parents will appreciate her effort to make conversation, so they’ll be happy too. This option likely has the best chance of success because both sides are applying the principle found.
Avoid Sending Mixed Messages
Remember, the words you say and the message your parents hear do not always match. For example, your parents ask you why you seem to be in a bad mood. You say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” But your parents hear: “I don’t trust you enough to confide in you. I’ll talk to my friends about the problem but not to you.” Try this exercise by filling in your answers. Imagine that you are facing a difficult problem and your parent offers to help.
If you say: “Don’t worry. I can handle it myself.”
Your parents may hear: ______________________
A better response from you might be: ______________________
The bottom line? Choose your words carefully. Deliver them in a respectful tone of voice. Think of your parents as your allies, not your enemies. And let’s face it: You need all the allies you can get if you are to cope with the challenges you have to deal with.
If you find it difficult just to sit and talk with your parent(s) about a problem, discuss the matter while you are walking, driving, or shopping together.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Just as you may find it difficult to talk with your parents about serious subjects, they may feel awkward and inadequate when trying to talk with you about those same subjects.
The next time I feel I want to stop talking to my parents, I will ․․․․․
If my parent pushes me to talk about a subject that I am reluctant to discuss, I will say ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
- What role does timing play in good communication?
- Why is talking to your parents worth the effort?
“Communicating with your parents isn’t always easy, but when you do open up and talk to them, you feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off your mind.”