Parents are normally the first people we meet when we take our first breaths. Although we tend to spend a huge portion of our childhood with them, we frequently realize that it is easier for us to share our experiences with friends or other family members, even when we have a great relationship with our parents. The more important the conversation is, the more difficult it seems to be able to talk to them. Even adult children have a hard time talking to their parents about sex, troubled relationships, getting in trouble with the law, drug addiction, etc.
That, notwithstanding, there always comes a point in our lives when we feel like sharing our true feelings with them, about some important matter without alienating ourselves. They might be in the best position to help, give advice, and support us during our toughest moments. Sharing your experience with your parents becomes even more important when you want to enjoy a close relationship with them. The good news is that there are a few approaches you can use to help have important conversations with your parents without feeling estranged:
1. Talk about everyday basic stuff (small talk)
Engaging in small talk on a daily basis can be the easiest way to start. Making this a habit will make it easier for you to remain connected and make it less difficult to get into more sensitive topics.
You can talk about your workout routine, share something interesting you learned watching television, talk about how much you enjoy dancing, etc. Doing this regularly can improve a strained relationship and help your parents feel more connected to your daily life.
2. Choose the right time and place
This might be more important than you think. Think about the time and place when they feel the most energetic and often initiate conversations. For example, if you have noticed that they feel tired and are in a bad mood immediately after work, it might be smart for you to avoid bringing up a sensitive conversation then. And it’s not just about your parents, try not to start a conversation when you are frustrated or feeling angry. You might want to cool off first.
3. Have a plan
What is it you want to talk about? What are your expectations from the conversation? Do you have bad news to break to your parents? Do you need a piece of advice or their permission to do something? Or do you just want them to listen to you? Planning far in advance will help you get closer to your expectations.
Sharing your experience without thinking it through might make you more emotional, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of forgetting what you wanted to say. You might want to write the main points down. Honestly describe how you feel. And if you are complaining about something, make sure you also provide a possible solution.
4. Talk to the parent most likely to understand
Chances are you are more comfortable talking to either your father or your mother about a specific subject, because he or she is more likely to understand. You might also feel that it is easier for one of them to make the other understand how you feel. If that holds true for you, then pull that parent aside when the other is not around and have your conversation.
While sharing your experience, it is important for you to have realistic expectations about the outcome. Keep in mind that it might not go your way and do your best not to react emotionally if it does not. Share your true feelings as clearly as possible and make sure you also carefully listen to what they have to say. Even though you might think you know your parents and how they will react, “people do better when they know better”, and their response might surprise you!
Sharing your experience in a mature way will inspire your parents to listen to you and think of you as an adult; someone with the ability to make important life decisions.