Here’s how you can talk to them about anything under the sun
It’s been two weeks since you wanted to tell your parents about a concert you want to go to. You still haven’t mustered up the courage. This isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened. Sometimes, it’s just about an annoying teacher at the school. Sometimes, it’s a problem that needs solving. Sometimes, it’s something far more serious. Either way, you’d rather talk to your peers. Or Google. You tell yourself you don’t want your parents to worry, that it isn’t important enough for them, they won’t have the time to deal with this right now, or, worse still- they’ll judge you or look at you differently. The excuses are innumerable.
Well, we are here to tell you that it’s totally normal. But if those excuses were to get into an arm-wrestling match with the benefits of actually telling them what’s going on- yes, you guessed right- all of your excuses would have to go running for cover and nurse its bruises. Some kids might not bring up a problem because they just don’t want to think about it — and hope it will just go away. But sweeping a problem under the rug hardly ever solves it. And bottling up your feelings can make you feel stressed. Try out the “beat stress”, “positivity”, “build confidence” and many more self-help tools that Wysa offers.
Talking about your problems helps reduce stress. And when you vocalize it to someone who actually cares, the support you receive in return will be totally worth it. Try it on for size. Here’s how you can.
1. Define the intention of the conversation for yourself
If you know that this is going to be a difficult conversation, define the purpose or the outcome you’re looking for. Do you need them to meet a need, clarify something, or solve a problem? Once you fix this, the objective will be clearer to you and therefore, easier to focus on during the conversation.
2. Prepare Them
Choose the parent you want to talk to about it. Maybe your mother will understand the struggles you’re having academically, more than your father will. Maybe your father will help you with dating advice. Then, you need only to process one person’s reaction, whether positive or negative. Once, that’s done, determine a time and a place. Tell them you have something important to talk to them about, instead of catching them off guard, or when they’re too tired.
3. Use ‘I feel’
Instead of telling them about your judgment, thought or opinion, tell them how you feel about something. Also, the pronoun ‘I’ carries the weight of accountability. If you were to say, “You never let me do what I want” as opposed to “I feel like you don’t think I’m responsible enough to make my own decisions.”, you can guess which one will have a more effective result. Try to stay away from using words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ – “You never listen to me” or “You always do this” which will automatically put the other person on the defensive. Use the “emotions” tool pack on Wysa to practice CBT and reframe negative thoughts.
4. Use a fact-based approach.
Of course, there will be tons of things that you and your parents don’t agree on. The generation gap plays a big role, apart from the inevitable fact that your parents will worry about you and try to protect you as much as possible. In the case of conflict, your best friend is the facts of the situation. What are the facts- that you know for sure – even your parents would agree with? Start with that. Tell them how that made you feel. Then ask them (and try to listen without any judgment) about their point of view. This will help you clarify differences and you can start working together to get on the same page.
5. Adopt the ‘Yes, and’ stance.
When your parents offer a suggestion or an idea, in an attempt to help, try and use the “Yes, and…” approach. Let me give you a scenario. Say, your mother was to suggest a lesson plan to deal with your Math struggles, and you feel it’s a bit too strenuous. Our general instinct is to disagree by saying “No, but…” Instead, say, “Yes, and I’ll take small, 10 minute breaks in between”. Every time you catch yourself saying “No, but”, try to replace it with the phrase “Yes, and…” and see what happens!
6. Prepare for the worst-case scenario.
It is possible that your parents disagree with you or outright deny you what you think you need the most. Have the conversation anyway. If you ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen if I have this conversation?” and you come to terms or accept that it may not change anything, then you will feel happy for having tried anyway. Your parents/(s) may not give in to your needs immediately, but if they’ve heard you out fully, then that’s a victory in itself. If at any point in time during the conversation you feel it isn’t going the way you hoped, there’s no harm in pressing pause and continuing it at a time that’s better suited. There’s always another day. You will get another chance.
All in all, if you do cross the bridge from sweeping things under the rug to bringing things up with them, then you can pat yourself on the back. It will pay off as lesser stress levels for you and a closer relationship for everyone. And the best part is, no matter what, your parents will love you anyway. So what have you got to lose? 🙂