The relationship between parents and their sons and daughters can deteriorate due to a lack of proper communication. When children become adults, they often find they have stopped having meaningful conversations with their parents. Conflict often arises from parents thinking they know what is best for their offspring who often want something different in life. It is important to work on achieving healthy communication with your parents to maintain a strong relationship with them.
Make time to have meaningful conversations with your parents. One of the biggest threats to parent-child communication is generational differences in communication. The newer generations often reach out to others through technology, such as text messages, online chats or email. There is much less face-to-face contact. Although the older generation is catching on, most still prefer a personal conversation or phone call. Consider that your parents' generation has a stronger need for person-to-person conversation. Take the time to sit down and have a few minutes of conversation with them everyday. If you live some distance away, make it a goal to call them at least three times a week or video chat frequently. Keep in mind that text messages can often be misinterpreted by the receiver because there is no tone or facial expression to provide context.
Be open and honest with your parents. Families often stop communicating because it is easier to ignore an issue than to have a conversation about it. If an issue is important to you, bring it up to your parents. Bottling up emotions or annoyances can deteriorate the relationship that you have with them. Always communicate your feelings in a calm and neutral tone. Avoid getting trapped in the blame game. Use "I" statements that talk about how you feel, and avoid "you" statements that point fingers at other people. Allow time for them to respond and share how they feel.
Use the PEN method to facilitate difficult conversations with your parents. The PEN (pause, empathy, needs) method was developed to prevent conflict and violence when communicating. If a certain conversation with your parents is taking a turn for the worse, start by taking pause. Practice deep breathing, excuse yourself for a couple of minutes or drink a cold glass of water if you are becoming agitated. When you are ready to continue with the conversation, listen to your parents' needs or wants and empathize with them. Inform them that although you understand their point of view, you also have your own needs and wants. The next step is to express your perspective and ask them to try and empathize with you as well.
Don't just talk about the difficult stuff. Talk to your parents about your everyday life, funny experiences and other trivial things. Encourage them to share how their day went or what they are working on. Most of your conversations with your parents should be light-hearted, humorous and spontaneous. You don't want to talk to them only when you are faced with an issue. Regular communication about the less important things will make the difficult conversations much easier.
- Always be respectful. Remember that these are the people who gave you life and raised you. They deserve your respect and know you best.
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