If you’re the parent of a Young Adult, you’re probably making one of the mistakes I outline in this podcast when you’re talking to your child.
I know this because I’ve been coaching a lot of young adults lately, and they’ve been telling me what their parents are doing when they try to talk with them. What feels like helping, is actually hurting your child, and it’s hurting the relationship.
Listen to this episode to find out why you will want to W.A.I.T. before you speak.
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Tina Gosney 00:00
You’re listening to The Coaching Your Family Relationships Podcast, episode 57. “W.A.I.T. Before You Talk.”
Everyone has at least one difficult family relationship, the one that feels impossible. I’m Tina Gosney, a family relationship coach, I’ll help you with that impossible relationship so that you can feel better. Each week, I’ll give you some relationship tools, and two takeaways and one challenge. Knowledge, action and coaching working together can make a huge impact. Join me on this podcast. And we’ll tackle the hard part of that family relationship together.
Welcome back to the podcast, it’s the middle of July, how is the summer going for you? I know that some kids are already back in school, I think that’s kind of crazy to go back the middle of July. But I know some parents are just glad that they’re there. If you’re not already back in school, then you’re probably getting ready for it, I see all the back to school supplies and commercials and all of that stuff is already popping up. So school is just a right around the corner.
I have been coaching a lot of young adults this year. And they’ve come to me for a variety of reasons. Some of them are feeling really anxious and overwhelmed with their lives. Some of them are really worried about big changes that they have coming into their lives. And that’s really scaring them. And they’re not knowing how to handle navigating those big changes. A couple of them are, you know, either engaged or newly married.
And they’re trying to either navigate an engagement and how that relationship changes at that point, with all the wedding planning, or a newly married relationship, and the stress that goes along with that. So maybe some of them also are trying to figure out how to fit into their new spouse’s family. And that’s really tricky trying to meld two families together, especially when they have really different styles of the family culture, right.
Some of them are struggling, actually, a lot of them are struggling with thoughts of failure of being behind of not being good enough. Pretty much all of them are trying to learn how to not be reactive to the hard things that are happening in their lives. You know, and as I coach them, sometimes they talk about their parents lately, it seems like a lot of them have been talking about their parents. And most of the time, they express a lot of love and gratitude for their parents just want you to know that parents that are out there listening like these young adults are so grateful for you.
But I also get to hear about the struggles that they’re having in their relationships with their parents. And even when they’re expressing love and gratitude. Sometimes they’re telling me about the struggles that they’re having in those relationships with their parents. And they’re telling me that the things that their parents are doing, is actually making their life harder.
So sometimes just by trying to help them by not even realizing what they’re doing, you parents out there making your, your young adults life harder to navigate. And as parents, we don’t want to add to our child’s struggles. But we so often do that, just because of the way that we’re communicating with them. This episode has a lot to do with communication, and what you parents are doing, that’s not working the way that you think it’s working the way that you want it to be working. So this is just a little bit of what I’ve been hearing from them. It’s they don’t listen, they just want to lecture me and tell you tell me what I’m doing wrong.
Apparently, I don’t do anything, right. So there’s that camp. There’s also the camp of anytime I try to tell them about something I’m struggling with, they jump in. And they tell me a story about something that happened to them when they were my age. And they just take over the conversation. And they think that they’re helping me but it’s actually not, doesn’t feel really helpful.
And then there’s the dismissiveness. So I’m here, like I have so much anxiety about school, I’ve been trying to figure out my life. I’ve been trying to figure out what to study and who I should be dating and what I should be doing. And all my parents are just like, pressuring me to make a decision. And they’re just like, just hurry up about it. Just why do you have to be so stressed about it’s not that hard. And so it feels really dismissive to these kids.
So I gave you three different scenarios, the ones that I hear pretty typically, and what’s wrong with this? What’s wrong with these pictures? The first one when they said you know that my parents just aren’t listening to me. They just want to lecture me and telling me what I’m doing wrong, a healthy relationship is going to have at least five to one, positive to negative interactions. Hopefully, it’s more than five to one. But that’s, you know, that’s just a minimum. But it needs to have at least five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. And some models will even put that at a higher number, maybe like, up to 13, 14, 15 to one, for positive to negative.
So when you are telling your child, your young adult that you don’t approve of them of their life, or their decisions, or the things that they’re doing. So it’s actually not helpful to them, when you’re telling them all the things that you want them to be doing differently. But what if you really don’t approve of them of their life or their decisions, is telling them what they’re doing wrong, going to wake them up and make them say,
“Oh, you’re right, I feel so inspired now to make a change, thank you for telling me everything that’s wrong with me.”
No, that is not going to happen.
What will happen is they’re going to stop talking to you, they’re going to stop wanting to stop being around you. And they will stop letting you know what’s going on in their life, they’re just going to shut their life off from you. If you want to have less relationship, less influence, keep on criticizing, because you’re going to get everything that you want.
Now, the second scenario that I gave you about jumping in and like sharing so much information, you know, you we do this all the time, we see correlations in our kids lives to what we went through, and we want to tell them like, Hey, this is how I solved it. And, and this is what you can do to and here’s some things to think about. And we just want to help them so much that we’re jumping in and giving them a ton of information.
And I know this is so well meaning and it probably feels like the right thing to do. But instead, I want you to realize that by doing this, now, you’ve hijacked that conversation, and you’ve made it about you instead of about them. Have you ever had anybody do this to you? Like maybe you’re telling someone, something that’s happened to you in your life, and you don’t even get all the way through your story before they jump in and interrupt you and tell you what happened in their life.
Well, that feels really dismissive. Like they weren’t really listening to you, they were just, they just then wanted to bring the conversation all back to them. You could just see this all the time. That’s one really typical way that I see this is women talking about childbirth. So once one woman starts talking about, you know, maybe a traumatic birth story or pregnancy, then everybody else is going to chime in, and maybe not even let her finish her story. But it turns into who had the worst labor who had worst pregnancy kind of competition.
But if you’re trying to empathize with your child by telling them something about your life, and when you’ve handled the situation in a similar way, you probably aren’t achieving what you want to achieve by sharing and jumping in and trying to solve that problem for them by correlating to your own life. Again, they can feel really easily dismissed and not heard. Now, what about the third thing that I mentioned with the I have so much anxiety about school, I’ve been trying to figure out what to study and my parents just say, Oh, just hurry up and make a decision. It’s not that, like, Why do you have to be so stressed out about it?
Well, anxiety is huge. For the current young adult population, if you haven’t noticed, many of them are feeling crippled with anxiety. And it doesn’t help them to learn skills that will help them deal with their anxiety if their emotions are dismissed as not important. So if you’re doing this, you’re actually creating more anxiety in your young adult. You’re also telling them that you’re not a safe person to share their feelings with because they won’t be heard.
They’re just going to be dismissed. So all of this is anti connection, anti relationship, and our young adults are facing a really difficult world, a world that we’ve actually had a hand in creating for them. They need more connection, more relationship, not less. But what we’re doing even when we think that we’re being helpful is actually causing the opposite of what we want.
So when your young adult is telling you something, and you are chiming in and trying to fix it and take it over, and offering advice and thinking you’re being helpful, and you’re speaking a lot of words, this is what happens. You don’t listen to what they’re trying to tell you. You can’t really Listen, if you’re talking a lot, you can’t listen if you’re making the conversation about you, and about how you solve that problem, because they come to you wanting a safe place to be heard, and you’re turning the conversation around, so it’s not even focused on them anymore.
So you’ve hijacked the conversation. It’s not about them, or what they were trying to communicate to you. And you’ve created disconnection in that relationship. And if they don’t feel heard, and understood, they’re going to go somewhere else, the next time they need to talk. And if you’ve dismissed their emotions, you’ve now proven or maybe reinforced to them, that you’re not actually a safe person to share with, because you’re not really interested in what their life is actually like, because you discounted their emotional experience.
So we humans are very tribal people, we want to connect with our tribes think about 1000s of years ago, even hundreds of years ago, when people humans couldn’t live without a group of people and survive on their own, they needed to be in a group be accepted by the tribe, or it meant they were going to die. Because if you were not accepted by the tribe, you were kicked out of the tribe and you were on your own, left to the elements and for sure you were gonna die.
Our brains are still the same brains as those ancient ancestors that lived like that. Our brains today don’t know that we can actually live without being in a tribe. It’s, we still think that if we are not accepted by our family, by our friends, by our peers, by the people that were around, we still think that if we’re not accepted, then that’s like a life or death situation. It feels like the most dangerous thing to us. And when we’re told, what we’re doing is wrong.
We’re more criticized, that feels like a rejection. So we maybe go in search of a new tribe, that’s going to be more accepting, or we turn inward, and we withdraw into shame. Both of those are really damaging. Both of those create disconnection and families. We want to connect with the people in their lives. And we think that sharing an experience of our own will connect us to that young adult that we’re talking to, to that child that we are talking to. And there is connection there. But not if you’ve turned the conversation towards you, and your own experience, and you’ve turned away from their experience. Because if you’re dismissing their emotional experience, you’re actually dismissing a prime opportunity to develop deeper connections.
Because humans connect with other humans, sharing emotions. Sharing emotions will create strong bonds between people. If we’re not tapping into that emotional part of connecting and communication with our young adult with our child with anybody really, that we are missing out on a huge part of human connection. One thing that I find amazing about coaching, I’m constantly amazed at this is that the things that we think that we should be doing the things that seem natural to us, like, of course, I should be sharing with my child, the things that I solved, that they’re going through now.
Or of course, I should be telling my child that they need to fix these things, you know, telling them like you need to work on this. Of course, I should be telling them not to live into their anxiety and to make that worse, like, all of those things are actually the opposite of we should be doing. And that’s actually going to get you closer to where you want to be. And it’s going to help your child more when you do the opposite of what you think you should be doing. These situations that I just gave you are no different. The solution is to do less talking, not more talking.
So I want you to think of the acronym WAIT, which stands for Why Am I Talking? Now, what does this mean? What does this mean to us? When we’re asking ourselves this question, why am I talking? It means this is how you filter? What you’re going to say. And if you’re going to say something you can do is you can ask yourself is what I want to say kind, is it necessary? If it’s not, then you shouldn’t be talking. If you’re wanting to teach them something. Can you do it in a different way than talking at them?
Maybe there are some questions that you can ask them that will help them discover the answers for themselves, instead of you giving them the answer? And maybe they don’t even need answers. Maybe they just need for someone to listen to them. You know, our brains will make much more connections, they’ll make much more progress. If we are led through a series of questions to discover something for ourselves, then rather than someone giving us an answer, that tends to fall out of our heads really quickly.
But if we’ve learned something, through a series of questions through a process of coming to that conclusion on our own, that is changed that’s going to stick. And the truth is, no one wants to hear what you have to say unless they’ve already felt like they’ve been listened to.
Stephen R. Covey, one of his habits, Seek first to understand before you seek to be understood. So asking questions is a huge avenue a huge way to open up that door, to understand what your young adult is trying to communicate to you. And they just, oftentimes, they just need to be heard.
And when they are heard, that fixes so many problems, when a person feels like someone has finally heard them, that solves so many problems just on its own. One thing that happens to parents when I’m coaching them about their young adult kids, is that they then when they start to learn these things about weight, like don’t like you don’t need to be talking so much. Maybe you should be asking more questions, maybe you should be doing the opposite of what feels natural for you to do. They start to second guess themselves.
And they tell me, so if I should be doing the opposite of what I think I should be doing, I’m not actually sure what I should be doing. And don’t worry if you’re there, because this is natural. And you’ll figure it out. Over time, you’ll figure out what works over time. But for now, when you’re in doubt, remain silent. Or just ask questions, or just listen.
That feels wrong as a parent sometimes, especially if you’re used to teaching and directing and jumping in and trying to solve a problem. Especially for this young adult who just turned into an adult and is trying to figure out life. We so often do this and we end up hijacking conversations, we end up lecturing and we end up dismissing we don’t really actually have conversations with them.
So the difference between a conversation and and a lecture, a conversation shows respect, listening to the other person, what are they really trying to tell you? Sometimes you have to listen between the words that they’re speaking? conversation doesn’t have should statements, for example, you should do what I did. You should listen to me because I know what I’m talking about.
Here’s a conference talk you should listen to. Now, even if you don’t say those things out loud, they’re often implied and they’re often in the back of your head. As in, you should just do what I do. That’s kind of what you’re saying when you’re sitting when you’re showing them? Well, I did that I had that same situation or a similar situation when I was young.
And this is how I solved it. So you should just do what I did. Right? Now, a lecture involves you doing most of the talking, it uses those should statements. And it puts you in the one up position automatically and treats automatically treats them as the inferior as the less than it doesn’t show respect. Now, here’s your two takeaways for today.
Take Away #1
I want you to realize that everyone filters, the things that you say through this thought. What does this mean about me? And when you talk more than you listen, you’re telling your young adult, that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.
Take Away #2
To find more connection with your young adult, filter your words through the thought, why am I talking? And if what you’re going to say doesn’t keep the focus on them, doesn’t show compassion doesn’t seek to understand. Then don’t speak. Just listen.
Here’s your challenge for the week:
The next time you see yourself wanting to jump in and share Something about you, I want you to stop, what you do not share. actually stop, might have to bite your tongue to do this. But ask a question to the other person about their experience instead, even if that question is as simple as, “what was that like for you?” Or “tell me more about that.”
See what happens when you do this, see what happens inside your brain, see what happens to the conversation, it’s gonna be very interesting for you to notice what happens in your own brain. And in the conversation, because your brain might be screaming at you to share your own experience, because that’s the way it thinks you’ve connected in the past, and it wants to connect, it wants to form those tribal bonds, right?
But you don’t need to believe it, you will connect more with that person with your child, if you don’t share, and you simply stay interested in what they are saying. You’re probably going to notice that they maybe they open up more to you. Because they really feel like you’ve heard them. And that they’ve been listened to. When your kids were teenagers when they were young, elementary school, or when they were teenagers or high schoolers.
Did you ever look forward to the day when they would graduate from high school and become young adults? Did you ever think, oh, man, it’s going to be so much easier? Once they get older? It’s going to be so much easier to be their parent, then. Did you find out that that wasn’t actually true? Did you find out that it got harder, a lot harder.
Now, I don’t remember anyone ever telling me when my kids were younger, that it got harder once they got older. Maybe they did. I don’t remember it. But I was not prepared for it. But the thing is that now that they’re adults, you get to worry about so many of the same things that you worried about when they were teenagers and young children.
And it’s compounded with your lack of having any control over their life or their choices. It feels scary, and it feels overwhelming. And that’s going to show up in the relationship that you have with them. If you’re feeling scared, and you’re feeling overwhelmed. And if you’re feeling that way, you’re probably also struggling in that relationship that you have with them, because it’s coming out in one way or another. Maybe there’s some fighting, maybe there’s hurt feelings, maybe you feel just completely shut out of their life.
Now I have a program for the parents of young adults just like you it’s called healing your family relationships. And it will help you deal with that fear with the overwhelm. And it’s going to help you begin to heal that relationship that you have with your child.
And if this sounds like you, I want you to set up an appointment with me because I can help you, this program can help you. The first appointment is only $25 for 15 minutes. And that first call alone will help you feel so much better. It helps you to start seeing a little bit of light into a situation that feels really dark.
And you start seeing how coaching can help you move towards where you want to be a place where you feel better. And you feel like that relationship is healing. And if you’re thinking that your young adult needs to change for any of that to happen, then you’re wrong. They don’t have to change at all, for you to feel better. And for you to start healing their relationship, it is possible for you to do that without them changing at all.
So if you are wanting to see how this works for you, if you’re needing some healing in your family, and in your relationships with your young adult, I want you to go to https://tinagosney.com/apply
You’re going to be able to set up your appointment there. I only offer a few of these appointments each week. So make sure you go and you’ll get yours right now. You’re going to find a link to this in the show notes. So if you didn’t catch that, just go to the show notes and go there and you can catch that link there.
I want you to remember that the quality of your family relationships will impact the quality of your life. Keep showing up. Keep working. Keep showing lots of love. And you’ll get there. Have a great day and I will see you next week.