On any given day, I have to tell one of my children “maybe everybody isn’t wrong when it comes to their perception of your attitude or behavior.” My oldest daughter has a temper and a mean streak which manifests themselves in a “coldness” that makes her seem “unapproachable” (father’s genes). When I brought this to her attention, she was defensive and not accepting. She did not respond, initially. Lately, I can tell by her interactions with others that she has learned how to “regulate & adjust”, but she still has a temper and a mean streak. She says “Mom I’m on a 12 step program and I’m only on step 3” (Baby Steps).
In an effort to keep the peace, we sometimes refrain from having those “Fierce Conversations” with our children. But, those conversations are the foundation that promote and support growth and development. Have you ever said “I can’t believe her mother let her walk out the house like that” – ummhmmm. Fierce conversations always involve a need for a change in behavior or attitude. These conversations should be direct, private, and timely. I wish that I could say that they always have a happy ending, but most don’t, initially. Think about it, if your boss told you that your negative attitude is creating an atmosphere that is not conducive to working and preceded to give examples, would you be happy – defensive – angry? Your child will probably have the same reaction to any conversations involving their perception of themselves. How many times have you asked, or been asked “Who do you think you are?”
Fierce conversations are meant to facilitate a change. If your child is demonstrating behaviors that cast a shadow on their person, PARENTS it is your duty to bring it to their attention. Don’t sugar coat it, don’t give analogies, and don’t let tears stop the discussion. But, be ready for the fact that you may not see a change. The purpose of the “Fierce Conversation” is to make your child AWARE. My fierce conversations normally end with “I’m just throwing it out there.”
By the way, AGE MATTERS when attempting to conduct a Fierce Conversation. If your child is too young or too immature to realize that their behavior and attitude will impact their life, then you need to tell them what to do as opposed to allowing them decide what needs to be done.
Your exactly right Jean. I have many conversations with my son about his bad adittude. He often tells me he doesn’t want to talk about it. At that point I continue on a different subject and come back to what we were talking about later. I don’t let him get away without hearing what needs to be discussed. Thanks for all your good advice.
Thank you for sharing. You made a very important point “Never let them off the hook.” It may take days, and you may have to address it in pieces, but the information you have MUST be shared.
Keep up the good work!