Some conversations are hard. Be it with anyone. However, with parents, hard conversations are nearly impossible to start. Not always, though. That’s if you know the right way to initiate it.
But have you ever thought where does one go wrong in understanding how to have hard conversations with parents? Are we too busy, snobbish, egoistic, or too scared to have these types of conversations with our parents? Or is it our parents’ fault? In retrospect, more often, we blame others for failed attempts of having these hard conversations. Isn’t it?
That’s not the right way to tackle this issue of having difficult talks with your parents though. What you need is a workable solution. Some solutions, which I too have tried multiple times.
How To Have Hard Conversations With Parents In 11 Simple Steps:
1. Have a clear mind and chain of thoughts.
Firstly, know which conversation you want to have with your parents.
What is it about? Why do you want to have this conversation exactly now and not later? Why is this conversation bothering you so much? Is it really necessary to talk it out?
Do you think your parents would understand this conversation in one go?
Jotting down and answering those questions yourself, you would know if this conversation will be real hard on you and your parents.
At least, this exercise prepares you for the onslaught of criticism or disappointing facial expressions from your parents.
2. Prepare conversation opener lines in advance.
“Dad, I want to tell you something which might make you sad but it’s important to be out.”
“Mom & Dad, I really want to tell you something that’s been going on in my mind for too long but I have been unable to settle it down. I want your unbiased advice on this. But please, listen first, and respond later. I might be wrong, but I need you on this with me.”
Lines like those above really help parents know the trouble you are to invite into their world.
Also, another trick is to wait for your parents to reply to the conversation openers. At least, you will get a heads-up about their expectations. Accordingly, you can then switch your conversation lines and moods.
3. Act directly and see what happens next.
“Dad & mom, I am in trouble.”
“Mom, I have committed a terrible mistake.”
“Dad, I want to confess a mistake/crime/issue.”
That’s like you’re not beating around the bush. You are going straight for it. This way, the fear of the initial step or conversation line delivers from your mind.
Note: These lines are strictly prohibited for children or parents having issues like domestic abuse or domestic disturbances in their family. In those cases, it’s best you seek a counselor or a lawyer first.
4. Check the mood of everyone in the family.
Your mood has to be clear so should be of your parents. With a disturbed mood, having a hard or complex conversation is more difficult.
But while learning how to have hard conversations with parents, I’ve realized to set the mood right. Shut your mind off from negative thoughts and outcomes. Even if you are planning to have negative and sad conversations with them. That’s okay because it’s a part of life.
Understand that not everything can be rosy and golden in life.
Troubles come. Troubles go.
What matters is how families stick together. And without having uncomfortable conversations, that’s nearly impossible.
5. Be accountable if you’ve committed a mistake.
Before having a hard conversation with your parents, set your mind clear about accountability and responsibilities. You know you have committed a stupid yet painful mistake. You can’t undo it.
What can you do then to make situations better or at least make your parents understand that it won’t be repeated?
Make a list of accountable actions you can perform from now on. These actions show that you’re willing to become wiser, more responsible, and more sensible.
So, when your parents ask you about a solution to the problem, having no cure on their bucket list, show them your list. It will certainly melt down their sadness to a notch.
Because you’re the one who’s been doing something wrong. And you’re the one ready to commit actions to rectify the impact of consequences. It’s a presentable way of making them realize that you understand the loss and its impact.
Ultimately, what matters in learning how to have hard conversations with parents is that you know how to ease the pain rightfully.
6. Plan out the conversation to be had with parents committing a mistake.
They are your parents. Not gods. Ultimately, undisputedly, they’re humans too. They too are prone to committing mistakes having dispositioned impacts.
Their actions might hurt you continuously. Now, you’ve reached a point of intolerance.
What do you do from this point? Have that hard conversation about the proverbial elephant in the room.
Again, the question lingers at how?
Follow the same procedure as discussed in various points above:
- Clear your mind from biases and negative thoughts to understand the situation better.
- Make notes of your pain points delivered to you by your parents.
- Map out these points further to list the reasoning. In short, answer why certain acts or words are causing you harm. And when? or how?
- Choose the medium of conversation with your parents. It’s explained clearly in the next point.
7. Choose the right medium to converse with your parents.
As the tech advances, so do we. We must. Not every conversation can be face-to-face, despite its fruitful outcomes. Hard conversations are trickier to conduct one-on-one. It depends on your personality as well.
If you’re an extrovert or have more signs inclined towards that trait, you would have no trouble talking stuff out. You would be ready to confront your parents at once. You would have shorter temperament.
Fun fact: Chances are, you wouldn’t even be reading this blog post if you’re a hardcore extrovert. Well, at least our in-house psychologists agree to that.
Now, introverts need the right medium to converse with their parents. Or else, overthinking would eat up their mental peace.
So, it’s not necessary to talk stuff out on face initially because you know the first conversation always has the most heat. To deter the impact, you can:
- Send them a message,
- Send a voice note, or
- Have a conversation on the call.
By the time they’re back home or meeting you personally, the conversation will be a lot more about the solutions.
There would be less discussion on blaming each other for the mistake or negligence. You feel better when the focus isn’t on you. Rather, it’s on the situation on the 2nd hard conversation with your parents as you all meet.
8. Surprise your parents in advance to mellow the aftereffects.
That’s one coy way to convince your parents to have hard conversations later on. You can start changing your behavior a few days prior to this D-day of having the most uncomfortable talk.
These behavioral changes must be subtle, in tune with their wishes/demands/expectations. Plan this at least a week or a few days ahead. See if their perception of you as their perfect kid changes a bit. See their reaction to the surprises you prepare for them.
But you don’t need to spend extravagantly on the surprise, especially if the conversation to be had is related to financial loss. Rather, allow them to know that you’re bringing money home.
Well, that’s just one example.
9. Show them the example of other kids committing similar mistakes.
You’re not alone. It’s just the phase. There are others like you in the neighborhood or the country. Or on the planet! They all are committing such mistakes daily like a routine.
That’s just another trick to learn while we’re giving you detailed info on how to have a hard conversation with your parents. Conversations that are meaningful, effective, smart, and mostly to work in your favor.
When parents know you’re not alone, it’s the norm, the trend, they can be less disappointed. They would blame the entire invisible community of kids or children across the neighborhood or planet.
However, using this trick depends on the type of conversation to be had. Not every predicament might be solved using this analogy.
Be wise to use it in certain situations like scoring less, or failing in some exam, or changing a high-earning job at the peak age of your success.
10. Use open-ended questions.
One way to make your parents smarter, creative, and more educated to have harder conversations is using open-ended questions.
These can be like:
What would you have done then, mom?
Am I really at fault here despite everything I have exclaimed?
How can I quit this addiction? I have no idea. Would you help me out? Because I tried everything and got nowhere.
At what point would you have realized that you’ve been hurting me so much?
Does it not feel bad cursing when you know we have siblings in the house?
Why do you always have to expect so much from me?
What have I done so wrong for you to always poke me for my mistakes? I am sorry, and I feel bad about it too. But would you please, please, just think once before commenting again?
Such painful, sad, and yet clear-cut open-ended questions. Children, some kids, teenagers, and adults are asking their parents daily. Across the planet.
You can too.
At least, it will tie the loose ends. For all that matters, you can move on from the pain that’s been hurting you for so long.
11. Let the hurt and pain sink in to respond correctly.
While processing the information on how to have hard conversations with parents, learn that it’s going to pain. These conversations are not easy for a reason. Either it’s your ego, expectations, disappointments, or it’s theirs.
Someone will feel the ache from having these talks, which no one wants out in the open. Without them, though, families choke to death. Sometimes, literally. But let’s not get that dark here.
So, embrace the pain and hurt you get after completing the conversation. Don’t go on an agenda to take revenge on your family for disagreeing with you. At least, now they know your mindset. And you know theirs. That’s the whole point of starting a conversation in the family.
Conclusion on how to have hard conversations with parents:
I have gone through these phases myself while having conversations about committing blunders. It went from childhood to years when I have been running this website and other creative ventures.
So having hard talks with your parents is another part of your life, you shouldn’t miss out on it.
Be courageous to have it.
What do you get out of it?
You become an effective conversationalist and listener. You understand others’ emotions well and quickly. You learn to value your wishes and give others their space to develop and analyze theirs. It helps you build your family progressively too one day. Even your interpersonal relationships improve by having hard conversations at home.
Plus, you get to challenge and know yourself better.