As moms, we are often forced to have difficult conversations. With our partners, perhaps, if we feel that we are not getting what we need from them. With teachers or administrators, if our child is having problems in school. With extended family members, who we may perceive are not supporting us or our children in the way we’d hoped they would.
Because I’m a psychologist, I often hear about the difficulties that mothers have with other people in their lives. I’m also often the only person they discuss these difficulties with, as they avoid directly addressing their issues with the person in question. I get it: in the short-term, it’s easier to say nothing than to confront someone about an emotional issue. But this also means that the issue never gets resolved and becomes a long-term problem.
Here’s a piece of advice I always give to moms who are contemplating an emotional conversation: plan ahead for difficult conversations. I’m not suggesting that you write out what you’re going to say and memorize it like a script. Instead, I recommend that you think carefully about the points you want to get across, and how you want to convey those points. Stick to the facts, and to your own feelings. Try not to be judgmental or accusatory towards the other person (even if you do actually believe that they are at fault).
Another important aspect to plan: when these conversations will be held. Tell the person with whom you wish to speak that you’d like to set aside a time to have a discussion with them. Choose a time that works for both of you. That way, you’ll go into the conversation in the right emotional frame of mind. What I find happens to many moms is this: they avoid having an emotional confrontation, their anger/frustration builds up, and they eventually “lose it,” lashing out at the person in question. Words said/screamed in anger or frustration rarely have any impact. On the contrary, they often breed anger and defensiveness in the other person.
Ever try to plan ahead for difficult conversations? Please share your thoughts here!