Certain issues within a family are problems that are not appropriate for the entire family to discuss. But, when life challenges arise that are affecting the every day activities of the family, or if one or both of the parents are “out of sorts” due to outside circumstances, and etc., it’s ok to discuss this. However, the discussion needs certain components to be effective and successful.
Here are some suggestions:
- Discuss situations when you are calm. Being overly emotional (or what is termed Emotionally Flooded) can make it difficult for the other person to hear the true problem. It’s difficult for anyone to get through heightened emotion—especially kids.
- Breathe. Calm down. Step away. Go outside for a walk. Read something inspirational. Meditate. Pray. Be calm when you are preparing to address a problem.
- Start with the end in mind. The end would be a resolution that is good for you and good for the other party—or good for the family.
- Sometimes, the conversation is just one to explain to your kids why you may be distant or less energetic or out of sorts.
- From a congruent place—a place where you are honest with your feelings—tell your kids, spouse, or both what is on your mind and what is upsetting you. Focus on the specific situation that is bothering you. Let them know that you are not upset with them. Your kids and spouse may misinterpret your behavior and think you are mad at them. Let them know (if this is the case) that what is going on is something at work—or on the team—or with a friend (or whatever) and that you are not upset with them.
For example: “My colleague at work was unhappy with a project I turned in today and made a scene at lunch. I am very unhappy with the way things were handled and I’m sure that’s why I’m not too friendly tonight. It’s not you. It’s my problem at work. I’ll be ok.”
Taking that a bit further. If you are unhappy with something one of your children has done, sit down—calmly—and address the problem, paying specific attention to the unacceptable behavior. Make sure that your child knows you may not like what he/she has done but that never means you do not like them.
If a child senses that his parent is unhappy with something, they often interpret that as “my mommy or daddy doesn’t like me anymore.” Be sure to let them know you do not like what they are doing but that does not mean you do not like them.
Another step in the life process of problem solving.