I was recently reading an article on relationships, dating, marriage, and “learning your partner” type of stuff. It suggested tips on communication–how to talk about the hard stuff, how to apologize when things go bad, how to show compassion.
As I read through this article, I thought to myself, “This is no different than my relationship with my daughters.”
We have arguments, challenges, disagreements, and honestly, I think they are all the same. The issues we’re fighting over don’t seem to be the actual issues. I try to remind myself that fights are often created so that the other person can get out the frustrations and anger that have been building up over time.
I have been experiencing a new level of “honest conversations” with my daughters as they have gotten older, but most of the real tough ones have recently come from my grandbaby’s momma. She is coming into her own as a mom and she is speaking up! And speaking up strong!
I had an opportunity to experience this a couple nights ago. It started with the text, “Mom, are you home so I can swing by and talk?”… Oh no.
I’m not going to lie. At first, when I heard her frustrations aimed at me, I naturally felt defensive. My guard went up and I started scrolling through all the tough times we’ve been through and what I have tolerated to keep the peace. I felt as if she was holding me to some standard of not being able to make my own mistakes (which I know I make mistakes!). But then I told myself to cool down, shut up (well, shut down the voices in my head), and actually listen. She had valid points. She had been hurt and I needed to hear her.
I’m not Elena’s mom. I am her grandmother. I do not have the right to just take her whenever I want or to interrupt her mother’s discipline. I need to respect my daughter’s choices of food and stop lifting my brow when I see a McDonald’s bag in Elena’s hands. I need to manage not only my mouth and my thoughts, but also my judgy-ness. She’s right and even if she is not 100% right, she is making some valid points. Damn her, she’s growing up!
Disagreements happen and they will continue to happen. I raised my daughters to speak their mind, to have a voice, but to also be respectful. I think learning is having a strong opinion while respectfully communicating in a way that the other person can really hear you, especially when both parties are charged.
I think her words were, “No, mom, you need to listen to me. Even if you do teach communication, you aren’t seeing how poorly you’ve been communicating to others lately. You’re in your own world and doing whatever you want to do and not being aware of the others around you. Your assumptions are wrong, you need to stop making them and especially stop sharing them with others.” It went on, but I’ll save myself the embarrassment.
She was totally right. I’ve been busy, operating from only my needs, not making time to communicate to everyone in clear and concise ways. I’ve been irritable and closed off. She nailed it and I did need to hear it. I also needed to think about who else I had been affecting. I had been arguing with her dad, I was in a bad place with my business partner, I hadn’t made time for a close friend who had been ill. I hadn’t appreciated the people around me that were helping me out. I snapped at my oldest daughter for not having the kitchen clean while she was visiting…true, true, true, and true.
I’m sorry. I hate the ugly truths. They are embarrassing and I hate that these behaviors of mine are not fair to those I love and care about.
Reading that article and then a few days later having my daughter swing by to talk about what she had been struggling with, highlighted the similarities and had me realize that we need to be as gentle, open, and honest with our adult children as we wish to be with our partners. I think that truth be told, no matter who it is in our life, people want to be heard, valued, and loved.
I also have to remember to honor my daughter’s role as a parent and maintain my role as her mom and Elena’s Aba. I love them both AND I need to love them differently.
I remember someone once giving me the advice that we have to move from parenting to coaching—from telling to asking. And now that my daughters are adults and one is a mom, it moves to mentoring—if and when they’re ready.
My one constant is to always be loving!
PS- I LOVE this quote here from Glennon Doyle!