How do you communicate (and can you?) without it sounding like a lecture? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Pretty much what the titles say.


I often feel like I am lecturing my kids, and that they hear blahblah.gif whenever I talk to them on certain topics (school, chores, etc) or try to share tips that worked for me.


Ex:  (this is just the latest, it happens constantly).


DS is having some issues with time management and tackling school projects.  I have some tips and suggestions for him, but all he he says when I speak is "I know, mom".  Well, DS, if you "know" you are not showing it!


Today I played the Mother's Day card - told him I was going to talk for 3 minutes on the subject and he was going to listen and repeat back my messages because it was Mother's Day.   Take that, DS!  I wish every day were Mother's Day…...



So, two questions:


Can you talk to your children without feeling like you are lecturing them (and without them feeling lectured to)?


Do you have any tips on how to achieve this  -  particulalry if you went through a period where you felt like you were lecturing/talking to a brick wall - but now feel like you can get your messages across better?



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#2 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 04:12 PM
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Well, everybody hates unsolicited advice. My fiance's trouble understanding that fact has caused some tension between us, and though he's finally let up on me, I bet he's gonna drive our kids nuts someday. He was always saying things to me like, "Sit up straight," or "Are  you sure you should be eating that?" Then he'd get all pissy about me not respecting his opinion if I didn't change the way I was sitting or whatever.


When I suspect someone might benefit from what I know or have experienced, I say it in the form of, "What worked for me was ________" or "I found it helpful to ________". Sometimes I'll even straight up ask, "Do you want to know how I did it?" and just drop the matter if they say no. The key thing about whatever word choice you go for is that it just gives them the info without actually telling them what to do with it. Even though you're still kind of implying that you think they should do it your way, the fact that you're not actually coming out and saying helps to avoid that, "YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME I'LL DO WHAT I WANT!!!" gut reaction.




DS is having some issues with time management and tackling school projects.  I have some tips and suggestions for him, but all he he says when I speak is "I know, mom".  Well, DS, if you "know" you are not showing it!

Ya know, he might have a reason (or twenty) for not doing it your way. Like, when my DP told me how to sit, he was technically right that the way he was telling me to sit was the correct and healthier way. But I had a tons of reasons--conscious and unconscious--for not sitting that way. For one, it takes a lot of concentration to sit in an unnatural way, and I wanted to use that concentration for other reasons. And I can't sit in the same position--any position--for very long without it hurting. The more unnatural the position the sooner it'll start hurting. Sitting the right way makes it harder to reach the various tools on my desk and slows down whatever I'm doing. And sometimes I'd just like to relax and not do sitting exercises!

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#3 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 05:09 PM
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My dd is only nine but I avoid lecturing by stating the problem then having my dd tell me her solution for it.
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#4 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 05:20 PM
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Not coming from a place of being there myself, but thinking of my own parents when I was a teen:



My dad rarely lectured us, but often told us stories about stuff he did or other people he knew and interesting or unwise decisions they made.  It never really seemed in response to stuff we were really having troubles with, so we often listened to him and I, personally, have come to admire and respect his position on most things from the way he approached sharing them with us.



My mom was prone to lecturing - but would also often check out piles of library books.  She'd often have a wide variety of books dealing with things that were, probably, hard to talk about with us or similar.  Things like 'responsible young adult topics' or various self-help-ey age appropriate books.  We were all voracious readers, so I think we'd at least leaf through most of whatever she brought home.  Sometimes if she'd been reading them too, there would be marked sections.  It was a bit less annoying than being lectured, and sometimes helpful, so that's a possible idea too.



I wouldn't have been receptive to my parents doing this (I don't think shrug.gif) but, in difficult spots with my younger kids & even dh, it helps if I just go to them with my worries about it - and admit to them (and myself) how outlandish they kinda get when we have a current problem issue.  Were I to be dealing with your problem it'd likely be something like: "ds, I just worry that you'll never figure out how to manage your time to get schoolwork done, and then never be able to keep a job when you're done with school, and then I'll end up having to search for you while you're living homeless in xyz city with a bagged lunch because you'll never figure out how to make time to get to the shelters and get any food and clothing".  

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#5 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.  I like the tips - keep them coming!



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#6 of 13 Old 05-13-2012, 09:42 PM
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re: tips on time management for homework


What we do (which meets w/ some success) is to ask DS to make a plan (with times and dates) for what he will do and then show it to us.


His school also send out homework assignments via email (and cc's the parent) so I also ask him (from time to time) to show me what he has done, or what his plan or schedule is for finishing.



re: avoiding lectures


I try and keep instructions or stories of "When I was young..." short. I also will sometimes make it explicit that I want to talk to him about something.  "DS, I need to talk to you about something" and then we adjourn to my room (private place) and I will tell him my concern, short and sweet.


If he sometimes says "Yes, I know..." then I will then say what original poster says she thinks "Then put that knowledge into action".

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#7 of 13 Old 05-14-2012, 07:56 AM
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It's difficult and I continually work on with only moderate success. I try to ask questions and solicit feelings and thoughts during more serious conversations. This is pretty easy with my DS 11 whose nature is to react and share. DD 15 though is contemplative, private and requires processing time. Most times she CAN'T respond during any conversation that elicits personal feelings and I've had to just accept that. So, I've learned to say me peace briefly and then revisit a day later when she's had time to weed through and identify how she really feels about what I said (and sometimes it takes more than a day.) At that point, we can have  an actual conversation.

Married mom, DD 18, DS 15, and a Valentine's surprise on the way!
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#8 of 13 Old 05-15-2012, 06:34 AM
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My two are 22 and 19, and I've been able to reach them most by speaking to them in sound bites about my perspective, i.e. just a brief but accurate statement and leave it there to cook.  When something has needed more attention -- procrastination or sibling issues -- what worked is going at it from their p.o.v.  Not as in why they're right but by raising other things I've heard them say are important to them.  "OK, look, I have heard you say you want such-and-such, do I understand that?  Because what you're doing now can make it harder for you by so-and-so."  Sometimes, like with procrastination or school work, there's a tangle with something else like sleep issues, and I'd just tell DS2 to pick his battle and get himself through the school year the way he needs to.  He was an A student in high school; DH and I would have preferred lower grades and a more balanced sleep schedule, but he is who he is.  Or DS1 would be stressed about something, we knew what would probably help, but going after that solution was also stressful to him; again, he had to pick his battle.  We left a lot in their hands, but tried to help shine a clear light on what was healthy about the things they do want from their lives.

Of course, that varies.  Sibling events sometimes meant that one of them did something outright wrong.  Different conversation.  :-)


And if it's in any way encouraging, we've seen both of them take on problems that concern us and are "lecture-worthy," and work on specific approaches to address them, with the perspective of knowing that getting a handle on that kind of thing will make other parts their lives better and easier.

Empty-nesting SAHM to DS1 (1989) and DS2 (1992). Caregiver to my mother (1930). Married to DH since 1986.
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#9 of 13 Old 05-21-2012, 12:45 PM
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EVERYTHING is going to sound like a lecture. No matter how I phrase anything, neither DD will actually listen to anything I say. Sometimes you just have to let them fall on their ass and then refrain from the "I told you so"s and they will realize you were right and might actually listen to you once they see you have valuable info to offer. Teenagers hate being told they're wrong, they don't know everything, or that someone else might have been in a similar situation at one point in time. They are inherently self absorbed. All you can do is stand at the bottom of the hill with a box of Band-Aids and hope they come to their senses.

(gender)queer vegetarian artist co-parenting DDs 14 & 11 with DP and TTC  little peanut #3 3rdtri.gif

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#10 of 13 Old 05-28-2012, 03:07 PM
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Yep, it's all lectures, and they all hate it.


With my twins (who just graduated from high school - HOORAY!), what seems to work is to say something like "It looks like you're having trouble with X. Can we talk about it?" or "I see you have a big project due next week. What is your plan for getting it done? Is there anything I can do to help?" Ideally, you want him to come up with his own solutions, which may or may not involve your participation. With school work, you can let him develop a plan - but you still have the right (and responsibility) to check up on him to make sure it's getting done.


I guess that's part of it for us too. I loathed being the Homework Ogre in our house, but it had to be done, especially with one of my sons. Our school has all grades posted on line, starting in middle school, so parents can keep track of homework on a daily basis (or weekly, depending on how diligent the teacher is). My son hated with a passion when I would say "I checked Poewrschool today, and it looks like you're missing some work". What worked really well for us was for me to send him an email after I checked his assignments. I'd go through each class giving him updates, but it was a lot easier for me to sound non-judgemental in email compared to face to face. He appreciated the updates (he didn't like to check Powerschool himself), and he didn't have to listen to me ask why the hell he got a D on his German quiz.


Another thing that has worked reasonably well for us is lists. My kids seem incapable of noticing things like a sinkful of dirty dishes, or piles of dirty clothes - but if I leave them a list asking them to load the dishwasher or vacuum, they do so willingly (or at least before I get home from work). No nagging, but chores still get done. They are not great at time management either, so the list helps them see what needs to be done.


Finally, listen to THEM! I am far from perfect, and we all know it - and my kids are not afraid to lecture me on occasion. I get a chance to model taking responsibility for my own actions - and mistakes. We try to look at conflict situations as problems for us to solve together, and compromise is usually part of it.


We also talk about stuff - current events, school happenings, my day at work, their hopes and dreams. If every conversation isn't a lecture, it's easier for them to learn to listen, and to talk.

If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

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#11 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post


 If every conversation isn't a lecture, it's easier for them to learn to listen, and to talk.

Nicely put!

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#12 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 09:23 AM
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I discussed this with my 14 yo.  The conclusion is that, yes, I lecture.  But usually it's a lecture with discussion.  And there are times when he's right and I'm wrong.  It also doesn't help that we home school.  More times for me to be wrong or at least not practicing what I'm preaching.  I hate it when he points that out to me.  That's the down side to having a good relationship with my children when they are teens.  And a sign that I'm doing it "right".

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#13 of 13 Old 06-05-2012, 09:10 AM
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I've started emailing DS with 'important' things.  Email works better for him - at this point- for some reason.  Maybe he is visual, maybe he is tech savvy, who knows but sending a list of :


1. abc

2. def

3. ghi

4. jkl

 Complete by 5pm - make sure #4 is done by friday.


seems to work much better then me telling him 15,697,519,871,000 times


This way I dont need to lecture, I don't need to nag, its plain as day, clear in writing and the email is time/date stamped.


*we also homeschool so I've been training DS for awhile.

Mom to J and never ending 
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