I want DC to talk less & listen more and less negativity and more appreciation: our morning talk today and how to proceed - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 09-19-2012, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In the past 6 months or so my often care-free and happy 11 year old has been a bit dissatisfied. She spends quite a bit of time and energy on what she doesn't like, what she would like to change. She spends a lot of time talking to me about that. I feel as though she is spending her time talking about what she wants and that that energy could be better spent by thinking of all the wonderful things about her life. And, yes, talking less and listening more. 

 

I'm a fan of addressing problems as individual issues so I'll give an example of something that happened yesterday, which is one of several situations that prompted this post. 

 

DC's birthday was yesterday and we had a nice family party for her. We talked about the party a lot leading up to it - what we would eat, who would come and etc. It was a little much but I felt like we did a good job together of having a reasonable amount of energy invested in her day. But, I did have to help her tone it down and not become too focused on her birthday - lest we spend the entire month talking about it. Fast forward through the party and all the lovely gifts she was given...  At about 11pm that night she woke up and woke me up to tell me she felt weird -- that she was thinking of all her gifts and she couldn't sleep. I was tired and perhaps not especially able to understand her feelings and told her that she needed to wake her father for this if she continued to have trouble sleeping.  She knew I was upset by having her stressed over the party, which she was sensitive to the fact that I had put a great deal of time in trying to make nice for her. 

 

Fast forward to this AM...

 

She wants to talk - wants to talk about our relationship - how she wants it to be better - what I can do to make it better...

 

I don't know. I got irritated. 

 

I feel badly about being irritated by this. Part of me thinks this is "typical". Part of me thinks maybe this is just part of her personality but this is how I'm feeling right now: 

 

I feel like she spend a lot of time focusing on what can be better rather than on what is good. She has a nice life. I am very much a good enough mom. We do lovely things together. She had a very lovely birthday. I'll admit that I feel kind of angry (I guess?...maybe disappointment?) that she managed to find something to be stressed about.  

 

Maybe this is just a vent. I don't know. 

 

I'd love to hear some stories from you all about this - your opinions. 

 

Please take this post for a vent -- I'm not sure how well thought out my feelings are. 

 

ETA: 

 

I wanted to add that the listening thing comes in here as well. I feel like DC talks a lot and asks a lot of questions but that she often doesn't listen or internalize the answer. She may ask if she can go to the neighbors and I will say yes. Then a few minutes later she may ask again. 

 

Along those lines she may be very interested in telling me what she wants, changes she'd like to make to the family dynamic, routine or whatever but when I would like to respond or talk about things from my perspective, I feel like she can't hear me. 

 

Sigh...


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#2 of 9 Old 09-19-2012, 09:33 PM
 
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She wants you to talk less and listen more, too.

 

Practice active listening, and set boundaries.

 

Find your own center, and stay there whatever is going on with her. This is really important, and is not something that I needed to do when my children were younger. Learn to not get angry/stressed/etc when she is funky about stuff. It doesn't help.

 

For us, this got more difficult before it got easier, and, no, there isn't anything magic we can tell you to rush your DD through the various emotional aspects of becoming a woman and her own person. In some ways, I found the "I've learned to be critical" phase easier than the mood swings that followed the next year.

 

We do have a family ritual that each person says one thing they are grateful for at dinner time, and both my DD's went through a phase where that was quite challenging for them.

 

This does end eventually. At 14 and 15, my DD's usually quite lovely to spend time with.
 

Sorry I don't have something more positive to share.


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#3 of 9 Old 09-20-2012, 01:27 AM
 
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How about just listening to her? She sounds like she just wants to talk to you and tell you wants going on in her life and you don't want to listen because it's negative. If you keep shutting her down now she will give up trying to talk to you and when she's in the middle of the teenage years and needs to talk to you the most she won't feel comfortable with it any more. Have you actually tried doing the things that she said she needed from you in regards to your relationship?


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#4 of 9 Old 09-20-2012, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

She wants you to talk less and listen more, too.

 

Practice active listening, and set boundaries.

 

I do think some boundaries are in order but I/we need to figure out what they are and how that would work. Because it sounds like you have a good feeling for where DC and I are right now, it would be really helpful if you could describe what boundaries looked like for you and your DC at this stage. 

 

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

For us, this got more difficult before it got easier, and, no, there isn't anything magic we can tell you to rush your DD through the various emotional aspects of becoming a woman and her own person. In some ways, I found the "I've learned to be critical" phase easier than the mood swings that followed the next year.

 

We do have a family ritual that each person says one thing they are grateful for at dinner time, and both my DD's went through a phase where that was quite challenging for them.

 

This does end eventually. At 14 and 15, my DD's usually quite lovely to spend time with.
 

Sorry I don't have something more positive to share.

 

 

No, this is all good for me to hear - I appreciate the feeling like you "get" this stage, and hearing that you also feel like it's part of developing...and, of course, hearing that your children have come out of it 
 
Originally Posted by Learning_Mum View Post

How about just listening to her? She sounds like she just wants to talk to you and tell you wants going on in her life and you don't want to listen because it's negative. If you keep shutting her down now she will give up trying to talk to you and when she's in the middle of the teenage years and needs to talk to you the most she won't feel comfortable with it any more. Have you actually tried doing the things that she said she needed from you in regards to your relationship?

No, it's not really like that. I really am happy to listen when times are tough or to let her vent - its not that I don't know the value of that. It's that sometimes it's to the point that I question whether it's good for DC from a mental health - life-skills perspective...

 

I think I'm grappling with finding the balance between being there for her to talk and vent and being her gauge for when it's time for her to focus on other things. I think, perhaps, this is a dynamic of adult relationships and we're just dipping our toes in this. Something like that...

 

I appreciate both your thoughts - more than anything I think it helps to hear other perspectives or shared experiences and it really just helps to write this down to clear my thoughts. I never related to the book "How to Talk so Your Kids..." but I'm thinking of getting that out of the library. 


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#5 of 9 Old 09-20-2012, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

Practice active listening...

Oh, I had a great idea, while trying to acknowledge that maybe I haven't been the best listener lately (but, but...is what my mind was saying). Perhaps I do need to brush up on my listening skills and, in doing so, maybe now is the time for me to teach some of those skills to DC. I've actually never really talked to her about active listening or really any communication skills in this way, come to think of it. I'm kind of excited about this idea...

 

ETA: I started a thread: http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1363813/do-you-explicitly-teach-your-children-skills-like-active-listening


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#6 of 9 Old 09-30-2012, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to update that things are going much better. I wonder if part of what we were going through was some sort of end of the summer burn-out combined with back to school excitement & stress.  Also, I think I need to really internalize the knowledge that DC has some sleep issues that are aggravated by excitement induced stress. 

 

I have done a little active listening instruction with her. For instance, I've started asking her to repeat me when I need her to remember something important. It's having a positive effect. I look forward to having time to do more. 


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#7 of 9 Old 09-30-2012, 11:00 AM
 
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Phrasing things in the positive is more effective -- 'remember', instead of 'don't forget'. Maybe that was already mentioned, I didn't read all the posts.
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#8 of 9 Old 10-01-2012, 07:46 PM
 
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Well, first off, it was her BIRTHDAY. That's a huge stressor. It's a huge stressor for me as a mom!

 

I do think encouraging gratitude is wonderful. We often play a best thing/worst thing game at supper where we go around the table (island) and everyone has to tell one best (or good) thing about their day and everyone has to tell one worst thing about their day. It helps to connect with what's going on with their days and it helps to put the negative in perspective. 

 

Do you express your gratitude for her very often? I mean, I'm sure you tell her you love her, but do you tell her you appreciate the way you can be together when you're putting the dishes away together or walking around the block, or tell her how much you like to have time to chat in the car, etc, etc? Model some positivity about your relationship. If it helps, tell you know a lot of moms don't have a great relationship with their daughters and you really are grateful that you both can really talk to each other. If you believe it, it may come true! It really sounds like you do have a good relationship with her, but that some things about it are bugging you and some things about it are bugging her. If you focus on the things that are really going right you may find that the other stuff fades to the background. 

 

And frankly teenagers and preteens can be pretty self-absorbed. It sounds pretty typical that she wants you to hear her and she's not really taking in what you're saying. I do think if you note the times that she is that can foster more openness and listening on both sides.


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#9 of 9 Old 10-02-2012, 05:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We do the "best/worst" every single day! I really love that for getting two perspectives from a kid who attends school. 

 

I'll check myself for gratitude in myself, thanks. And thanks for the acknowledgement of the birthday thing and the pre-teen stuff. I appreciate it. 

 

Things are going better. 


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