I thought it might be good to bring this one back right after Mother’s Day. Lots of people, daughters in particular, have approached me in those days leading up to Mother’s Day to ask for advice on how to stay calm on Mother’s Day.
They are aware that in the midst of this day designed to honor mothers, they were also often disempowered by the fairytale notion that all must go well on this day in order to be respectful to mom even when their mom regularly had trouble respecting them. I offer up this repeat in honor of those who want to have a genuine relationship with their mom that extends far past the day.
In a parenting workshop I facilitated, we had a lively discussion about having courageous conversations with our children about the things they do that we do not like. One of my parents burst out with, “but what if it’s your mother?” The whole room laughed and simultaneously shook their heads… NO! “There is no talking to my Mom”, “I want to see her role-play this one” someone shouted as the room erupted in agreement and even more laughter.
While my Mom is no longer on this earth… God bless her, she left me with plenty of experience in this category, because she was one tough cookie.
Who knew she was preparing me just for this day? After the role-play, I promised them my next blog would address this very issue, but just like my Mom… I am going to do it in my own way.
So, here are the 5 things you should NEVER do if you want your Mom to listen to you.
1. CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM CHANGE THEIR MIND
Unless you have had success with this kind of “miraculous experience” in the past, changing your Mom’s mind is not your goal. Your goal is to assert what your concerns are in a way that is clear, concise and of course, respectful… as an adult.
Moms have a hard time viewing us as adults… And unfortunately, when these conversations come up, we give them good reason. We engage with them as our child-self rather than as an adult who is entitled to have views, opinions and a life different from theirs.
2. LOSE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
It’s easy to get sidetracked when your buttons get pushed or they react in a predictable way that sends you straight up Anger Mountain. What is the reason you have braved this conversation and what are you there to communicate?
Stay focused on that and do not let her get you off in to side conversations about your past transgressions. Once you lose perspective, the conversation will more than likely begin to focus on her.
3. PLAY THEIR GAME
Even if they are on your turf, you are out of your league when it comes to handling the conversation the way they do. My Mom was really good at yelling. I think she had two degrees and a black belt in it. Of course, even as an adult, I couldn’t yell at her. However, the couple of times I did??? You guessed it, she didn’t care what I wanted. It was now ON and all about me yelling at her.
Sticking to my game plan of using assertive statements in a firm way and keeping my cool eventually helped me gain some major ground.
4. FORGET THAT YOU ARE WORTHY OF RESPECT
I realize that having a conversation with your Mom on difficult subjects like “why are you always criticizing the way I do things?” can be scary and intimidating if you have never been successful, but asking for respect is important.
No matter what kind of child you were and what kind of hell you put her through… Learning to speak up about how you want to be treated is a critical skill to develop.
5. STOP LISTENING
Even if you know their pattern and know exactly what they are going to say… keep listening. Once you start asserting, you want to listen for their response and try to catch the wave of something different that they are saying.
Let them know that by listening to them, you are modeling what you want from them and then ask them to try it as you continue to tell them what you need from them. If they storm off or pout (as my Mom often did), stand tall in knowing that you did your best this time.
My Mom was a good Mom in so many ways and there were times when she tried to take it in and other times when she just was not having it. However, one thing she knew was when she crossed the line of respect, I would stand firm in letting her know. I think eventually she respected that.
In addition, take the Leadership Assessment Quiz here to find out how healthy or unhealthy your team is.