Gayle Reeves' Blog

How to Have the Talk

Gayle A. Reeves - Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How To Have the Talk

            No, this isn’t the talk that we have with our teenagers.  This is the talk that we have with our parents or our adult children about sensitive issues such as giving up driving, moving out, or bringing in help.  These conversations work both ways – the parent who wants to talk, but the children don’t want to listen and the children who want to talk and the parents don’t want to listen.

            These discussions, or lack of discussion, stem from a parent’s desire to maintain control in a world that is more and more out of their control and a child’s desire to ignore or solve a problem.  Regardless of where the discussion is failing there are some simple steps to take to get both parties talking.

            Start by planning ahead.  Identify specifically what you want to discuss and why it is important to you.  Find solutions to the problem areas.  The goal with this planning is to allow for joint problem-solving and discussion.  For example, if a child thinks that a parent should stop driving the child would want to first observe the parent to determine what is causing them to be an unsafe driver.  The child would then research alternatives, such as prescription changes, driver evaluation, or other methods of transportation.

            Test the waters by raising the issue during a conversation.  A parent may simply say something like, with Jack in the hospital my friends and I have been discussing what we would want if we were in his situation.  This allows the parent to determine if the child is open to having this conversation.  If the child is resistant to having the conversation try to understand what is holding them back and address their reluctance.

            The final step is having the conversation.  Don’t start the conversation with a negative.  When are you going to give up driving is not the way to get a positive response to a problem.  A better approach would be to reference an article in the paper about a man who lost control of his car and killed some people on the sidewalk.  Then to say, it made me think about what is in your best interests with your car now.

            Remember listening is just as important as talking.  Take the cues from what is being said to further the conversation.  Look for the underlying cause of any resistance and focus on the solution.  If all else fails, look to that disinterested third person, such as a doctor, clergy, or friends who can help support the conversation.

            While it may take several conversations to reach an agreeable solution, don’t give up.  Remember it is more important to keep the dialogue going than to vent your frustrations.