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How to broach difficult topics with your parents

education Updated: Jan 12, 2011 09:23 IST
Samir Parikh
Samir Parikh
Hindustan Times
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Everyday affairs are easy to talk about. However, time and again we are faced with communication difficulties with our parents. Often, it is perceived that they being from a different era simply would not be able to understand our concerns. And at other times, it is more about how and when we communicate that would be the bane of contention. So, developing an effective strategy and polishing our skills relating to discussing difficult topics with our parents becomes imperative.

Communication gap
When we dub our inability to communicate something to our parents or their non-acceptance of what we are saying, as a generation gap, we trivialise the entire situation. This is not a generation gap. It has a lot to do with what we are communicating and whether as parents, who bear the responsibility of our safety, it is acceptable. It also has to do with our communication style. So, it becomes essential to work on both.

Keep an open mind
At times, it is about taking another individual’s perspective. If we are able to place ourselves in the other person’s shoes and consider their perspective, then we are in a better position to try and resolve the difficulties they are experiencing or the concerns bothering them. It is only by having an understanding of their issues can you work on being more effective in broaching difficult subjects with your parents.

Go prepared
Getting up one fine day and talking to your parents about what you have in mind is not always the best strategy. Go with a fully-developed idea in mind. It is better to go with a set of pros and cons and then have a discussion around the point of concern rather than take an all-or-none route. In this way, you come across as willing and open to discussion which enhances your parents’ confidence in your ability to solve problems and make decisions while carefully thinking through a problem.

Address their concerns
Often, parents have legitimate reasons for what they say. So, it is important to address their concerns and make them feel comfortable with the idea that you are proposing. Remember, they always have your best interest at heart. It is only from their concern for you and your safety that a lot of times, they may not agree to what you are pushing for.

The author is a psychiatrist, and chief, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare

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