Your kids are telling you something that’s very important to them, but you’re waiting for them to stop talking. Because as soon as they finish getting their point across, you’re going to say three words that will ruin any chance you have at reaching an understanding:
“I know, but….”
What follows those three words doesn’t really matter. Your kids will simply tune them out. Or they’ll take a page from your book and wait for you to finish what you’re saying, so they can say:
“I know, but…”
“I know, but” is a euphemism for “I have little or no respect for what you’ve said or how you feel. So I’m going to wait my turn and then tell you why your feelings are wrong.”
But feelings are never wrong. Feelings are feelings. Even if they’re based on something that doesn’t sound logical, they are still felt. So when you dismiss someone’s feelings, it hurts them. And “I know, but…” is a dismissal.
So the next time you find yourself waiting for your kids to stop talking so that you can tell them how they should feel, bite your tongue. Hear them out, and then say mirror back what they’ve said:
“So you feel like I don’t trust you, because I won’t let you go to the movies with those kids?”
Then hear out the rest. And then ask them, “What’s the worst of that?” Then mirror that back:
“So a part of you feels like I treat you like you’re younger than you are.” Then listen.
Then say, “What does that part of you need?” Now, that part may want to go to the movies, and you still don’t want them to go. So you acknowledge that, but then you follow up with, “A part of me is worried that you’re going to the movies with no adult supervision.”
And they may reply, “I know, but…”. But if they feel heard, they may soften and listen to you. Truly listen. And once you stop tuning each other out, you may get somewhere.
But probably not the movies.