How do you know if your adult children want your opinion?
If they are ready, they will ask. Here are 4 cues to listen for when they are ready for your opinion. Until then, hold it to yourself.
“Make a difference”
“Be the change you want to see”
“Stand up for what you think is right”
Yep, you’ve heard all of these if you were raised to be the one to make the difference like I was. My parents were forces of change and improvement in their communities. They were committed to leaving the any community they lived in better than when they moved there. The volunteered, stood for the right, spoke their minds when it wasn’t popular.
And they raised us to do the same. We were supposed to stand up for what is right regardless of what people around you are doing. And while I think that is very important to have standards and stick with them in the midst of a world that seems to have no standards at all, one can only do so much. I mean, I really can only control me. I can only change me. I have no control over others’ behavior and choices.
But does that include my grandchildren? If my children are parents, do I have the right to speak up when I think they are not doing things “correctly.” Where does my responsibility to stand for what I think is right end and their rights as sovereign parents start?
If you find yourself in the midst of this quandry, you are not alone. Many times I find myself about to explode when I see and hear things that I disagree with. One thing that can help is the wait for them to ask for your opinion. I know, this seems very simple and obvious, but for a self-professed “Advic-aholic”, I want to give my advice anytime someone tells me about their problems. I, of course, have the answers, know best, and have “been there, done that”.
When you are in a conversation with your adult children, it is easy to give advice and tell them what they should be doing. Most of the time your children come to you to vent and just to get the feelings out of their systems. And they don’t want to hurt your feelings by saying, “I don’t need advice, but this is how I feel. Can you not tell me what to do and just listen?” Yeah, they are not going to say that.
When your adult children are talking to you about their lives, whether it is a problem or just sharing their day, what do you do? Do you immediately analyze their experience to see how you can improve them or give them insight how to do it better? How do you know if your adult children want your opinion?
If you do, commit to yourself to wait for them to ask for your opinion. Sometimes, we think if we don’t say it right now, we’ll never get to say what we think. This is typical “all-or-nothing” thinking. Just because I withhold my opinion at this moment doesn’t mean I will never get my 2 cents worth in. Instead, tell yourself, “I don’t need to say this, YET. If my opinion is needed, there is still time to share it later. I don’t have to say it right now.”
The truth is if your opinion is wanted or needed, it will be asked for. How do you know when it’s time? Well, here is a sort of sliding scale of phrases that show they are wanting your input. (I know – some of us need the writing on the wall… )
“What do you think?”
When someone is just sharing their day or experience, sometimes they don’t want advice, they just need to vent, get it off their chests. But when the start to question themselves, they begin to care about what others might think. Level 1 is to wonder what other’s think about their situation. When they do, they will come out and ask you what you think about their choices. Don’t offer your opinion until you hear, “What do you think?” Any opinion before they are ready to receive it will only be construed as nosy and interfering at worst and won’t even register in their minds at best.
When they are ready for another opinion, they will ask.
“What would you do?”
At level 2, your adult child has been thinking about their choices and might have already asked what you think about it. Sometimes, they don’t have to ask, they know what you think. But just because they’ve asked for your opinion doesn’t mean they are open to being told what they need to do.
Another key phrase to listen and wait for is, “what would you do?”. Asking what you would do gives you the opportunity to present some alternative choices without seeming judgmental of their current choices. As a parent, you this opportunity wisely. Present a couple of options that leave room for their perspective and doesn’t make them feel like complete failures.
“What should I do?”
As your adult child becomes more aware of something that isn’t working in their life, they will come to you for advice. At Level 3 they may have tried several methods or things that haven’t worked well for them. When they say, “what should I do?”, they are have figured out that they don’t have the answers and are seeking advice from someone they respect and trust, you.
Take this as a compliment. However, when giving advice it is still important to leave their pride and dignity intact. It is still their choice to take your advice or leave it. You are just showing them options that they might not have thought of before. Be careful to “present” options not should all over them with a plethora of platitudes that only serve to create guilt and shame.
“What am I doing wrong?”
At Level 4, your adult child is realizing that they are responsible for their choices and they know they need to change. This is where you might really be able to help change their behavior or attitudes. If they ask, “what am I doing wrong?”, they are ripe for change.
Now is when you can share your thoughts on where they’ve gone wrong and how they can redirect themselves and their children. Using this opportunity to help them find resources that they can utilize to change and improve will continue to empower them rather than make them feel like complete failures.
As moms of adult children, it isn’t easy to know when to give advice or when to keep it to yourself. It’s a good practice to wait until you hear one of these signal phrases that invite you to offer help rather than interject your opinion before it is wanted.
Looking for more clarity? Check out my post here: 20 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt and Get Clarity.
If you are looking for support in your journey as a mom of adult children, come over to our fb community where we are all struggling with these and other issues. Click here to join others for support and encouragement.
See you soon!!