You hate her. You love her. You can't stand her and can't stand to be away from her for too long. She's your mom. She can cut you to the bone with a harsh word and lift you up to the skies with praise. Trying to talk to her about something you are afraid will upset her can be one of the hardest things in the world to do. And yet, sometimes it is exactly what you need.
Before talking to your mom, take a good look inside. Ask yourself why you are nervous about talking to her. Are you embarrassed? Are you afraid she'll be angry? Or even worse, sad? Once you've identified how you feel, you can use those feelings to open the conversation. You can say, for example, "I really need to talk to you about something, Mom, but I'm afraid you will cry and that would make me feel just awful." Opening a conversation with honesty and vulnerability sets the stage for love and support.
Choose Your Timing
As Boys Town National points out in their website yourlifeyourvoice.org, "You want to make sure that you have plenty of time to talk to your parents and that they aren't distracted with something else." Don’t approach your mom when she's preoccupied or just sat down to rest after a long day. For a serious conversation, it may be best to set a time to talk. Telling her in advance gives her the chance to clear her mind and to get her own emotions in check so she doesn't have a knee-jerk reaction. If she pressures you to tell her what you want to talk about, be direct but reassuring. "You know Mom, I still need to get my thoughts together. Don't worry I'm not dying or anything I just want to share something with you."
Tell Your Mom What You Need
Teen'sHealth.org advises that you know what you want from the conversation before starting it. You may need her to listen and understand but not offer answers. Or perhaps you are looking for advice. You might want permission or support for something that is important to you or help getting out of a tough spot you have put yourself in. Start the conversation with a clear expression of what you need. For example, “Mom, I know this is going to upset you, but right now I need you to just listen and help me get out of this tough spot I've gotten myself into. You can yell at me later about it, okay?”
Act Like an Adult
If you are hoping to talk to your mom without her scolding, punishing you or breaking down herself, you are hoping that your mother will deal with you on an adult-to-adult level rather than a mother-child level. To do that, you must act like an adult yourself. Remember always to talk straight. Be clear and direct. Don't beat around the bush and whatever you do, do not lie. Even if your mother doesn't know you are lying, you will know and it will undermine the energy of the exchange.
As adolescent specialist Dr. Jerry Weichman says on his website devoted to adolescent challenges, “Dealing with your parents is similar to a boomerang. What you throw into your relationship with your parents is often exactly what you get back.” If you approach the discussion calmly, openly, with honesty and without a lot of emotional charge, you give yourself the best chance of having an effective conversation.
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images