Getting Lost In Translation

By Alexandra Castillo - 10:52:00 PM

Funny story: Recently, I attended a seminar with my 15-year old cousin (who also happens to be my goddaughter by Confirmation) about "Building the bridge: How to form a stronger relationship between the Mid-Life Parent and the Teenage Child."

You can guess which side of the spectrum I was in. 

Yup, I was the "mid-life parent." I'm a pretty old soul, but I think my 4-5 years into "adulthood" hasn't really earned me the right to be called in my "mid-life," heck, I haven't even reached my quarter life yet (as of this writing) much less be called a "parent."

So I spent an entire morning surrounded by 40-50 year old parents who were receiving advice from psychologists, marriage counselors, and children of those said counselors and psychologists. 

We were asked to play games, ask questions, share different insights about our relationship with our kid. At some point, I was even asked to tell my "child" aka my cousin, while we were back to back, about my "honeymoon," which, if you all know me, has not happened nor will it anytime soon. 

Everything was fine up until they reached the part about proper communication. The speakers basically told the parents to try something called the "I-formula." Now, the gist of this is basically to listen intently on what your child is telling you, and recap it back to them based on your understanding, and then ask them if you understood correctly. 

As someone from the field of communications, I personally found this offensive, because it diminishes completely the part about listening, which contributes a lot to proper communication. Not to mention, it's so condescending to limit yourself to a formula to understand what your kid is trying to tell you. 

People think that other people speak because they need an answer, but people often forget that many people speak just to be heard, which doesn't always need to come with a response.

One of the things that did resonate with me from that talk was the disclaimer on the difficulty to even build a bridge is because of the different things parents and children are going through during these particular times in their lives--one is at the peak of it, discovering new things, while the other just wants to settle and be content. 

This in turn contributes to parents making the mistake of sticking to parenting styles that are no longer a fit for their child's age (i.e. teenager or adolescent). 

I could be just projecting, but what that one insight made me realize that what would really build  stronger relationship between the mid-life parent and the adolescent child, is being given the opportunity to be heard and listened to.

Sure, we have our fuck-ups from time to time, but at this age, we aren't looking for a lecture. We're looking for someone to cheer us on and give us emotional support.

Like they said, times are different, and it would be great to have our parents be open to us telling them how it's been so far for us. 

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