Over on her blog Gal Time, therapist Barbara Greenberg reports that in the 30-odd years she's been counseling couples, time and again she hears them speak words that "were meant to stimulate discussion" but instead "have either cut things off or have wounded feelings."
Her tips for " 'non-ouch' fights and healthier relationships" make sense not only for couples but for parents and their adult children. I'm particularly partial to the first two tips, but they all apply to any discussion--heated or heading that way--we may have with our offspring.
You can check out the full post at Gal Time, but meanwhile, here are the top five therapist tips for couples, with some edits for parent-child relationships:
1. Think before you speak: Pretend that what you say is going to be made very public. Take a minute to pause and take a deep breath before you plunge into the heat of the moment.
2. Do not cross boundaries: Don’t speak the unspeakable. If something was told to you that is very private and personal, do NOT under any circumstances use that against your grown child… EVER.
3. Listen very hard to what your grown child is saying: Don’t think about your response while your child is spilling his/her guts. You might just learn/hear something very relevant.
4. Learn to let things go: There is nothing inherently virtuous about holding grudges. You will earn tons of emotional points for letting things go.
5. Learn how to make your grown child laugh: Sometimes a moment of levity can not only relieve pain but can be oh-so-connecting. And it’s connection that we want and need.