Communication: What’s winning look like?

Tension has been rising in Liam’s family. From Liam’s perspective, he’s simply attempting to control his parents’ “interrogation” into his life by refusing to answer questions. But that hasn’t worked very well—if anything, their questioning has become more vigorous!

Inspired by cousin Larry, Liam tried something different. After all, if what you are doing isn’t helping you, perhaps it will help to stop doing that and try doing something else.

This article is one in a series  on communication.
You can find the first article in the series here.

The plan for the week was for Liam to voluntarily tell his parents who he’s seeing and what he’s doing. Did anything change?

According to Liam, it started out great. “On Monday, they almost fell over when I told them that I was going to study with Joe and I’d be back at 11. They were so happy; they even told me to have fun.”

“The problem came on Wednesday. We had a big fight when I said I’d be hanging out with Terry at the mall. So this isn’t going to work, because as soon as they hear something they don’t like, it’s back to the same old argument.”

“What’s their objection?” asks Larry.

“That’s easy. They think Terry is a bad influence because he drinks.”

“Do they have a point?” wonders Larry.

“Uh, sometimes. Not all the time, though,” Liam hedges. “What happens when you’re going to do something your parents don’t like? Do you tell them?”

Larry doesn’t hesitate. “Look, I know what I want, and that’s to get an athletic scholarship. To get that, I have to be at the rink. I have to keep my grades up. Nobody tells me where I have to be; I already know.”

“That’s lovely, Larry,” says Liam sarcastically. “You only do what they want.”

Larry’s not interested in arguing. “It’s true, my parents get what they want: they know where I am and they know I’ll text if I’m late. But I get what I want too: reasonable freedom. And, I know that if I did have an accident, they’d come looking for me right away. When I’m driving home from the rink at 2 in the morning, that’s nice to know.”

Liam’s not convinced. “If I let them control me, they win.”

The alternatives are clear to Larry.  “What’s ‘winning’ look like? You can continue to tell yourself that no one gets to tell you what to do. But if they don’t trust your choices, you already know what happens. Who wins then?  Think about what you want most. If it’s to see Terry, then you’re likely to have arguments. If you want a peaceful life and some freedom, then you may need to make different choices. It’s your choice, but your choices will have consequences.”

“Here’s one more suggestion for you: it’s not just what you say, how you say it matters, too.” What do you think Larry will suggest about how to talk?

The next article in this series is here.
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