Say More

You can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you’ve become yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The other day I was having a conversation with an acquaintance that I know professionally. She was sharing her concerns for her younger son who is starting his freshman year of college 3,000 miles away. Trying to find the balance between listening well and not prying, I remembered a prompt that I’d picked up from a Brene Brown podcast, “Say more.”

It works like a can opener! I’m a pretty good listener but since I think the art of listening always can be improved, I’m always trying to expand two things to make me better: curiosity and space.

My acquaintance was telling me that her son got a nose ring and was trying out partying. Her story had two threads. One was a little bit of a mother’s grief because she thought she knew who her son was and thought that he did too. And who he was, a smart geek, didn’t match with his freshman year antics.

The second was her effort to be open supportive of her son as he grew and changed. As he texts her updates about what he’s doing, she is trying to find the right balance of how to respond. In many ways, she said she wished he wasn’t telling her because she was having to walk the line of condoning what he was doing.

Curiosity and space. It’s what her son is experiencing in these first months of college. It’s what my friend is trying to give her son. It was what I was trying to give her so that she could vocalize her story. Two gifts that allow us to change and to still say more.

(featured image from Pexels)

8 thoughts on “Say More

  1. As our kids grow into adults, we really can’t be telling them what to do, they need to make their own choices and then accept the consequences. If it’s really a bad choice we can still offer our opinions for different options, and help them work it through if that’s what they need. Most young people want to be able to make their own decisions, even if they’re poor ones, that’s part of growing up.

    The dynamic becomes critical AFTER a choice is made and there are consequences to be lived with.

    If we want to emotionally cripple our kids and keep them dependant, then by all means we should swoop in and save them from their poor choices! Laugh if you must, but this is the result of trying to save them from difficult situations!

    If we have a good relationship with them and have had discussions about different life choices, and they still make a bone-headed choice, being supportive and helping them to problem-solve through it is ultimately the best move.

    I’m a grandmother who has seen her daughter make a few questionable choices, but I always stood by her to give her my support. She now has 2 teenagers starting to make some choices and she is following the same approach.

    Sometimes our kids surprise us, and even themselves with the choices they make, but as we know, we made questionable choices too and we learned valuable life lessons from them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love hearing about the relationship you have with your daughter. It sounds so powerful and supportive. Bless you for being there for her — and for her kids!

      And yes, that’s exactly how I learned many valuable life lessons!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Listening is a wonderful and hard skill to master. It sounds like you practice it well.

    I definitely empathize with your colleague. It’s a tricky balance between wanting to be the parent while also letting go and giving kids the space to explore.

    Thankfully I don’t have to worry about piercings for a while yet but those conversations will definitely be fun! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least that’s one thing we don’t have to worry about at our kid’s age! 😁 I’m kinda hoping listening to people like my colleague and other commenters that go before me in this strange territory will help.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I understand the woman’s dilemma, I think she’s making a mistake by not being herself in the matter and expressing her view about what her son is doing. The son is reaching out for guidance after all.

    Liked by 1 person

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