Communicating through Disagreements

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Communication skills are essential.
As a mentor to middle school and high girls and mother of a soon to be teenage son disagreements pop up all the time. They are routinely about how much time is being spent on preparation for academic success, extracurricular activities and how much time is being spent on play. What I have noticed over the years is that sticking to what is most important keeps communication real and connected with the bonds of love.
I had multiple conversations this week triggered me.
They  took me right back to a time when one of the girls I had been working with for years decided not to go away to college and decided to stay at home and attend school on a full scholarship. The away college was “only” $3000 a year but in her mind it was money that her family didn’t have and she did not want to put them in that position. All of the adventure and fun of going away to college was what I wanted for her but  when I examined my heart, what I really wanted, was for her to be the first person in her family to graduate from college. She is walking across the stage this year.

When you don’t agree…


*Listen carefully with empathy and the intention to learn more about  what is driving the decision.
*Don’t judge the decision 
*Be careful in your conversations to stay away from criticism 
*Leave  the messaging in all CAPS and exclamation points out of communication.
*Be prepared to give a little
How does this scenario land on you?  Your daughter has a 3.8 at one of the Seven Sisters colleges and says she wants to go to another continent for six months after she graduates to be a nanny instead of going straight to law school, YOU MOM, will either be for this great adventure or be in disagreement.
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Real Conversations for Mammas of Teenage Girls
If you are for this great adventure you still may want to insist that she find a way to link this experience so that it enhances her chances of entrance into the law school of her choice. You may like most Moms be thinking, I can pay for this but let’s get something substantial out of it. Communicating this is tricky an I recommend beginning each sentence with the word, “yes” then continuing on to suggestions.
For example…you might say
Yes, this is a great idea for travel. The universities there are incredible, sitting in on a class on Legal Policy and Children might help to inform you on international law school programs that focus on your interest.  
If you are not in full agreement with this adventure be prepared to give a little and set some boundaries. You may want her close to home and preparing for law school and you may also know deep down that this experience could be life affirming for her.
For example… you might say
I love you and am afraid of you going so far for such a long period of time without any clear outcomes. Can we set up standard times to communicate daily? I am scared but I know this is a great opportunity for you to expand your network.  I know how passionate you are regarding the rights of children, maybe you might connect with like minded young people if you targeted a few organizations to do some volunteer work for where you can continue your advocacy.
Begin and end with love in your communication and it will enhance the connection. In each of these conversations you are supportive and bringing forth your concerns respectfully.  This will only encourage continued communication because you know this is just one stop on the Jazzy Journey of your life with her.
With real communication you can live One Jazzy Life.
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