A Great Relationship isn’t Found – It’s Created

Q: My mom and I argue a lot. When you were at our school I noticed that you & your mom seemed to have a great relationship. I would like to have a great relationship with my mom. How do I do that?

ANSWER:

My mum and I are friends and business partners. We are committed to listening and communicating with one another, but it wasn’t always this way.

When I was growing up, although I could go to my mum and talk about things that were happening in my life, I wouldn’t have called her ‘a friend’.  My mum used to always say, ‘You have enough friends. What you need is a parent.’  She wanted me to know that when she made a rule or a consequence, she was helping me become responsible, respectful and resilient.

As a teenager, my mum was strict. I shed many tears over not being allowed to go somewhere or do something that all of my friends were allowed to do.  Of course, it was hard to see the benefits of her tough rules at the time, but now looking back I can see that it really gave me a push and loads of time to focus on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be in the world.

Over the years my mum and I have created a great relationship. That doesn’t mean that we don’t disagree sometimes, but we never allow the disagreements to affect us in a negative way.  We have learned that open communication and actually hearing each other are essential to creating a great relationship. Everyone is so different, yet very much the same. We all want to be heard and loved – that is universal. However, the way in which we want these two things to happen can be very different.

This is where communication plays a huge role. The only way to really know what each of us expects from one another is to talk about it. In any relationship, not just with a parent, it’s easy to have expectations of ‘what it should look like in order to be great.’ 

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Since we are all different, our expectations for one another will not always be the same. It’s easy for arguments and misunderstandings to occur because a lot of the time we assume that people should understand us and have the same expectations. I often hear, ‘It’s common sense!’  I don’t think there is such a thing because we all have different life experiences that make our thinking unique.

For example: If I believe that a great relationship consists of talking on the phone each night, sharing our day’s events and my mum believes that talking twice a week is all that is needed in order for us to feel a strong connection, then our expectations are very different and arguments can easily occur.

If we don’t talk about our expectations – here is how it could play out:

  • I would call my mum everyday. Eventually I may stop because I may not always like to be the one initiating the phone call.
  • Since my mum only finds it important to talk a couple of times a week she may not think anything of the reduced number of phone conversations.
  • This might lead me to believe she doesn’t care, which could cause hurt feelings and lead to an argument. Meanwhile my mum never intended for me to feel that way. She just doesn’t find it necessary to talk on the phone as much as I do.

To truly understand someone we have to actually hear what their expectations are.  Being open to hearing another person’s thoughts and feelings, even when you don’t see ‘eye to eye’, helps you bounce back and gets you on track to creating a loving, supportive relationship.

Until next time…

SaraSig