Can we use questions to guide them?
If you feel that your child is not making wise decisions about their choices, how do you confront the situation?
As parents, it is natural that we want the best for our children. When we see our child or children not making the best decisions for themselves, it is our instinct to “tell” them. Example “You SHOULD do this” “You SHOULD do that”… You SHOULD… SHOULD… SHOULD…
Sound familiar? It is always easier to TELL than to GUIDE.
By telling the child, it is NOT always going to work, because first they did not ask for it and secondly they may not be READY to accept the answer. Therefore your message is not only “off putting”, it creates a lot of judgmental energy around it. This situation can create a great disconnection between you and the other party!
Let’s explore the situation a bit further…
The questions we need to ask ourselves are:
- How do you go about getting the message across?
- How can you support your child to make the best decision?
So how can you get them to listen to you and respect your view point rather than walk away and give you the dirty look, as though saying to you that you are interfering? Or they say “stop meddling in my business; you know nothing about it…”, or “what are you talking about, how would you know what I am thinking or feeling right now?”…”I did not ask for any advice, why are you giving one to me?”… and so on.
Example: When your child has a part-time job
Your child found a part-time job; you fell that the working conditions are not great, and you know that your child is being exploited. But your child seems to enjoy the job and decides to continue working there. How would you go about telling your child that there is a better opportunity out there for him or her? And his or her decision is not the greatest?
Without really TELLING them?
If your responses were to be:
(a) Why did you choose that job in the first place?
(b) What were you thinking? What is so great about that job? Can’t you find something better?
(c) You should have not have chosen this job in the first place…
(d) Have you searched harder for a better job?
(e) Why don’t you find another job that pays better?
(f) I am telling you to find another job…there surely have many other jobs that pay better?
(g) What sort of job is this? You can do much better.
(h) I am telling you, you can find something better, you just did not try hard enough.
OK, what is the message you are conveying to your child from the example above?
– How do you know that your child has not weighed up the situation when he or she chose the job?
– How do you know that your child has not thought about the type of job he or she would like to be involved in?
– What makes you think that he or she has not weighed up the conditions of his or her job?
– What makes you think you know better? Have you asked them?
From your questions about the situation, you, as a parent, are imposing a lot of judgment on your child, whether you realise that or not. You are indirectly “telling” them that they are not capable of finding a “good” job, which pays better; you are indirectly “judging” the job is bad and “judging” your child’s decision-making not to be sound….
Does that ring a bell?
Have you done that before?
Remember that we as parents have our own beliefs and values, thus we quantify our opinions solely based on our beliefs and values. Your child may not share the same values and beliefs as you, and you have to respect that.
So in order for them to share your thoughts and values, rather than “TELLING”, you need to be a bit creative!
So, what do you think is the best way to approach this situation? How to be CREATIVE?
You can “PROMPT” them and the aim is to trigger an answer. This is different from “TELLING”. By prompting through questions, your child will come up with the answers themselves. This way, the answers are based on their view point, their values and beliefs. And from there, you can create the opportunity to “GUIDE” them and share your thoughts. This is a more creative and effective way of approaching the situation, and a more CONNECTED way to resolving an issue.
HOW to “PROMPT”? By asking questions and allowing your child to come up with the answers instead. Remember, this is the opposite to TELLING!
The “Prompting” method is to ask “Questions” and “Listen” to the answers. And from there, you GUIDE!
By asking questions, it shows your child you are interested in their opinion. This is a sign of respecting the child for who they are, and this gives you an opportunity to have a better understanding of your child and how they make decisions.
From the example above, below are questions that you can use to prompt further thoughts.
- How are you finding your work?
- What are you expected to do?
- Is this job living up to your expectations?
- Are they giving you enough training?
- How does the manager treat you?
- How do you feel about the experience you are gaining?
- What do you think about the remuneration? Do you think it justifies what you are doing?
- Do you think this job has potential for future advancement? i.e. promotion
- Would you recommend your friend to apply for this position?
- How much have you thought through about the situation before you made that decision?
- Do you think there are better options out there for you?
- Wat’s your thought about finding another job or are you happy with the current one?
- Can I share my experience with you?
Listen to the answers and read their body language. If your child is enjoying the job, his or her language and body language will reflect that or vise versa.
Do you think this is a better way to share your thoughts with your child rather than telling?
Why is this so?
Promoting them through questioning is more powerful, as they are the one that comes up with the answers. There is a time and place for an “answer” or “action” to take place. If one is not ready to accept it yet, no matter what you do or say, the message will never get through. However if you prompt and guide your child to figure it out for themselves, they will acknowledge the message wholeheartedly! And this will bring a new level of awareness in them.
If you feel that your child needs further guidance, below are some questions that can help your child to really find out about the work choices, and to help them move forward with their options.
- What do you think about the prospect of you working in this industry?
- How do you feel if your co-worker and your manager/boss acknowledge your contribution and what you are really capable of?
- How would you feel if your manager asks you for your opinion in managing a particular project?
- WHO do you think you have to be in order to be in the position to tell your manager that the working conditions have to be improved and you need to be paid according to your level of contribution?
- What sort of working environment would enable you to have a smile on your face when you head off to work?
- What do you think you are worth?
- How would you like people to treat you?
Your child may or may not have the answer for the questions; however you have prompted him or her to really think about the situation and to start questioning. You can change the questions around based on your own situation.
That’s the main aim of this exercise, as there are many “issues” we may need to raise with our children.
I hope you have benefited from the article. I would love to hear your thoughts and share your experience with the community either through the blog or via the GoParents Facebook Page.