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7 Tips to Start Talking "Big Talk" with Mom

from MY MOTHER, MY FRIEND: The 10 Most Important Things to Talk About With Your Mother by Mary Marcdante
(A Fireside Original/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks

  1. Figure out why you want to talk to your mom
    To fill in a memory?  Talk about her health?  Resolve a disagreement?  Gain or earn approval?

  2. Turn Your Reason Into an Intention
    I want to talk to my mother about ____________________(her health, my adoption, etc.). Purpose and clarity will help you stay focused if the conversation becomes difficult or gets off track.

  3. Practice Active Listening
    Suspend judgment, Let Mom finish her sentences, acknowledge what she says, and ask open-ended questions that give you more information than a yes-or-no answer.

  4. Establish a Positive Direction
    The best way to start a dialogue is to state your intention in optimistic language. For example, “I really appreciate when you tell me what’s going on for you.   It makes it easier for me to be honest with you.”

  5. Choose the Best Time and Location to Begin
    Your timing is as individual as your relationship – there’s no “perfect” time or place.  Consider optimal timing for both of you, and try to anticipate an occasion (i.e. birthday, holiday) when goodwill and warmth may open the communication channels. If the perfect time never seems to appear, watch for a spontaneous moment in a conversation. They always show up if you’re prepared.  Trust your intuition to guide you.

  6. Imagine a Positive Outcome Before You Talk with Her
    Even the best of relationships can be strained by the tension one or both people feel when they start to discuss difficult topics. Visualize yourself asking your questions in a relaxed way, and see your mother responding easily and lovingly. Even if this seems impossible, keep trying. Your energy – positive or negative – will shape your outcome.

  7. Select the Best Way to Record Your Mother’s Answers
    There are several options – the important thing is to do it.  You can: give your mother a gift of stationery, and include your first letter in the box; use a handheld audiocassette recorder, and ask mom to record her answers at leisure; videotape her; talk in person and record your thoughts in a journal within an hour after you’ve been together; talk on the phone and record her voice on your answering machine.

Excerpted from My Mother, My Friend introduction , pages 17-25

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The Ten Most Important Things to Talk About With Your Mother
Mary Marcdante
A Fireside Original/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks
April 2001
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