They take financial risks and worry us. They have funny political ideas and shock us. They turn away from the faith and pain us. They pass everything on to their children, glued to their screens, and that annoys us, or they are devoured by their spouse and that annoys us. But what to do… ? We would like to shake them up, bring them back to their senses, to what they were like when they left the nest, to the values that we passed on to them. At the risk of hurting them and getting angry? Because after all, they are adults. Do we still only have the right to tell them our way of thinking and put pressure on them? It could all depend on how you go about it. And before starting, it is better to take the time to understand our own motives.
During the end-of-year celebrations, the last weekend or family meal, the dissonances were able to jump out at us more than ever. “Especially if the meeting took place at home, the context being able to play a revealing role, underlining the discrepancies between the present situation and the original – idealized – image of our children”, analyzes Benoît Schneider, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Lorraine, specialist in intergenerational issues (1). We were able to open up to it spontaneously, or prefer to wait for a favorable moment to get started. And the emotion grows. After all, why does it matter so much to us? “Because we love our big kids, of course. Their evolution concerns us, we seek their good and we are parents for life”, explains Didier Pleux, psychologist specializing in educational issues (2) “It is the best reason to remember what seems right to us and not to give up to our position as elders, because the word of the elder remains essential for the rising generations”, he adds. Green light to say what is on your heart through parental empathy. “Even if it may displease at the time, because in the long term, they could blame us for not having warned them. »
But beware of hidden and inappropriate motivations that feed, more or less consciously, resentment. What if we were the ones who changed as we got older? “It is true that the tolerance threshold drops with age”, recognizes the psychologist, and certain behaviors decried by our children might perhaps have seemed acceptable to us in other times. This helps to relativize (and possibly revise) the judgment. “We may also need to reassert our ascendancy when we feel our position threatened by the waltz of generations and the parental authority of our own children who have become fathers and mothers”, still recognizes Benoît Schneider. Bad reason for imposing his vision of things. Still, it can be very difficult to take into account both personal motives and objective reasons related to the really problematic orientations of our dear children. How to express oneself rightly and make the exchange an opportunity for growth for all?
Pause ! This is the first piece of advice from Didier Pleux. “Not reacting to the heat gives time to wonder if our children are happy as they are and can remain so. If the answer is yes, there is no great urgency to react”, according to him. And this allows you to put your emotions on hold, anger and fear often being bad advisers. The psychologist also recommends talking face to face, not at the table in front of everyone, even less in front of the grandchildren who would suffer from seeing their parents infantilized and disqualified. Benoît Schneider suggests, for his part, relying on the golden rules of non-violent communication: “Let’s start by reformulating orally with them a statement, an idea emitted by our children which shocks us, an event which displeased us, in order to start from a common base and show our desire to understand. Let’s then bring the point of view back to what we feel subjectively, not what should be in absolute terms: “I may be wrong, but this is what I feel and what worries me.” What to bring a little horizontality in the relationship, without departing from its responsibilities as a benevolent parent, and always growing together.