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Real Time Communication: Mesila, Part VI

Ahuva Sofer with Mesila Staff

As kids, there are things we need and want, and we’re basically dependent on our parents for those things. How best to communicate these needs?

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Properly communicating our needs is an important tool for life, and necessary for financial stability as well. As kids, there are things we need, stuff we want, and we are, to a large degree, dependent on our parents to provide those things. What is the best way to communicate these needs? How do we address our parents in a respectful way? Talk over differences and negotiate without losing our cool? Smoothly resolve compromises and gracefully accept a no? This week, four families of teens, together with their parents, stepped up to the plate to candidly reveal the tricks of the communication trade. Read on, as Mesila and Mishpacha take you for another ride toward financial health and responsibility. 

Welcome to the Goldberg, Friedman, Schwartz, and Green family panel!

The Goldberg Family

“It’s important for a child to approach a parent with the mindset that there are many factors which play a role in decision making,” says Mrs. Goldberg. “Think of all the family’s needs as a stack of cards. Parents are faced with the task of shuffling the deck and prioritizing what’s most important. Also, when you approach a parent for something, try to be reasonable. Choose your battles. Kids who are always making unreasonable demands can put their parents into a ‘no mode’ and are less likely to get what they want.”

Photo: Shutterstock

“I agree,” says Chedvah Goldberg, 16, “that if you want something and you think the answer will be a real, non-negotiable no, then there’s really no point in asking. But, I actually do approach my mother even if the answer is a likely no,” she admits, smiling. “It’s important to me that my mother at least know how badly I really want something. And, sometimes, with a little discussion, negotiation, and compromise, we both end up coming out of the conversation as winners.” 

“I’m willing to negotiate about something reasonable, especially if I know my child is willing to invest a little of her own,” says Mrs. Goldberg. 

“Sometimes,” Chedvah points out, “I’ll volunteer to go 50/50 and pay for half of it. Very often, that works!” 

“How do we maintain our cool even when things get heated?” Mrs. Goldberg questions out loud. “Well, for one thing, it’s definitely easier to have productive conversations when my kids understand that they need to give me a little ‘pressure space’ and not to approach me at a bad time. They know that right after I come home from work is not the best time to start a conversation on smooth footing. And, if we ever start getting overwhelmed or the conversation starts taking the wrong direction, I put a hold on it and we find a better time to bring it up.” 

“I don’t think there’s an exact set of rules for respectful communication,” says Chedvah. “Staying calm, respectful, and gracefully accepting disappointment is a life’s work, like any other middah.”

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