Top 10 Tips for Students *Slow down your reaction times; give yourself time to calm down if you are upset, and think about what you want to say before you say it. *Listen to what your parents are saying, and make sure that you understand what they are asking of you before you respond. Sometimes arguments erupt because an idea has not been communicated clearly. Make sure you “get” what they are saying, and try to avoid making any assumptions – instead, check it out. Ask, “Do you mean that you want me to ...?” *Also try to understand the reasons behind whatever they are saying; try to be sensitive to their thoughts as well as their feelings – are they afraid for you, angry about something that has happened, worried about finances, feeling responsible for your decisions – what is it that is upsetting your parents? If you understand the motivation behind their position on the issue, you may be able to address that in your discussion with them. *Wait to reply until you are able to tell them clearly and calmly what your thoughts are on the subject. After you have shown them that you understand their point of view, you can then explain how and why you disagree. If you can discuss the issue with mutual respect, it is much more likely that the conflict will be resolved well. Be prepared to negotiate; willingness to compromise on your part makes it more likely that your parents will be also willing to consider an alternative to their preferred position. *If the discussion starts to become heated, recognize that you need to break the same old patterns of family fighting and move in a new direction. Suggest taking a break so that everybody can have some time to think things through. However, it is important to make a definite plan for resuming the discussion in a short time (a few hours at most). Try to use your time alone well, to both to calm yourself and to think through your best plan for working this problem through to a good resolution.
Top 10 Tips for Students *Clarify boundaries – ultimately, whose decision is this? Find out whether your parents are giving you an order they expect you to follow or are offering advice they hope you will consider. *Avoid making comparisons with other people (for example, your friends or their parents) – YOUR family is resolving this issue. If you want to use a reference point, use your own behavior; bring up examples of times you have shown good judgment in the past, and remind your parents of experiences that have prepared you for what you want to do now. *Be prepared to explain how you will benefit from what you want to do, and be ready to discuss what parts of your plan might be difficult for you and how you will handle those challenges. *Keep the lines of communication open. Volunteer information about your life. No, your parents don’t need to know everything, but they are interested in hearing about the things that are important to you, and they are always going to want to know that you are safe and happy. If you already have a dialogue going about day-to-day stuff, the relationship and communication skills you have developed will help a great deal when conflict arises. *Remember that underneath most problems between parents and their adult children there is a huge undercurrent of love. Try to keep this love in mind, protect and preserve it for the benefit of your future relationship with them, one that will be different but at least as valuable to you as the one you had as a child. *Finally, in the middle of conflict, when emotions are sometimes running high, remember that the shortest path to being treated like a mature adult is to behave like one.