Author Topic: Visit to grandparents' bores teenagers  (Read 4848 times)


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Visit to grandparents' bores teenagers
« on: June 10, 2008, 08:34:03 PM »
Visit to grandparents' bores teenagers / Time for new communication skills

The following is a letter to Dear Abby with a reply added to it by Dear Gabby —a communication skills coach.

DEAR ABBY: Our parents make my sister and me go with them to visit our grandparents one Saturday a month. They live two hours away. We don't like having to waste our Saturday this way. My sister and I are 15 and 16, and we're old enough to stay home alone. When we are there, all we do is sit there bored while our parents and grandparents talk.

Our grandparents show no interest in us, even though they tell our parents how much they "love'' seeing us. Our parents say our grandparents are not in good health and may not be around much longer, so one Saturday a month isn't too much to ask.

The other day Mom overheard us in our room talking about how much we hate having to go over there, and she was furious. She said we were selfish and care about no one but ourselves, and she had better not hear that kind of talk again.

Please tell us what you think. —BORED TO DEATH IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR BORED TO DEATH: Sometimes when people grow older, they lose the knack of communicating with younger people. While visiting your grandparents may seem like a pain in the neck now, when you're older you may be glad that you did.

One way to bridge the generation gap would be for you and your sister to show some interest in them. Prepare a list of questions to ask them before you go to visit. You might be pleasantly surprised to find their answer a fascinating window on the past, and give you an insight about how your parents were raised.
Please consider what I have said. It will make visiting your grandparents less of an ordeal—and you might even learn something of value. —ABBY

Gabby’s Reply

Hi Boredetts:

Great letter. It speaks to many families. Thanks for writing.

Firstly: Your parents and your grandparents have brought this upon themselves. None of them have ever taken an advanced communication/relationship skills course. This condition simply couldn't exist if even one of them had attended a relationship communication skills workshop (college sp-com courses don't count). Your grandparents did not teach your mother to communicate openly, honestly, and spontaneously and so she couldn't teach you. None of them, when they are in a room together with you, can see the obvious boredom on your faces. This is called being unconscious. An awake adult can see when you are incomplete (whatever look you have on your face when you're upset, or bored, when you're hiding a lie/deceit (a withhold), when you're not in communication with someone, when you are not radiant, happy and joking). The nonverbal communication is so obvious that it begs to be addressed before continuing any conversation. They would then interrupt everyone and ask you, "What's up?" or "What's going on?" In a family that communicates openly, this would be your invitation to tell your truths. "I'm bored."* They are all stuck in ignorance. They are totally and completely unaware that both of you are bored and being deceitful, that you are not communicating openly and honestly with them. They all hide thoughts from each other so they have lost their ability to see when you're hiding thoughts. It's called being out-integrity. A lifetime of withholding thoughts detracts from ones aliveness, their very health.

BTW: When you tell the truth the problem disappears. Once you told them, "I'm bored." you'd immediately be experiencing something else.

Your mother made you wrong for telling the truth, this is abusive. Worse yet, she closed the topic for life so now you both have to stuff those thoughts. Making others wrong and shutting down communication is a behavior you will definitely inherent from her so look for it with your children, and remember what it felt like. An awake mother would have said afterwards, perhaps later that day, "I get that I made you wrong. I know that that was abusive. I get that I haven't included you in the conversations with your grandparents. I get that I have not been a safe space for you to tell me the truth. I get that your relationship with them has been boring for you. Keep letting me know your thoughts about this."

Secondly: Your grandparents are not in communication with you. They are unconscious. They've become stuck doing their imitation of communication. This is not your fault. They never studied how to get into communication with teenage girls. In their arrogance they thought these skills would come naturally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whereas parents read books about raising children, there are very few books for grandparents about how to support grandchildren.

You both are of a different generation. You can see things that adults can no longer easily see. You can see the hypocrisies. They truly are unconscious; it's not you. There's nothing wrong with you. All the thoughts you have you're supposed to have. The way your grandparents talked with each other when they were young is totally different than how you and your sister talk with each other and with enlightened adults (if you're lucky to know any).

So, what’s this really about? It’s about you learning how to communicate openly, honestly, and spontaneously, zero thoughts withheld. Not you and your sister, just you. Grandparents are who you learn how to communicate openly and spontaneously with, you practice on them. Given that you're the one writing your sister may or may not take advantage of this opportunity. If she chooses to continue withholding thoughts from people (beginning with your relatives) then she will become like your grandparents and drive her grandchildren out of her life.

All young people come to this fork in the road. Most continue to operate from the decision to hide things from adults; they reap the consequences of this deceit for life. They develop an "honest act" around adults but in truth hide all sorts of things from them, as though adults aren’t capable of hearing the truth. Fear takes over. Eventually they become addicted to withholding. They try to have an open, honest relationship with their life-partner but they hide a "few" thoughts right at the very beginning which dooms the relationship to mediocrity and boredom (divorce). What would work is for both of you to locate the incident, it’s a specific communication, an interaction, that was the turning point—before they were great and fun, after which they weren’t, unless neither of you ever liked them.

You haven’t discovered the wonderfulness of grandparents. Most are so much more tolerant and accepting than your parents are—less likely to blow up over “little things.” You can talk about anything with them. You can say anything to them and they can get it. Because of memory lapses they laugh at all your old jokes, they'll watch reruns with you thinking it's the first time they saw the movie, and feign shock and awe at the trends/fads you share with them. Adult business persons pay lots of money for consultants, you've got two that you're not tapping into for free. You simply can’t be whole and complete until you're comfortable interacting with old folks.

* First person always. I'm bored, not, we're bored.

Do show this post to everyone.

With aloha, Gabby