Giving advice or feedback is something we do frequently with our kids. It’s part of the process of parenting. We do it frequently when kids are young because there is so much for them to learn. Young children want to learn and are looking for help. If we do hurt their feelings, they bounce back quickly.

On the other hand, as kids get older, giving feedback gets a bit tougher. They tend to take things more personally, and sometimes they wonder if they can ever please us or get anything right.

So, what to do? We certainly don’t want to stop doing everything we can to teach them how to be in life and to be successful. Here is one very powerful option that allows you to continue to contribute to your children and reduce the conflict in doing so: Ask for permission and give them the freedom to just hear it.

A colleague shared this story with me:

When we started to visit colleges with our 17-year-old daughter, Emily, it occurred to me that she would be out on her own in the world in one short year…and I’m not done teaching her about life yet!

Academically she is ready to go, but I am concerned about the way she deals with some everyday things in life. For example, she does not handle stress well, and she gets upset easily by small things that go wrong. So, I told her that I was concerned with the way she handles life sometimes. I asked her if I could just point out examples of her behavior about which I was concerned as they occurred. (I also promised that I wouldn’t do so in front of others.) We wouldn’t discuss it at the time, but I would just let her know this is an example of where I see she could have difficulty when she is on her own in college. She agreed to this. 

I have pointed out a few examples since our discussion, and we had not talked about them further, but I recently got a card from her that said, “Thanks, Mom, for straightening me out. Keep it up. I really appreciate your help. I love you. Emily”  

Now, the idea of asking for permission to give someone feedback isn’t limited to just teens. It’s a caring, gracious approach that makes it easier for someone else to listen to what we have to say.

Thanks for considering this,