3-Step Solutions for Fights with Mom

2. Empathize: Recognize that her stance is one you may not agree with but is important to her. What you can say: "I can see that this is really important to you."

3. Assert: "Then the assertive part comes in where you take your position." Mary tells daughters to start these statements with the word "and." "If you use the word 'but' it disqualifies what your mother is saying. For example: "And, Mom, I have a different perspective on …"

Finally, let her know what you want. Tell her, "I would appreciate it if you would (and then you put your wish in there)."

When it comes to talking to Mom about heated issues, Mary also has a few more tips that may come in handy:

  • "Timing is very important. A lot of times, we're so upset that we feel we have to deal with it then and there. And with most issues, you can take some time to process them."
  • Visualize a positive outcome. "What we tend to do is imagine that she'll blow up, or we'll have an argument. And we create this self-fulfilling prophesy of negativity, so visualizing positive outcomes gives your brain direction."
  • Be willing to disagree. It's as simple as saying, "Mom we just may not agree on this, and that's okay."
  • Take a break. Mary warns daughters, "Don't push so hard that you get into an escalated situation."
  • "Tone is important because we often think we have the right words but don't have the right tone. Come from curious tone of voice rather than a blaming or defensive one."
  • Remember that changing the way you communicate takes time. "Mother's Day is not a good day to bring up old stuff." Set differences aside for this one day, and, "focus on living in the moment with forgiveness. And that doesn't mean that you forget about it." Rather, Mary finds that disagreement sabbaticals can also be a relationship-altering experience. "It really frees you have that experience, and it sometimes opens up doors that have been closed for a long time."
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