How do you encourage your child to speak openly and honestly?
Now, how do you encourage the same child to speak openly and honestly with the same opinions in both households?
Case in point, I get an email from my daughter’s stepmother stating she wants to take my daughter on vacation without my ex, and my daughter really wants to go. So, me not wanting to prohibit anything that is what my daughter wants, within reason, speak to my daughter about the vacation. She tells me she doesn’t want to go. She doesn’t like flying, she only wants to get on a plane if I am with her, and she wants to stay with her dad. I explain the email I received and she says she told her stepmom that it sounded like fun, but didn’t know her dad was not going.
So now I am in a predicament. It is not that I object necessarily to my daughter going on vacation with her stepmom, but I want to express my daughter’s concerns and thoughts. Of course, as you well know, IF I say what my daughter has shared with me, it will be taken as interference, and bitterness, and all negative.
I explain to my daughter that I will open the conversation by responding to the email request explaining we have talked and that she has reservations about going, but that she has to speak up to them and talk it out. If she wants to go, then she should go; if not then she should voice those concerns and desires.
This is not a new problem. I often get answers different than what I am told by my ex and his wife. I don’t know as a whole, or even in individual situations, if it is the adults telling me what they think will make me agree, or if indeed my daughter has told them what they are relaying to me. I do know that she does not like to upset her dad — she calls it being afraid of him. So I do know for fact that she has been known to tell him one thing and tell me something else. When I question the difference, she claims she is telling me the truth and she told him what would NOT make him mad. Is that the case? Or is she also afraid of upsetting me or telling me what she thinks I want to hear?
I speak openly with her and encourage her to keep the story the same no matter who she is speaking with. She says she understands, and she will. Then we find ourselves in the situation I opened this post with.
If it were about my feelings, it would be a totally different post, but it is not! I just want her to feel comfortable within her own feelings and decisions. She is a people-pleaser like me, so that is a hard task for us both.
When I can’t share with her other household because they are not receptive, how do I help my daughter in these situations?
Have you experienced similar? How do you handle it?