Problem: My daughter and I have had issues since she was a teenager, maybe even before that. She was always a strong-willed child and was not really prone to listen. She liked being the center of attention and that was always hard for me to understand. She seemed so different than me. I came from a different world where it was not a possibility to have that kind of attention. I am not even sure I would have known what to do with it. I was a sensitive, rather solitary kid who liked to read and daydream, and that did not require a lot of time and attention. I think that was good because the time and attention was not likely to have happened even if that is what I wanted. I was not happy or unhappy about it because I did not know any different.
I have never really felt from some unknown point in time my daughter was particularly attached to me. She got along fine with her dad, and he seldom told her no, so that seemed to agree with her more. She was dramatic, flamboyant, friendly, and again she did not like to listen as a teenager. She seemed to thrive on having her way even if she knew better she often had the last word. This is a stubborn characteristic we probably both share. She was beautiful and graceful and not inclined to study. She liked to talk and be entertained.
I think the problem is we just do not see life the same way. I tend to lean more toward flexible and she wants it the way she wants it. I do not see her a lot, so we do not have to agree on much, but it is apparent when she disagrees with me. I think she can be brutally honest and even though I try not to be offended, there are times that I am. I want to get along with her and just keep the peace. We are at this point being silent as we do not see a challenge of hers the same way. What should I do? Should I say I am sorry for something I did not do?
Discussion: I think even though you are from the same family, there is just no guarantee you will agree. People have different personalities. She is not a carbon copy of you and does not have to see it your way. The opposite is true as well. I believe you have to choose the things you stand up for, and those are usually moral or ethical values. Sometimes the rest is idle chit chat and just general disagreement. You really did not say what the difference of opinion is but I guess I would ask you if it is worth it to go down with your idea.
Assertiveness is concerned with people agreeing to disagree. If this is an important matter, perhaps it is best to get to that point. She is after all entitled to her point of view as you are. It would not be good to have either one of you to get so married to your ideas that it puts a rift in the relationship.
If you have the time to talk in a way that is non-confrontational, and you both can remain calm, perhaps you can talk it out.
Here are a few ideas for communication:
- If it is hurtful, harmful or demeaning do not say it.
- Understand you are trying to be understood, not always to the point of agreement.
- Try and see the other’s point of view.
- Agree to disagree if need be.
- Not every conversation has to have an endpoint; sometimes it is just OK to converse and listen.
- You have to right to an opinion, but not to push your ideas on anyone else.
- Love and respect is sort of a bottom line in families. Try and make sure you are coming from a place of love and respect.
- Try very hard not to take anyone else’s behavior personally.
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