Thoughts on giving advice to those just beyond our immediate family

Thoughts on giving advice to those just beyond our immediate family

Renee EllisonSep 4, '22

Family members are different from all other relationships, because we've had so much of each other's thoughts through the years.  When we grow up we all need a break from that particular source of input.  There is something about going ON into the big wide world and forming one's own thoughts about EVERYTHING that is very important to adult autonomy.  "There is more than one way to live life," a wise father told me in relation to his three grown children.  He was letting go of them psychologically, too.

Handing out advice and ideas is tough because if one gives it one immediately puts the other person into a scissors to accept or reject that advice when the minute before the advice was given, the receiver was sailing along freely with no such internal conflict.  So, if we are a source of repeated internal conflict for grown children, they are not going to want to be around us.

I can almost never give advice to our grown daughter.  I read a book once about a wise woman who decided to zip her lip when her children grew up and even identified THE day when she decided to stop giving advice at all to her grown children, unless they specifically asked for it, which was/is almost never.

It may be fun to give advice, but most often it is not fun to ever receive it unless we, ourselves, have specifically solicited it.

I experienced it when my aged mother came to live with us.  She has a vigorous mind and had thoughts/ideas about everything.  I remember feeling, "Oooh, this is gonna be tough to hang onto my own thoughts re: everything when I'm forced to nicely respond to every sentence that comes out of her mouth."  I wanted to say, "Mom, my own head is already full the minute I get up and to have to add your thoughts all day long wears me to a frazzle.  But I didn't say it.  I journaled to vent it somewhere safe without hurting her.  But the internal conflict just to hang onto one's own psyche is fierce when it is with a relative who delights in new ideas.  Their ideas.

People are sooooo different.  You may love new ideas.  They are stimulating, novel, and creative to you and you have tremendous personal energy to implement them even within the next half hour.  Other people are terrified by new ideas; they see them as threatening to the status quo.  Ideas clutter their mind and paralyze them.  We have experienced that.  “Don't bother me with any other reality but the one I have fashioned inside myself...especially in my 90's...down to how to do the dishes!”

With our own young children it is an entirely different dynamic.

(Note: a friend reading this added the thought of giving others your 100% permission for them to reject your advice.  This keeps each of you free—and free to continue to relate lovingly.  She had previously written, “I regret the times I’ve given advice when they just wanted me to share the moment.”)

On a related topic, download our e-Book on How to Relate with Love to a Controlling Person.

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