A few days ago I was talking to a fellow mom who was going through a tough time. As I listened to her talk about what was going on I immediately jumped into fix-it mode. I started asking questions and giving advice. Naturally, I thought I was being helpful. I didn’t realize until later what I was doing.
Soon I could tell my friend was getting even more upset. Why was this happening? Shouldn’t my advice make her feel calmer? I quickly realized my questions weren’t helping…
Motherhood is a tricky thing. It’s sensitive, personal and it’s like nothing else. My conversation with my friend showed me sometimes the best advice we can give is no advice at all!
Now I’m not saying we should NEVER give advice, but there is definitely a time and place for it. My friend was struggling and upset. Clearly my questioning and unsolicited advice was not making the situation any better. We need to use discernment when talking with our friends. Even if we think we have the best advice in the world, maybe they just aren’t ready to hear it in that moment. And that’s okay.
Moms Need Encouragement
Every single mother has thought to herself “Am I doing this right? Am I bad mom? Should I be doing ____ instead?” We want what is best for our kids. When challenges arise, the solutions aren’t always a straightforward answer. What works for one family or child may not work for another.
This is where encouragement comes in. We need support. It takes a village to raise a child.
So what’s the one thing every mom needs to hear from her friends? YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB! We need to hear from our friends that we are doing a good job!!
Often kids don’t express just how thankful they are to have you as their mommy until they are older. But I can do this for my friends. I can share how special of a mommy I believe they are right now.
We Don’t Need to Fix Everything
It’s so natural for moms to want to make everything better. On a daily basis we are helping our kids and fixing problems. It’s so easy to jump into fix-it mode when talking to friends. It may not always be the appropriate time to do this. Sometimes it is better to just listen and encourage. If they ask you for advice, certainly share your wisdom.
But unsolicited advice almost always comes up against resistance. I remember in my graduate counseling course my professor shared a list of conversation stoppers (a sure way to stop conversation in a counseling session). At the top of the list….unsolicited advice.
If You Notice Resistance, Back Off
Although our questions are often innocent and not meant to be judgmental or harmful, they can trigger negative emotions in our friends. Think back to a time when you were struggling and you reached out to a friend. What made the biggest difference in your conversation? I noticed as soon as I backed off and started to encourage, validate and empathize the tone of our conversation immediately shifted.
We aren’t perfect and we won’t always make the “right” decision. But I believe if we are intentional about supporting one another it can make a huge difference in our relationships. In our mothering.