If I could give my younger self one tip about communication, I would remind her that often the best thing you can do is say nothing; just listen. By listening, you are letting those in your life know that you are here for them as they process their own thoughts about the conflict in their minds.
I grew up in a busy household. I was the middle child, the diplomat, the problem-solver. For most of my life, I have seen this as an asset. I can quickly identify an issue and have a plethora of out-of-the-box ideas to fix or solve whatever is bothering someone. This skill has been useful in my first career as a management consultant, second career as a transactional lawyer, and in my current political work. But, as a single mom, I am learning that sometimes people don’t know how they feel about a situation and aren’t searching for a solution. They are still working it out for themselves. When you first share your thoughts and feelings to someone, it is rarely: “What am I going to do about this?” Instead, it is about feeling seen and heard by a trusted friend or loved one.
During the pandemic, my daughter would share her thoughts with me about all the things a tween sometimes tells their mom but would mostly share with friends at school in the hallway or at a sleepover. Because of the pandemic, those moments with others were over glitchy wifi, if at all. I am grateful that I could be there for her when she needed to talk. And many times, I heard her say to me, “I don’t need you to solve anything. I just need you to listen.” From the mouth of babes.