SOURCE: Mark Merrill
For years, I’ve marveled at how good my mom is at giving advice. She has a knack for knowing when, and how, to do so.
And as my kids have entered adulthood, I’m even more impressed by her example. But it can be so hard, with all my years of experiences and hard knocks, to keep my parental opinions to myself.
Giving advice well starts with knowing when the conditions are right for our older children to hear, and really think about, our advice. Giving advice well also requires some artful actions. Here are some tips to consider:
The Best Times to be Giving Advice:
- Give advice when you’ve been asked for your advice. I’ve noticed through the years that my mom, as well as my dad and Susan’s parents, were patient with their advice. And that patience made me more willing and interested in seeking their advice. For the most part, they only gave advice when they were asked to do so, plain and simple.
- Give advice when you recognize something that could potentially harm them physically, emotionally or spiritually, and you’re not sure they see it. Generally speaking, my mom keeps her thoughts to herself and lets us work through things on our own. But when she believes she sees a landmine in our lives that we might be blind to, she isn’t afraid to speak up. She risks being viewed as nosy because she cares more about us than about her own feelings.
- Give advice when you are in a frame of mind to be gentle with your advice. Whether I asked for my mom’s advice or not, she has always been gentle in her delivery. She understands that a parent should want not only to be effective in expressing advice but in getting that advice to be grasped. If you are in a highly emotionally-charged state of mind, that’s not the best time to share your advice. Be sure you can maintain control of your emotions. Wait for a better time, with a cooler head, rather than forcing the issue.
The Best Ways to be Giving Advice:
- Give advice by being clear about the difference between opinions and facts. When you give advice, you can use both facts and opinions. Either way, let your child know whether your statement is fact or just your opinion based on your wisdom and experience.
- Give advice by thoroughly listening to them. Don’t just wait for their lips to stop moving so you know when to shower them with your insights. Listen well and repeat back to them what you heard them say. Being a great listener is key to your relationships. And as your kids get older, they need to know they can just express themselves without getting lectured.
- Give advice by asking thought-provoking questions instead of making blanket statements. When giving advice, my mom always uses great questions to get me to think, which inspires me to use a sort of “Socratic method” with my kids, even when they were younger. I like to ask them questions that stimulate their critical thinking and leads them to the conclusion I had in mind in the first place. When they get more active in the discussion and do some thinking as well, they’re more likely to receive your advice.