The author Celeste M. Gonsalves

Sponsored Content l July 31, 2018

Five Letters; One Meaningful Word = Instant Connection


By Celeste M. Gonsalves


The Situation

My daughter was in fifth grade and she broke a rule that made me so upset that I immediately grounded her for an entire month! I think at the time I was more shocked about her choices and how brave she was to take a chance. I was very concerned because she just started to venture out with friends on group outings, so I knew how important it was to begin to establish a trusting relationship. We all know what comes after fifth grade, right? There is sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade and so on. These are critical years in your child’s physical development, but it is also the most important time frame for parents to create a trusting relationship because we want them to share what they are going through with us. The days that followed this unfortunate incident I was greeted with a very cold presence, distant connection, and unpleasant attitude by my daughter. Yes, I didn’t appreciate it at all, but I was becoming increasingly weary of the disconnection that I was currently experiencing in our relationship and knew I needed to do something to rectify it.

The Plan of Action

After a week of no improvement, I sat her down to have a talk with her.

Here is the basic dialog that followed:

Me: “I have noticed how upset you have been and I was wondering if you would share with me why you are so mad at me?” She remained quiet for a few minutes and seemed a little afraid to tell me the truth about how she was feeling. I told her that I was concerned about how disconnected I was feeling and that by sharing her thoughts wouldn’t result in making the situation worse for her.

She still remained quiet. I was literally watching her think and in my own mind I was hoping that I made her feel comfortable and safe enough to share her honest feelings with me.

Her: “Okay, YES! I am mad at you because you grounded me for four weeks without even hearing me out! You did not want to know what really happened! You just grounded me for a whole month! I think you were very unfair!” She showed a lot of conviction in her voice and started to cry in frustration.

Me: “Will you tell me exactly what happened now?”

Her: “Yes.”

She explained everything to me as I sat quietly and listened attentively.

The Result

Now it was my turn to remain quiet! I sat there and my mind started to reflect on the upcoming teen years and how important it was for me to find a solution quickly so that I could show her that I validated her point of view, but by also still reinforcing the rule that she broke. Time was not on my side because she was crying and waiting for me to respond.

Then, it came to me as a natural progression as I structured the message in my mind that I wanted to convey to her; a response that would provide a win-win outcome for both of us.

Me: Looking straight into her tear filled eyes I said, “I am SORRY I quickly grounded you without allowing you to explain the situation. I am SORRY if I hurt your feelings. I am SORRY I grounded you for a whole month without knowing all the facts first. I promise I will work on being more open to hearing you out before I make a decision about a consequence. Here is what I am going to do. I am going to reduce your restriction from four weeks to two weeks, and you already completed the first week so you have one more to go. But, you need to understand the rules are set for a reason and that you need to abide by them. I am meeting you halfway in this situation because I want you to know how important it is for us to be able to communicate effectively, and I want to show you that I can take responsibility for the mistake I made in judging the situation too quickly.”

Her: “Okay, thank you Mom for listening.”

Then, I got a heartfelt hug! Double score!

She held her head up, sat up straight, and rolled her shoulders back as though she received a dose of instant empowerment! I was amazed with the transformation I was witnessing in front of my eyes, and realized in that moment how important it was for her to hear me apologize for my rash decisions.

That moment and overall experience changed the dynamics of our relationship as soon as the concrete poured (I am SORRY) to create the slab (meeting her halfway) of the foundation (trusting, open communication) we began to build upon. Absolutely Amazing!

The Takeaway

I encourage ALL the parents reading this to use this tip TODAY and say, “I am SORRY!” to your child or teen. I know what you must be thinking? Everything is fine and there is nothing I need to apologize for. There is a nine out of ten chance that your child or teen has remembered something that you said or did that they feel warrants an apology from you. My suggestion is to open the conversation lightly and with reassurance that he/she will not get into trouble for honestly sharing how he/she feels. You must be willing to validate his/her experience in a welcoming manner by listening with the intent to create a solution that is beneficial to him/her, without too much compromising on your part for this option to be effective.  

Parent Chat 4 to 9

Want more ideas/ways on how you can build a trusting relationship with your son or daughter? Explore Parent Chat 4 to 9 to gain instant access and view a FREE Parenting Class.  


Celeste M. Gonsalves (pictured above) is the author of Teen Wise and Teen Wise WORKBOOK, and the founder of Parent Chat 4 to 9 membership site. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Resources from the University of Hawaii, and a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University of Hawaii. Fancy titles that basically mean she is educated in human development over the life span and in business management. However, her highest achievement was acquired when she successfully raised a daughter as a single parent from infancy through college completion.

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