2) b. Interpersonal Rapport

3) a.The art and technique of using words effectively to impart information or ideas.


It has taken me 30 years to get to a place where I can have a conversation with my mother and forgo being defensive. Instead, I’ve learned how to be the kind of listener and conversation partner that I hope I usually am with my friends.

Example A.

Mom: You should really do XXXX.
Old Marlen: No, no, no…that won’t work.
New Marlen: Thank you. That’s a good idea and I’ll think about it.

I have had to work very hard to hear her ideas and suggestions as not criticisms, but as her own attempt to give input. This is a major step forward for me! Is this what professionals refer to as "the symbolic death of the parent"? I’ve come to respond to my mother in a different way…

Moreover, I have learned to think about validating her emotions in our conversations and re-thinking my input.

Example B.

Mom: Business hasn’t been very good since the hurricane. Finishing the new house is driving me crazy.
Old Marlen: Well, what would you expect? You never should have bought a new house just after starting a new business.
New Marlen: Sounds like you are very stressed. It must be a difficult situation for you.

Today’s blog entry is in honor of communication. Truly listening to and responding to my mother in a way that takes care of her and shows that I appreciate her ideas and understand her sorrows.


12 thoughts on “Communication

  1. With some parents you can only talk about the weather. I COMPLETELY understand this. (everything you just said) In fact, I need to catch up on your blog (this one).PS What are you reading on the plane on the way home?

  2. Kim – thanks so much for reading! I know blogs can be difficult (endless musings on things far too personal to really comprehend), so I’m trying to keep things short and simple!What am I reading on the plane? That’s a good question! I just started Wilkie Collins’ Armadale, and it’s rather voluminous, so that might last me until the plane ride! I’ve started a number of books recently that I just couldn’t finish – Vampire Lestat, Rule of Four, The Red Tent…and I still have a lot of books in my apt that I will have to get rid of in 4 weeks – but this one caught my interest from the get-go…Any rec’s?

  3. Oh hmm, Marlen, I am so sleep deprived at the moment, my right and left brain are fighting each other (learning a new language, and can’t even think in once language). I total have to read ALL of this blog. I packed three books in my carry on when leaving the USA, and my moleskin and was so worried about my cats that were traveling with me, (two plane trips and had NO clue if the animals got transfered..until I was on the second plane. It was just after the holiday season when I left, and I read Holidays on Ice. Made me laugh out loud on the plan at times. And it is JUST enough to read and let you think about either leaving home or going home. (in my opinion). But I haven’t gone home yet, so I don’t know. šŸ™‚ Will give it some thought after I read your blog more…off to bed for me…

  4. You know, my theory is, if it doesn’t catch you by a certain number of pages, it isn’t either what you need to read at the time, or it doesn’t suit you. I could not bond with Anne Rice stuff, or her other stuff in her other name..just not my style, forget about it, so MANY books to read, leave the stuff that doesn’t suit you.Yup, I give my books away each time I move. But now that I am in Germany, I MISS my books. Some books need to be revisited every so many years. My dad says that Huckleberry Finn should be read every five years.Currently I am thinking that I want to read ALL of Steinbeck. Oh Marlen, if you like Steinbeck, the Wayward Bus is totally cool. And for years I have been wanting to read Tortilla Flat(s) and don’t get it. My dad said last night he is going to send my some of his old books form the cellar. I am SOOO excited.

  5. Oh Marlen, it is MY pleasure to read your blog, it is just beautiful. You have such a beautiful writing style!

  6. It does feel good when you can finally communicate with mom without getting into it, doesn’t it? Not only is this communication but it is just part of growing up and becoming an adult. I am 27 and am just now learning how to respond to my mother’s comments which used to make me so defensive. While I am happy that my new ways of responding to her have created a nicer rapport between us, I think I am mostly proud of myself for finally being able to control my emotions and set aside my initial reaction of annoyance/exasperation/irritation, etc. Our parents are getting older and set in their ways, so I see it as our responsibility to not react negatively to the things they say because at this point they are certainly not going to stop saying things that leave us exasperated! In my case, I figure it is the least I can do to make up for my smart mouth and defensive attitude of, oh, the last 15 years or so…

  7. gooderin – wow…are we on the same wavelength or what? of course, knowing these things and behaving this way are two different things…

  8. No kidding…My mom was in town this weekend and I think my eyeballs are about to fall out of my head from rolling them so much.Sample scene (please note this has happened approximately 1000 times in the last few years–seriously):Mom: Would you and your sister like sushi? Let’s get sushi to go. I’ll go get it.[we FINALLY got her to try sushi rolls a few years ago; however, she is pretty much limited to the crunchy roll]Sister and me: Yes, that sounds great.Mom: Well what do I like? Will you get the kind that I like? Do y’all remember the one I like???[my sister and i exchange annoyed looks. rolling of eyes commences.][Time to get sushi arrives]:Mom [looking at me as I am lying on the couch, exhausted]: Well, I am going to get the sushi. Me: ok.Mom [pitiful look on her face]: Well, don’t you want to drive me to get the sushi?? Me: No. You said you were going to get it. I’m tired and I wouldn’t have even ordered the sushi if I had known I was going to be involved in picking it up…[After I’ve driven her to pick up the sushi, we sit down to eat]Mom [pointing at every different piece of sushi even though she only likes one kind]: What’s this? What’s this one? Would I like this one? This one doesn’t have eel in it, does it? Oooh…what’s that? Have I had that one before???? Do you think I would maybe like that one??[sister and I look at each other. more rolling of eyes. my mother continues, oblivious]Me: MOTHER! Just try one that looks good! I have no idea what you will end up liking. Just. Try. One.Mom [pointing at a piece]: Does this one have eel in it? Me: We didn’t even get any that has eel in it.Mom: Are you tricking me? I don’t want you to tell me it has eel in it after I eat it and like it.[more eye rolling until I finish eating and leave my sister’s house to go home. and for the first time in months, i fall asleep before 11:00 pm. the whole thing literally exhausted me.]So you see what I am up against. This whole scenario will be repeated in about two weeks when she visits again. Oh well, at least I will get a good night’s sleep.

  9. gooderin – LOL…my mom came to Japan and wouldn’t even touch the sushi…she ate fried shrimp the three days I was with her…

  10. That’s the trick–you have to insist that the roll you are giving her to try basically has a fried shrimp with some avocado in it. That’s what worked with my mom. But as you can see from the scenario I previously posted, if your mom relents and tries the sushi roll and enjoys it, it could be like opening Pandora’s box. So maybe you should just let her stick with the fried shrimp…

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