Sometimes, in our NYC therapy practice, patients wonder how to best talk to their parents about unhealthy habits, particularly after the holidays when families have spent a lot of time together and observed each other’s lifestyles. However, it can be intimidating to approach parents with concerns without feeling either disrespectful or as if you crossed a line as their kid. Well+Good recently featured Tribeca Therapy in a helpful article that offers tips for children who feel lost figuring out how to best give parents advice about their unhealthy habits.
Speaking with writer Amy Wilkinson, our director Matt noted that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about offering advice to parents, namely don’t just offer your advice unsolicited. In a way, talking to parents about their lifestyle is similar to petting a stranger’s dog, meaning get their affirmation before moving forward. A clear invitation is always preferable. “I always believe that before you’re offering anybody help or advice or guidance, it’s important to have affirmative consent, particularly if there isn’t much of a history or if there is a history of this happening and not going so well,” Matt said in the article.
The piece also explains that it’s important not to talk down to your parents and don’t assume that they don’t know anything about healthy choices already. Instead, Matt suggests to offer: “Hey, I’ve found out a little bit about ABCD. Do you know much about that?” or “I’ve been doing some reading on new treatments. Have you seen somebody about that?”
Similarly, don’t baby or coddle parents, and keep the parent-child dynamic firmly in mind. Coddling them, much like with a child, can sometimes put you in the position of doing too much of the work. Instead, share materials or evidence about healthier habits, but don’t do all the reading for them.