I've Been There

Communication tip #2


Here’s another example of when communication goes really wrong between Jessica and her mum.

And then some tips on how the conversation could have gone better.



Jessica has a 10-month old baby called Sienna. They both live with Jessica’s mum and Jessica and her mum often fight about looking after Sienna. Here’s an example of what might happen when Jessica’s mum gets home from work:


Jessica’s Mum:Why are these bottles still here? I told you this morning you didn’t have any clean ones left and needed to wash them.
Jessica:I’ll get to it.
Mum:Get to leaving it for me to do, you mean. And I s’pose the washing is still in the machine from this morning.
Jessica:Alright I’ll do it. Can you not see that I have my hands full right now?
Mum:And what have you been doing all day. Has Lauren been here all day again?
Jessica:What do you think I’ve been doing? I’ve been looking after Sienna. Like I do every day.
Mum:More like I do every day. Looking after Sienna means making sure her clothes are clean and dry. That’s not going to happen by itself you know. Someone has to put them on the line.
Jessica:God, it’s just washing. Why are you being such a cow?


How can Jessica and her mum sort this out? 

The fighting leaves them both feeling stressed and angry and upsets Sienna sometimes too. Jessica can’t really afford to move out, and Jessica’s mum likes having her and Sienna nearby in any case.


After reading some information, Jessica decides to talk to her mum about the fighting.


Jessica knows it’s important to:

  • Talk about how she sees what’s going on, and how she feels and thinks about things rather than pointing the finger at her mum
  • Be as clear as she can about what she needs and wants
  • Give her mum time to talk about things from her side
  • Try and use a positive tone of voice
  • Tell her mum how much she appreciates all the help she gives


It feels really awkward, but this is how it goes.


Jessica:This feels really weird, but I thought maybe we could talk about how you and I are fighting a lot.
Mum:What do you mean?
Jessica:Well I’ve just noticed a lot lately that we seem to fight like all the time and it makes me feel stressed and upset and like you think I’m not doing a good job.
Mum:I never said you weren’t doing a good job.
Jessica:Yeah I know, it’s just when you come home and tell me all the things I haven’t done I feel like you think I’m lazy or not looking after Sienna right.
Mum:Well it’s just when I’ve been at work all day and I come home and I’m tired and I just want to relax there’s all this extra stuff you expect me to do. And I never get a thank you. That’s all I’m saying Jessica.
Jessica:Yeah ok. I do know how much you do and I really do appreciate it even if I don’t show it sometimes.
Mum: Would it hurt you to say thank you every now and then.
Jessica: Yeah ok. Would it be okay if when you get home from work we spent a few minutes just talking about how the day went or whatever instead of fighting.
Mum: Well that would be a lot easier if there wasn’t stuff lying around everywhere.
Jessica: Yeah I know. But just a couple of minutes and then you could maybe watch Sienna while I catch up on stuff.
Mum: Alright we can try.


Communication is really hard.


Sometimes we don’t get it right and it takes a lot of practice. But by learning some new ways of dealing with conflict and asking for what you want, you’ll be able to pass on some great skills to your children.