Thursday, July 5, 2012

Things NOT to Say to Young Adult Women

And let me tell you a thing or two...

There is a gap between young women and older women today, and it's not just generational; it's relational. Not everyone has this problem, but if you've been viewing younger women as those who "just don't know any better," maybe this blog will help. Gratefully, not all women are off course in this area, but here are a few examples of things that we should not say to our younger sister friends:


1. "Honey, when I was your age..."
Click-FOG. The young woman is still there, but her mind has checked out into that wonderful fog zone that only she can access. You are still talking, lips moving rapidly, but your words are just sounds in the distance now. By starting the sentence with a "let me teach you something, barefoot baby girl" tone of voice, you lost your audience before getting anywhere near your point. Focus on the question being asked; not on what you used to do. Of course, if you're asked about what you used to do (Wow!) go ahead and share things, keeping in mind that you are speaking to another adult; not to a child. Younger does not always mean "child."

Example: If a young woman asks you how you handled temper tantrums...
Good: "Tell me what you've been doing so far." (After listening carefully, offer ideas; not mandates: "Maybe this would be something you could try...")
Not so good: "When I was your age, I didn't put up with that kind of nonsense. I let my kids know who was Boss, and when I said 'Jump!' they asked me 'How high?' on the way up..."
Moral: Be a good listener, and think before responding. "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." (Prov. 18:13)

2. Let me tell you how to... I know, I know. It's hard to watch things happen and not run to the rescue, but do you remember how you felt when people did that to you in your 20s and 30s? I can remember having a total stranger walk up to me in a parking lot and offer to sign me up for community education parenting classes because my child was crying loudly on the way to the car! After she saw my tense eyeballs, she backed away from the car (almost with her hands in the air = not my best moment). Whatever we want to say, it will sound better if we've been asked first.

Moral: If it's not an emergency, wait until you're asked. You can pray while waiting. "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." (Prov.26:17)

3. This is the way we did it... "When we first got married, we ate all our meals together, did laundry as a couple every Friday, made a budget and stuck to it, rode to work together and recited Bible verses to each other in the car..." Relax. I'm making that up! But seriously, no matter how we did things when we got married, if we've been married for more than five years, things have changed dramatically. Think about it: You can make dinner reservations, airline reservations, hotel reservations, car rental reservations, and order a new pair of shoes; all through a slim little hand-held device called a Smartphone! When I got married in 1982, we didn't even have cell phones. We thought we were doing something when we purchased our first big old clunky cordless home phone!

Accept the fact that couples will do some things differently. We end up sounding like change-resistant fuddy-duds when we criticize change just because it changed! For instance, I thought Smartphones were a ridiculous invention, until I found out that I can get my boarding pass sent to my phone (very useful to the frequent flier)! Things have changed in more than just technology, and it helps if we'll do our best to keep up without making all change sound criminal.

Moral: Some change really is progress. Remember wringer-washers? "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this." (Eccl. 7:10)

 4. You're so young, you may not understand yet... Whether married or still single, young people have more abilities than we realize. After all, if they've gone to college and paid any or all of the bill, they've had practice paying for big-ticket items. And if they're married, they begin making a multitude of decisions after they say "I do." Capability comes with practice, not just with age.

I can vividly remember going out for a dinner celebration after finding out that we were expecting our first child. At the end of dinner, Norman told me this: "Only one of us is going to work outside the home, and it's going to be me."  We had only been married four years when this pivotal decision was made. Young married people are not "playing house"; they are building a life together. We learned how, and so will they.

Moral: Remember that young people can have wisdom. It's not age-specific. "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (I Tim. 4:12)

Have you said something to a young adult that wasn't right? It happens, and it can be fixed. Heartfelt apologies are rarely turned down, especially when a person knows that you love them and you meant well. Apply this phrase honestly and liberally, as needed: "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"

Young adult women make fun, exciting and enriching sister friends, if we don't alienate them.

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom: and in her tongue is the law of kindness." (Prov. 31:26)

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