I have never much liked advice, even when I clearly needed it.
I’m not sure if it seems like a weakness, if it feels like criticism, or something else entirely. I just know I don’t like it.
I’ve learned to not ask for it unless I plan to listen. I try not to complain in a way that might be interpreted as asking for it. I think I’ve become more gracious about receiving it over the years, even if I don’t plan to follow it.
Still, it’s not comfortable for me, to have advice offered.
I’ve often generalized – perhaps unfairly – stating that it is impossible to talk to men about problems or difficulties, because they won’t just listen…they want to solve it.
There have been many times in my life where I have, frustrated and angry, said to one man or another, “Just LISTEN! Maybe sympathize. For God’s sake, quit trying to fix it!
So…I totally understand a person sometimes needing someone to complain to, and needing that person to listen without judgement, without drawing conclusions and without (for God’s sake!) trying to fix it.
Generally, I think, I’m pretty good at it, too.
Until it comes to my children.
Granted, they are no longer children, but fully grown adults. And I’m good with that. I don’t want the daily headaches and heartaches that parenting entails. I did it. I’m finished. I don’t have the stamina for it anymore.
Still, when they are not completely happy and fulfilled – which is, of course, exactly what I want for them – and I think a little tweak of their lifestyle, attitude or spending habits might make a big difference…I advise.
Not only do I offer advice, I remind them of past advice I’ve given. I make a point of saying things like, “If you had only listened to my advice…” I argue for my advice, and shoot down any defensive reasoning they may offer.
I keep it up usually until they cry. Or find an excuse to hang up. Or both.
That’s when I realize I have displayed behavior that I myself would never tolerate. That’s when I know I’ve over-stepped boundaries and abused the rights and privileges of parenthood. That’s when I know I’ve gone too far.
That’s when I sit hear, feeling sorry, swearing to myself that I’ll do better from now on.