Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by cpit, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. cpit macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2009
    I like silence. I'm not depressed; I just need a lot of silence each day to be happy and relaxed. I know someone really understands me when we can sit with each other, not talking, and have it not be awkward but just comfortable. But my parents keep interpreting it wrong (teenager here), and they think I'm trying to shut them out of my life and rebel against them by opting out of having a conversation whenever they are near me. The more silent I am, the more they ask questions, and before I know it it turns into more of an interrogation, and then there is always inevitably a huge fight about how I'm being disrespectful by not wanting to have a conversation.

    Sometimes I am talkative, but they always seem to want to talk at the wrong time, like when I'm studying for a serious test or when I am running on a couple hours of sleep (which happens a lot) or when I just want to think. They don't understand that my silence is more "reflective" than some sort of teenage act of rebellion (that idea sickens me). It's part of who I am and I want to make them understand that, and maybe it's a generational thing or something, but they simply do not accept silence!

    How do I make them understand? They've been punishing me and yelling at me and grounding me when all I want is some quiet! I do love them but my patience with them is seriously running out. I would open up to them more if they let me come to them instead of trying to force words out of my mouth. Out of all of the problems that people have with their kids, I really don't understand why they are tearing me apart because of it.
  2. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    Just let them know that you're studying whenever they come and talk to you when you are studying for a test. If they are good parents, they'll understand. If you're tired, explain to them that you're tired or low on energy or whatever. If they are still persistent, then just go and sit in your room or in a tree somewhere or something. Somewhere where people can't bother you :)
  3. 0098386 Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Have you told them that you just like silence?

    But what do you mean exactly; do you not engage in conversation, not listen to music, not react when people are trying to get your attention?

    I don't talk when travelling. Generally just look out the window and get lost in my own thoughts. People will ask me if I'm okay or not, but I think because I have such a busy life that I choose to relax going from A to B. Because each letter will be busy.
  4. cpit thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2009
    That's precisely what I do. If I'm studying for a test, this is what the conversation would be like:

    parent: what are you doing?
    me: studying for a huge test tomorrow so I can't really talk now sorry
    p: what subject?
    me: [insert subject]
    p: how's the class going? do you like it?
    me: yea it's okay but i really need to study now so I can talk sorry
    p: is it difficult material you're studying? let me see the chapter.
    me: i'll show you later. i really just have to study now.
    p: hmmm ok. oh by the way, did you see the [insert some new product] that just came out? i'm thinking about getting it
    me: cool but can we please talk about it later I really have to study now sorry
    p: sure. do you need some help studying? ya know, back in my day my school [insert story here]...
    me: please leave now! PLEASE! I don't have time to talk!
    p: you have no right to tell me to leave a room! i just came in here to see how you're doing
    p: why didn't you just say that politely in the first place? it takes more time to get angry with me than it does to simply answer one or two questions.
    me: I told you repeatedly
    p: don't get fresh me with. you have no right to talk to me that way. you know what, that's it. you're grounded and...

    i think you get the point. if it's about being tired, they'll do the same as above except ask me stuff like why didn't I get sleep, I should eat this or drink that before I go to bed blah blah blah. leaving them to go be alone somewhere is considered disrespectful somehow.

    I answer them, just not in depth. And yes, I have tried to tell them not to take my silence personally because it is just a part of who I am.
  5. Krafty macrumors 601


    Dec 31, 2007
    La La Land
    Did you start yelling at this point? I would say if you just keep your cool and politely ask them to leave they wouldnt have a reason to really punish you. Seems you we're a tad provoked at their presence.
  6. Tower-Union macrumors 6502


    May 6, 2009
    Maybe write them a letter? Poing out that trying to "talk" about it usually ends in a fight so you've written your thoughts down on paper (its also a great way to ensure they can't interrupt you). Basically write what you did here and pass it along to them.
  7. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    Their conversation was an attempt to engage you. They tried several tactics to try to connect with you in your reported dialog.

    They feel disconnected and are trying.
    Perhaps it was not a good time for you.

    Their persistence indicated one of 2 things:
    1) The didn't pick up on the increasingly less subtle message you were trying to convey
    2) You really don't communicate with them at all and they are desperate to engage you.

    I suggest you make some time to talk with them. Acknowledge you appreciate they care about your life. And find time when neither party is too busy to chat, and actually talk WITH your folks. They seem to care about you.
  8. Legolamb macrumors 6502a


    Nov 27, 2006
    North of where I'd like to be
    Show them this thread. And unless there is something else going on (you know what I mean), then give your mom a kiss and hug your dad every day and things will be fine. It's really a matter of communicating. That doesn't always mean talking.
  9. jecapaga macrumors 601


    Jul 1, 2007
    Southern California
    Doubtful the OP would do that because it makes perfect sense and would take the mystery and drama away. But I agree with you.

    Copy/Paste/Dear Mom and Dad at the top...print. done.
  10. barkomatic macrumors 601

    Aug 8, 2008
    You sound like you could be an introvert. You need your quiet time, nothing wrong with that. Your parents may be extroverts and interpret your quietness as some sort of depression--that is how extroverts are. They get energy from interacting with others--namely you.

    The best way to communicate with them your preference is to be direct. State you are not depressed but just need time to yourself. I'm afraid you might have to be more understanding of them than they are of you.
  11. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    I prefer quiet myself. Most often there's all kinds of stuff going on, so I seldom have any time to myself.

    There are extremes though - if you'[re around other people and they want to to talk it's polite to at the very least carry on some sort of conversation. That's part of being human and interacting with other people.

    Silence is golden, but balance is needed.
  12. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    I agree with the suggestion of trying to talk about this issue with your mom and dad, but not in the heat of the moment. Pick a neutral time and place. Maybe start with, "Somethings been bothering me and I really need your help with it..." As someone else said balance is the key. You need to make the effort to have some communication with them everyday so they feel like they know what is going on in your life and how you feel about it.

    Okay, now, if the talk doesn't seem to work then lets lay out some other strategies you can use, some in the heat of the moment.

    1. Lay The Foundation: This simply means to be intentional and proactive in your communication. If you need some quiet time to do something then tell your parent's ahead of time what you intend to do and ask their cooperation in doing so. For example: "Hey mom and dad I've got this major test tomorrow that I really need to study for because I want to ace it. Can you guys do me a favor and leave me alone for the next few hours so I can focus on the material. In fact, I better get on it before it gets too late, so I'll see you guys in a little while." You are laying out your expectations ahead of time and asking for their support. As long as you are nice and reasonable most people will gladly oblige. Establishing healthy boundaries like this is extremely valuable in relationships. It's both good communication and cooperation.

    2. The Broken Record: This is a classic communication technique for avoiding arguments by refusing to engage. You simply do as the name implies and act like a broken record in repeating the same thing over and over and over. Let's use the same studying scenario. When asked different questions while trying to study for a big test simply keep stating in a kind and non combative way your original statement. For example:

    parent: What are you doing?
    me: Thanks for asking mom. I'd love to talk with you, but I've got a major test tomorrow and I'm trying to study for it right now.
    p: What subject?
    me: Mom, I've got a major test tomorrow and I'm trying to study for it right now.
    p: How's the class going? do you like it?
    me: Mom, I've got a major test tomorrow and I'm trying to study for it right now.
    p: Is it difficult material you're studying? let me see the chapter.
    me: Mom, I've got a major test tomorrow and I'm trying to study for it right now.
    p: Hmmm ok. oh by the way, did you see the [insert some new product] that just came out? i'm thinking about getting it
    me: Mom, I've got a major test tomorrow and I'm trying to study for it right now.
    p: Sure. do you need some help studying? ya know, back in my day my school [insert story here]...
    me: Mom, I've got a major test tomorrow and I'm trying to study for it right now.
    p: Okay, okay, I get it, you need to study. I'll leave you alone.

    The key is to not get frustrated and don't raise your voice. Just be sincere, consistent, and calm. The other party will tire of the same response very quickly and usually break off the conversation themselves.

    3. Ignore and Play Dumb: This technique is actually one of my all time favorites. By "ignore" I mean two things. First, choose your battles carefully and don't get caught up in responding to every comment. It's not worth it in an argument. Second, actually ignore a lot of what the other person is saying as if you didn't hear them. This works hand in hand with the second part of technique which is to "play dumb". Now by this I mean exactly what I say, play dumb. Let's use the studying example again:

    parent: What are you doing?
    me: (No response just keep your nose in your book)
    p: Honey, did you hear me?
    me: (Still no response just keep right on studying)
    p: Cpit! I asked you a question!?
    me: Oh! Hey mom, sorry I didn't hear you. I've got this major test tomorrow that I'm trying to study for. I'm kinda stressed over it and I guess I just tuned everything else out because I really want to do well. (make brief eye contact during this response but quickly take your focus back to studying)
    p: Wow, what class is it, do you like it?
    me: (No response, just keep studying)
    p: Sweetheart, I asked if you liked the class?
    me: (No eye contact) Huh? Did you say something else mom?
    p: Is there any way I can help you with this?
    me: (very brief ignore and then start talking to yourself about the subject) Oh, I see how it works you move the X to the other side of the equation and then... (start scribbling notes out)
    p: (Parent might walk away at this point or they could further engage you with another question or even a touch to get your attention) (Mom approaches and puts her hand on your shoulder) Honey, I'm trying to talk to you?
    me: (When she touches you respond as if you are startled/surprised) Hmm! Sorry mom, I didn't know you were still here. This test is really important and I need to do well. Do you mind if I talk to you when I'm done?
    p: Sure dear, sorry to have bothered you. I know you'll do great.

    Playing dumb is an art and takes some practice. The key is to be innocent and genuine in your "being lost and caught up in your own world." This way the other person does not interpret your ignoring them as an act of dismissiveness, but of being distracted by something else.

    4. Roadblocks: This technique is simple, make it hard for others to get your attention by putting roadblocks between you and them. If they see that you are too difficult to engage or are obviously focused on something else then they will often not make the "extra effort" required to get your attention. The most common example of using a roadblock is having on headphones. This sends the message to others that you are currently occupied and thus not available for conversation. People do all kinds of things to avoid conversation like bury their head in a book, pretend to talk on a cell phone, appear engrossed in the TV or their laptop. Physical space is another type of roadblock, disappear to your room, maybe lock the door, or simply go to a friend's house or the library.

    5. Put Your Cards On The Table: This technique is powerful. Simply "put it all out there" in an honest and kind manner by telling the other person what you are tying to communicate and asking them what you need to do different. For example:

    p: What are you doing?
    me: I'm studying for this big test I've got tomorrow
    p: What subject is it, do you like the class?
    me: I just really need some quiet time so I can focus on studying
    p: Well maybe I can help, when I was in school...
    me: Dad, sorry to interrupt, I appreciate your interest and desire to help. It looks like you really want to take some time to talk right now. I wish I could, but I can't. I'm trying to communicate to you that I really need some quiet time so I can focus and concentrate. What else can I do to help you understand this?

    Be extremely respectful throughout this entire exchange and after the question be quiet. Don't over explain it, let what you have said sink in by being silent. You may need to use the Broken Record Technique at this point if the person keeps pushing you. By asking a question you are putting the ball in their court, but you have made it clear what you need from them. This actually puts pressure on them to respond in the way that you desire/need. When they do respond to your liking thank them for their understanding and willingness to respond. Then honor their original intent to engage you by seeking out a time a place to do so later. "Hey thanks again for letting me study. What did you want to talk about earlier?"

    I hope you might find some of this information useful. The bottom line is that you need to maintain a positive relationship with your parents through a balance of good communication and healthy boundaries. I'm willing to bet that they want what's best for you, but just have a hard time articulating that. To most parent's being shut out of their child's life is a tremendous fear and they often respond poorly out of that fear.

    Sorry for the long post everyone. OP, I wish you the best with this. Let me know if I can help in any other way.
  13. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    I'm liking all your advice dude, I think at least ONE of them should help the OP. Nicely done. Should help some others around here too perhaps :D My favourite being the play dumb one :p
  14. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    Yes, this.

    Liking silence is all well and good but how you communicate is still important.

    To be honest I wish there were more teenagers like you. Usually you can't get away from the combativeness of a teenager's precious opinions.
  15. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    True. They're so loud and arrogant... <Hopes to god that he is not one of them>... ;):rolleyes:
  16. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    Sometimes and some are worse than others. I was a totally bratty rebellious teenager. My poor mother, I don't know how she coped at all.

    Being as a great many teens are not so quiet, it probably alarms a parent when their teenager is unusually quiet and just wants to push them out the door. I'd be worried too. Just have to make some time for them and explain that you (cpit) are just more of an introvert type. There's nothing wrong with that at all.
  17. BoyBach macrumors 68040


    Feb 24, 2006
  18. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    Why don't you take up some Yoga and meditation? (You don't have to do the "Whale music". ;))

    That way you at least have an excuse (in your parents' eyes) for being quiet and enjoying the silence.

    I know what you mean though… silence and quiet is one of the most underrated things these days.
    Somehow people asume that if you are not yapping away and filling every waking moment with some form of "white noise" you are weird.
    I think I'm going to sit in the garden now… enjoy some silence. :)

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