7

Of the handful of phone calls I make every week, the one with my mom is by far the most socially draining; we always talk about the same topics every time: me, my pregnancy, her work, her finances and my dad or other family members.

I find talking about myself to be particularly draining. I really don't like attention on myself and she just wants to know all about my pregnancy and how I'm doing. This can easily take up half an hour of just talking about me. I have tried asking leading questions about her ("how was your week, how is dad/brother/etc") but we always end up in exactly the same set of topics.

There really isn't much to talk about between the topics mentioned above. We seem to re-hash the same information and the same conversation week in and week out.

I want to talk about new topics, and I really like talking about ideas instead of myself or other people. Every few months we'll stumble upon a topic that is outside of the above and it feels like such a breath of fresh air. My mom is knowledgeable about a wide range of things, so I know we can potentially talk about lots of stuff, but it feels like we are stuck in this conversational rut. (It seems like she's in "mom mode" where she just wants to talk about me the whole time and be all encouraging and fix all my problems, and it's really draining when she's talking like a mom and not a friend).

Tomorrow I have another phone call with her, and I'm really not looking forward to re-hashing the same topics again. I'm thinking about preparing a list of new topics to try and talk about, but I'm not 100% sure how to fit them into the conversation, and I don't want it to be boring for her either.

How can I steer the conversation away from the same boring topics, and encourage my mom to talk about other things that she finds interesting?

  • 1. How old is your Mom (if possible to tell us of course: 40's, 50's...... 80's?) 2. When you meet, can you easily change topics/find new ones? – OldPadawan May 5 '18 at 19:25
  • @OldPadawan My mom is in her mid 50's. I'm 30. She lives ~3 hours away so we don't see eachother very often. When she does come to visit, there's this initial "conversation catchup binge" where we just talk for ages (it's incredibly draining) and then only after that can we talk about normal (outside the usual) things. – user6818 May 5 '18 at 19:28
3

Your mom misses you, while you miss your life with her. Those are two separate expectation of the phone call.

Let me elaborate:

  • You expect the phone call to be like talking to a friend, speaking about the weather or that new movie. Just like when you were still living with her. She was your friend. She'd skip all that "interrogation" because you're there living with her.
  • She expect the phone call to be a summary of the past week; what did you do and what did you feel. She misses you living with her and her knowing everything about your day-to-day life.

Just like going home in the summer after the finals, you miss your old life, your room, your friends, and 'living' with your parents. They miss you being there with them. They miss you being a part of their life.

Bear this in mind next time you call her, use segways to the topics you want to discuss by including them in your day-to-day life in the past week. Ask for her input in a way that makes her still feel relevant in your life.

Eg: I got in a interesting conversation on Wednesday with Carol on the new baby food regulations, do you think I was right?

2

You are in luck. You are already aware and assessed the situation, other people just usually don't realize they're in a conversational rut and simply get impatient with the person they're trying to interact with without knowing why.

As cornerstones, you will use 2 concepts you already mentioned.

1. Mindset. In my experience, changing the topic is easier than changing the mindset of a person. You already detected she's in "mom-mode".

2. Transitioning. You also mentioned an important word in your question phrasing, that was 'steering'. You will have better results in changing the topic if you do it gradually; that doesn't mean it will take ages, it just means you can use the same topic she likes to talk about as a foundation to talk about other things.

As an example. If you want to talk about technological advancements, you can make the topic relevant to what your child will be doing with that technology in the future or how it could change how families communicate. If you want to talk about some local environmental public policy you can start by mentioning how that could have an effect on your family and child.

Eventually, you will be surprised when your mom gets carried away and forgets you are even pregnant, for a few minutes at least. And in doing so, maybe even revealing enough about herself you can use later in another conversation to anchor the topic on more interesting ground.

0

This is a common experience with parents or other relatives who expect updates on your life. She probably likes to discuss your life because it makes her feel connected to you, she's curious about any new developments, and it gives you something to talk about.

You can't do much about the first part, and some parents are very reluctant to limit the amount of updates they get about your life. But as long as you have many other things to talk about, your mom might respond to these steps:

Make her aware of the problem. Say to her "mom, my pregnancy / job / etc already occupies a huge amount of my time, and when we talk I'd like to relax and talk about other things for a while. I promise I'll let you know if anything important changes or I need your advice".

Then, the next time the conversation moves towards the topic, give some short response saying that everything is fine (or unchanged) and then move to some other topic that you'd rather talk about. Example: "yeah, the pregnancy is still coming along just fine, last week o my way to the doctors I saw that there's a new show in town, have you seen that?"

If she ignores your change of topic and keeps asking about your personal life, say "mom, I've already told you all about this last time, there's really nothing new to say. Let's talk about something else for now".

To keep her trust in you, and have any hope of her respecting the boundaries you've set, you do need to proactively tell her any new developments that she might care about.

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