The One Big Mistake I've Been Making (Are You Making It Too?)
May 6, 2019 | By: Jennifer Lebo
I love when my daughter or the girls in my dorm open up to me. Whether it’s a success they want to celebrate or a problem they need advice about, I’m glad they know that I’m there for them if they need me.
However, I recently became aware of how my help might have been doing more damage than good. I want to share this with you today, as I may not be the only mom making this mistake.
RUMINATING- WHAT IS IT?
When we compulsively worry about a problem and overthink it to death, we are ruminating. Did I just describe you? Because I just described myself- and probably most of the girls and women out there. Women are great at this, as we are emotional creatures. But ruminating can be dangerous, and is often associated with depression, anxiety, binge eating, and binge drinking. (Simmons, 115) While working through our feelings can be helpful and healthy, overthinking and ruminating, can be dangerous.
Now let me take you back to my dorm, or the times when my daughter comes to me with her problems More often than not, my girls tend to ruminate over their problems, and when I let them go on and on for too long, when I welcome their endless overthinking, I am co-ruminating, which is just as dangerous. While conversations like this may make my daughter feel comforted, safe, and connected, these can be depressing as well.
AND! Recent studies suggest that when girls co-ruminate with their moms, they’re more likely to co-ruminate with their friends, which leads to those dangers mentioned earlier (anxiety, binge eating, drinking, etc). We do not want this for our daughters. So what can we do about it?
HOW TO END CO-RUMINATING
The first step is recognizing that you are co-ruminating with your daughter. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you spend most of your quality time with your daughter talking about her problems?
Does the conversation always go back to the problem rather than any solutions?
Do you encourage her to keep talking about the problem?
Do you do this rather than doing other activities together?
If you answered yes to these, then you might be co-ruminating. Now here’s what you can do about it.
1. SCHEDULE RUMINATING TIME
No really! Allow some time to let your daughter share her problems with you. That safe place is essential. But don’t overdo it. Schedule 10 to 15 minutes to let her share, and then move on to solutions. Let her know, too. Tell her that you want her to have some time to vent, but no longer than the designated time. Not only will this help her transition to problem solving, it will help her recognize when she ruminates by herself.
2. TRANSITION FROM EMPATHY TO SOLUTION WITH QUESTIONS
Once her sharing time is up, try asking some questions. It’s important here that you don’t try to solve the problem for her, but ask her questions to help her find solutions on her own. Ask her how the problem makes her feel. Ask her what evidence there is to support feelings (vs. facts), to help her discover whether she is creating her own stories about the problem.
3. ENCOURAGE ACTION
As you continue your questions, ask her if she can come up with some tangible ways to solve the problem. Work through solutions with her (rather than just continuing the worry). Even if she cannot come up with a solution in the moment, it will help her move in that positive direction, and it will also help her create this habit of moving from overthinking to action herself.
4. INVITE DISTRACTION
Sometimes a solution is not clear, and the best thing to do is simply walk away, even if just for the moment. So move on. Get her thinking about other things. Let her know what you’re doing and why. You don’t want her to think you’ve stopped caring and want to change the subject, but that you care enough to want to help her clear her mind. Offer a suggestion or two, or ask her what distraction might help her in the moment. Then do your best to support that distraction.
Our daughters need a safe place to share their problems and seek help. It’s a privilege for us to be that safe place, and it’s great when our daughters trust us enough to confide. We can help our daughters work through any situation, and now we can do so in a healthy and positive way. By skipping the co-ruminating and encouraging the action, we can build confidence and strength in our daughters, even through their challenging days.
If you found these tips helpful, and would like more actionable ways to encourage your daughter and build her confidence, please grab my free Confidence Building Checklist. It contains 7 simple steps you can take each day to build confidence in your girl.
* Simmons, Rachel. Enough As She Is, Harper Collins Publishing, 2018