How to have deeper conversations with other parents

How to have deeper conversations with other parents

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What is deep talk, and why does it matter?

When you're pregnant, it's easy to get caught up in the details of preparing yourself and your home for a baby. As a new parent, you might feel like you don't have the time, energy, or brain power to talk about anything that's not related to how your baby is eating, sleeping, or pooping. But making the effort to have more meaningful conversations can have a positive impact on your mental well-being.

So-called "deep talk" is the opposite of small talk. Replying, "Fine," when asked, "How are you?," is probably the most common example of small talk. In contrast, asking someone, "How are you really?," and getting an honest answer will result in a richer, fuller exchange – that's deep talk.

Deep talk happens when you have a conversation that connects you with another person on a more personal level than everyday conversation would. It bolsters all sorts of relationships, from intimate ones to budding friendships you may be forming with other new or expecting parents.

What are the benefits of deeper conversations for new and expecting parents?

  • Happiness: Research indicates that people who spend more time talking to other people are more satisfied with life, and their conversations tend to be more substantive. It's unclear if people are happy because they have deeper conversations or if happy people are more likely to participate in them. Either way, the link is there.
  • Emotional support: Sharing your personal experience and feelings gives other people a chance to see that someone else is going through the same thing – that they're not alone. One reason support groups – whether for breastfeeding problems or postpartum depression (PPD) – are so effective is because of the empathy members offer each other.
  • Closer relationships: Humans are social creatures. Meaningful conversations develop and strengthen relationships, and decrease loneliness. When meeting up with other new parents, you can still commiserate about the usual issues, like how much sleep you're not getting. But you can also steer the conversation to meatier topics, such as "What do you miss about your pre-baby life and why?"

Tips for having more meaningful conversations

  • Check in with your inner circle. Deep talk doesn't require airing out your inner thoughts to every person you meet. It starts with loved ones you trust. One way to nurture the bond with your partner, for example, is to create a check-in ritual that goes deeper than a surface-level recounting of the day's events. Pick a regular time to talk about the day's biggest challenge and best success. Or talk about one thing you're grateful for and why you feel that way – whatever works for you. The impact comes from each of you consistently listening and being heard.
  • Warm up with small talk. Small talk can be a jumping-off point to deeper conversations and closer relationships with people you're getting to know. It also helps you find common interests. Go ahead and ask a mom at the park about work, but then follow up by asking what drew her to that career.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Yes-or-no questions are speed bumps when you're trying to have a more meaningful conversation. Instead, phrase questions as open-ended invitations, such as "What's the hardest part of parenting for you?" You can also use phrases like "Tell me more" to encourage a more meaningful exchange.
  • Create a safe zone. People need to feel safe to engage in deeper discussions. Ways to do this include responding without judgment even (or especially) when you disagree, maintaining confidences, and avoiding potentially upsetting questions. Also, steer clear of offering unsolicited advice. That said, if someone trusts you enough to bring up a difficult topic, like pregnancy loss, don't shy away from talking about it.
  • Share something personal. Nothing bonds parents faster than admitting their parenting fails. Learning about another parent's struggles helps validate our own, too. When you're with someone you trust, open up about your worries and mistakes, as well as your wins. Being vulnerable will encourage others to do the same. How much you decide to say is always up to you. Share only what you're comfortable with someone else knowing.
  • Talk in person. Social media and texting make it easier to keep in contact with more people, but they're not designed to support deeper discussions. In-person conversations are. Their immediacy, back-and-forth nature, and opportunity for people to hear and see each other all support deep talk. Try to increase chances to talk to people in person by going to events for parents and meeting friends and family in real life. If that's not possible, at least call (or video conference) instead of sending a text, so you're both live.

Learn more

Watch the video: Jordan Peterson. How to Have Better Conversations (August 2022).

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