Greeting vs. status reporting

Parents, imagine you’ve just gotten home after a long, trying day of work. You can’t wait to shed the stress of the day and enjoy the comparative relaxation of your home and family.

Now your son or daughter walks into the room and starts hitting you with questions, like:

Did you hear back from your boss about whether you’re getting that promotion?

I heard Suzanne made partner. Does she have a better track record than you do?

Did anyone else get bonuses? If so, why haven’t you gotten one?

When will you know the results of that certification test? If you didn’t do well, how soon can you retake it?

Will the remodel be coming in under budget? If not, I’ll schedule a meeting with the builders and try to get things back on track for you.

Are you on schedule to present that report this week?

Would you feel like your son or daughter was taking an active interest in your work? Would you find their questions supportive and encouraging?

Or would you feel like they were exacerbating existing stress, that they were asking you to replay a day that had already played out, that the entire line of questioning was simply inviting into your home the very parts of work that you most want to leave back at work until tomorrow?

And even more importantly, would you prefer they instead just expressed how genuinely happy they were to see you?

If your end-of-the-day conversations with your teen tend to go poorly (or go nowhere), try offering a greeting instead of requesting a status report.

[Not one hour after posting this, someone sent me this article advocating the following for parents upon seeing their kids after school: “When you’re reunited at the end of the day, look at them and say the following: ‘Hey, I’m so happy to see you.’ Then shut up.”]