Interviewing for Pain: Whiny Teens

I have written before about Interviewing for Pain and how this contributes to teacup parenting.  I wanted to write a post to bring this to some of my reader’s awareness.

I often hear parents Interview for pain when kids get home from school because they want to check-in.

Who: Interviews for Pain?

Parents, teachers, any kind of authority figure…I have even caught myself doing it, yikes!

What: Is Interviewing for Pain?

You have heard people doing this, interviewing for pain is when someone searches, or questions another person for physical, mental or emotional strife or discomfort.
“Was the teacher mean to you today?”
“Did the girls ignore you at lunch?”

When: Do We Interview for Pain?

In the car, when kids get home from school, at the dinner table, at the breakfast table…

How: Do You Interview for Pain?

You interview for pain when you ask leading questions.  These are questions that you think might get a bad response.  You are searching for discomfort or strife by tapping into and bringing up issues that you know are touchy or weak for the other person.

Why: Do You Interview for Pain?

This is the hard one.  I know that when I catch myself interviewing for pain with my sisters

-I am doing it out of fear.  I am afraid that something is going badly for them, that someone is hurting them or that they need help in some area.
-I am doing it because I want to know them.  I find I interview for pain when they are not telling me enough about them.  The usual questions of “How was your day, how was your test” get grunts or monosyllabic responses, so I start questioning looking for pain so they will open up.
-I am doing it because I want to help.  If you find weakness, it means you can help them, and parents live to help and aid their kids.
-I am doing it as an excuse to give advice.  Yes, we all love hearing ourselves speak and love giving advice.  If you find something wrong, you can give them advice and tell stories.

Why Not: Interview for Pain?
-It teaches kids to focus on their discomfort and what is negative.
-It puts teens in a bad mood.
-It can make them be mad at you, even if it is not your fault because you brought up a sensitive subject.
-It usually puts you in a situation to give unsolicited advice…which kids hate (and do not listen to anyway).

What: Instead of Interviewing for Pain?
-If you cannot get them to open up with the regular questions, then pick subjects they get excited about instead of what they get nervous about.
-Talk about your own passion points (teens tend to mimic your energy, if you are excited, they will be).
-Let them vent.  Sometimes you do not need to interview for pain for your kids to start complaining.  This is OK, I find letting them vent and not belittling it is actually the best thing you can do to get them to move on.


This post is dedicated to Brian Weiner at the Illusion Factory, who always pushes me to focus on the positive and the importance of following your passions.

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