Example: “When your mother and I bought our first house, we did exactly what you’re thinking about doing—we stretched our budget.

For the next few years, we spent a lot of nights lying awake worrying whether we could pay the mortgage.

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If you and your spouse both take issue with the child’s decision, the parent with whom the child historically has had an easier time discussing difficult topics is the one who should have this conversation.

It is acceptable for both parents to take part if both feel very strongly about the matter and both get along well with the child.

If he always seems busy, ask him when he has time for a phone call or a cup of coffee.

Do not voice your concerns in front of other people—that only increases the odds that your child will become defensive.

Examples: You disagree with your daughter’s decision to “co-sleep” with your grandchild (allowing the youngster to share her parents’ bed). You might imagine that presenting yourself as an expert on a topic would encourage your child to heed your guidance. Adult children desperately want their parents’ respect.

Your questions should express curiosity about co-sleeping, such as, “That wasn’t something we did. ” Your questions must not have an obvious negative tone, as in, “Why would anyone do such a thing? If the tone of this conversation leans toward, “I’m your parent and I know better,” the child likely will feel disrespected and tune out your advice.

Then ask the child to discuss the decision to reduce your anxieties…or to help you understand a topic you struggle with.

Example: “I know you’re right a lot more often than you’re wrong, so I’m sure you’ve thought this through. But don’t expect your child to follow that advice—and don’t hold it against her if she doesn’t want to.

The child is more likely to listen to what you have to say if you instead mention a related topic that you struggle with…or reveal an occasion when you made a mistake in this area.