Q: Your parents have been fighting a lot lately, and you think they should go to therapy. How do you tell them that without seeming patronizing?
A: It's very tough to see your parents fight. Growing up around domestic chaos and aggression, even if it is verbal, can be traumatizing. But just blurting out, "You need therapy" isn't likely to help. It feels judgmental and makes people get defensive.
Speak with your parents in a time of calm, rather than when they are embroiled in a heated fight. Start the conversation by discussing common goals that everyone can agree on. For example, ask them if they want to build a loving home for the family. Who can say "no" to that? Then suggest that it would be worth considering speaking to people who are trained in helping couples do exactly that.
If they are embarrassed by the notion of seeing a counselor, point out that if a water pipe ruptured in the basement, they'd hire a plumber, or if they broke a tooth, they'd rush to a dentist. So when you have a marriage crisis, why not enlist help from someone trained in dealing with it?
Let them know you are suggesting this because you love and care for them and want them to be happy.
ALYSON SCHAFER, family counselor, parenting expert and author of "Honey, I Wrecked the Kids"
A: Couples who fight usually are aware of their behavior. It's possible that they are trying to work through it more than you know. They already may be in therapy but haven't disclosed it to you. Or there could be a reason they aren't receiving support right now.
Often when we see people in crisis, we want to fix the issue. Enter the conversation without an agenda. You'll find the most serenity for yourself when you are detached from the outcome of what they do or don't do.
Begin by mentioning that you've noticed they've been fighting, express curiosity about what's happening with them, ask if they've been getting any support and see where the conversation takes you.
LAURIE DAVIS EDWARDS, relationship coach