Last week I wrote about communicating with your teenager and the challenge it can present to parents. This week I am proposing a challenge for parents!

The aha moment for many parents is realizing that their teenager no longer wants to be treated and spoken to the same way they were when they were younger but as the young adults they are slowing trying to become. The challenge for us as parents is doing this whilst our teenager continues to display the stereotypical attitudes of the teen years and we all know what they are!

Respect breeds respect and we have to be the ones to role model this even if we don’t always get it in return.

The Challenge

I am proposing that you set yourself this challenge; to only speak respectfully to your teenager regardless of how he / she speaks to you. Perhaps you can start out with trying it for a day at a time and each day wake to remind yourself of this challenge in order for it to become habit.

The Process

  • I encourage you to have a chat with your teenager about what has motivated you to want to do this
  • Let them know that in the past you recognize that you have perhaps treated them like a child and talked down to them and that it couldn’t have been very nice for them; admit your mistake
  • Tell them that you are going to try really hard to break this pattern and start talking to them a) as they deserve to be spoken to and b) more as an adult
  • In return, you would like them to think about their behavior; if they continue to behave and act like a child that it will be hard for you speak to them like an adult
  • I also like to tell them that you would like them to respectfully let you know if and when your parenting style defaults to the old style, the Authoritarian one
  • Conversely, they need to know that you can tell them if they display disrespect and a bad attitude towards you

What if your teenager continues to be disrespectful?

If your teenager is disrespectful and rude, I advise you not to react or discuss it with them in the heat of the moment but to wait till the moment has passed or until a later date and do it as if you were discussing it with a work colleague or friend. Have a plan as to what you are going to say, think about how you can phrase it so that it doesn’t come across as disrespectful, patronizing, critical and as if you are talking down to them. Remember to think about how you say it, your body language and tone of voice almost more than what you say.

I know that for me, it is a daily challenge but one that I feel is worthwhile and one that I know is successful. This open and respectful form of communication is what will keep your teenager deeply connected to you and decrease the risk of them turning away from you and towards their peers. The constant arguing over their attitude and disrespect, as bad as it is, will only serve to drive them away from you.

I encourage you to give this a try and remember, if you need any advice regarding this, I would be happy to hear from you. I’d love to hear about how it goes for you and what happens to your relationship with your teenager!

Partnering You


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PPS. Sign up is now open for the new block of Adlerian Parenting Classes that I will be starting in West Vancouver in the fall. It will run from Sept – June (excl. Dec and March) from 12.30pm – 2pm on the third Wednesday of each month. Please go to EVENTS and Schedule on my web site for more details and the sign up form.


  1. Debora Fonseca

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you have written above. There are no winners when butting heads. Being open to new approaches is a step in the right direction. Thank you for your wise words.

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