Many parents express concern regarding how to best communicate with their teen and more importantly how to respond to them and the teenage “ways”.
It seems that all teenagers exhibit the same symptoms!
- Rude at times
- Disrespectful at times
- They know it all
- Disregarding of almost all advice
- Reactive and explosive, often over seemingly N-O-T-H-I-N-G
- Convoluted plans
- Emotional rollercoasters
Do teenagers collaborate with each other on how to best deal their parents a healthy dose of “teen”? Who wrote their “How To Be A Teenager Guide” anyway? And, had I ever stopped to think that perhaps I might have… haha!
The common thread seems to be this:
- Nothing we do as parents seems right to our teens
- We are losers
- We know nothing, they know everything
- They are masters in dishing out stinging, biting comments with a good dash of rudeness and disrespect
As parents, we are often left reeling and thinking: “How can this child be ours?”
We like to think that we had taught him / her all there is to know about manners and respect…
More often than not, the answer to this is, “You did!”
“So why then has our lovely child turned into this monster – how did this happen?”
Looking back to when I was a teen, I remember thinking most of the things mentioned in the common thread bullets above. And to this day, my parents love telling me that I too, exhibited all the symptoms listed above! Really? Me? Seriously?!!! “Yes” they say with a wry smile. Now with three teenagers myself, it’s certainly coming full circle…
Back to communication:
Have you ever stopped to think that how you are continuing to communicate with your teenager might actually be contributing to the problem?
Sure, there are undeniably many factors that influence their metamorphosis from child to young adult. But THIS is one thing we can change amongst a whole load of things we can’t.
Dan Siegel’s book “Brainstorm” explains the teenage brain brilliantly. To say the teenage brain undergoes a major re-wiring, or “storm”, is an understatement. I highly advise you to read this book. Above all though, it will help you realize that what your teen is doing is probably normal. Dare I be bold and say, almost a rite of passage!
A light bulb goes on for many parents when they realize that for the main part, when communicating with their teenagers, they find themselves defaulting to the Authoritarian Parenting Model, especially during conflict. All too often, we resort to telling teenagers what they have done wrong, criticizing them and generally talking down to them in an accusatory, patronizing kind of way. And, to put it bluntly, it is a recipe for disaster…
I invite you to put yourself in your teenager’s shoes and see it from their vantage point. Could this be why they switch off, don’t listen, are rude, feel humiliated and embarrassed that they screwed up AGAIN? Trust me, they know when they screw up.
Just imagine how we would feel if our boss stormed into our office, pointed his finger at us and berated us for a screw up. Then started ranting about all the things we said we would do but hadn’t, followed by some snippety comment about the mess in our office and the look and style of our clothes! I know what I would do, I’d resign!
Respect is or “should” be a two-way thing and as the parent, hard as it often is, we should be the first to role model this. If we become disrespectful in our approach towards our teenagers, we cannot expect respect in return.
Teenagers are at a point in their lives where they are morphing into young adults and perhaps they resent being talked to as if they are still children. Just when they are trying to shed their parents as custodians of their childhood to develop their “sense” of self as young adults, their parents continue to treat them the same way as they did when they were children. They find it infuriating.
Perhaps their attitude and disrespect towards us is their way of telling us that we need to change our ways?
- What if we were to try and talk to our teenagers with the same respect as we do when we talk with our friends or work colleagues?
- What if we were prepared to step out of the “control seat” and into the “support seat” with them?
- What if we were to try and guide them with guidance rather than dictate and tell them what to do?
It might not be so much WHAT we say to our teenagers but HOW we say it to them that holds the key. This might be what is needed to give us the best chance of staying connected to them and them not “resigning” from us and totally cutting us out of their lives in favor of their peers.
In other words, perhaps we need to look at the way in which we are parenting our teenagers and start treating them and communicating with them less like children and more like the young adults they are trying to become. I encourage you to “try it” and see what happens. It all starts with us. We have to dig deep and be the guide otherwise the teenager will bring out the teen in you!!
And one last piece of advice is this: don’t take any of it personally. Not their behavior, not their language, not their choice of words. None of it! And none of it is a reflection of you either. It is such a short phase in their lives that yes, at times, can seem never ending.
They will be gone from us all to soon so try to enjoy them more and fight with them less. They are highly engaging and social at this stage. Tap them for this and revel in them as much as you can.