Parenting is never easy, especially during the adolescence stage. Conflict is the biggest problem parents report. Many times, most of the arguments that ensue are due to misunderstandings. Teenagers and parents often fail at communication because they have a difficult time understanding each other. The following three common misunderstandings can help you deal with your hard headed teenager.
“You don’t let me do anything.”
Parents limit what their sons and daughters do because of risk. They know and fear the consequences of behaviors and actions. Teens are still new to the world, and they don’t quite see the risk in some of their behaviors and actions. If they do see the risk, they sometimes are drawn to it just because of the adrenaline associated with it. Teens believe parents are keeping them from enjoying life, and parents believe teens don’t know how to enjoy life responsibly.
So, what should be done about this misunderstanding? Discuss the risks of what your daughter or son wants to do, and come up with things that he or she can do that eliminates or at least lessens the risks. Working together can stop the thought pattern that parents just want to control everything teens do.
“You don’t understand.”
Teens often say, “You just don’t understand.” It’s true. Parents don’t understand, but teens don’t, either. How is this solved? Talking about what is not being understood.
The trick to this is paying attention to the teen as he or she explains what it is that isn’t being understood. As soon as a teen feels he or she isn’t being listened to, the communication ends.
Parents can actively listen by nodding, not making facial expressions, and asking good questions. Good questions are not accusations, such as “Well, what if this happens?” or “Did you ever think what would happen if this happened?” Questions should open the teen up to discuss the topic more, such as: “Why do you want to do that?” “What did your friend say?” and “What did you say?”
Teens should try to open up, even if it’s a little at a time. By divulging some information piece by piece, most teenagers begin to trust more and open up more.
“It’s my body, so I can wear what I want.”
As a parent, you know it’s not about what your teen is wearing, it’s about the message it’s sending. This message is something that some teens do want to send, even though you may not want to believe it. In some cases, teenagers don’t know they are sending a sexual message with their outfits, so that can be addressed in a caring, informative way. Don’t be demeaning during the conversation – just provide information.
If the teen does want to send a provocative message, it’s time to discover why. There’s a reason adolescents want the attention that comes along with dressing inappropriately, so figuring that out is important. This can usually be done with heart-to-heart conversations, giving teens more attention, and sometimes, professional counseling can help.
For more information on dealing with adolescence, particularly with troubled teens, continue to read our blog or contact us about our programs. We help troubled teens improve their life, so they can start on a journey to a lifetime of success.