Parenting Your Teen: 3 Steps Toward Mutual Respect
By Gina Norma
In my last post, I wrote about the importance of mutual respect when it comes to parenting teens. Here are three things that have helped me with my 16-year-old daughter:
1. GIVE your teenager reasons: You don’t have to have a long list of reasons as to why you say “no” to something they want or ask for. But I think it’s a bad, actually lazy habit to get into to not give them a reason. I mean, there is a reason you’re saying no after all, right? Any person can say, “Because I said so, I’m the parent, that’s good enough.” Why not shoot for something that will work better and be more loving? Show your kid that they’re worth it.
It’s a step toward respect if you can take just literally an extra minute or two to give them a good reason. They will appreciate it. And not only will you be respecting them to care enough to give them a good reason, but they might respect you. (AHH…BONUS!)
2. ASK your teen questions: By this I mean don’t assume. If you’re in a situation with your teen where they did something wrong, or even if you think they’re hiding something — go ahead and ask them. Inquire about their lives in a non-accusatory way. I’ve caught myself plenty of times coming across to my daughter as if I know what she did, or I assume why she did it. When I find myself in a situation with her where I’m disappointed or suspicious, I’ve learned to ask questions. That way it’s more of a two-way street and I’m not just trying to control a situation that might not even be a reality. I’ve found that more times than not, when I do ask her about stuff, she appreciates it and will answer. It shows her I respect her because I’m addressing an issue without assuming or judging.
3. GIVE them a voice: I believe our kids want to be heard — and in a desperate way. They’ve got to have an outlet — a place they can share what they’re feeling. Being a teen is so difficult because of the emotions that are rampant in their lives. Even as an adult, I remember feeling that way very clearly when I was in my teen years. I think another way we can respect our kids is by giving them a voice in many different situations. If they get in trouble, we need to let them share about their thought process a bit, or when they get frustrated or annoyed with us, we need to let them say why. We need to hear them out if they feel that something we do is unfair, rude, or embarrassing. This creates a mutual respect because it gives them a chance to experience us as human beings, not just parents. It really helps anyone to be able to speak up and work through feelings, doesn’t it? Listen to what they have to say.