Parenting Your Teen: 3 Steps Toward Mutual Respect

Posted November 7, 2011 by

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.


Gina Norma grew up in St.Paul MN, and enjoys art, reading, traveling, thrift shopping, picnics, volunteering and spending time with her 17-year-old. One day she hopes to go to Italy, attend college, and solve world hunger. Gina says, “To me, parenting is all about building relationships with our kids and walking along side them — not trying to control them or use shame.” You can read Gina’s blog at

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  1. Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Report

    Hi Julie: It can be so tough when you are trying to fix your relationship with your daughter, and she is not willing to put in the effort to work with you. You cannot make her behave, or make her respect you. We recommend concentrating on what you can control, which is yourself, and your own behavior. You can continue to treat your daughter respectfully, and continue to reach out to her, while recognizing that she is in control of what her response will be. It is also helpful to keep in mind that your daughter is likely not developmentally ready to recognize that what you are doing is for her benefit. I am attaching another article you might find helpful: Fighting with Your Teen? What to Do After the Blowout 7 Steps to Defuse the Tension. Good luck to you and your daughter as you continue to work through this.

  2. julie Report

    My daughter was getting in so much trouble at school she just wasnt going! and her friends where her big influence. she started smoking weed on a regular baissis, and running away from home. getting in trouble with the law, and was being rude with me and baisicaly doing what she wanted when she wanted. Ive had to call the cops on several occaisions, and when she didnt get her way she would yell and scream and kick holes in the walls. she was just out of controle! so I had to send her to her to live with her dad. Now she blames me and wont talk to me etc… Ive tryed to talk to her and reach out to her but its like she wont try to make our relationship better. What can I do to fix this? I know this is the best for her but its killing me not having her here with me,

  3. HC in charlotte nc Report

    That is so helpful, thanks for these tips!
    It’s true, we tend just to reply “No, because I am the parent and that’s it”…
    You helped me a lot!

  4. Nicos mom Report

    I receive articles on Facebook and in my emails. It’s odd how they all seem to relate/arrive at the right time. Thank you sooo much. You have helped me to better communicate with my son.

  5. Suparna Report

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience called parenting. I will certainly follow this with my 13 year old son. Thank you very much. Can we have an article on nutrition and eating habits of teenagers. How do I make my son to eat vegetables? He dislikes them !!!!



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