Parenting teens: remember which of you is the adult.

by Jennifer Dyer

Have you ever acted unreasonable? Gotten into a shouting match with your child? I had an eye opening conversation about this with a fellow mom recently. She was relating a parenting incident with her older teen, and I loved the way she summed up her parenting philosophy: remember who is the adult.

How simple it sounds, yet how difficult to execute. I’ve had moments where I wondered why I said something I didn’t ┬ámean. I remember one incident when getting ready for church and my tween daughter was being a bit difficult. I lost it and said, “Fine, I’ll just tell Grandma not to buy you any more pretty clothes because you are too stubborn to wear them!” As you can imagine, this went over quite well. I’m not sure if we even made it to church that morning…

My friend talked about avoiding these conversation pitfalls, especially with older teens. She spoke of times when one of her teens made an idle threat about getting several jobs so she could move out on her own. Instead of yelling and screaming and getting out the calculator to prove why her teen’s idea was illogical, my friend said she just nodded and said, “Okay, we’ll discuss that when you get your jobs.” She said the same of school. Instead of yelling and screaming about the study habits of her college-aged child, she just put down some clear boundaries at the beginning: make this level of grades, we’ll pay for everything. You decide to go part time, then you will have to have a job for any money over room and board. You quit school, you will have to pay for your portion of room and board if you stay here.

There are moments when emotional flare-ups happen, but my friend said she has trained herself to step back and think before she responds. Yelling doesn’t help the situation, and it doesn’t teach her child any conflict resolution skills. In the mean time, keep handing in there, fellow parents.

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