Reduce parent-teen conflict

Posted by Phil

Children are not born with instructions. Even if they were, I doubt that many parents would actually read the directions. Most parents, like me, learn from experience. The following four pointers are some principles I’ve used to reduce the parent/teen conflict in my own home and to increase my teen’s involvement in making responsible choices.

Realize your own needs

of teenagers are usually approaching an age of reflection, and this mid-life stage can be a time of personal crisis! Parenting a teen can add to the intensity, as you must face your own issues and those of a budding son or daughter. As a parent, you must come to terms with your own emotions and not transfer these to the challenges of parenting.

Respond productively to emotions

Teens are a bundle of emotions, but never discount the vital role of these emotions. Emotions are at the surface, but they offer parents an open line of communication with their teens. This time can assist you in better understanding your teen’s deeper feelings and thoughts.

Too often, parents discount how seriously their teens desire their opinions. Find out what your teen feels is the source of his emotions and talk about it. The source may be real or imagined, but it is serious to him. Choose one meal each day when the family can gather to talk. Use it to build a lasting family tradition.

Focus on positive behaviors

Conflicts and disagreements offer an opportunity for parents to help their teen talk through a time of difficulty. This can be a teachable moment for your teen, other siblings, and yourself. They will expect you to criticize what’s wrong, so asking questions and listening can catch a teen off-guard.

A turning point in my own life was when I knew my actions deserved punishment, but my dad responded calmly. We talked through my choices and the natural consequences that would result. This became a defining moment in my own life!

Develop a plan of action

Teens have adult bodies with a child’s experience. As a result, they may struggle with knowing how to act on their feelings. The following gives you a way for your teenager to be a partner in developing a plan that you both can agree upon.

Compromise can be a dirty word in theology, but it’s critical in relationships. Parents can move their children toward adulthood by allowing them to negotiate some house rules. This means teaching them to make appropriate choices and weighing rewards and punishments.

Within your expectations, consider what is negotiable: curfews, cell phones, car keys, and so forth. Encourage your teen to begin by praying and to list their wants. You must then explain what you expect. As you talk with your teen, offer possible alternatives and list the punishments for violating the rules.

Once an agreement is reached, put it in writing – signed and dated. This simple exercise can increase communication and reduce conflict.

The front porch may be gone, but the need to talk continues. Allow your experiences and an emphasis on consequences guide you as you guide your teen. Before you know it, you just might have a mature young adult on your hands.

by Dr. Larry Purcell on Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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