Oh my! Summer is fast approaching and let’s face it, you’re going to need to have an action plan in place to avoid arguing over curfews, technology, and house rules with your teen.
The truth is, your independent off-spring is walking into summer with his or her own set of rules too. And that means it’s inevitable that there’s going to be a clash of power.
How can you stay calm and cool as the temperature heats up IN and out of your house? I’ve put together a few essential tips to help you get thru these next few weeks with a little more ease.
Scenario Your teen daughter is disagreeing with everything you say and looking for a confrontation. You’re tired of arguing and need help.
Solution It’s best to understand that teens (just like the rest of us) often handle disputes in one of four ways: Attacking, Withdrawing, Complying, Problem Solving First, try to identify which pattern they (and you) are more likely to follow. There may be a combination of more than one, but in general people tend to respond predictably when faced with confrontation.
For the "Attackers", be sure to let her know that you hear her and validate her opinion and point of view. Say something like, "Please calm down, I really want to understand your point of view." Then stop talking.
Usually as parents we let our (unwanted and unsolicited) opinion linger on and on. The problem here is the teen never feels heard and continues to argue her point. It’s similar to why a toddler throws a temper tantrum. They do not feel their feelings are being acknowledged. For toddlers, we had to stop what we were doing, get down to their level on our knees and say, “I’m sorry your toy broke. You must feel really sad about it, let’s see if we can glue it when we get home.” Until the problem was acknowledged, the wailing and flying arms and legs were rampant. It’s the same with your teen.
Take a deep breath mom, and try to say as calmly as you can (without rolling your own eyes at how ridiculous the next sentence you have to say is), “I know it really sucks that you can’t stay over your boyfriend’s house after prom when his parents aren’t home. I agree it’s not fair and I know you’re really upset about it, but as your parent I can’t let you do that. Can we try to calmly come up with a compromise of something else that you both can do together?” Let her talk. And as you listen, try to understand why this is so important to her. Once she feels you really understand her, then you can suggest better ideas without the attack factor. Withdrawers
"Withdrawers" tend to internalize problems instead of dealing with them, which results in anger in the long run. Teach her the benefit of facing differing opinions with maturity and allow her areas to practice this summer. This is a skill she'll need in relationships and the working world anyway, so better get the kinks out at home. It's important to let her know you are not here to judge her but fully support her. Both "attackers & withdrawers" are prone to depression, anxiety, or more conflict in their friendships and romantic partners. So, it's important to help them effectively handle conflict resolution now and be as supportive and understanding as you can. Notice the repeat of those 2 words.
Compliers and Problem Solvers "Compliers and Problem Solvers" are much better at conflict resolution and enjoy debate but they suffer too. "Compliers" often suffer from moodiness. Always agreeing and not expressing her own opinions may lead to resentment down the road. Let her know that you value her opinion and want her to express it. Be sure to tell her that she has a right to contribute to disagreements and that smart and honest feedback is welcome. "Problem solvers" try to fix everyone's mess. As long as she's not stressing herself out to do it, be open to her suggestions.
In this case, be sure to encourage her to acknowledge her own boundaries and know when she shouldn't get involved in a disagreement. It's not up to her to mediate everything. Also, that it's ok for her to take a side when she feels strongly about an issue and it feels right to express her own opinion. Remember, good fights happen when we help our teen see another person’s point of view - bad fights happen when they don't.
Healthy arguments are a part of life, and indeed healthy. If you can find constructive ways to argue this summer- without blame- you will help your teen see beyond her own perspective and develop Emotional Intelligence. And that's something that's definitely not taught in school or on any iDevice.
Need more inspiration? Here are presentations we offer for groups: Jerky Johnny — Expert Skills to Prevent Sexual Assault Identify the key areas to increase personal safety and date rape prevention. Learn the new rules of consent and dating. The importance of "who," "when," and "how" predators strike. Discover the power of identifying predators before they hurt you. Real-life safety skills women can use every day.
Proven Methods to Raising Confident Young Adults Practice parent-to-young adult coaching to use effective language. Discover the "power of being a fan". Introduce 3 behaviors every parent must eliminate. Explain the new rules of dating and consent in the current culture. Takeaway the action steps to create lasting communication and respect.
Remember, it's not easy being an empowered woman, let alone trying to raise empowered daughters! I want you to know you are doing a great job and deserve to schedule a few relaxing days this summer just for you.
YOU are amazing. Keep up the good work!
In support of you,