Expect Respect (Even Teens)

The teenage years are the most difficult years your child will ever go through.  They feel every range of emotion from frustration to sadness to terror to joy.  They ask themselves questions like, “Who am I?  Who am I supposed to be in this moment?  How in the world did I get here?”  

Parenting teens is a daunting task.  And in today’s world, it’s more daunting than ever before.  It’s not necessarily that the issues are new.  They have just ramped up in intensity to the point that we’re left either shaking our heads or trying to figure out how to lock our adolescents at homes to remove them from the problem.

We’ve got a few other ideas.  As counselors, we see the problem first hand and sit with weary parents day after day who are wondering how to handle the issues that are plaguing parents of teens today…technology, entitlement, drugs, eating disorders, disrespect.  

Disrespect is one that comes up often.  “If I talked to my dad the way my son talks to me” is a statement we’ve heard countless times.  Kids of all ages seem to feel a freedom to speak and act in ways that we would never have gotten away with when we were growing up.  And “when we were growing up” may actually be part of the problem.  

Many of today’s parents are parenting in reaction to the way they were raised.  What were your parents like?  Many parents back then were fairly militaristic…”my way or the highway,” “I walked uphill both ways to school in the snow” types of parents. And so you don’t want your children to feel that way.  You parent in reaction.  You want your child to trust you, to be able to talk to you.  And so you set out to be safe as a parent.  You let the first few disrespectful “Whatever Mom’s” slide.  You don’t follow through on the grounding, because he said he was sorry.  And, all of a sudden, you’ve got a problem on your hands.  He has landed smack dab in the land of disrespect…and now those phrases like “my way or the highway” sound a little more appealing.

“What’s a modern parent to do” is a phrase that echoes through our book, Modern Parents, Vintage Values.  In this respect, of disrespect, we would say follow Aslan’s example.  You may remember in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, a conversation that took placebetween Aslan, the Beavers and Lucy.  

‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’

    ‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.

‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver.  ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?  Who said anything about safe?  ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.’

You may not feel like the King…or Queen of your home very often.  Your adolescents most likely attempt to take that place and treat you as their subjects.  They are narcissistic as a normal part of their development.  Your son and daughter are consumed with themselves.  But you can expect something different.  

Join us for next week’s blog on Thursday for more information on what you can practically do to change the tone in your home…