As we talked about last week, we would say the words expect and respect have quite a bit to do with each other in the world of teenagers.
1) Expect them to speak to you civilly. They will have an attitude. They will roll their eyes from time to time. And, often, teens don’t know how to express their frustration respectfully. They need your help. In our offices, we use the words “try again.”
“Mom, I HATE broccoli! Why do you have to serve this all the time?”
“I really don’t like broccoli. Can’t you fix something different every once in a while?”
“Oookaaay. I really like green beans. Could we please have them tomorrow night and maybe not broccoli as often?”
2) Expect them to treat their siblings the way they would like to be treated. A mom we see has a son and daughter that argue a lot. They “parent” each other, i.e. boss each other around. So, this wise mom has implemented consequences that reflect their desire to be the parent. They have to make each other’s beds or lunches for a week when one hurts the other. Brothers and sisters will obviously disagree from time to time. But there should be a boundary they can’t cross in terms of hurting each other physically and emotionally. You can expect that.
3) Expect them to be helpful members of your household. Teenagers really do need responsibilities at home. It prepares them for life outside of your home and reinforces to them that you believe they are capable human beings. If they never are asked to do things, they often don’t believe you think they can. Expect them to help. It can also curb a little of the narcissism.
You have been chosen to be in this time culturally and in this place personally, with your son or daughter. God chose you to be his or her parent. He will equip you with all that you need to love and train him in the way he should go. You can be a good parent without being a “safe” parent. You are the parent, after all.
A Few Respectful, Practical Ideas:
1) Choose your battles. Adolescence can be a constant argument, if you let it. You may have to lose a few battles to win the war.
2) Follow through with consequences.
3) Model respect in how you treat them and others.
4) Respect takes place in how they treat people outside the home, as well, from everyone to grandparents to salespeople.
5) Respect occurs in the technological world, too. “I only allow children who respect themselves and others to use the internet/have a cell phone” is a very valid parenting statement. And any inappropriate communication or comments are a violation of that respect.
6) It’s never too late to start. With any parenting issue, you can always say, “I think we missed this early on. And it’s too important to me to let you leave our home without respecting others. So we’re going to get it right now.”
7) Enjoy them. Donald Miller says “No one will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.” Teenagers need time with us that is purely for the purpose of enjoying them—not teaching, correcting, or rebuking them. They will potentially roll their eyes, but end up enjoying and respecting you more in the process.