Tips for Teenagers
- When parents are unreasonable, don't try to reason with them. Smile and agree. It makes them think and feel embarrassed - maybe even guilty. Never walk away when they are talking. That makes them crazy.
- When parents are reasonable - that is, when they give all kinds of reasons for a rule or decision - listen to them until they finish. Stay calm and then take each reason one at a time and tell them why you disagree. They won't know how to deal with this because they expect you to interrupt, get angry, or be disrespectful. Of course, you have to have some pretty good reasons of your own, or you're the unreasonable one.
- If your parent denies your request or won't allow you more freedom, don't ask, "Why?" This will only get you another reason that supports the "no." Rather than "Why?" it is better to ask, "What can I do to get the privilege, request, or freedom?" The "What can I do?" question will give you some idea of what you have to do to get a "yes."
- When parents get angry, it isn't the time to get angry back. A lot of times they're not upset with you, but with their boss, the neighbor, or the price of groceries. You just happen to be there at the wrong time. Look hurt. Slump in your chair and look at them with pitiful eyes. If this doesn't work, get out of the way when they're in a bad mood. They need some time and space. Go outside, to a friend's house, or to your room. Eventually they will settle down and miss you.
- Parents are unfair at times and this may make you angry. Don't discuss your complaints when either of you is angry or upset. Calm down and wait until they're in a good mood. Discuss your feelings later that day or in a few days.
- When discussing your complaints, opinions, or requests, do not act sassy and flippant. Do not raise your voice; instead, discuss the matter in a normal tone. If you holler or appear flippant, they will hear only this. If you stay calm and talk, they may hear what you say.
- Do not create situations where there is a winner and a loser. You're the child and will probably lose most of the time. How many times have you grounded your mother or taken away the phone privileges from your dad? Try to compromise and work out a situation where both of you win.
- If you have trouble talking to your parents, or if they get angry every time you try to discuss something, write a note. Put it on their pillow. Parents are pushovers for notes like this and will probably keep them forever.
- Take your mom or dad out alone occasionally. Tell them you want just the two of you to go on a walk or out to eat. They'll be worried at first, because they'll think you're going to tell them something terrible. Don't - just tell them you like having them all to yourself once in a while. They will probably cry or hug you. Put up with it.
- Spend some time in the same room with your parents while they are watching TV or reading. Sit down and talk to them about school, your friends, or something else that interests you. At first they may think you're on some type of drug because of the change in your behavior. They'll get over this feeling and will love the "new you."
- You do not do favors for people who argue with you or are uncooperative. If you act like this with your parents, there is a chance that they will not cooperate when you ask for favors: Can I sleep at Jason's house? Can I go to the football game? Can I use the car? Try to cooperate and minimize conflict, because this will certainly work in your favor.
- Ask your parents once a day, "Is there anything I can do for you?" Most of the time they will probably say no, or give you something that will take a few minutes to complete. Your parents will love this and see you as a very cooperative person. When this occurs they will probably be more cooperative with you. You could also surprise them by doing something they don't make you do. They'll tell everyone you are the best possible son or daughter and, what's more, they will believe it.
- When your parents are fighting, go away, even though you want to listen to them. Sooner or later they will get mad at you for listening, if for nothing else.
- Sometimes following stupid rules like turning off lights, cleaning up your room, or hanging up the towel after you shower may allow you to get some important concessions like staying out later, using the car, or getting more phone time.
- Be patient with your parents. Remember, they're going through a rough time in their lives and are trying to grow up, too. Help them to do it smoothly and with love and cooperation. Someday they will thank you.
*Some of these tips were taken from an article by Dolores Curran entitled "How to Get Along with Parents" (Clarion Herald, New Orleans, April 11,1985).
From Keys to Parenting Your Teenager by Don Fontenelle, Ph.D. Copyright © 2000 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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