When You Disagree With Your Teen

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Dear “And You Will Have Kids”:

I have 3 teens and it seems that we are constantly fighting over clothing choices, music choices, and other such things. When I try to set boundaries, my children tell me that I am old-fashioned and that most of their friends are doing the same things that I am refusing to allow.  I am at my wit’s end!

Help!

Frazzled Mom

Dear Frazzled Mom:

Having teenagers is certainly a challenge.  It can be especially challenging when your children compare their lives with the lives of other children. Part of the difficulty in raising teens is knowing when to set boundaries and when to step back and let them forge ahead. 

Something that has helped our family tremendously is creating a set of household rules that everyone agrees upon.  Sit down with your teens and discuss issues like curfew, dress, and music selections.  Perhaps you can compromise on some issues.  On other issues, there may be no room for compromise.

It’s also important to agree upon a set of consequences if the rules are not followed.  With teens, it’s important to explain why you feel the way you do; don’t just tell them the typical “because I said that, that’s why”. Your teens will appreciate your honesty. 

If, during the discussion, you find yourself getting upset or angry(or if your teen is getting upset and angry), call for a time out.  Put the issue to rest and agree to discuss the issue at another time.  With some issues, you may never be able to reach a compromise or an agreement.  Agree to disagree!

It is a normal for teens to test the rules and boundaries from time to time.  When your teen tests the rules(or breaks them), it’s important to not take it personally.  When they tell you that “everyone else’s parents are letting them do such and such”, it’s important to stand firm and stick with your boundaries.  Don’t compromise your rules due to peer pressure. 

Realize that some teens are more compliant than others: one teen may not try something simply because you say he shouldn’t;  another teen may purposely try something simply because you said she shouldn’t.

There may come a time, however, when you realize that the household rules should be changed.  For example, a 10:00 curfew may be appropriate for a certain age, but not appropriate for a college student.

No matter what, try to keep an open mind and continue to communicate with your child in a calm manner.

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