Talking with your teen - Tip #5

Do not compromise

5. Do not compromise
Dr. Schwartz mentions a book by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D. called Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?;the title of this tome illustrates the mixed message teens often send. For example, a teen’s language may say, “Get out, go away, leave me alone,” but in reality they need their parents. It is important for parents to remember that they should not compromise in the face of resistance.  

“If an adolescent becomes prickly, the parent can check to see if they are being too critical, but they should remember they are the adult,” says psychology professor Paul Schwartz. “When a teen says, ‘get out of my life’ parents take it literally, but the child may only want space for that moment,” explains parenting educator Denyse Variano.We all need a break now and then, especially after a bad day, but that does not mean you never revisit the subject or let the child rule the relationship. When a parent tries to reason with a toddler in the middle of a tantrum, it is easy to see the parent should walk away and perhaps offer the child a time-out. This scenario is not as easily identified when our child is bigger and older. Remember to return to the issue once everyone is in a calmer, more rational state of mind. At times, you may feel you are not given all the information. However, snooping in any form is not a way to communicate with your child. If you have a question, asking will maintain trust and respect.

Picking up a diary, going through dresser drawers and looking through a child’s belongings are all forms of snooping. If you have a major concern that you need to investigate, you might want to be invasive, but you must immediately and directly address the issue with your teen. And don't make it a habit for every little thing, or you will drive you and your teen insane.

Sharon MacGregor is the mother of two teen boys in Sullivan County.