Whenever a teenager wanted to discuss a personal emotional predicament, it didn’t take long before they brought up fighting at home. Whether the child was doing poorly in school, hanging out with the wrong friends, experimenting with drugs, or whatever, a by product was always conflict at home. And as defiant and rebellious as the child seemed, they wanted the fighting to stop.
Conflicts between parents and adolescent children are as old as time. For their entire lives children have imitated their parents’ opinions, choices, and personal ethics, which parents are anxious to give for the protection and betterment of their children. Then when puberty hits, children who were once young and obedient become independent as they identify new thoughts, opinions, and life paths. And as parents we are often not ready for that; all we see is defiance, rebellion, and anger. Remember, teens are really only big kids hung up somewhere between childhood and who they are becoming.
It is not easy for parents as we watch our kids stumble or, worse yet, make mistakes we made. So what happens when we see that? We lose it. We’re parents after all! For my entire career as a school counselor I could talk calmly with students. But when my own children did crazy teen-aged stuff … I escalated like a rocket. And, of course, children respond in the same way by yelling, arguing, and threatening.
Parenting teenagers is hard, but we have to do our best to control our own emotions. Remain calm, don’t let them bait you into a yelling match. If the child becomes unreasonable, walk away and say you will talk later when emotions have cooled. Certainly enforce rules that protect them and are for their own good. Kids may not like rules, but they understand ones that make sense.
Growing up is confusing to teenagers; it is likely they will not take the initiative to reconcile after arguments … plan on being the one to reach out to them. After all, we are the parents.