Handling Those Fights With Your Teenager

Those teenage years can be brutal on a parent. The fighting can be excessive and seems to never end. It wears on your mind to have your teen tell you that you’re not fair, you don’t understand and you don’t care about their well being. What your teen doesn’t understand is that your position on most issues is a matter of safety or common sense that comes from having been there yourself and years of experience. Here’s how you can address the three most common fights you have with your teenager.

No, you can’t do…

Fill in the blank: “out with him,” “to the party,” “on Spring Break,”  — they’re all one in the same. If you know that allowing your teen to go to any one of the above is a detrimental mistake, don’t back down.

So many scenarios, so little time! Like, if your teenage daughter has fallen for a boy you know is trouble, and she doesn’t quite get why you’re being so restrictive. Or if your teenage boy wants to go with his buddies down to Myrtle Beach for a few days over Spring Break, and he doesn’t understand why you won’t let him do what all the other parents are letting their kids do.

Ironically, you don’t understand how they don’t understand that these ideas are terrible ideas. The result? Another blow up. There seems to be a massive barrier between their understanding and yours, so how do you bridge the gap?

You must be home by 9:30 PM

Curfew is the ultimate style cramper. You set one for great reasons, but your teen doesn’t seem to see a difference in what happens during the day versus what happens at night. He only sees that he can’t stay out to hang with his friends until 11pm. We don’t know one teen who hasn’t gotten frustrated with a strategically placed curfew (or one who hasn’t broken one out of sheer disobedience, to boot). There’s no question – fights follow the curfew talk.

You must do your work before…

Although teens have more freedom than younger siblings, they still have responsibilities and work that they have yet to out grow. The difficulty here lies in the fact that they think they’ve grown out of said responsibilities, and you’re battling a newfound freedom that accompanies the ability to drive.

Regardless, parents are the ones to remind teens that they have school work to do or that they have chores that need to be done. Unlike their younger siblings who have the same responsibilities, teens have the free world at their fingertips, so anything or anyone that stands in the way is merely an obstacle to be confronted. Hopefully your teen has learned that work comes before freedom, but if they haven’t? You’re in for lots of arguments as you attempt to prevent quick exits on weekday afternoons.

So, how do you handle it?

Realize that these fights are inevitable if you’re setting appropriate boundaries for your teen. You can learn to handle it in a way that is healthy for both of you.

First, seriously consider your teen’s request. Don’t just fire off a no, even if you know the answer right off the bat. Teens want to feel heard, not ignored, and simply letting them know that you’ll take some time to think about it will tell them that you’re hearing and understanding what they want.

Next, answer with grace. Avoid expressions like, “Because I said so” and “You don’t have to understand” when you’re wanting these conversations to go over smoothly. Sometimes these expressions are completely appropriate, but maybe not the best choice when trying to avoid a fight or get a great point across. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is give a heartfelt reason why. Draw on personal experience that allows them to see that you really thought about it and your answer is really meaningful, not just haphazard. This also shows that you’re speaking from love and experience, not frustration.

Lastly, suggest an alternative that may get them as excited. “No, spring break with your friends isn’t an option, but let’s all go to the beach for that week, and feel free to bring a friend.”

Hopefully with these tips, the three most common fights you have with your teenager will just turn into conversations that need to be ironed out.

Do you have any tips for settling an argument with a teenager?