Dear Style & Substance:
I am the mother of a 15 year old girl. I feel like I have hit a brick wall in parenting my teenage daughter; she comes across as moody and obstinate and I come back with judgment and frustration. Any suggestions?
This is the most frequent question that we hear! We believe that it is most common, because as parents, we want to have meaningful and harmonious relationships with our children. As children change and develop, it is our responsibility to change and develop as well. It is a natural response for teenage children to begin to pull away and work towards independence. It is our job to let this happen and to consciously change our supporting role.
As they grow into young adulthood, we cannot abdicate our role as parents. We cannot make excuses for bad behavior, for either party involved, and as the adult we should be modeling honest and caring communication. That aside, it is difficult to not use sarcasm and flippant, over the shoulder remarks in heated exchanges. However, there is no room for sarcasm in parenting.
Simple guidelines that you both agree on are a good place to regroup. Set some guidelines during a time when there is ease and peace in your relationship. They can be determined simply by each filling in these blanks, ”it hurts/frustrates me when you say or do….” and “it would be better if you said or did….” Different guidelines or standards work for different families and these lines that we draw can be flexible. Listen more than you talk and if it is not an emergency, think about your response before you impulsively react. It is very powerful to take a break and then come back to your daughter with a thoughtful and calm response.
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