Updated: Oct 9, 2020
So what are these 5 Common Conflicts Between Parents and Teenagers? &
What are the 5 Loving and Logical Ways Parents can Respond?
As parents of teenagers, you will agree with me that parenting at this age is a series of a baffling events. The whole period is filled with ventures, adventures and misventures. Many times these are in the form of conflicts and collisions.
Our lovely teenagers’ moods and emotions are sometimes down and sometimes they are up this is due to changes happening in their brain. One moment they are laughing hysterically, the next minute they are claiming and declaring this to be the end of the world. One minute the young person brings you a problem trusting you as the only one who can help, then, when you provide your most sensible solution the teenager dismisses the ideas as irrelevant, even displays utter contempt for their sought-after advice.
Just when you thought this was a ripe moment for connection it gets sour with conflict and collision. You have given them exactly what they asked for and now you are the enemy. You sigh!
This is teenagers for you.
I have some news!
Almost always, when it all goes sour, it is because we as parents are not providing teenagers what they deep inside need. But parents who wish the best for their young people and want to maintain healthy relationships we can learn and do better.
The following are 5 typical presentations of conflict and collision that many parents encounter with their teenagers. Alongside the 5 common conflicts and collisions we have identified 5 ways to respond with love and logic.
When we as parents respond in these ways, ways that are both loving and logical, we provide learning moments, deliver positive outcomes and arm teenagers with life skills for dealing with their problems now and in the future.
Conflict and Collision #1 Between Parents & Teens.
Teenagers let you know in no uncertain terms you are irritating and embarrassing.
Teens are going through a period of development and the biggest and most fundamental question they are seeking to answer is ‘Who am I?’ Because of this, they start to look at their parents in critical ways and this sometimes manifest as Over The Top OTT teenage tantrums.
Parents, until now you’ve been the kids main if not only source of information, beliefs and values. But now you are under critical evaluation and scrutiny as the teen start to see themselves as a separate entity from you and actively develop their own identity. As they differentiate themselves from you and anything that represents you, this difference is expressed embarrassment.
Learn how to end these terrifying teenage tantrums GO HERE
How to respond with love and logic when teenagers regard you as irritating and embarrassing.
Solution #1: Give them some leeway and space.
Although this may feel like rejection for the parent, take heart. If handled properly this will only be temporary, but it’s a very necessary phase of development. Remember healthy independence is the aim for both you and your teen. They will eventually come around. Don’t act negatively following your hurt and feelings of rejection as this may push them away even further. Instead, give them the space whilst remaining connected, calm and steadfast. Be ever present and reliable without hovering of course. Let them know that you will be available to help and support when they need you. But give them the space that is needed and allow them to become the person they are becoming without you hovering around them.
Conflict and Collision #2 Between Parents & Teens.
They come to you with their problems then violently reject your solutions
Teens are well known for having many problems, yes, they do have many. Not only are they trying to figure out the world in their own way, but their hormones are raging, the brain is on overdrive. Many times, they will approach you with their problems, and when you provide what you think is your best of brains your suggestion is outright ignored or blatantly ridiculed.
The loving and logical way to respond in this situation is:
Solution #2: Listening without interfering
Teenagers, just like us adults, often find the best relief from merely being able to express worries and concerns to someone who will listen. Problems often feel better when they are outside rather than eating us up on the inside. Remember the old saying, a problem shared is a problem halved!
When adolescents bring their problems our way, it’s best we assume they aren’t inviting suggestions from us. Let them express what the problem is and how they are feeling about it.
Sometimes, the way teenagers share their thoughts is by dumping them on us which then helps them organise these thoughts in their mind. Our best solution would be to create a space for them to do this by listening without interrupting. The trick here is holding back from making it a conversation and adding your own thoughts. Let them offload their messy pile. In doing this they may be able to reorganise the whole episode as a clear message. But remember this would only happen if they are given the time and space and this is what as parents we must do if we wish to have healthy relationships with our young people.
Conflict and Collision #3 Between Teens and Parents.
Teenager openly accuse parents of being completely ignorant about life in general.
In their young life, teenagers are 100% convinced and believe you have never experienced the angst, school dramas, broken hearts and overwhelm from impending exams. They know for sure that you know nothing of it. While they may be right that some of the current challenges, we never experienced, each parent was once a teenager themselves and, in our day we definitely had our own teenager issues
The loving and logical way to respond in this case would be;
Solution #3: Understand they are seeking empathy.
The truth is, most of what our adolescents are going through, we as parents can’t solve. What is best for them is empathy. Understanding and accepting we may not be their solution or have a solution is an important factor. However, you can still be supportive and empathetic even though you have no solutions. Teenagers want to know they are not alone.
Show them and let them know you are willing to be by their side in these distressing moments, even though there is nothing you may be able to do, or indeed nothing can be done.
Conflict and Collision #4 Between Teens and Parents.
Teenagers have this accusatory tongue that claims that you don’t trust them.
I can tell you that you aren’t the first parent to try and suggest something or even question something that your teen is up to, only to find yourself on the end of that tirade that “you don’t trust me”. Sometimes it happens so quick, you don’t understand where it all begun or when and where it went wrong.
The loving and logical way to respond in this case is:
Solution #4: Understand they are looking for a vote of confidence.
Stop rushing in to fix their problems or tell them what to do. When we do this, we communicate with our teenagers that we think they are unable to handle the problem and we know best for them about what should be done and how it should be done. Teenagers want to know that we as parents trust that they can handle whatever life throws at them.
Instead of giving answers or solutions to your vulnerable teenager, bolster their self-confidence. Let them know you believe in their ability to sort things out. It will give them perspective and confidence when they don’t necessarily feel they have much.
Conflict and Collision #5 Between Parents and Teens.
They ask for help you offer it straight up.
When your teen comes to you asking for help, you feel relieved that they finally feel you are a valuable source.
You jump there and give your best shot. You tell them what to do.
The interaction turns in a split second and they end up storming off, letting you know they don’t need anything from you…. EVER. AGAIN.
They’ve taken this as that you are telling them what to do, you are ordering them around.
The loving and logical way to respond in this case is:
Solution #5: Understand they want ideas, inspiration, not orders
In teenagers’ ears, well-intentioned guidance can sound like orders, criticism or even outright attacks. You may feel justified offering your advice,(afterall they asked) but it is probably best delivered at a different time, not at a time when they are feeling so vulnerable. Generally, it is best and good enough just to listen as we said earlier, empathise and offer encouragement in their ability to solve the problem.
However, at this point you can ask outright if what they want to vent or they need for you to suggest something. If they overtly say yes and that they need suggestions, then you are safe to go ahead. Sometimes they are truly seeking solutions, and this is where and when you offer some.
First, ask whether they want help solving the problem. If you get a yes, explore with them what they can and what they can’t change with the problem.
If you are able to identify something that they have the power to change, explore some solutions together. Also, explore the consequences and let them decide whether they are willing to go ahead with their decisions. Go into the discussion aiming to solve the problem with them, not for them; this is transformational parenting style.
With issues they can’t control - this is the perfect opportunity to help them understand that strength can be found in how we react and respond to what we can’t change. Help them to realise this is part of life.
When raising teenagers, it is difficult not to rush in and help your teenager fix their problems. It can be difficult not to offer advice when you really want to. It can be difficult to no longer be a cool parent to them. As parents of teenagers we must shift to being transformational parents, realise this is a stage and a phase and our ultimate goal is to build and maintain a healthy relationship with our young people as they navigate their teenage years and young adulthood.
It’s best to hear them out, and fully understand what they want or need. It makes them develop into better humans, allows them to grow in confidence in their ability to be able to manage their own problems and difficult emotions while figuring out exactly who they are.
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