Using the Magic Of Mutual Respect To Get Through To Your Teen!!
We interviewed Melissa, the Mom of four teenagers, and found her practical wisdom on how to come from a place of mutual respect with a teen to be invaluable. Melissa has a blended family (one stepson plus two sons & one daughter of her own) and, as you can imagine, a great deal of practical experience.
Why is mutual respect so important?
As you listen to Melissa you will hear how a foundation of mutual respect with your teen will bring many benefits:
– have your teen want to open up to you
– re-build trust when some mistrust over teen misbehavior has set in
– give both of you ways to come to a workable compromise when you disagree
– ensure that your teen learns valuable lessons from their mistakes on their own
We asked Melissa what she had found were the best strategies to use in dealing with teenagers – we hope you find her suggestions workable for your situation as well.
Melissa’s Useful Tips on Building Trust and Connection with Teens:
1) Spending one-on-one time with teens or young adults is crucial to establishing mutual respect. One-on-one attention is critical in terms of showing respect for a teen’s needs, especially with boys or any teen who isn’t particularly communicative. Actively listening to your teen will demonstrate that you are treating them as a young adult.
“I think it was particularly helpful to sit my sons down individually and give them the time and attention they needed to be able to feel like they were being respected as young adults and to feel like their needs were being listened to.”
2) In blended families (hers, his, and ours) teenagers tend to feel like their separate needs aren’t being cared for so you have to go out of your way to care for a teen individually in order to foster mutual respect. It is imperative that their needs as an individual are being met, rather than as a member of “the group of kids.”
“When I am one-on-one with them they trust more and that’s helped them to open up a lot more – I can show that I want to spend time with them and I care how they feel and that’s helpful for both of us to understand each other.”
3) When your teen gets into trouble and you find yourself mistrusting them, set up a way in which they can demonstrate that they can be trusted again, for example with a system of checking in when they are not home. Do your best to get past your mistrust and believe in them, acknowledging them every day they demonstrate that they can be trusted.
“It was hard for me to trust him so we ended up doing the check-in thing. He checks in with me and I realize he is telling me the truth; so now I am able to release that (mistrust) and let him do things without having to check in all the time.”
4) When there are disagreements between you and your teen, find a middle ground where both of you can be happy. It is necessary in these disagreements to invite them to share with you where they are coming from, what the values and needs are that are driving/causing this behavior that you don’t like. If you can listen to them with a degree of respect for their reasons then you have a better chance of them listening to your reasons for feeling the way you do.
“I wanted him to be going down this road and he wanted to be going down that road; so we’d compromise on things until we were both happy.”
Melissa’s Tested Strategy for Dealing with Teens:
– Be patient and don’t try to force them to do everything.
– Trust, even though it’s hard to let go of trying to protect them.
– Let them learn from their mistakes. You can’t always be there to rescue them…sometimes you need to let the natural consequences work.
“We are there to love them and pick them up and dust them off after they’ve made a mistake.”
Thank you, Melissa!! I am sure we can all put these suggestions to good use with our own teenagers and eliminate a lot of stress in the process.
Note to parents of teens: if you liked Melissa’s post then you should check out Amrit’s post about how she handled a stressful situation with her teenaged daughter, Dealing With Persistent Disagreements Between You & Your Teen
By Dr. Lonnie Green, M.Ed., PhD