By Amelia Orozco
It’s bound to happen. At some point, you and your teen will argue and disagree over something. Although there is no cookie-cutter way to approach every disagreement with a teenager, there are some basic concepts to keep in mind in order to have a healthy conversation. The next time you find yourself in a disagreement with your teen, remember to choose your battles wisely and try some of these techniques.
- Look at the big picture. Step back and think about what the disagreement is really about, and how important it is. For example, is it worth having a heated discussion over one outfit? Or is the real issue about how your teen’s overall style is inappropriate for school? If you can figure out the root of the problem, you can focus the conversation on what’s really important and not just on a one-off irritation. By limiting the disagreements you have with your teen, he or she is more likely to listen when you do voice a concern.
- “It’s my life.” Yes, those are the lyrics to a song, but there is some truth to them. Remember to let your teen live his or her life. As parents, we want them to have more opportunities than we had. Perhaps you never became the star athlete you wanted to be or were not the most popular kid in high school. The danger is in pressuring your child to accomplish it for you. In a misunderstanding, all these feelings may be subconsciously swimming in your thoughts and influencing how you react to your teen in an argument. Try to separate your hopes for your teen and focus on the issue at hand.
- No name-calling or yelling. This may be the toughest one. You may come home from a long day at work only to find that the chores that your teen is responsible for are still not done. As tempting as it may be to yell or to call them “lazy,” it is best to recollect your thoughts. Take some time to change your clothes, look through your mail, or even go for a quick walk to cool off. You can then address the issue with your teen in a calm manner without letting the frustration get the best of you. Your teen will be more likely to listen when you’re calm.
Ultimately, our children, regardless of age, look to us for comfort and approval. Making it safe to talk to us about anything is a good start. Teens will test the limits to see how far they can go, but it is up to us as parents to show them the boundaries and the expectations that not only will define them today, but will also shape them into fine citizens in the future.
Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.