Getting along with a Teen

I, as a teen, can honestly say that life can be tough at this age. You have to look for employment, you have to decide whether or not you are going to college, and where you will attend if you choose to go, and you are responsible for your actions as though you were an adult, even though you must still live under your parents’ rules. However, I think that I often have a tendency to overlook all the things my parents do and have done for me. They’ve paid for private schooling, they pay for my college bills, let me drive their car for free, keep fuel in the car, and let me use their computers and televisions. They keep a roof over my head and food in the house, and they are under no legal obligation to do that anymore. It seems adults do a lot more for us than we like to admit.

The teen years are years of transition. You go from being a child to being an adult in those few years. What many teens don’t realize is that it is also hard on the parents to watch their children go through the hardships of growing up. The parents observe their children go through their first heartbreak, and they have to worry about things like their teen’s safety. Parents don’t want to let go of their children. They don’t want them to grow up, because growing up makes the world more dangerous, and most young adults leave home when they are able to support themselves. These factors all strain the relationships between teens and parents.

These factors sound really heavy, so what do they have to do with the simple daily arguments between a teen and a parent? Well, there are a number of ways to answer this question. One very common reason is that the parent feels that the teen is being arrogant for disagreeing with them on whatever it is that initiates the argument. This causes the teen to become defensive. Teens do not like it when adults show them that they think they are uneducated about what they are saying or thinking. To be honest, we know we’re not always right, but when we’re angry, we don’t think as logically as we should, and we tend to speak words of scorn, rather than words of reasoning and wisdom. Another common problem is that the teen does not receive the answer they want to hear, and they think that the parents have ganged up on them. This is very rarely true, but for some reason we think that way. Perhaps it is because of the snobby teens we are used to dealing with at school, or perhaps it is just hormones that make us cranky. The biggest way to irritate a teen when telling them no is to say, “Because I said.” It is not that it is wrong to tell us this; it is simply that it is not what we want to hear. We like to feel that we can be entrusted with the reasoning. A third miscommunication is simply that both parties think that the other one has purposely started an argument just for the sake of arguing.

A list of things that teens find most irritating:

I. Being told what to do.
II. Being told what not to do.
III. Being scolded or accused of doing something wrong.
IV. Having our wisdom and/or intelligence openly questioned.
V. Feeling stuck in the middle of being a child and an adult.

A list of remedies for these relationship strains:

I. Be encouraging to teens. Tell them when they do a good job on something, but don’t overdo it and sound fake.
II. Don’t jump to conclusions. Observe what they do, but make sure that your accusations are based upon fact as well as intuition.
III. When you think they are wrong, let them know tactfully that you have a difference in opinion, and tell them why if fitting.
IV. Let them take on as much responsibility as they can handle. No more and no less.
V. Do not let them control you. If you say no, the answer is no. If you back down, they expect you to back down the next time, and many unnecessary confrontations could ensue.
VI. Make them live up to your moral standards. If you would not watch a television program, don’t allow them to watch it while they are living in your home. Your home is your dwelling, and it should represent what you are all about. It should be your haven, and it should not be filled with things you think are wrong.
VII. Don’t spoil them too much. If they want Dolce & Gabbana, they need to earn it. Don’t let them spend extravagantly on your dime. If they are older teens (17-19), they should pay for their own leisure and maybe even some rent and/or utilities if they have a decent job.

If you are not the parent of a teen, and you just want to know how to get along with them, some of the advice in I-V may be helpful to you. Most teens are not mature adults, and they may think it is funny to pick at adults, other teens, or children. I advise you not to engage. It may take some time, but they will eventually get tired of messing with someone they can’t rile, and they may even develop a sense of trust and respect for you.