The Line between Love and Disagreements – A Parent Perspective
Fights between Parents and Teenagers
You can call them disagreements, tiffs or discussions, but most of the time they are downright arguments. And why do we have these arguments? It appears to be a natural part of the parent-teen dynamic. It seems no matter how much we try to avoid them, they do happen.
Perhaps one of the reason for the occurrence of these arguments is that a parent and child know each other better than anyone else, so we are aware of how to trigger what upsets the other person, and when we don’t agree, we tend to go for those triggers.
A classic non-productive interaction with a teenager can start when the parent says “When I was your age ……” Quite frankly, our kids don’t care about what we did when we were younger and what happened back then. Just like we didn’t care when we were younger! Then the teenager, in their infamous snide voice, will come back with “Never mind, you don’t understand.” And if we are honest, we parents will remember that when we were teenagers, we said or thought that same thing. But now that we are parents ourselves, the reality is that most of the time, but not always, we absolutely do understand. The difference between our kids and us is that we have a good idea as to how a lot of the situations will play out, and the possible reasons for the issues in the first place, whether it is a disagreement with a sibling or friend, self-esteem issues or school drama. We have been there and done that. However, one thing I many times fail to remember is that this is my daughter’s time to have her own experiences. And even though I know she will get through whatever is going on, she doesn’t yet know that. She can’t see or hear me when I say “it will be okay” and that “it isn’t that big of a deal.” Those words don’t connect or impact her because she is right in the middle of the situation.
One thing I am learning (and I believe parenting is a constant learning process) is to listen, when what I really want to do is to tell her it will be okay. She needs the time to vent, express and get out what she is feeling. I recognize more and more that if she is coming to me with these things, that means that she trusts me and wants me to be the one to give her the advice. Many times that is not the situation for teenagers, because kids get more in touch with what their friends think than with their parent’s ideas. So if she is coming to me to listen to her and to get advice, I need to embrace and be thankful for this blessing she is sharing with me.
I think parenting is one of the hardest jobs around, but just as hard as it is, it is also the most rewarding responsibility any of us can take on. It is a huge challenge, because we are responsible for this other person, and the last thing we want to do is mess that up, but we know we don’t have all the answers either. As parents we try to do the best for our kids, and even in arguments, the important thing is to remember to listen to them…because most of the time, the kids just want to be heard more than anything else. And as parents, we need to remember (and I have been guilty of this) not to use “because I said so” to try and win an argument. I think we all need to listen more, and speak less, to help keep the arguments to a minimum.