I’m Fighting A Lot With My Parents
It’s pretty common for conflict between parents and kids to increase in the teen years. Its a part of normal, healthy development that the teen brain starts to challenge ideas and seek independence, while parents are often focused on safety and responsibility.
It’s totally normal for teens to create their own opinions, thoughts, and values about life; it’s what prepares them for adulthood. But as you change and grow into this new person who makes their own decisions, your parents may have a difficult time adjusting. They aren’t used to the new you yet — they only know you as the kid who had everything decided for you and didn’t mind. Fighting with your folks might start to make you feel really low or super angry.
The good news is that parent-teen conflict usually does get better as everyone adjusts to their new roles. You can help by really thinking about the way you communicate with your folks and how you might be ready to compromise. Sounds too hard? Easier to hide from them in your room? Maybe. But hear me out. Getting skilled in communication might actually get you what you want..!
Here are some tips that might ease the conflict:
- Tip #1 Perspective taking.It’s easier to get stuck telling ourselves that our parents are “Just too strict”, or “Just don’t get me”. Take a moment to brainstorm (maybe even write down) all the possible explanations for their behaviour. Their motivations or intentions. Maybe they’ve said you can’t go to a party you really want to go to. It’s possible that they are evil monsters and like to watch you suffer when you miss something you love. Its also possible that they’re worried you might not be safe at the party, and they are motivated by wanting to keep you safe. Considering their perspective will help later on – keep reading!
- Tip #2 Choose the right time to have a serious convo with parents.Avoid busy or stressful times like end of the day when everyone’s rushing to get dinner on, or drive siblings to sport practice. A car ride with just the two of you = perfect. At the outset, ask if now is a good time to talk about something that’s on your mind.
- Tip #3 Calmly and kindly explain clearly what’s going on for you or what it is you are asking for. And why it is important to you (e.g., “I really want to go to this party because I haven’t seen my CBC friends in ages and I miss them.”). Then, and this is important, show that you are mindful of their perspective(see Tip #1, for example, “I understand you might be worried that I wont be safe at the party.”)
- Tip #4 Present alternate viewpoints using the word “and” not “but“. This is really powerful. For example, “I really want to go to this party because I miss my friends andI know you might be worried that I wont be safe.”
- Tip #5 Confirm their viewpoint as their ‘truth’. Show your parents that you’ve heard and understood their side of the argument by repeating it back and agreeing that this is true for them (e.g., “I understand you think I might fall in with a dodgy crowd if I go to the party”). This doesn’t mean we have to agree with them, just acknowledge that this is what your parents are worried about.
- Tip #6 Find common ground.Most likely, you share the similar values and you can agree on these. For example, mum doesn’t want you going to a party because your safety is important to her. You can acknowledge that your safety is important to her, and agree that it is important to you too!
- Tip #7 Invite compromise.Both truths are true. You want to go to the party, and your folks want to keep you safe. Invite a discussion about how both needs could be met. Be prepared to offer a few compromises (e.g., you go to the party and call regularly, or you go and come home early, or..)
- Tip #8 Use a timeout if it starts getting heated.Try again later. If you’re still feeling like you’re living in a battle-zone, please come chat to the College psychs.