A friend with sons ages 12 and 15 recently told me this story:
I had a good parenting moment this morning. My son lied to me and tried to brush it off, so I told him I was disappointed with him. I pointed out that he wants respect and trust from me, but then he lies to me. I said, “That’s not how it works,” and I walked away without delivering a lecture.
After he’d showered, we were in the kitchen together when he actually said, “Sorry I lied to you, Mom.” I said, “Thanks, Bud,” and went on with my morning routine. I am always shocked when it turns out like that.
Three things this mom did right:
- Delivering an “I” message (“I’m disappointed”) instead of making an accusation;
- Making her point in only a few words and then walking away;
- Accepting his apology with grace and ending it there.
She also managed to avoid some of the pitfalls of parenting teens, such as yelling or belittling, which only lead to more issues like disrespect or defensive attitudes.
Sometimes parents feel that there’s no avoiding hostility and anger when confronting teens, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you can take a deep breath and keep calm, you’re more likely to get the results you want–and avoid those that you don’t want!