Nancy Doyon, special education teacher
Who hasn’t been blindsided by their teen, who out of the blue says: “All my friends are allowed to…” or “I’m going to go live with Dad—he’s cooler than you”? What should you do to avoid falling into a vicious cycle of conflict or losing your authority and becoming an overly permissive parent-friend who no longer sets any limits for their teen? Parenting is an ongoing learning process; it’s not always easy to figure out how to establish good communication between parents and teenagers.
Set clear expectations
Your teen might look like a grownup, but they still need your help and guidance to become a fully fledged adult. Of course, it’s completely normal for teens to bend or break the rules—it’s how they learn. But by setting clear boundaries and expectations, you can help them manage their anxiety and avoid engaging in any risky behaviour.
Establish house rules with your teen
To help minimize parent-teenager conflict, be sure to talk to your teen about setting rules around:
• Curfew and lights-out… and when to wake up;
• Their studying, homework, and school schedule;
• Your expectations in terms of academic performance;
• When they can invite friends over or go to a friend’s house;
• Afterschool snacks;
• Screen time, movies, and video games (including what content is acceptable);
• Their chores and responsibilities and involvement in family life (e.g., helping clear the table after a meal, putting away the groceries, etc.);
• Your expectations in terms of how they express their emotions and choose to have disagreements, and what you consider to be disrespectful or rude;
• Anything else that regularly creates conflict between you and your teen.
Go over the house rules when you’re both feeling calm and collected and be sure to explain the reasons behind them. Teens are much more likely to break a rule they don’t understand.
Be a mentor to your teen »
Some parents, hoping to seem cool in the eyes of their teen 😎, can end up setting aside their authority and trying to be their friend. Unfortunately, most teenagers are uncomfortable with this type of relationship 😰.
While they may be fighting for their freedom, teens know full well that they still need a guide, a mentor, supervision, and hierarchical structure. Teens can have hundreds of friends, but they usually only have two parents. What’s more, when you try too hard to be their friend, you can end up losing your credibility as a parent, making it all that much more difficult to set boundaries when they cross the line.
This is why it’s important respect the need to distance yourself from your teen and accept that, for a period of time, they will want and need to hang out with friends their own age and have their own life. A parent’s role includes knowing when to take a step back and leave room for friends. Even so, there’s no reason why you can’t maintain a great parent-teen relationship through open communication and family activities (even if, sometimes, you have to force your teen to take part).
Parent-teenager conflict resolution
During adolescence, teens develop their personalities and seek more freedom and independence. This makes it easier for them to push back against their parents’ rules and guidance. The transition to adulthood can be a challenging time and can lead to plenty of parent-teenager conflicts and crises. Suddenly, nothing you say seems to make sense to them, your jokes aren’t funny anymore, and all you do is argue. Your efforts, sometimes even just your mere presence, seems to set them off.
Want to effectively resolve common teenage conflicts, while preserving your relationship with your teen? These six tips can help.effectively resolve conflicts
As you well know, adolescence is a long journey that requires kindness and patience from parents. Just keep in mind that, by laying a few ground rules, you’ll become a positive example for your teen. And through you, they’ll come to understand the importance of good communication and conflict resolution skills.
In short, it’s a lifelong journey!
Learn about the contributor’s training courses
Family coach Nancy Doyon hosts training courses and conferences worldwide to help support you in your role as parent or caregiver
Renowned for her humour and candor, Nancy knows how to steer the conversation in new directions and isn’t afraid to question certain widespread educational practices. Drawing as much on her 28 years of experience working with children with behavioural difficulties as on her knowledge of neuroscience, psychology, coaching and education, she has a few ready-made recipes up her sleeve that can help you to better understand young people, find out what causes their “unwelcome” behaviour and learn what you can do to address their actual needs.