Parent-Teen Misunderstandings

Parent-and-Teen-Disagreement-300x264Teenagers and their parents can sometimes feel like they’re from different planets. With so many expectations and desires from both sides, getting along can seem near impossible. The good news is, almost everyone has experienced this at some point, and this article is going to try and address some of these issues.

Arguments are a natural part of any relationship, yet problems tend to occur when things do not get resolved. Ever feel like it’s groundhog day, and no matter how hard you try, you keep going over the same ground and never get anywhere? How frustrating!

I work a lot with teens and their parents, and so I often find the biggest challenge is hearing both sides of the story. This can have a huge impact on finding a solution that is beneficial to all the parties involved, including other family members. The important thing to remember is that communication is the key.

Many teens are often dealing with multiple insecurities. These can range from feeling unsupported and misunderstood, to contemplating their self-worth or blaming themselves for all of life’s problems. The last thing they want is to feel like their parents are constantly breathing down their neck.

Parents want what is best for their child, but are often perplexed by their children’s behavior. They may find it difficult to relate to their child and often wonder if they have made mistakes in raising them.

My message to all the teens out there – your parents do not mean to dismiss you, seem like they are controlling your life, or make you feel like it’s your fault. They are probably feeling frustrated or having trouble understanding where you are coming from. It is natural for parents to want to protect their child.

My message to all the parents out there – your teen does not deliberately push your buttons. They are probably feeling misunderstood or feel like you treat them differently to their brothers or sisters. Teens naturally test their boundaries in order to experience more independence.

There are a number of effective methods to resolve arguments, and better still, stop them from happening in the first place.

Here are some simple tips to help you reduce stressful situations and feel more understood.

1. Choose the right time to discuss the problem. Trying to sort out an issue in the heat of the moment might make the situation worse. If emotions are running high, it may be best to leave the situation until things calm down and come back to it later.

2. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying (like maintaining eye contact).

3. Give the other person time to explain what the issue is or how they are feeling.

4. Pay full attention. If you are doing something else like watching TV or playing with your mobile phone, this sends them a message that you are not interested.  It can be very frustrating to feel like the other person is ignoring you.

5. Re-state what the other person has said, to show them you have understood them correctly. Remember you do not have to agree with each other to feel heard. You can agree to disagree.

6. Both share what you think the solution is, and be prepared to compromise. It’s not about who wins and who loses. Compromise is a way to help both people meet their needs.

It’s normal to feel stuck in any relationship, and it is important to realise you are not alone. A couple of visits to a trained Clinical Psychologist could be all you need to make positive changes to your relationship forever.