When was the last time you had a fight with your teen? How did it turn out? Was it worth it?
It doesn’t have to be a knock-down, drag out, screaming match. Consider a fight to be any time either one of you is frustrated, angry, or shut down, and there’s no reasonable resolution to the problem.
I remember one with my adult son. In my mind he was being outrageous and unreasonable. After about 10 minutes of going nowhere good, and going there fast, I told him I was done, and walked out of the room fuming. It was not one of my finer moments. (Yes, we coaches have meltdowns, too. After all, they’re OUR kids. We also have buttons, and they know how to push them!)
Why is it better to avoid a fight with your teen?
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. This doesn’t mean to not resolve issues, or to avoid uncomfortable subjects. It’s how you do it that makes the difference, and fighting is not the way to go.
1. You probably won’t win this one (or any one). Just as it is with a toddler, they know what they want and can usually outlast you. They are relentless.
2. It’s not about winning or losing. Each of you wants something different, which means one person wins, and one loses. In the bigger scheme of parenting, it’s a no-win situation.
3. You both end up alone and misunderstood. Then it takes time to heal. Again.
4. Do you want to be right or to have a relationship? Although you’d like to have both, what matters most is the relationship. Being able to listen and understand (whether you agree with them or not) is the basis for healthy communication, cooperation and connection. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
5. Fighting with your teen can take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being. And if there are other life stressors, everything feels bigger and more difficult. You matter. As a parent, a partner, an employee, a volunteer, and as an individual, you matter. Sometimes you just have to pause and step away from the messiness (until you learn more effective ways to deal with it).
6. Does your usual dynamic boil down to a power struggle? As mentioned before, it’s a no-win situation. Changing your approach from power struggle to collaboration changes everything. This also helps kids learn to think for themselves and become more independent.
7. When you are able to listen, understand and collaborate, teens learn how people get through conflict calmly and lovingly (or at the very least in a neutral way). This is fundamental to developing healthy, satisfying relationships. And there we go, full circle back to the relationship.
Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.
Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.