Are you and your teenager constantly fighting? While it’s important for parents to put their foot down on important rules, your child also needs to be able to assert his growing independence and feel that it is acknowledged. This article can help you decide when to say no, and when to say, ‘Okay.’
When an argument erupts ask yourself, ‘Am I saying no because of my preference or because of my values?’ Core values are crucial to what you believe and stand for as a person. Obviously this can vary from family to family, but you and your partner must take a united front and say, ‘This is what we want our children to know and respect.’ Core values can include honesty, work ethic, faith and spirituality, or serving the community. However keep your list of core values short.
However some battles are based on preference and personality, and are a matter of self-expression rather than the ‘deep things’ that define a person. This can include fashion taste or whether or not she quits piano lessons in favour of playing tennis.
There are also some battles that must be dropped because a child must discover and define himself ‘the hard way.’ Spirituality may be crucial for you as a family, but it’s common for teens to want to explore other faiths or question the customs he was raised with. In that case, you can go for a compromise: ‘I understand if you want to read about Buddhism and other faiths, but I would like you to go with us to Sunday mass anyway, at least so we can be together as a family.’
It’s also important to set specific boundaries rather than make blanket statements. Instead of saying, ‘You dress like a slob!’ (which feels like a personal attack and doesn’t really give any helpful guidelines) sit down together and come to a list of rules. For example, ‘You can wear what you want to school, but when we go out as a family I want jeans with no holes and a clean shirt.’ Or, ‘no skirts that’s more than two inches above your knee’ is far clearer than ‘Cover up!’
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