Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I love this assertion, and I know everyone has heard it a thousand times, but I want to put a different spin on this famous quote. I want you as the parent of a teen to think about it in a new light. Think about how you can apply this to your relationship with your teenager.
Not long ago, my teen daughter was working on a homework assignment on the computer at home. She was having trouble getting it to print the way she wanted it to, and the more she worked with it, the less cooperative the computer and printer seemed to be. I tried to help her, but to no avail. She was frustrated. When I attempted to offer help and solutions, her responses to me were a little bit short.
I won’t lie. I was slightly annoyed because I was trying to help her and not add to her frustration. It passed my mind briefly to think that someone needed an attitude adjustment. I almost said so.
I am so glad I didn’t!
Mostly because I needed one myself.
I took a step away from the situation and realized that she needed to just solve the problem on her own. That would be the best thing for both of us.
In just a few minutes, she was able to decipher the problem, get her work printed, and move on to the next task. I noticed an immediate change for the better in her demeanor, and I was very happy that I had not added to her angst by nagging her about needing an attitude adjustment.
As Elsa would say, I let it go.
Revisiting the Gandhi statement above of being the change you want to see in the world and in others, this is something all of us parents need to remember on a regular basis when dealing with our teens.
One could modify that statement to say “use the tone you want to hear,” or “say the words you want to hear.” Best of all, “be the kind of person you want them to be.” Be the example you want to see in them.
Many parents complain about their child’s attitude. I’ve heard it again and again. But what I’ve also heard is that parent speaking in a harsh or unnecessarily impatient tone to the teen. A person’s natural reaction is to speak to someone the way she is spoken to. If a parent nags and fusses and speaks in a disparaging tone to a teen, then the immediate, instinctive reaction will be for the teen to respond in the same manner.
Maybe sometimes we as parents don’t like the reflection we see of ourselves in our kids. Their attitudes might just mirror our own.
I have had to stop and think about that myself sometimes.
Does she have a bad attitude, or do I?
Working through these issues can be hard, but often we make them harder than they have to be. Perhaps in realizing that kids are under a lot of stress with school work and other issues, we might let some of their “attitudes” just take care of themselves, let them go. Pause, take a deep breath, and tell yourself, “This, too, shall pass.”
Remember. You get angry and frustrated. Your teen, being human, also gets angry and frustrated. Allow him to express that once in a while without being too judgmental. Obviously, you should not put up with disrespect or excessive verbal abuse; but teens do need an opportunity to vent and get things over with, the same as adults.
Attitudes come and go, but what stays is the closeness and understanding you build, and how you handle those little everyday stumbling blocks can make or break your relationship.
Do you have an attitude story to share? How have you successfully dealt with these issues with your teen? Scroll down and leave a comment in the section below. I would love to hear about your experience.