Dealing with teenagers can be very frustrating. Sometimes, frustration causes parents to disrespect their teenagers. You may not intend to be disrespectful. It just happens. You may not even be aware that you’re being disrespectful to your teen.
Disrespecting your teenager is a huge mistake. It prevents you from helping your teen change for the better. Just as you don’t put up with disrespect from your teen, they will not put up with disrespect from you.
Rather than inspiring loyalty and trust, disrespect causes your teen to rebel and oppose you. Disrespect also damages your relationship with your teenager. And, it’s much more difficult to change your teen if you do not have a healthy relationship with your teen.
In this article, I describe some ways you could be disrespecting your teen and therefore, preventing you from changing your teen from irresponsible to responsible.
Because they can make you so angry, it’s natural to want to curse your teen out. Many times, I’ve felt like cursing out a teenager.
However, cursing at your teen is humiliating and disrespectful. It harms your teen and your relationship with your teen. This only makes getting control of your teen much harder.
In your anger and hurt, perhaps you’ve called your teen ‘stupid’ or ‘retarded.’ Or you’ve told them that they’ll never amount to anything. Maybe you’ve called your teen ‘no good.’
Your intention certainly isn’t to hurt, but to help. You probably hope that insults may shame your teen into changing their behavior. Unfortunately, insults don’t work.
Also, insults are emotionally abusive. Insults lead to feelings of shame, humiliation, mistrust, and rejection. Insults keep you from earning your teen’s loyalty and respect. All you’ll get for your insults is more of what you’ve been getting-disrespect, disobedience, and disappointment.
Yelling and Screaming
Yelling rarely gets teenagers to behave. Instead, your teen simply stops listening to you.
Still, yelling makes your teen feel stupid-especially if you yell at them in front of others. Your teen can only respond one of two ways: fight or flight. Guess what your teen’s likely to do? Here’s a clue: It’s not flight.
One way or another, your teen will get back at you. This doesn’t inspire your teen to change their behavior.
You probably believe that if you criticize your teen’s mistakes and flaws often enough, maybe-just maybe-your teen will try to become a more responsible teenager.
The problem is that parents often criticize the person, not the behavior. Also, your teen is criticized so often-by almost every adult they come into contact with. Your teen rarely hears anything positive from adults (that includes you). Even out-of-control teens want praise and recognition. No one wants to be constantly criticized.
Criticism won’t win your teen’s loyalty. It certainly won’t get them to change. Instead, your teen ignores you and continues with out-of-control behavior.
The more you criticize your teen, the less influence you’ll have. The less influence you have, the less likely you’ll get your teen under control.
Violence is always disrespectful. There’s never a good reason to use violence.
If you hit your teen, your teen may fight back. Things can quickly get out of control-to the point where someone can be seriously injured or even killed. You can even be arrested for abuse.
Bottom line: Violence fails to get your teen under control. That’s because violence damages your relationship with your teen.
Refusing to Apologize or Admit Wrongdoing
At some point, you will do wrong by your teen. But, when you make a mistake, do you apologize? Do you even admit that you made a mistake? If not, you’re not showing respect for your teen.
Just because your teen acts up all the time doesn’t mean you can do them wrong and not have to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
Refusing to apologize or admit making a mistake is not a sign of strength. Instead, it makes you look weak in your teen’s eyes. You lose their respect.
Respect is critical to getting control of your troubled teenager. You will not earn your teen’s respect if you constantly disrespect them. And, if your teen doesn’t respect you, you will not regain control.
Therefore, you must always respect your teen, no matter what they, no matter how angry, disappointed, and hurt they makes you feel. Treat your teen how you’d like to be treated.
Never allow your emotions and impulses to control how you act towards or respond to your teen. This means that you must always be in control of yourself and your emotions.
Gregory Harden is a licensed social worker with 15 years experience working with troubled youth and their families. He is the owner of Black Parents In Charge, which helps parents deal with difficult teenage behaviors. Go to http://www.blackparentsincharge.com/go/25-biggest-mistakes-black-parents-make/ to get your free e-book on parenting out-of-control Black teenagers.