Question #3: “Why are parents with young teens having so much trouble dealing with their kid’s awful behavior? Kids just don’t respect their parents anymore.”
Answer #3: First of all we must recognize that there are two sides to the equation – the parent and the child. Unfortunately, in many family situations parents are not aware of the fact that they may be part of the challenge. Not so much in a deliberate way but in an unconscious or unaware way. There is a psychological concept called “mirroring” where we tend to see behavior in others that “pushes our buttons.” This behavior is typically a reflection of some limiting aspect of ourselves that we have not healed or integrated emotionally. The natural tendency is to criticize or blame the other person’s behavior rather than being able to calmly “observe” the other person’s behavior without an overt negative emotional reaction. We call it “getting hooked.” The key in this situation is: The person with the negative emotion has the challenge.
The fact that our young people see themselves as being “their own authority” runs head long into a major culture difference experienced by most parents. Most of today’s parents grew up in a command and control environment where you “did what you were told”, you “didn’t talk back” and their parents were the unquestionable “boss”. Children learned to be subservient to all forms of perceived authority, parents, older adults, school teachers, etc. In many cases, the “spirit” of the child was broken by verbal and physical punishment. Today’s children have a different view of personal authority due to their understanding at a very deep level of who they are – expressions of the creator – not separate from.
This challenge provides opportunities for both the parent and the child. The aware parent can take the opportunity to review his/her beliefs about authority to see if they are empowering or limiting. Limiting beliefs can be changed with self exploration and the desire to experience more emotional freedom. Command and Control (“because I said so”) is a win-lose proposition. Moving to a win-win proposition sees the parent and the child on an equal footing as humans. The aware parent can then begin to work with the child on the basis of “choice.” Having “choice” allows one to retain their sense of personal authority. One learns to choose appropriately as they experience the consequences of their choices – good or bad.
When a parent sees the family challenge as the “child’s” issue resolution is nearly impossible. An aware, willing parent with honest and open communications - based on creating a win-win proposition – will engender the mutual respect that will allow both the parent and child to enjoy a loving, harmonious relationship. Many teens see their parents as their best friends. Yes, it’s possible.
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