Mother and daughter are arguing. Passersby can hear them outside the house, even out to the street. Loud arguments are almost a daily occurrence. Simple comments cause major angry outbursts between them.
The mother could pinpoint the day that her feelings changed towards her daughter.
The relationship was already strained. The mother was whipping her rebellious daughter, (at the age of 13) and her daughter pushed her. She responded with a solid punch to her daughter’s jaw. Things had only gotten progressively worse since then. Her daughter's anger and constant teen rebellion is a constant reminder of her mistake. She harbors shame, guilt, and a sadness that she lost control. She vacillates between making up and holding on to anger towards her daughter.
During times that guilt drives her to makeup, she is lenient and gives her teen any and everything, this includes privileges the teen wouldn’t ordinarily get. However, a bad look and, sour response from her teen triggers rage within her. Her daughter is now fifteen, and she reminds herself daily, in three years, her daughter will be eighteen; her motherly obligation to a rebellious teenager will be over.
This isn’t what she expected to happen when she looked at her daughter as a beautiful baby. How did the relationship go so wrong? These questions remind her of the many parenting mistakes she has made. She no longer contemplates these questions. She has settled into just clocking time, waiting for the day that it will be legal for her to move her daughter out of the house.
Has unforgiveness settled in your relationship with your teen? Are you content living in the house of unforgiveness? If you aren’t comfortable, here are seven strategies that help rebuild a stronger, healthier relationship.
1. Get counseling.
You can learn new communication skills, new strategies to manage your anger, ways to relate to your teen without rage, and self-care strategies that will enable you to relinquish guilt and shame surrounding the current state of your relationship with your teen. Counseling may uncover some destructive beliefs you have about yourself and your teen.
Apologize and forgive your teen if you haven’t. After that, release your anger, shame, and relinquish feelings of resentment towards yourself and your teen.
3. Use silence as a healing tool.
In this world of much communication, we forget the soothing healing power of silence. Too often, we avoid the beautiful, peaceful sound of silence because we are afraid of hearing ourselves. Remember, you control the narrative. Silence is especially effective when you are angry and want to lambast your teen verbally. Your best ally in these times is silence. Remember you can on any day of the week come back to the conversation.
4. Be open and honest in your communication.
If you feel sad, say so, if you are feeling disappointed, say so. Be direct and concise when communicating with your teen. Avoid blaming, labeling, and bullying your teen. Someone has to model for your teen how to rebuild relationships. See your broken relationship as an opportunity for change.
Get your joy back. Set aside time to be with your teen, no parenting, no instructing, no criticizing, just listening, and being with your teen. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut while parenting. Parenting can quickly become an incessant ongoing list of “to-dos and can’t dos.” We can completely miss life with teens if we stay in the role of disciplinarian.
6. Set boundaries and stick to them.
Ignore your moods. Consistently hold your teen to follow the rules. It is confusing to teens when they are allowed to break the rules because it is inconvenient for a consequence to be given or followed. Teens become openly defiant when parents are inconsistent about the rules.
7. Ignore the teen’s hooks.
Hooks are subtle communication that will bring about a response from parents. It could be a look, the way their neck snaps, rolling eyes, mumbling under their breath, the snappy tone in their voice, even a direct physical challenge. Teens undoubtedly know how to make parents angry. Once they have hooked their parents, parents may explode. Too many parents are a part of a vicious cycle.
Cycle: teen hooks parents, parents blow up, parents, feel guilty, and allow teens to have privileges, and treats that weren’t allowed previously. If it seems like teens are picking arguments and fights, it could very well be. They know you will respond angrily, and later feel bad and give in to their demands. Stay calm. It’s better to schedule the discussion later rather than to continue to repeat another cycle of violence and manipulation.
For more information and support join our closed parenting group at facebook.com/groups/parentstrainup. Take the, 'What’s My Parenting Style Assessment', and receive more effective parenting strategies to help you support your teen. Check out our webpage at www.parentstrainup.com.