WT 072: How Can I Get My Teen's Respect?

We love our sweet teens (even in their not-always-so-sweet moments), but it doesn't mean that parenting them isn't tough. They're growing and changing and facing enormous amounts of pressure, and sometimes... the moms are the ones who can feel the wrath of it all. The good news is: every teen goes through this. You'll both make it to the other side of this season.

Question 1: Karen, Me and my girls remind me of your relationship with Kelsey... we love each other but we're all strong willed and butt heads! I thought I had always taught and demanded respect from my children... yet, as they continue to get older, I find they are not as respectful as I had expected. How do you teach respect to young children?

Karen's Answer: It is hard.  I think we as moms have to keep at it, not allowing the teens to get away with it, but also realize that teenagers for sure have a mind of their own.

I experienced this and learned to manage it by calling it out when they were disrespectful, praising them when they were respectful and telling them how much I appreciated it, AND learning that my children’s actions are not a reflection of me, but they are independent people making their own choices. The last one was the hardest to be sure!

Don’t give up! Keep doing what you are doing. It is only a season, and eventually they grow up.

Question 2:  As my kids are entering their teen years, they are needing a little extra tough love. As I find myself disciplining them, I find that they become more disrespectful. Nothing crazy, but smirking with their siblings or eye rolling or door slamming. When and how did this happen? And how do I nip it in the bud?

Karen's Answer: They are just showing their age.  Just because their body is mature, doesn’t mean their brain is mature. Keep that in mind and keep parenting the way you need to be parenting.  In the teen years they are just pushing the boundaries like a toddler does. That is normal, so you as the mom need to show them where the boundaries are.  

Define what your boundaries are and stick to them. In our house I could not stand slamming of doors. So, when my children did it, I would go to their room and say, “let’s try that again, without slamming the door this time.” I called them out on it every time.

Question 3: My daughter has always been as close to perfect as you can get. She’s kind, keeps good grades and has lots of friends. Recently, I was taken back when another parent told me about my daughter being at a guy in her class' birthday party. I had no idea she had gone. I wouldn’t have told her no, and I was so shocked she would have lied to me about that. Is this kind of thing just normal and I need to ride it out? Or should I talk to her and let her know that I know she lied?

Karen's Answer: I think it is normal for teens to lie, but I would never ride out lying.  If you do, she will just think she got away with it and keep doing it. I would approach her that you are sad she felt like she had to lie to you in order to do what she wanted and explain how trust works.

Anytime I found out my children lied to me I would talk to them about it.  I wish I could say it only happened once and then we were done, but that was not always the case. Our children are human, so they will mess up, but we as moms, need to parent through it.

Don’t lower your standards as a mom just because your child is a teenager.

Question 4: Growing up, my approval meant the world to my kids. Now that they’re in high school, they act like they don’t care. When I tell them “good job on the test” they’ll say “it’s no big deal, everyone got an A” or when I ask them about something I’m not happy about…they’ll still tell me that it’s no big deal and I just don’t understand their world. I know some of this is normal, and it feels silly to say, but it hurts my feelings? How do I handle this as a mom?

Karen's Answer: Short answer, when you have teens you can’t make it personal.  Teenagers are not known for their feelings towards other people, they are pretty self focused.  You can say, “It may not be a big deal to you, but I wanted to let you know I am proud of you. You are a big deal to me.” Then let it go.  As far as the comment of “you don’t understand their world”, maybe that is a hint that you need to start trying to understand your teenager’s world.  I think they are all under a lot of stress and they blow it off that “it’s no big deal”,  as a safe guard.

I learned early on, not to take things personal with my teenagers. As far as getting into their world, I know when Greg became a leader in the high school program at our church, it was eye opening for us as parents to see the kinds of pressure the students were facing. Also, anytime you can tell your child you are proud of them I think it’s a good idea.

Thank you, moms. Have a great day!