Arguing with parents is a healthy, normal part of the teenage experience. The security and freedom to have disagreements - even loud, heated ones - is a positive part of growing up. Unfortunately, some parent/child relationships get hurt in the process.
The key to bearing these disagreements safely is to separate the people from the issue. Without this separation, arguments can quickly move from harmless disputes to hurtful personal attacks.
Before arguments begin is the time to discuss the boundaries of disagreements between parent and teen. You may wish to begin the discussion with a list, such as the one below, setting out beliefs and procedures to make sure everyone's view is heard and appreciated. A "no-fault" strategy is a good way to keep the lines of communication open.
- Disagreements should be about issues, not people. Personal attacks put people on the defensive and communication breaks down.
- Ask yourself: "Am I leaving any room for compromise?" Stubbornness on one side often leads to stubbornness on the other and an impasse.
- Consider brainstorming solutions, rather than arguing absolutes. Write down possible solutions.
- Give your teen the same respect reserved for a co-worker or adult friend.
Are you saying things that could not be said in the workplace?
- Revisit the rules periodically. As teens mature, they learn a greater ability to deal with parents on an adult level.
- Do not avoid conflicts. Bringing things out into the open is healthy for all if it is done with respect.
- Pick your battles. Not every conflict needs the same intensity.
- Do not be afraid to stop a discussion if things get too heated. Cool down and discuss the issue another time. This may help prevent violence or an exchange of angry words that later may be regretted.
- Do not argue if you or your teen are under the influence of alcohol.
Sometimes conflict and alcohol can be a violent combination.
- Make the best interest of the opposing family member your bottom line.