By Jalen Gooch
Out of all the relationships we have with others, our parents have the greatest effect on how we view the world and the choices and decisions we make in our personal lives. Our parents are usually the first people we make contact with when we are brought into the world and the people who will take care of us during the most important parts of our lives as we grow. Like our siblings, the relationships we have with parents are unique in that unlike our friends or the people we may pass on the street, we are not just tied to our parents relationally, but through blood.
By now, I’m sure we all have heard the stereotypes of angsty teenage rebellion and how during this time we as teens are more likely to experience conflict with our parents. While this is often true it is important to understand that this is a normal part of growing up. The primary reason for a majority of conflict between teenagers in their parents is that during this stage of life teenagers are preparing to become adults and starting to establish independence for themselves. Our parents simply are continuing to provide us the care they always have, but we now will sometimes view this as an attempt to gain control at the time in which we are seeking to establish independence as adults and conflict is likely to follow.
As teenagers, our lives are constantly shifting and changing as we ultimately are changing to be ready to live on our own. Being that there is so much going on in our lives and mind right now, conflict with our parents is normal and expected. However, the dangers of this is that if we aren’t careful the serious and lasting harm can be done to the relationship and can even end to the breaking of the relationship.
After doing a bit of research, most of the information I was able to find was related specifically to parenting and the parents’ perspective on how to approach their relationship with teenagers, but the advice largely can apply to both sides of the relationship. Having a positive relationship will not only benefit us now and through this turbulent time of life, but in the future when we leave our parents and begin to live on our own. Before I start, I just want to again say that not every relationship is perfect and not all relationships can be fixed and that there is nothing to be ashamed of or beat yourself up over. It is important to remember that like while we can change ourselves we can’t change our parents.
As stated earlier, during this time in life, we are beginning to shape our personality and we need to remember that we are not our parents. We often will either find ourselves having similar beliefs and opinions as our parents or believe the complete opposite, and that is completely okay. Having a healthy relationship with our parents does not mean we have to agree with all of their opinions or decisions. However, it is still important on how we communicate this in that when we disagree with the opinions or decisions of our parents we still show respect for their opinion which will likely in turn make them more receptive to hear our ideas.
When we become teenagers we usually will immediately expect our parents to treat us like adults without giving any verbal communication. By being responsible around our parents, parents are more likely to take notice and get what we are trying to say. The bottom line is if we act like adults, parents are more likely to treat us like adults.
Honor their Legacy
This was something that when I read really stood out to me and is something I think a lot of us take for granted and do not usually take the time to do with our parents. “Honoring their Legacy” simply means taking the time to know about your family’s history and specifically their background before it is too late. You might see your parents in a whole new light when you know where they came from and what they had to overcome. Taking the time to listen also makes your parents feel valued and respected and can help your relationship grow.
Stay in Contact
When we come into conflict with our parents it can be easier to avoid them and cut off all communication. This can be especially dangerous when we leave for college or start living on our own in that without the daily interaction we have with our parents now, the relationship can easily fall into nothing. While conflict can be uncomfortable it is important in that it is an opportunity for just for us, but our parents as well to grow and mature as humans.
The shift from childhood to our teenage years is that when we once spent a majority of time with our parents and families, we now spend a majority of our time with our friends and in school. If there is never a time set aside to spend with your parents, it might be the only moments we have with our parents are those few times we conflict. By setting aside quality time, the relationship can grow in that both we and our parents can gain a deeper understanding of what is going on in the life and mind of the individual, which also shows you care and value the other individual.
Lastly, it is important not only to create boundaries for yourself and make those boundaries known to your parents, but to respect the boundaries and rules that your parents have set in place. While teenagers need to be able to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes, the rules that are set in place by parents are often because they have experience and likely know the outcome to when those rules are broken. If you continue to break your parents rules and demand your parents to respect your boundaries, it is unlikely they will do so in that you are showing you are unwilling to respect their boundaries so there is no reason for them to respect yours.
To conclude, linked below is where I found a lot of the information above if you interested in doing a bit of your research. The relationships we have with our parents like us are constantly changing and growing, meaning they can be messy at times. However, it is through these messy times that we can grow with and closer to, the people who will love us for as long as we are alive.
Here are some interesting sources:
“Building Good Parent-Child Relationships.” Raising Children Network, 5 June 2017, https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/connecting-communicating/bonding/parent-child-relationships.
Fox, Annie. “10 Tips For Improving Parent-Teen Relationships.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 26 Apr. 2015, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-tips-for-improving-parent-teen-relationships_b_6737916.
“Healthy Parent-Teen Relationships.” The Whole Child, 17 Dec. 2018, https://www.thewholechild.org/parent-resources/age-13-18/parenting-tips-age-13-18/healthy-parent-teen-relationships/.
Lancer, Darlene. “12 Clues a Relationship with a Parent Is Toxic.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 31 Aug. 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201808/12-clues-relationship-parent-is-toxic.
Smith, Kathleen. “Creating a Healthy Relationship With Your Parents.” Psycom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986, Remedy Health Media, https://www.psycom.net/healthy-relationship-parents.
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