At the top of the list of things teens dislike in their parents are the parentsÂ’ unpleasant moods and feelings. First, teens dislike parental anger. In fact, they dread and fear it. It is probably the most devastating feeling of all.
At the top of the list of things teens dislike in their parents are the parents’ unpleasant moods and feelings. First, teens dislike parental anger. In fact, they dread and fear it. It is probably the most devastating feeling of all.
Teens have a difficult time handling anger. They don’t know what to do with it themselves, and they don’t know how to respond when it is expressed toward them. When a parent becomes angry at a teen, the teen usually responds by becoming angry at the parent. This begins a vicious cycle which is hard to break. We need to express our emotions but within a framework of control. It is possible to be angry without being unpleasant.
Second, teens dislike seeing pessimism and negativism in their parents. Because teens are so impressionable, they have a hard time handling pessimism. If their parents see no reason to hope, then they have no reason to hope either. Pessimistic parents produce pessimistic children.
Third, teens do not appreciate unpleasant nagging. We need to uplift our teenagers, to cheer them up, not to constantly look for their mistakes so we can point them out. Teens tend to accomplish more for people who believe in them than for people who seem to believe they will not behave properly unless they are constantly nagged to do so.
Besides disliking their unpleasant moods and feelings, teens have other complaints about their parents. They do not like their parents to behave inappropriately. We need to be good examples of the behavior we want to see in our teens. Teens don’t respect us when we are inconsistent. If we expect our teens to show sexual restraint, to take responsibility, and to practice self-discipline, then we should do the same.
Teens do not want their parents acting like teenagers. Some parents may try to relate to their children by getting on their level, wearing teen clothes, and listening to teen music. But parents are not teenagers, and their children know this. They wonder why their parents are not happy with being adults, and they resent their intrusion into teen territory. Parents who act like teenagers irritate their children, and they do not give them good role models to follow.
Another thing teens can’t stand is parents who try to live their lives through them, by pushing them in sports or music or social conquests or other areas that are important to the parents. That’s a real temptation for parents, especially if their kids have special talents. Of course we have to give our children guidance, but then we have to allow them to go along their own route. Related to pushy parents are parents whose expectations for their teens are too high. Teens don’t like parents to expect more from them than they are able to give.
A major teen complaint is that their parents show favoritism among their children. This is an extremely difficult situation for parents, because some teens interpret anything their parents do as favoritism, no matter what the parents intended.
First, parents need to reason with the offended teen. Sometimes reasoning works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes teens feel slighted because of something that happened years before, something that cannot be changed now. If this is the case, no amount of rational talk is going to solve their problem of feeling slighted. Parents then have to deal with irrational issue. That is, they are going to have to deal with the teen’s emotions, not with the reality of the situation.
If a teen thinks a sibling got a better deal than he did, it’s fruitless to argue that indeed we treated the two of them equally. The teen may be wrong in thinking we showed favoritism. But if our attempts to explain this rationally fail, we then need to deal with the child’s emotions. We need to say, “I’m sorry this has happened, because I wouldn’t want to slight you for anything in the world.”
Many times that’s the only thing we can do to make it up to him. It may look like we’re being manipulated, but if the problem is more with the teen’s emotions than with the actual situation; it’s all right for us to handle it this way.
In fact, many teen dislikes, complaints, and hurts cannot be handled on a purely rational level. Recognizing and dealing with the teen’s feelings, making him feel better about himself and assured of our love is often what is needed.