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Parenting Predicament: “But All My Friends . . .”

by Jane Wangersky | April 5th, 2012 | Parenting Predicament
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This week, we answer the question:

When I object to my son (age 13) talking disrespectfully to me, he says that’s just the way his friends always talk. I tell him they probably don’t usually talk to their parents that way, but as he never sees them with their parents, he doesn’t believe me. How do I set him straight?

Dr. Tim Clark, Ph.D., Registered Psychologist, says “The worst thing you can do is get into your reactive brain and take it personally.” There’s an element of testing in this, he says, as when a younger child uses a four-letter word to see a parent’s reaction. Also, this kind of talk may be okay, even expected, in some settings. Of course, at home with parents isn’t one of them.

Dr. Clark recommends telling the teen this — and also telling him the effect it has on you. If you tell him something makes you feel hurt and unloved, he can’t argue that it’s not true. Appeal to his compassion.

Barb Desmarais of The Parenting Coach.com also feels we have to understand our teens’ environment — and make our expectations clear to them:

When our kids become teens, their peers become very influential. It’s all
part of the process of trying to fit in and becoming a separate entity from
their parents. When learning how to handle new behaviors, it helps to
understand where are kids are, developmentally and what we can expect.
When it comes to disrespectful behavior it doesn’t mean that knowing that
it’s common, we have to accept or condone it. With a firm voice, you can
simply say: ” I will not accept you talking to me like that. If you want or
need something, this is what I expect”, and provide them with the desirable
response. Don’t let yourself be swayed by your teen’s conviction that how
they’re behaving is fine. We do not do our kids a favor by accepting
disrespectful behavior. Although they fight it, they all need boundaries
that are consistently enforced.

This week’s Predicament — give us your thoughts in the combox!

My 6-year-old son resists doing homework. I let him play after school for a while, and then I ask him to sit down to do homework while I make dinner. The homework is a little challenging for him, but not overwhelmingly so. It feels more like a power struggle. I’ve tried checking in every 2 minutes, setting a timer, all withholding tv after dinner, all to no avail. What else can I do?

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