December 09, 2002
Parent-teen relationships are infested with destructive myths. In his book, Closing the Gap: A Strategy for Bringing Parents and Teens Together, Jay McGraw takes a closer look at the misperceptions that get in the way of understanding each other.
Here are some of the untruths that teens need to get out of their heads.
1. My folks don’t want me to have any fun.
Parents would actually just prefer risk-free fun. If teens try to understand parents’ viewpoint, they might find a way to have fun and keep their parents reassured.
2. My parents care only about what I do for them.
Parents just want their kids to understand that as they get older, they are expected to contribute more in the form of time, energy and ability to pick up day-old boxers off the bathroom floor.
3. My parents have no idea of what it is like to be a teenager.
Nobody forgets what it’s like to be a teenager. The real problem is that parents might be clueless about their teens. If that’s the case, it’s up to teens to clue them in.
4. My parents control my life.
Maybe they control the car keys, the checking account or the charge cards. But minute by minute, hour by hour, teens make the decisions that guide their lives.
5. My parents don’t want me to grow up.
Actually, parents would be thrilled to know that their teens are growing up and thriving on their own terms. But they’ll also treat their teens according to how they act.
6. My parents will never change.
Parents will change as their teens change. They first want their teens to demonstrate that they are ready to take responsibility for their lives.
7. My parents never forget my screw-ups.
Teens screw up, and it will eventually be a dim memory for parents. But until that happens, teens need to show their parents that they learned a lesson.
8. My parents don’t respect my opinions.
Parents may write off their teens’ opinions if they’re tossed out poorly. Teens: Try getting their attention with true insights, good points, and with the power of your words and thoughts.
9. My parents think they know everything.
When parents come across as all-knowing, it’s usually a defense mechanism. Show respect for their wisdom, and they just might admit when their teens are right.