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          Parents and Teens: Getting What You Want

          December 05, 2002

          In Closing the Gap: A Strategy For Bringing Parents and Teens Together, Jay McGraw shows parents and teens how to get what they want for themselves, for each other, and from each other. Here’s some of Jay’s advice:

          • If you want your parents to do what you want, you have to figure out what their needs are, and try to meet them. For example, one of their needs may be to know that you are safe, and that when they’re not around, you’re not in danger.
          • You won’t get what you want by rebelling. You’ll get what you want when you start talking to your parents. Slamming your bedroom door is not communicating. To have a relationship that will be a source of support and strength for a lifetime, you have to work through conflicts by communicating.
          • If you want your parents to stop nagging you about doing your chores, how about doing some of them?
          • Put yourself in your parents’ shoes. Would you like being called “stupid,” “mean” or “retarded” by your teenager?
          • Prove you can be responsible if you want your parents to change the rules.
          • Get to know your parents. Talk to them and ask them about their lives — especially if you want them to do the same with you.
          • You won’t get what you want by being a totalitarian dictator. Communication and mutual participation are the keys.
          • Kids needs to be able to predict with 100 percent accuracy what the consequences of their actions will be. Jay recalls that when he had a go-cart, it was made clear that if he was caught driving it without a helmet, it’d be sold immediately. Knowing that consequence gave him a choice, and he chose to wear the helmet.
          • Take the time to discuss the reasoning behind a decision. Just saying “no” isn’t always sufficient, and certainly doesn’t make the teen’s desire go away. Teens can learn how to reason things through if you give them a lead to follow.
          • The greatest things you can give your son or daughter are your ear and your voice. When Jay asked teens across the country what they wanted most from their parents, the number one answer was to have their parents more involved in their lives. They don’t want to be interrogated — just talked to!
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