It’s Thursday night. 16 years old Kim has just finished her house chores and was looking forward to some well-deserved down-time. She had her bath in a hurry and quickly slipped into the closest night-wear in sight , rushed to the sitting room, collapsed into her favorite chair and turned on the TV just in time for her much loved TV series.
As if on cue, her mum walked into the sitting room with an angry face and tone. Kim! You are so lazy, all you know how to do well is watch TV. You arranged the dishes wrongly and I almost slipped because you left so much water on the kitchen floor. You do not take corrections and I hate to say you will make a bad wife if you continue like this.
Not again tonight, Kim mutters, rolling her eyes.
Her mum will not have any of that. Did you just roll your eyes at me?
Give me a break mum, Kim retorted, this time loud enough to be heard clearly by mum.
Do not use that tone with me or .., Kim did not let her mum finish, what about the tone you are using with me she yelled back, putting off the TV and making to head to her room.
Mum was in her way. What, now you want to walk out on me?
Kim sat down back and burst into tears, down –time was over.
This is a familiar scenario between most teenage girls and their parents.
According to an article by how-stuff-works.com, ‘’ Conflicts between teens and parents can arise over friends, social life, school issues, sex, and just about anything that the parents aren’t used to and don’t like. It takes time to adjust, and the process usually involves fights and disagreements that are really based on parents wanting to keep their children safe, protect them and help them become responsible adults’’.
Regardless of the cause of conflict, arguing will most often than not leave both you and your parents feeling awful. Does this then mean that teenagers should just put on a show of agreeing with everything their parents say? Not necessarily.
How, then can teenagers express themselves without turning everyday conversation into a warfare?
That’s for my parents to worry about; after all they are the ones always nagging me, you might reason.
If you consider how little control you have over your parents, you will realize that the best way to handle this conflicts is by changing ‘’yourself’’.
The following suggestions might help.
1. Always pause and think before responding; do not always blurt out the first thing that comes to mind when you feel your parents are attacking you. You could try counting a silent 1-5 before responding. How could Kim, mentioned at the beginning handle the scenario better? Perhaps Kim’s mum felt frustrated and burdened with more than her share of the housework? Or it could be that she wanted her daughter’s reassurance that she was willing to support with the chores especially when it gets overwhelming. At times like these, why it’s easy for you to get angry too, quickly call to mind that two wrongs won’t make a right. Instead of a curt retort, try to put your mum at ease.
Let’s say Kim said something like, ‘’ I’m sorry mum, I dint realize the dishes were not properly placed. Can I please rearrange them and mop the kitchen floor after this program? Or Mum, I can see you are really upset and I am sorry I caused it. I really was looking forward to this program; can I get back to that as soon as it ends? This kind of respond will more likely soften the heart of your parent and might even make them apologize for yelling at first.
2. Speak Respectfully: Parents feel hurt when they perceive the slightest disrespect in attitude or tone. It will help if you speak slowly, in a mild tone and avoid rolling your eyes or giving other non-verbal indications of your annoyance. Always pray for self-control so you don’t end up adding fuel to the fire.
3. Listen: ‘’ Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret’’.
If you do not want to make this epoch making regret later speech, keep quiet and listen.
Give your parent a chance to speak and while they are it, give them your full attention. Do not interrupt them and try to justify your actions. You will have time to explain your viewpoint when they are done talking and if it is absolutely necessary to do so. For now, just give them your undivided attention.
4. Apologize: You should always be ready to apologize even when you feel you have done nothing to warrant the conflict. You can even say you are sorry that there is any conflict at all. You can send an apology text or leave an apology note if it’s hard for you to this face to face.
5. Be Remorseful: You should be sincere in your apologies and follow it up with action that shows genuine remorse. For example, if the argument was ignited by neglecting a chore? It would be appropriate for you to try doing the chore after apologizing. Even if it’s a chore you do not particularly like, your parents will be touched that you at least made an effort.
If you practice and follow these steps the next time you feel the urge to angrily retort at your parent, you may find conflicts reducing greatly and realize you can discuss even topics that are sensitive with your parents, Without Arguing.