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Feel Powerless in Parenting Your Teens?

What do I do if I have given up all of my parental authority to my kids and feel powerless?

Your kids have you programmed.  They know exactly how many times to ignore you before you get upset and lose it.  You are constantly spending time trying to figure out how to say things to your kids without upsetting them.  You are intimidated by the fear that your child will “melt down” and throw a fit.  You find yourself apologizing for parenting your own teen.  You are worried that your child will stop loving you. You’re arguing with your parenting partner about how to parent teens.  You are stepping down to their level, yelling, crying and even swearing at them.  They do what they want when they want, and you are nothing more than their “servant”.  They are nasty when you wake them up in the morning.  They are snarky when you pick them up from school.  They don’t clean up after themselves, let alone do household chores.  You are resentful, resigned, exhausted.

The answer:

Take back your authority role in parenting your teen.”

“But how?” you ask in desperation.

–Try new strategies of parenting your teen.

–Use collateral, currency and clout(See Currency and Collateral Articles)

Check out all kinds of clinical/therapeutic possibilities, make a plan and follow the plan

With each escalation on the part of the teen, you can simply in an uncharged way select something from your own personalized currency list (one for each of your children) 

You may just need to make a quiet note of it at the time, and when it comes up as a “need” or request of the child, simply remind them of the incident, and then say “no”.

For example, your teen has no money, and all of the friends are going at midnight to see the preview of the latest blockbuster movie.  You can hit two “currencies” there.

No, to the ride or privilege and treat of going to the movie.

When the teen hits the roof and escalates with threats or actions, you continue to move down the list of currency, and out goes the ski trip, paintballing or overnight party.  Just keep a running list so you or the teen will not forget.

You can turn this into a more positive approach, letting the child know about the new practice of all currency being contingent on good behavior, grades, attitude, etc.

In parenting your teen, it can be valuable to remind your child that they actually are dependent on you for all the great privileges, perks and in general the great life you have, revocable at any time.

You have tried everything and your teen continues to refuse to cooperate, practice willful disobedience, ignore you, call you names, yell, run away, and take part in risky activities and be dangerous to themselves and others.

You may be forced to escalate your teen parenting strategies. Seek out consultants who can authoritatively direct you to “wilderness” experiences, or even “therapeutic placement” options.   These are expensive, and in some cases may warrant the use of “college” account money or to solicit family contributions.

There is an excellent book which can help you parent your teen, “Hold on to your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers” by Gabor Mate and Gordon Neufeld.  They suggest that when challenged by your child’s behavior, focus on the relationship, not the incident.  In other words, ask yourself the question, “Why does this child feel the power and ability to act in this inappropriate way?’   The answer in many non-pathological cases to that question may be the “power you have given up to them”.   Take it back, one step at a time, and you may be saving your child in the long run.

Rick Concoff  c. 2012   April 6, 2012




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