A parent's anger at his/her teenager is often

1) Fear that her child won't get what she wants out of life and/or

2) A parent's anger/judgment at himself for not creating what he wanted for his own life (including fear about not being the parent he wants to be)

Parents often complain about not being respected by their teenagers, but teens are often not able to provide "respect" or empathy because they don't have a strong enough sense of self to be able to put themselves in others' shoes, especially their parents, who they are trying to separate from. If a person is not able to love/respect herself, she is not able to give that feeling to others.

If then, the anger is really the ultimate fear that the teenager will not be able to have ambition, follow through, be honest, empathetic (respectful), how do you go about creating that?

1) Be the example: go after things you are passionate about, learn to create joy in life no matter how small, learn to love/respect yourself (this where consistency as a parent comes in- don't draw the line often, but when you do pick something you can enforce, and tell him from a place of love and a desire for him to grow as a person versus as a threat for being a "bad" child) - and if you react in anger, don't be afraid to admit fault and show him what respect/empathy is.

2) Reinforce the positive things with her on a daily basis, have faith in her that  she has the ability to create a beautiful life, so when she looks in your eyes she sees a positive reflection of herself:

- The reason I say this is not to sweep the negative under the rug, but because every time a child is given positive feedback (if it is authentic) that part of her grows a little bit inside. Every time a child is given negative feedback that part of her is anchored inside (i.e. if a parent calls her child a liar over and over, liar starts to become part of her identity).

- Therefore, punishment is used to create a boundary to protect teens or to teach them something, but never used in a way that puts down their self-esteem- this is an extremely difficult task, which is why I say use it as little as possible.

3) Help him in whatever way he'll let you by finding him mentors, searching for programs he might be interested in, taking him job hunting, talking about your experiences and letting him share his.


Why do I encourage negotiating with a teenager?

1) It helps them to leave the power struggle and to think about what is best for herself versus how to beat her parent.

2) Teenagers are starting to prepare for being adults and living on their own. The teens that didn't have enough freedom and practice while living at home tend to be out of control and not know how to self-regulate when they start living in dorms or move out for the first time.

3) I don't believe negotiating with teenagers is giving up your power as a parent because in the end you always have the final say.

4) Giving teens the power to articulate what their needs/wants are allows them to begin looking inside themselves to see what's important and why, which is the beginning of having passion in life.

5) It demonstrates your respect for their opinion and desires, which is a characteristic desired in return. To create respect you must make your child feel respected and he will respect you back.