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Teenager parent relationship

The desire of every parent and child is to find happiness in life and to live in a loving,
happy family relationship. However, conflict, rebellion, lack of discipline, confusion
and anxiety, often spoil the peace and happy relationships that should form the basis
of a healthy family socially and emotionally.
This worksheet aims to give practical guidelines to teenagers on how to develop
healthy relationships with their parents. The following topics will be looked into:
sources of conflict
tips on how to avoid and handle arguments with parents
ways of resolving conflict
effective communication with parents

"There's no point in talking to you, you don't understand me. You don't
even know me. You don't know who I really am."
Do these words sound familiar? Most teenagers feel this way about their parents.
The question is WHY?

SOURCES OF CONFLICT BETWEEN PARENTS AND


TEENAGERS

Independence
When children reach their teenage years, many feel a growing need to be
independent and begin to pull away from their parents, both emotionally and
mentally. Conflicts regarding dating, curfews and responsibilities often arise.
Differing and conflicting interests
Parents and teenagers have diverse interests, for example, the type of music is a
consistent source of conflict. Teenagers love kwaito and house music while parents
think they are evil and sources of bad influence.Clubbing and parties are a rage with
teenagers. However, parents fear that their teenagers would be subject to bad
influences and sexual temptations in these places.
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Peer Pressure
Most teenagers want to be accepted by their peers and some resist appearing too
much under their parents' control. Encouragement and teasing by peers at school
result in teenagers doing things they normally would not do like smoking and
drinking.
Power
Some teenagers resist any form of direction, instruction or discipline by their parents
during this stage in their lives. They may ignore rules, boundaries and curfews. They
may even talk back, argue or start challenging parents on rules and expectations,
which often lead to loud and drawn-out disagreements that can disrupt family peace
in the home.
Hidden/ Silent & unrealistic expectations
Sometimes, parents expectations are simply too unrealistic.Their children never
seem to be good enough for them: results are not good enough, the bedroom is not
clean enough and time with friends is always too long. Some parents expect their
teenagers to work and behave in a certain way but they dont communicate this
expectation to them. Teenagers also have expectations of their parents (eg. they
want their father to spend more time with them because he is never home) but again,
there is no communication between them.
Contrasting and conflicting values
Teenagers embrace values that are different from their parents. They value freedom,
friendship and fun. On the other hand, most parents value hard work, honesty and
honor. Teenagers enjoy humor and sarcasm but parents see that as being
disrespectful which results in tensions between parent and child.
Communication
Strong words and aggressive actions can infuriate both parents and teenagers.
Unable to control their emotions, some parents end up humiliating their children
in public. Imagine their embarrassment if this is done in front of friends. When
teenagers speak rudely to their parents, the communication between them
becomes a shouting match and in time the lines of communication break down.
Driven by self-interests
Parents care about how they look to other parents. They feel embarrassed when
their children go to the normal stream.They want their children to perform well
because they want to look good among relatives. Teenagers too, can also be selfcentered. They are less concerned about long-term goals and the consequences of
their actions on their future or their impact on the family. They indulge themselves,
sometimes engaging in premarital sex and other harmful pastimes.
In groups, discuss the following statements and identify the
sources of conflict between these teenagers and their parents.
a) If you continue getting 45% in Mathematics you will not qualify to study
medicine at a university.
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b) It is 12 oclock and we told you to be back home by 10 pm.


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c) What will your aunt say if you show up dressed like that, go change into
something appropriate.
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d) Yah, but all my friends have tatoos ......
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e) I told you to stop listening to that music, it is just junk!
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f) I cant go with you to church, my friends and I are going to the movies.
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g) You do not do any of your chores; you are forever hanging out with those
boys. You will not go out of the house until you have washed all the dishes
and have cleaned your room.
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How can I
avoid arguing
with my
parents?
Discuss the rules ahead of time and not at the last minute. This way you will
be able to tell when they will say yes or no to before you make plans. Your
parents can also explain to you why each rule is in place. Ask them to give you
the chance to explain how the rules make you feel and suggest what you think
are appropriate rules. Your parents may be willing to listen to your ideas and
use them when making rules that you both agree on.
Try to remain calm and do not lose your temper when your parents say no to
something. You will show your parents that you are responsible and mature by
talking instead of yelling and not listening to what they have to say.
Follow each rule that they set. If your parents tell you to be home at a certain
time, stick to it. They may begin to worry about your safety if you are late. By
being responsible and by following rules, your parents may be willing to

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negotiate a later time in the future, especially if they know that you will follow
their rules.
"I hate these stupid rules!"

Thembi has been arguing with her parents a lot lately. She feels that all the
rules that her parents set are unfair. They tell her that she needs to listen and
obey them.
Every household has rules! What are some of the rules at your
home? How do you feel about them?
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Do you abide by these rules? Yes / No, how has that affected your
relationship with your parents?
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Pick your battles. Try to figure out what is really bothering you. This will help
you to know if it is worth arguing about. Some issues maybe more important
than others
Spend time with your family. Some teenagers argue with their parents over
the amount of time they spend with their friends. Spend quality time with your
parents; this will help you understand them better and vice versa.Suggest

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activities that your whole family will enjoy together such as visiting a relative or
going to the mall.
For many families,eating supper together can be an important way for children and
parents to maintain connection. Below are the findings of a research study that was
conducted on this issue:

Smoking. Among teenagers aged 15 to 16, 42 % of teenagers who do not


feel close to their mother and/or father smoke, compared with 26 % of
teenagers who do feel close to at least one parent. In this same age group,
over 34 % of teenagers who do not regularly eat supper with their parents
smoked, in contrast to just 25 % of teenagers who do eat supper regularly
with their parents.
Drinking. The prevalence of drinking is nearly twice as high among 15 to 16
year olds who do not feel close to a parent and among those who do not eat
supper with a parent, compared with those who do.
Drug Use. About 50 % of 15 to 16 year olds who arent close to their parents
have used marijuana, compared with just 24 % of those who are close to their
parents.
Violence. Less than 30 % of teenagers aged 15 to 16 who eat supper with
their parents have been in a serious fight, compared with more than 40
percent of those who do not eat supper with their parents.
Sexual Activity. Over 50 % of teenagers who do not eat supper with their
parents have had sex by age 15 to 16. By contrast, only 32 % of teenagers
who do eat supper with their parents have had sex.
Suicidal Thoughts. Teenagers aged 15 to16 who do not feel close to their
parents are about three times as likely to think about suicide as teenagers
who are close to their parents.
Suicide Attempts. Teenagers aged 15 to 16 who dont eat supper with their
parents regularly are twice as likely to have attempted suicide.
Educational Achievement. Teenagers of all ages who eat with their parents,
or feel close to their parents, perform very well at school. In general, they are
more likely to go to university and less likely to have been ever suspended
from school.

What is your take on this? Do you think having supper with parents
can have such a major influence in helping teenagers avoid such
risky behaviour and connect with their parents?
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When it is not
possible to
avoid the
argument, how
do I resolve it?
Confront the problem
Do not deny the issue, rather try to resolve it. Openly acknowledging the conflict is
an important first step. Often, just talking about differences of opinion openly
resolves the issue. A parent might say, for example, "I understand that you do not
agree with your curfew. I did not want a curfew myself at this age." This normalizes
the issue for the child and makes it credible.
Express your understanding
Be free and express how you feel about everything. Ask clarifying questions when
you do not understand what your parents are saying. Being heard will allow you to
relax your guard, feel loved and understood.
Be respectful
Address your concerns but do it in a respectful manner. Respectful dialogue makes it
more likely the problem will be discussed thoroughly and hard feelings will not
develop. Disagreements may still happen, but you learn to stay calm and talk about
how you feel. Always state what you feel and think instead of pointing or blaming
your parents.
Explore alternative solutions
Think about alternative solutions to the problem and propose them. This will help you
assert your independence in a constructive way. When your parents see you
involved in problem-solving activities they will start treating you differently.

How can I build


a healthy
relationship
with my
parents?
Healthy relationships take time, energy and care to make them and both parties
should be committed to building the relationship. The key is COMMUNICATION!
What does the word communication mean?
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The most important part of any healthy relationship between people is being able to
talk and listen to one another. You need to learn to share your feelings with your
parents and trust that they will be there to listen and support you.
You probably talk to friends way more than you talk to your parents, this is because
talking to parents can seem difficult or intimidating. It is natural but you still need
parents help, advice and support especially when it comes to certain subjects.
Here are some tips to make it easier to talk to parents:
Talk about everyday stuff and do it daily
The more you do something, the easier it gets. Talking to the adults in your life about
everyday stuff builds a bond that can smooth the way for when you need to discuss
something more serious.
Find something trivial to chat about each day
Talk about how your friend laughs at peoples jokes. Share something one of your
teachers said. Even small talk about what's for supper can keep your relationship
strong and comfortable.
It's never too late to start.
If you feel your relationship with your parents is strained, try easing into
conversations. Mention that cute thing the dog did. Talk about how well your little
sister is doing in Mathematics. When parents feel connected to your daily life, they
can be there for you if something really important comes up.
But what about
instances when I
want to discuss or
raise difficult topics
with my parents?

How do I, for
instance,tell my
parents that I
failed the exam?
Here are 3 steps to help you prepare for that talk:
Step 1: Know what you want from the conversation

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It takes maturity to figure out what you want to get out of a conversation. What you
hope to achieve can vary. Most often you will probably want the adults in your life to
do one or more of these things:
simply listen and understand what you are going through without offering
advice or comments
give permission or support for something

offer you advice or help

guide you back on track if you are in trouble without harsh criticism or putdowns

Suppose you started hanging around with the wrong crowd and
ended up getting involved in drugs. Now you want to stop
taking drugs and you want your parents to guide you back on
track without putting you down. How would you approach
them? What would you say to them?
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Step 2: Identify your feelings
Things like personal feelings or issues around sex are awkward to discuss with
anyone, let alone a parent. It is natural to be nervous when talking about sensitive
topics. Recognize how you are feeling - for example, maybe you are worried that
telling parents about a problem will make them disappointed or upset. Instead of
letting those feelings stop you from talking, put them into words as part of the
conversation. For example:

"Mom, I need to talk to you but I'm afraid I'll disappoint you."

"Dad, I need to talk to you about something but it's kind of embarrassing."

Give an example of a problem that one can have and be


afraid to discuss with parents because it is embarrassing
or parents will be disappointed when they hear about it.
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Step 3: Pick a good time to talk
Approach your parent when he or she is not busy with something else. Ask, "Can we
talk? Is now a good time? Difficult conversations benefit from good planning. Writing
down all the important points that you want discuss will help you a lot.
What if your parents are forever busy and it is difficult for you to
find a good time? How would you handle that situation?
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Read what the members of this family are saying about communication in their
relationships:

Ive learnt to
listen to my
teenage children
and to discuss
issues with them
rather than to
say no (Dad)

My mom does
not want to
talk to me
about sex.
She thinks if
she does then
i will do it
(Lizi)

Every time I say


something about the
type of friends she
hangs around with
she just shrugs and
says it is her life.
(Mom)

If I dont do
something my
parents want, my
father just shouts.
He never wants to
know why. (Tim)

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My mother
always asks
about my day
and how I am
feeling about
things. I am glad
she is interested
in my life
(Rose)

When I ask
my mom
why I have
to be home
by a
certain
time, she
just says,
Because I
say so
(Jane)

1. Looking at all the members of this family, who would you say has good
communication strategies and skills? Explain your answer.
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2. How well do you communicate with your parents? Suggest ways you could
improve communication with your parents.
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Use the following pointers as your philosophy/motto and see how healthy your
relationship
with are
yourunreasonable,
parents will become.
1.
When parents
dont try to reason with them. Smile and agree. It
makes them think and feel embarrassed - maybe even guilty. Never walk away when
they are talking. That makes them crazy.
2. If your parent denies your request or will not allow you more freedom, don't ask,
"Why?" This will only get you another reason that supports the "no." Rather than
"Why?" it is better to ask, "What can I do to get the privilege, request or freedom?"
The "What can I do?" question will give you some idea of what you have to do to get a
"yes."
3. When parents get angry, it isn't the time to return the anger. A lot of times they are not
upset with you, but with their boss, the neighbor or the price of groceries. You just
happen to be there at the wrong time. Look hurt. Slump in your chair and look at them
with pitiful eyes. If this does not work, get out of the way when they are in a bad mood.
They need some time and space. Go outside, to a friend's house or to your room.
Eventually they will settle down and miss you.
4. Parents are unfair at times and this may make you angry. Don't discuss your
complaints when either of you is angry or upset. Calm down and wait until they are in
a good mood. Discuss your feelings later that day or in a few days.
5. Do not create situations where there is a winner and a loser. You are the child and will
probably lose most of the time. How many times have you grounded your mother or
taken away the phone privileges from your dad? Try to compromise and work out a
situation where both of you win.
6. You do not do favors for people who argue with you or are uncooperative. If you act
like this with your parents, there is a chance that they will not cooperate when you ask
for favors. Try to cooperate and minimize conflict because this will certainly work in
your favor.
7. Ask your parents once a day, "Is there anything I can do for you?" Most of the time
they will probably say no or give you something that will take a few minutes to
complete. Your parents will love this and see you as a very cooperative person. When
this occurs they will probably be more cooperative with you. You could also surprise
them by doing something they do not make you do. They will tell everyone you are the
best
son
or daughter
and what's more, they will believe it.
10 possible
Teenager
parent
relationship
8. When your parents are fighting, go away, even though you want to listen to them.
Sooner or later they will get mad at you for listening, if for nothing else.

Call the BHP Billiton Career Centre on 011 639 8400 for more information on
this and other topics. Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Corner of Mirriam Makeba
and President Streets, Newtown Fax 011 832 3360 Email: myfuture@scibono.co.za

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