How Dare You Question Me?? I'm the Parent
You may have never said this out loud, but is there a part of you that is above reproach?
There is a lot of baggage that we as parents can bring with us from our own upbringing. No doubt the baby boomer generation was not generally of the mindset that parenting is collaborative. There were a lot of "my way or the highways" being shouted when we were growing up.
How about these?
As long as you live under MY roof!
I pay the bills, so I'm the last word!
When you're the parent, you can do it your way, but I AM THE PARENT.
I'm an adult. When you're an adult, you can do whatever you want too.
I wonder if a lot of these types of statements were based in fear. Like the Wizard of Oz not wanting the gang to pull back the curtain that would expose him for being a mere mortal.
I also wonder if some of those types of statements are trying to cover up and excuse that we think we can act like it's ok for us to do the exact opposite of what we preach to our kids and then demand their respect anyway.
There is something inauthentic about acting like we never mess up/need to ask forgiveness/are above everyone when really, I know from talking to parents everyday (and from my own life as a mom of 8) that we mess up a lot. We need to ask for forgiveness plenty. We are just like the people we are raising... imperfect human beings.
What if we led our families in a new way? What if we model humility? What if we throw out the old sayings and beliefs that are based in some old hierarchical paradigm?
Here's a great test to vet a possible change you could make as a parent: Ask yourself, would I like to see my teenager exhibit more humility? Less pride? Less entitlement? More openness to learning and growing?
If you said yes, then that's your cue, parents! That's the cue to start small and make a change. That's your sign. They will notice. They will see it. In fact, the more full of sh!t you are, the less they will listen to you, the less you can contribute to them, the less influence you have, the less they will do the exact thing you want so badly for them.
I know it's hard to imagine that you making a change is going to instantly make a difference in the vibe of your home, in the relationship between you and your teenager, but it's real. You can count on it.
Here's another test: Can you imagine your mom or dad had coming into your room and saying,
"Hey, I'm sorry I lord the fact that I'm the breadwinner over you. I'm sorry that I don't listen or budge an inch when you need something different than what I am already doing. I want to start trying to be more flexible, humble, open to what you need instead of just shutting you down because I'm overwhelmed or stressed or in brand new territory and don't know what to do."
It might have made you laugh. Like that's so far fetched.
Or imagining that might have made you feel sad because that would have made such a difference in your young life for your parents to stand down from their mighty role and all it's inherent power and started acting like.a real human being who is working on stuff too, who is trying to be better too, who wants to feel less scared and alone too.
My challenge to you is to look at yourself with all the courage in your heart and take an inventory of what it is that you say, do and believe that has you up on a lonely, parent pedestal instead of side by side with your teenager, trying to navigate the hundreds of issues, feelings and challenges that come with being a human being.
Here are a lot of good ideas for Building a Bridge between you and your teen: