5 Positive Ways to Deal with Parents

5 Positive Ways to Deal with Parents

We see a lot of teens in Support Groups and if there’s a recurring theme, it’s that dealing with parents can be tough!

The crazy thing is the same issues that frustrate teens often frustrate adults. Life is completely different for teens than it was for adults at the same age, but there are a lot of aspects of communication that haven’t changed.

If you are a parent, it can be hard to see your teen’s side of things or how they are trying to communicate.

Parents and teachers complain most often about behavior, but a lot of times, the adults aren’t listening or allowing teens to explain.

If you are a teen here are some tips if you’re having trouble communicating with your parent(s).

Wait for the right time.

This may be difficult depending on how much your parent works or other factors. But it will come. Sometimes you can help make it the right time. Get them their favorite treat, drink, or sit and watch their favorite show with them. The effort you put in will be worth it when the result is a positive conversation.

Do things before you are asked.

This one isn’t immediately appealing because you are still doing what they want. BUT if you get annoyed because they bug you to mow the lawn or clean your room, it is worth it. If you do it before they ask, it saves you the hassle of an annoying argument or fight. You both win.

Don’t push their buttons.

Facts. If you know how to annoy the adults in your life in under five minutes, it just shows how close you are. However, it doesn’t mean you are in control. You might feel like you’re in control, but it’s guaranteed to cause you more losses than wins. Instead, take that knowledge and use it to get what you really want. Better communication.

Don’t let them push yours.

Fun fact. The adults in your life know how to push your buttons too. You get to decide if you will allow it or not. You can choose not to be annoyed- or at least not to act on it. While it’s true that adults should, well, be adults, we all know that sometimes that just doesn’t happen. But if you don’t let it stress you out, you’re guaranteed to feel better.

Think ahead.

Recognize potential hazards and plan ahead what you can say or do when they come along. Or even better, avoid them if you can. This is hard. You might need a trusted adult like a school counselor or another trusted adult to help you talk this one out.

Also note: this doesn’t not apply to situations where an adult is harming you or failing to keep you safe. If you are not safe at home, or with any adult, you need to tell someone you trust and get help. It’s not on you to avoid abuse.

You can’t keep every argument from happening and not all parents are always reasonable. But most parents want a good relationship with their kids. They want to understand and communicate better.

Maybe this will help.


What are other ways you can deal with parents in a positive way?

Teen Say

How can I get the adults in my life to care and not lecture?

  • Be intentional about when you talk to them- especially when you bring up tough topics. A lot of time, their emotional state or reaction isn’t about you! It’s about other things that you might not be aware of.
  • If needed, ask someone to mediate a conversation between you and the adult that you feel frustrated with.

Adults Say

How can I connect with teens and get them to open up to me?

  • Be available
  • Be yourself
  • Connect during the good times so you have that background during hard conversations. Look for ways to just have fun with no agenda!

Traveling New Roads Together

Traveling New Roads Together

Last month, I had the pleasure of training a group of college students preparing to be camp counselors. My main purpose in the training was to equip them to support kids from hard places. Many of the camps they would be doing would take them into areas of the city where behavioral issues and lack of family support would be likely prevalent.

During the Q&A session at the end, questions kept coming up about how they should handle discipline. One counselor asked, “Can we make the kids do pushups if they are misbehaving or late?”. This is a common form of discipline within sports or camps, and I have never liked it. Personally, I think it can be pretty degrading to a kid to give penance in the form of a pushup – but despite how much I despise the approach, I answered – “Yes.”

But I had a caveat.

“As long as you do the pushups with them.”

The group laughed, but the point was taken. When you make kids do pushups for misbehaving, is any connection made? Or are we further cementing our authority and power? However, when we do pushups with the kids, connection is created and there is some sense of shared responsibility.

Because if the kids are constantly misbehaving or late – does the fault completely lay on their shoulders? Or is it a power play for the adult to dish out the discipline without also taking some of the blame? 

As helpers of students, we often forget the power of vulnerability and connection when it comes to how we correct. It is much easier to point out the mistakes with our kids. It’s much harder to admit our culpability.

This concept rang true to me as I read through a recent study on teenagers and cell phone use commissioned by Common Sense Media. The main takeaway of the study showed that 1 in 3 teenagers take their cell phones to bed and report checking their phones multiple times overnight.

Simply put, this is a horrifying trend. Numerous studies have confirmed the “blue light” emitted by screens should be eliminated at least 30 minutes before bed, and cell phone be removed from the bedroom for any chance of quality sleep. Why on earth would teenagers do this to themselves?

Well, because we do. The same study reports 61% of adults check their phone within 30 minutes of going to bed. Simply put – we adults have developed some nasty habits with our devices and our kids are watching.

An interesting thought that came out of the same study showed the number of teenagers who think their parents are spending way too much time on the phone went up by 11%. But teenagers own assessment of how much time they spent on devices was more muted. While they thought their parents spend way too much time on the phone, they felt like their time was just about right.

This study highlighted how teenagers can develop really unhealthy habits and suffer loss of sleep and health as a result. As an adult it would be easy to just tell a student to not take their phone to bed. If so, prepare for a fight.

It’s like this in so many aspects of our parenting and mentoring of students. We are quick to point out their issues and tell them where they should change, but even with the lightest of scrutiny, we as adults aren’t doing much better. 

This isn’t just about cell phones and sleep. It’s how we deal with our stress. It’s how we self-medicate. It’s about our anger. It’s our discontent. Do we not realize our kids are watching us, even if they seem aloof?

This offers opportunity for connection. For example, if you know your teenager is taking their phone to bed, you likely are as well. Instead of laying down the law, why not share your own struggle and create a plan to deal with it together?

Or maybe you struggle with anger or outbursts. Maybe acknowledge that with your kid? Apologize? Even ask for help?

When we choose connection with our teenagers, we build relationship. It’s the harder road, but it is one that acknowledges our humanity as well as respects where our teenager is developmentally. 

We cannot ask our teenagers to travel roads we do not presently travel. By choosing vulnerability and connection, we choose to travel those roads together.

Chris Robey

Chris Robey


Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for the Inevitable

5 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for the Inevitable

I love this time of year, the time when crayons are on sale and my newsfeed is filled with pictures of forced-smiling students in backpacks. Every year when August rolls around, I like to drag out my old pictures and reflect back on all of my FDOS (First Days of School).

IMG_1765I think back to when I was in Kindergarten and was so excited to be in “big kid school” with my new backpack and friends, but promptly fell asleep as soon as I got home due to all that excitement.

I will probably never forget my first day of Middle School…the nerves and anxiety of wondering if I would remember my locker combination, who I would sit by at lunch, and if I would survive the mature and much cooler 8th graders. I do look back on this day with super warm fuzzys.

I definitely remember my first day of Senior year! This year came with few nerves and doubts. By this time, I knew what to expect and where I stood, this FDOS was all excitement, anticipation and hope.

45130_1570996484960_2879813_nIf we are being honest, as many FDOS as I had in elementary, middle and high school, it is that first day (and week) of college that sticks out the most to me. Just like in kindergarten, I had a new backpack, new friends and a brand new environment. I was missing home but was nervous-excited for what the next four years would bring. However, more than anything else, I felt prepared; I knew that all the other “Firsts” were leading up to this big one.

As the first day of school comes and goes each, whether you have a baby at home, just walked your kindergartener into their first class or dropped you college student off in a strange town, your goal is for them to make it to that “Last First Day.” While parenting your children with the end in mind (hopefully that they will grow up, move on and have families of their own), there are several things you can do to prepare them for the inevitable – the leaving part.

1. Encourage and equip at every stage.

Don’t force your child to grow up too fast, but don’t ever ask, “Do you really think you are ready for this?” Instill confidence in your kids from the time they step into elementary school to their last day of college. If they feel prepared and that you are cheering them on at every step, that transition is so much easier!

2. Slowly release the reigns.

Kids need boundaries, especially the teenager-types! However, they also need to begin to explore and regulate their own boundaries before they are completely on their own. When they first get their car, make their curfew a little stricter than necessary so you can relax as they approach their senior year. Give more responsibilities, show more trust and pry less as they get older. This not only shows that you trust them, but also gives them the opportunity to excel (or fail) for the first in your home and not when they are living in a dorm room 1,000 miles away.

3. Ask about their hopes and dreams.

Ask them about their future, where they hope to be in college, after college and beyond. By doing this, you are forcing them to think about their goals and what it will take to get there. I have yet to meet a teenager without a dream for their future, but this future can seem far away for the 6th grader who just wants to be popular or the junior in high school who can’t seem to pass Physics. Give them motivation now and the expectation that, one day, they will have their own plans outside of you and your home.

4. Tell them about your hopes and dreams.

Let them know what dreams you have for their future! When you were holding your newborn for the first time, you were probably not dreaming that he would find great friends, date the perfect girl and finish high school only to live in your basement for the rest of his life. You might have had grand dreams of college, a great career, a loving family and grandbabies. Remind them (and yourself) that you want them to leave. You want them to be mature and responsible enough to be on their own and function as a (somewhat normal) human being.

5. Prepare yourself.

The greatest way to prepare your kids to graduate, grow up and move out on their own is to prepare yourself. Take pictures, cry as they drive themselves to school for the first time, force them to participate in family game nights, but don’t lose sight of the dreams and goals we just talked about. Parent with the end in mind, knowing that they will leave and that is good. Instead of making them feel guilty for leaving you, send them off with the confidence and trust that they will excel because they are prepared.


Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Lifeline’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about speaking life into students and encouraging them to live better stories.