A couple of weeks ago I taught a lesson to teenage girls about improving their attitudes at home.
When I told them the topic of the lesson, I saw them subtly but noticeably fold in the middle, giving me the teenage attitude slump that said, “This is the last thing I want to discuss.”
Then I rephrased the topic and called it,“10 Ways to Control Your Parents or at Least Melt Their Hearts.” Then, they became curious.
Girls and attitudes must go together just like girls and boys.
There’s just something inherently sassy about a teenage girl.
My goal was to break through their flimsily constructed veneers, and charge into their teenage territory where all their insecurities live.
Without even knowing it, I think teenage girls put out the attitude vibe to make them look and feel strong. If they sport a little sass, they keep people at bay, protecting their ever-changing vulnerable and always-developing souls. It’s like their way of saying, “I’ve got this. I don’t need my mom or dad trying to tell me how to do things. I’m a teenager. I’ve totally got this.”
The problem is they don’t really have it, and they know it. They just can’t take the risk of outing themselves to their parents. That would ruin everything. They would feel powerless and childlike.
So in my lesson I came up with some attitude-busters to give them alternatives to the normal teenage way of interacting with their parents.
During the lesson, the adults mentioned that these ideas are excellent for all relationships. So I decided to share them on my blog.
So here they are:
- Shock your parents by preparing to share something about your day or your activities. You know they’re going to ask. Instead of rolling your eyes, being offended, and harrumphing around angrily, just be ready for the question, and tell them something – anything. It will get them off your back and they’ll feel like good parents who are succeeding at being involved in their kids’ lives.
- Listen politely when they try to tell you something. Just look at them, make eye contact for a few seconds, and act interested, like you appreciate what they’re saying. Pretend that what they’re saying actually interests you. They will suddenly think you are amazingly mature, and without even realizing it, they’ll trust you more, which means they might give you a little more freedom.
- Apologize. If you get home late, forget to call, don’t clean your room, or whatever the offense, just say you’re sorry. Don’t make excuses, get defensive, blame someone else or get angry. Simply apologize. (Practice your tone of voice on this one because it makes all the difference!) This one tip will help you more than you can believe. It may mean so much to them, they might want to take you to Chipotle for dinner.
- Obey the little rules. Trust me on this one. If you obey the little rules like your curfew, they may ease up on you when you want a bigger thing, like permission to go to the midnight premiere of a favorite movie.
- Send them reeling with this one simple question, “So, Mom and Dad, how as your day?” Give them a minute to get their bearings and follow-up with another question about them. This will score you big points.
- Practice eye contact with a genuinely pleasant facial expression. You only have to do this for a few seconds for it to have a big impact.
- If you know they are going to ask you to do something, do it before you’re asked. If you know your mom is going to ask you to set the table, just do it. This will end a lot of what you perceive as nagging.
- When it’s your turn to pray in your family, pray for each family member by name. Pray for their specific needs. This will give them such a love chill they will want to do something nice for you.
- Write them a note. Put it on their pillow. Just tell them thanks for something they’ve done for you or simply say, “I love you.”
10. Be patient. Talk slower and quieter. When you feel yourself talking fast or getting agitated, take a breath, slow down, and lower your voice. Oh, and help them read the small print on labels and use the DVD player. It will help their shrinking egos.
The next week when I saw one of the girls, she said, “It works! I tried some of those pointers, and they really work.” So, who knows? They might just work for non-teenagers too.