How Free Agency Can Help You Avoid Raising a Troubled Teenager
by Deaunna Evans, CMC
(Spring Hill, TN)
Deaunna Evans, CMC, The Peaceful Parenting Expert!
The following conversation is one that every parent should eavesdrop in on, that is if they want to avoid raising a troubled teenager, avoid living years in parenting purgatory and enjoy a happy family. The following is what the proverbial fly on the wall overheard the other night.
My husband and I were having a friendly conversation with our 15 year old son when he brought up the topic of a set of gaming headphones he intended to buy. He began describing their awesome features and enthusiastically exclaimed they could be cranked up to insane decibels levels! My husband casually counseled him to keep the volume at a safe human level, to which he gave what might be the typical teenager response, “Well Sean and Anthony and ALL my friends all have these head phones and their parents let them …bla….bla…bla…
To our credit, we resisted the urge to warp into a parent-child throw-down like our parents did when we were teenagers such as, “Well if X, Y & Z were to jump off a bridge, would you follow?” Instead the conversation went like this:
“Okay son, you can certainly go ahead and blow out your ear drums if you want to. It’s your body and you can treat it as you please. You’ll spend a few hours enjoying the insanely loud blasts and bombs, however, just so you know, you’ll need to be ready to live the next, oh say, 70 years half deaf.
Let’s get in a little practice of what your life will be like, shall we? Okay first you’ll need to practice leaning forward, now get this puzzled, “deer in the headlights” look on your face. Now scream, “Huh?” two or three times. You’ll probably want to go ahead and learn how to NOT take it personal when people react in a negative way to your blathering.” By this time he was smiling and had a look of resignation in his eyes, we all had a good laugh and changed the subject.
How awesome was that! This conversation was humorous but more importantly it was void of the power struggle parents often unintentionally instigate. Neither parent nor teen was backed into a corner or forced to openly admit (save face) they were wrong. The outcome of this conversation reaffirms my notion that a parent should never ever, ever try and tell a tween/teenager that they CANNOT do something. Doing so just throws up a veritable irresistible challenge and serves only to give purpose to a teenager’s life i.e. the chance to prove their parents wrong.
By the time a child reaches the ripe old age of tweenagerdom, they can sense a parent throw-down like a toddler instinctively knows to start screaming for attention when mommy picks up a telephone. Simply put, wise parents will not issue throw-downs. Even in the most extreme situations like when a child says, “I guess I’ll just pack my bags and leave!” The parent should calmly and without emotion empathetically say something like, “yeah…that is an option.” The child would then effectively talk himself out of it with “what about food or what about that” questions. (Example from ‘That’s an Option’ from the parenting experts at Love and Logic)
Long story short, the gift of agency (freedom to choose) and make decisions about one’s own life rests at the core of human rights, i.e. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. By giving your teen permission to self destruct or not, you effectively dismantle the troubled teenager time bomb before it gets wired up much less starts ticking. The principle of free agency is the most effective tool in a parent’s toolbox to avoid raising troubled teenagers! I should know, as I have experienced the liberating, empowering and self-governing effects it has had on my children time and time again and ultimately enabled us to enjoy a happy family.
Oh, by the way, next time you catch yourself leaning over, with a “deer in the headlights” look on your face, repeating the word ‘huh’ over and over, you’ll probably be reminded of the truth of this article! (lol) Peaceful Parents Prosper!
Deaunna Evans, CMC of Super Moms Coaching is The Peaceful Parenting Expert! Coach Evans helps frustrated parents turn around their defiant child’s behavior in 30 days or less so they can enjoy a happy family. You are invited to join Coach Evans for a complimentary parenting session, “Peaceful Parenting Breakthrough Session!”