Sources of Conflict Between Parents and Teenagers
Teenagers and Parents Have Conflict
Parent and Teen Conflct
Conflict happens when two people disagree based on their own goals, values, or beliefs. Parents and teenagers inherently have many opportunities to have conflict. Adolescence is a time when independence and parental influence conflict. Conflict is in the simple as an argument. Conflict is what happened right before the argument. That's what two people disagreed about before they started calling each other names.
The ability for an adolescent to be able to think on his own and yet have parents who have rules and expectations sets the pair of for conflict. Teenagers don't necessarily hold the same beliefs and values as their parents, and their goal to have fun conflicts with parents’ goal to keep them safe.
List of Common Conflict Sources between Teens and Parents
Here’s a list of common sources of conflict between parents and their teenage children:
curfew, cell phone use, noise, boyfriend/girlfriend, type of music, church/religion, grades, chores, messy room, disrespectful behavior, drug use, dishonesty, allowance, fairness, clothes, body piercings, tattoos, hairstyles, diet, how to spend money, getting rides to places, taking care of a pet, what to eat, getting out of bed, using electricity/hot water, smoking, allowance, sex/displays of affection.
Hot Topics for Heated Arguments
Curfew is a classic topic for parents and teenagers to argue about. It doesn't really matter what parents set the curfew, when kids don't show up when they're supposed to be home and makes parents worried. A worried parent becomes a scolding parent. So when the teen does come home, he gets an earful and a stiff punishment.
Cell phone use
Historically speaking, cell phones are a new technology so this is a fairly new source of conflict. This one usually ties in to to other sources of conflict: spending of money, and displays of affection. Usually the disagreement happens when the teenager is using a cell phone excessively, either by racking up a very high phone bill or by using the cell phone to communicate with a significant other. Sometimes the phone is used in an inappropriate way such as sexting.
Using the electricity or water is another easy source of conflict when you have one person paying for something another person uses frivolously. "Turn off the lights." "Close the door... Were you born in a barn?"
It doesn't matter whether it's a party, an electric guitar, or the TV. Parents don't seem to have the same tolerance for noise as teenagers. Sometimes teenagers’ goal to have fun conflicts with the parents goal to get sleep. This is an everyday occurring and common conflict. Type of music could fall under this category because if parents don't like the type of music the kids are listening to then they are more likely to tell the teenager to turn it down.
There are 1000 reasons why a parent might not like your boyfriend or girlfriend as a teenager. There are 1000 reasons to justify that the parent is being unfair. Either way, parents probably see their kids as too young to make a good decision if they are even old enough to date at all.
Going to church and practicing religion is something that is easy for parents to influence young children. Unfortunately as a child matures they start thinking and more complex and abstract ways. They start to be cultured in and influenced by peers, teachers, coaches, and the media. Teenage beliefs may clash with parent beliefs about whether there is a God, who God is, or whether church is important.
If there’s one easy standardized way for parents to gauge maturity and discipline, it’s by looking at a teenager’s grades. Although this may not be totally true, it’s available data to be used for judging a teenager every time grades are reported. Some parents have a problem with F’s, others C’s, but the conflict happens when the parents’ expectations aren’t met.
No one likes to work for free, but occasionally teenagers see doing chores as working for free. Their parents are likely providing something tangible as payment that the teenager may not be acknowledging. For example, the parents may be providing food, clothing, shelter, use of a vehicle, etc. But when you are young and self-centered, that’s not enough payment for taking out the trash and cleaning your room. Allowances my not meet the adolescent’s expectations just like grades may not meet parental expectations.
Tattoos, piercings, crazy hairdos, heavy make-up, or short skirts are easy ways to pick a fight with parents who value traditional looks. It’s ironic that the traditional parents somehow are blessed with children who ironically want to express their individuality by getting a piercing or a tattoo. Ironically, there are millions of teens expressing their individuality in the same way.
Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use
No parents say they want their kid to be a druggie when their child is born. When parents find out that their teen is doing drugs, it goes against their vision of a bright future for their child. By the time the parents find out, it has probably become a problem in some way already. There are the exceptions where the parents are hooked on something, but it’s debatable whether those parents are actually being parents. Their relationship with the drug becomes more important than their kids.
Honesty is already a hot issue for some people. When parents are totally responsible for the person who is lying to your face, feelings of anger will likely surface. Lies are usually used to covers up something else. This includes theft, sneaking out, and hiding a tattoo. As a teenager, when trust is broken, it can take a while to dig out of hole you dug for yourself.
Suggestions for Communicating based on Brain Science
Is There Hope for Parent-Teen Conflict?
Identifying sources of conflict is the first step to resolving the conflict. Here are a few tips to solving conflict between a parent and a teenager.
- View each other as allies in the common goals you do agree on which usually include keeping the teen safe and seeing him or her be successful. Refocus your energy on these goals to keep from getting too adversarial.
- Use "I statements" to express feelings and make requests. Just say "I feel _______, when I _______. Then make simple and specific requests. This is much better than blaming and name calling, which normally happens when emotions run high.
- List possible solutions to the conflict together. This may seem obvious, but many times a conflict will polarize viewpoints until no compromise or negotiation seems possible. Just start listing creative ideas, whether they seem reasonable or not. Creativity is your friend when solving any problem in life, including conflicts with others.
- Make a decision together. It's still a conflict if parents tell their teen that they have to do something, "Because I said so." It's also still a conflict if the teen just gives into a threat, and the relationship is damaged. Decide on a solution together when both parties are calm enough to make rational decisions. Don't try this when anyone is angry though.