My husband and I are having a tough time with our kids, lately. They are hurting each other and us, emotionally. I get it — I get what they’re doing here — because I was a teenager at one time. In the oft told story of me and my siblings growing up, we made up a parody of a popular song and sang it at the expense of one of my brothers. We used to chase each other around the backyard while yelling obscenities.

We were mean to each other. Downright mean. And we didn’t care how doing or saying hurtful things affected each other or our parents. If you’re observing this kind of behavior in your teens (or tweens), I’d like to talk with you about what’s important when you’re in these tough moments of parenting.

You need to take some time to cool off. He’s yelling at you and being disrespectful because you’re yelling at him.

Our oldest son, who will be 14-years-old at the end of this month, has recently been pushing back a lot. He’s even lied a few times about stuff I consider to be pretty big. I wanted to get straight to asking him why he’s been acting out — I was very angry and my husband knew a conversation at that time would not have started or ended well. I agreed that, as long as he was not in any imminent danger, I could wait to talk to him. I needed time to think through what I wanted to say and prepare myself in how I was going to get that message across without yelling at the top of my lungs!

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Let them know they can come to you with absolutely anything that’s on their mind or any situation they encounter.  

We try very hard to keep communication open with our kids and each other. We want them to know that we will try hard to LISTEN and not always look for “teaching moments.” This is a challenge for me, because I want to fix everything for them. I drive them nuts, saying, “Did you think about this? Did you think about that?” or sharing stories from yesteryear to prove that I know how they’re feeling. Instead, I need to just practice actively listening and empathizing. Dr. Laura Markham has a great article on how to be a brilliant listener with your child.

Trust yourself.

Learning to trust yourself in these moments will help carry you through. I am grateful to have a partner in my husband. If our kids are stressing me out to the max, I can “tag team” him in. (Dad’s turn!) It works for him tagging me in, too. Regardless of who is handling the situation at the time, we employ the same thought process as Naomi Drew offers on her website, LearningPeace.com:

Set the expectation for a fight-free home and stick with it. You are the most powerful role model your children have and your words make a difference. Make it clear that hurting each other is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstance, and you expect your children to honor this.

Is there anything you’ve been struggling with, lately? Tell me about that in the comments. We can do this! We will do this together!

Desiree Townsend

Desiree is a thirty-something Christian wife and mom living in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado. Her passion is inspiring families with teens to build strong family ties. She and her husband founded Bold and Brave Today, a health and wellness site where their real-life bariatric stories guide families with teens to celebrate meal time, enjoy a bold and brave lifestyle, and build strong families. Desiree believes in: being kind, working hard, developing stable values, staying down-to-earth, and being accessible. Her voice is friendly, humble, honest and (mostly) practical. She strives to create real connections and friendships with her audience and she is sincerely interested in hearing from you. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram!