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Minggu, 08 Februari 2009

Making Peace with Your Parents

by Grace Dole, 01.28.05As

A teen you're going through big changes physically, emotionally, and mentally. What's important to you is changing, your interests are expanding, and your desire to take control of your own life is growing.

Here's the challenge: kids need to explore the world in new ways, and parents need to protect them from the dangers that are out in that world. These conflicting agendas can easily set off fireworks in otherwise calm households. Sometimes butting heads is inevitable, but by paying attention to the building blocks of successful relationships, you can work towards making home a happy and healthy place for you and your parents.


Respect is more than just doing what you are told to do. It is reciprocal. Respect is about valuing what your parents have to say. It is also about them valuing what you have to say.

Respect is the building block of good communication. People who respect each other can disagree about any number of things, but because they care about each others' feelings, they can disagree without things getting ugly.

The next time you and your parents don't see eye to eye, see if you can try to understand where they are coming from. Mark, 14, puts it this way: "At least try to understand whatever they are trying to tell you, no matter how bad it may sound at the time."


You can open up the lines of communication with your parents by expressing what's on your mind in a respectful way.

For example, say you think that you are old enough to attend a concert without an adult, but your parents aren't so sure. Good communication allows you to explain your reasons for why you think you're ready, and allows your parents to lay out their concerns. You may not end up getting what you want, but at least you and your parents were able to put all the issues on the table. Your ability to explain your thoughts calmly and rationally may give your parents an opportunity to see you in a mature new light. That could be money in the bank for giving you more responsibility and freedom in the future.

Here are some tips for good communication:
• Timing is everything. Try to find a time to talk when your parents are not angry, tired, distracted, or hungry. A good time to talk is when you are all calm and relaxed.

• If the conversation begins to turn into an argument, you can calmly and coolly ask to stop the conversation — for now. You can pick it up again when everyone's more relaxed.

• Listen to what your parents are saying, and repeat it back to them. This shows them that you're listening, but it also gives them a chance to clear things up if you're not on the same page. Sometimes fights arise out of simple misunderstandings rather than actual differences of opinion.


You are more likely to get along with your parent and have more independence if your parents trust you.

How do you build trust? Trust comes by actually doing what you say you're going to do. For example, if you are late without calling, your parents are less likely to believe you the next time you promise that you'll come home at the agreed-upon time.

When your parents trust you, your relationship will go more smoothly. "My advice is to listen to your parents and earn their trust," says Maria, 18. "It makes life a lot easier than fighting all the time."

Taking Time Together

Some teens find that doing fun activities with their parents can improve their relationships. Shared time together can smooth rough edges and can build trust and communication. Sometimes we forget that parents are more than rule-makers — they're interesting people who like to watch movies, hang out, shoot hoops, play cards, and go shopping — just like their teenagers!

Staying Positive

What do you do if you are trying your best, but your relationship with your parents continues to be rocky?
• Ask if your parents would consider seeing a counselor with you. Sometimes people need an objective third party to help them hear each other better.

• If your parents aren't willing to seek outside help with you, it's important to find other supportive adults, such as a teacher or a coach, who can lend an ear.

• Remember: you can only change your own behavior; your parents are the only ones who can change theirs.
• You will probably have ups and downs as you try to get along with your parents, but it's often worth the ride. Parents can be a great resource and support system when things are going well and when things get tough. Hopefully, your parents will see that you're putting your best foot forward to improve your relationship and will do the same.