By Aly Pain
If you have not been in a battle royale with your teenager about the state of their bedroom, are you even parenting a teen? The classic struggle likely dates back to the time of neanderthals threatening to club their adolescents over the head for not keeping their corner of the cave clean.
The reality is I’ve said it, and I’m sure you have too.
That moment of frustration when you just want your darling child to do as you’re asking before you lose your sh*t like Sigourney Weaver birthing the alien.
You’ve asked your teen nicely a few times to clean their room and each time you get, “Ya, mom” (as they avoid eye contact while in the middle of something far more important), yet the room is still a smelly disaster.
Grabbing the door handle, your body tenses as you open the door and the odor fills your now flaring nostrils and your resentment blurts out of your lips in the only, desperate-for-action words you can muster…
“Either you clean your room right now or I’m taking your phone!”
The problem is threats and ultimatums don’t work, no matter how reasonable the request. They’re a knee jerk reaction to control and gain power over someone in response to feeling powerless or afraid (AKA not feeling heard). Relationships that operate at this level lack connection, honesty, and compassion and are destructive for everyone.
How to get what you want without playing the power game
Enter boundaries. Boundaries empower you to clearly communicate your limits; what works for you and what doesn’t. Boundaries come from a place of love and respect for yourself along with those you choose to be in a relationship with while lighting the exit so they can come and go respectfully.
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brené Brown
A clear boundary sounds like, “Your dad and I asked you to tidy your room every Sunday before you go to bed. I know you don’t like doing it and I didn’t either as a teen. Keeping my room tidy created a positive habit that helped me when I got my own place. How can I support you to create this habit that respects our boundary and our home?”
Reinforce positive habits with praise
Depending on your teen’s personality style, that might mean a short, succinct sentence or a song and dance complete with pom-poms and confetti. I promise you, taking time for praise and letting your teen know how you feel (respected, honored, loved, etc) about their choice guarantees you get even more of what you want.
If setting limits with threats that don’t work have you frustrated and you’re ready to become the Queen Bee of Boundaries, post the above chart in your home and share with your family! It will support constructive conversations that create better boundaries and a more positive family culture.
Want a better relationship with your teen? Connect with Aly here and catch her What She Said every other week on 105.9 The Region.