Parent Teen Relationship Destroyers
Written by Cedar Ridge Academy,
in Section Behavioral Health
Parent-teen relationship destroyers
I have never had a mom tell me, "I want my daughter to be perfect," or had a dad say, "I want to have absolute authority over my son." Certainly, no parents have ever announced "We want to be judgmental."
But I have heard hundreds of girls say, "My mom wants me to be perfect," and hundreds of young men have said to me, "My dad rules our home with an iron fist." And, thousands of teens have told me, "My parents are the most judgmental people I know."
As parents, we want a strong relational bond with our teens. But sometimes, despite our good intentions, we can be doing the very things that destroy these relationships.
So what are the primary culprits that break our connection with our kids? Here are the four "most wanted" relationship destroyers.
#1: Demanding perfection
At a recent parenting seminar, I asked each mom and dad to pull out their cell phone and text this question to their teen, "Do you think I expect you to be perfect?" After about five minutes, every phone in the auditorium started beeping with replies. About 95 per cent of the teens said they did believe their parents wanted them to be perfect.
As parents, we want great things for our kids. That’s why we try so hard to push them towards excellence. But there’s a line between encouraging excellence and creating unreasonable expectations. When we place unattainable standards before our kids, we always risk raising expectations so high that our kids just give up.
Your teenager might show that he has given up in a few different ways. Some kids will begin to rebel to prove they are in control of their own lives. Others will become hyper-aware of the high standards and turn to drastic measures in order to achieve them (like the ballerina who becomes anorexic to increase her chances of being cast in the leading role). We need to balance between wanting the best for our teens, and setting up expectations that are impossible to reach.
We know that perfect people don’t exist. But if you have never shared your personal flaws with your kids, they haven’t had an opportunity to see what it’s like to live with imperfection. Instead, they think that faultlessness is normal. The first time they sprout a pimple they’re ready to freak out! By admitting your flaws, you give your kid permission to make mistakes and be imperfect, and you allow your teen to connect with you in a deeper way. Plus, as your kids see your own successes and failures, they’ll understand that it’s possible to have a good life even when they’ve messed up and fallen short.
#2: Having a judgmental attitude
This relationship destroyer is sneaky. I’ve witnessed parents using voice inflection, body language, and even Bible verses to make a valid point to their son or daughter – but the child only hears a harsh judgment being given. When you take a stand on issues like marijuana, homosexuality, religion, or even movies, your child may interpret your words as unfair criticism. Now, it might sound like your teen is putting words in your mouth. I mean, you’re not a judgmental person, right?
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