Sometimes we all get into arguments with those we love. It is important to acknowledge that it is healthy to disagree sometimes, even with your parents. The problem is when you argue “ALL” the time or you seem to imply that your parents are rarely in the right. There are a few things to remember:
1. Your parents are people too.
Your parents are not perfect. We all make mistakes and I don’t know about you but most of us have a hard time admitting when we make them. Or even sometimes noticing. But apologizing is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.
Parenting you does not come with a handbook. If you go to the bookstore and go to the parenting section there are thousands of books on how to parent. There is no right way to do it.
Your parents have feelings and emotions and yes, you can hurt their feelings. Parents can feel emotionally vulnerable and inadequate just like we can. They can have their feelings hurt or feel lost or out of control. Apologizing and recognizing that we hurt them can go a long way.
Parents have good and bad days too. Sometimes they are not feeling good or have bad days at work and it is okay to be nicer to them on those days.
2. Learn to say you are sorry. Apologizing for times when we have gone too far or have made mistakes. This can make a huge difference in repairing damage arguing may have caused. The apology must be:
Personalized-directed to the person who was harmed
Specific-about what happened
The tone must be honest and without a hint of sarcasm
3. Parents likely know more than you do about almost everything. I know it is hard to believe sometimes, but remember, they have been on this earth a lot longer than you and have a lot more life experience, if not significantly more education. Trust that they have a good idea of what they (and you) are talking about. They may not know about all things going on today..but they know more than you likely give them credit for. Be willing to listen to their point of view and advice with an open mind.
4. Learn to use “I” statements. I feel _______when you _________. For example,
Stop yelling at me. I don’t like it!! (with a raised voice.) Instead, you could say, “I feel anxious and nervous when the volume of your voice goes up. I interpret that as you yelling at me.”
With a raised voice, “Why don’t you ever let me hang out with my friends?”, and you stomp away. Instead, you could say, “I feel frustrated when you don’t let me hang out with my friends when I ask if I can. I am confused about the reasons you will not allow me to.”
5. Get to know your parents as people. Hang out with your parents and have fun. Enjoy time together. Be curious about who they are. See them as people worth valuing in your life.
Written by Paulette Caswell, MSW, LICSW