“Jonny, will you please clean the dishes?”
Why is she always nagging me? “I’ll do it later, mom!”
Jonny’s mom came into his room with such gusto, you’d have thought she was racing the 100m dash. “Not later, NOW!” His mom responds.
Jonny rolls his eyes. “OKAY, mom.” He adds, under his breath: “Can’t I just have five minutes to myself?”
He didn’t say that last part quietly enough. “Excuse me young man? What did you just say?”
The above situation is so cliche at this point that it might as well have its own page on urban dictionary. Parents arguing with their teens is nothing new. It’s part of the growing process. But what would you think if I told you that you can WIN those arguments?
Truth 1: Your parents are learning just as much about how to take care of you, as you are learning how to navigate life.
When you’re in the thick of an argument with your parents, sometimes you forget that these are the people that have loved you since day one and have taken care of you. In that moment, all you’re thinking is: “Ugh! I hate my parents!” You’re trying to learn to navigate life, figure out things for yourself, and become your own person.
Would you believe me if I told you that your parents are learning as well?
They have never had to experience what it’s like trying to take a small human being and turn them into a functioning member of society. At best you have an older sibling or two that they have had to experience this with. But for the most part, you are as unique of a situation to them as learning to deal with your parents is to you.
Let’s take the opening situation for example. They might see your unwillingness to do chores as a sign of laziness. They’re overworked and stressed out, and they want you to help around the house. When you deliberately don’t do what they ask you to, many parents feel that it is an outright challenge on their authority. When you talk back, it isn’t showing them respect, and we all know how much parents crave respect.
By knowing this one simple truth, it can help you have insight into the mind of your parents and be able to deal with them.
Truth 2: Your parents are overworked, tired, stressed out, and probably hungry.
I know, I know. You’re overworked, tired, stressed out, and a little hungry too. But stop and think what that means: You know what it feels like to be in a bad mood. You know what it feels like to want things to be done the way they should be done. YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOUR PARENT IS THINKING AND FEELING IN THE VERY SAME ARGUMENT THAT YOU THINK YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE THINKING OR FEELING.
Use this information to your advantage. For 99% of you, your parents aren’t trying to make your life difficult. They’re trying their best to provide for you, to help you become a competent adult, and generally just be able to get by in life.
Cut them some slack. Believe me, someday you will be your parent.
Truth 3: Your parents might be wrong.
This is a hard concept to wrap your mind around. In fact, you aren’t even aware of this until it is brought to your attention.
In the heat of an argument, you don’t agree with your parent. You feel you are in the right, or at the very least you just don’t care what to think. But listen to me when I tell you this: We all subconsciously feel that our parents have the ultimate hold over us, but sometimes they are not actually in the right.
Your parents are human. That means they’re imperfect. Sometimes they will be tired or upset. Sometimes they need a snickers. And when you’re tired or upset or need a snickers, you might start a fight where none needed to be started.
Let’s use the aforementioned scenario again.
Jonny’s mom probably worked all day, then came home and made dinner. She’s tired, she might be a little upset. In her mind, the very LEAST that her son can do is help clean the dishes. So when she sees him not helping out, reason might fly out the window and she goes into nag mode.
But this is out of Jonny’s control. The only thing he can control is how HE reacts. Imagine the following scenario instead:
Jonny sees his mom is tired from a day of work, and she just finished cooking them a delicious meal. She is only nagging him because it IS his job to help clean the dishes. When she tells him to go clean the dishes, if he just says, “Okay mom!” and goes and cleans them, there will be no argument. Brownie points if he says, “Sorry for not doing it right away!” and gives his mom a hug.
Truth 4: If you learn to see your parents as being on your side, you will find that you have fewer arguments.
I find that many arguments arise between parents and children happen simply because the child thinks that the parent is asking them to do something they don’t want to, or not to do something that they want to.
Your parents are on your side. I repeat: YOUR PARENTS ARE ON YOUR SIDE.
If they ask you to do something, it’s for your own good. If they tell you not to do something, it’s for your own good. In few exceptions is this not the case, and in those few exceptions you can explain your position, but do so in a kind and tactful manner that shows them respect.
Truth 5: “I’m the parent!” Is the ultimate trump card, like it or not.
You can only have that authority by bringing another life into existence. Period.
Truth 6: At the end of the day, your parents only love you and want what’s best for you.
Arguments don’t have to arise. You can learn to do your part in minimizing the amount of arguments, and if they do arise you can win them.
So how can you “win” an argument with your parents?
Avoiding one altogether is the ultimate win. Do what your parents ask you to do, when they ask you to do it. It takes minutes to load the dishwasher for Pete’s sake. Don’t do things they tell you not to do. Do you REALLY believe that party with the older guys is a good idea?
If you feel that your parents are being too restrictive or too demanding, DON’T ARGUE YOUR CASE IN THAT MOMENT. You will not win. Wait for a more convenient time to bring your case to your parents.
If you do get into an argument, keep your cool. Don’t raise your voice. Resist the urge to roll your eyes or use sarcasm. Ironically enough, if you keep your cool and your parents lose theirs, they will feel foolish when they calm down and realize how silly they were acting.
Remember that your parents are human too, and learn to view them as allies instead of tyrants.