If your teen gets mouthy, how do you respond? Can you stop them from being sarcastic?
Every parent wants a great relationship with their kids, but sometimes that seems really out of reach.
I’m reminded again today how important it is. Right now, as you’re reading this, moving vans are arriving to move my mom into our house. It’s going to work out well, I think (I hope!), but one reason is because I do have a great relationship with my mom.
And since I’m still frantically moving stuff and packing, I invited my friend Nina Roesner, author of the new book With All Due Respect, to share with us today about how to handle mouthy teens.
Are you experiencing the chaos of parenting tweens or teens? Do they wear you out with their sarcastic sense of humor? Do you struggle with these wonderful people who swing from wanting hugs to melting down over seemingly “small” things? And did I mention this “swing” was like 5 minutes later?
It’s tough to navigate these waters. I’m really honored to be sharing on To Love, Honor and Vacuum! Sheila Wray Gregoire is a complete boss, but you already know that, don’t you? I’m glad to be guest-blogging for her today. My co-author, Deb, and I are really communication coaches. We help spouses, parents, and leaders in any realm develop deeper relationships with others by learning to communicate differently. We find that most people don’t know that conflict can be stopped BEFORE it starts – and we LOVE talking about that! This story shares a few of those tips and is from our new book, With All Due Respect: 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens & tweens (Thomas Nelson, 2016). I’ll be chiming in now and again today in the comments! Stay tuned til the end and we’ll tell you how to grab MORE parenting tips and get a free signed copy of the book!
Dare 5: Be Careful with Your Words
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
—Matthew 15:18–19 esv
Sharise walked into the hallway and said to her daughter, Amanda, “Baby, you’ll need to do the stairs. There’s dog hair on them.”
This was after Amanda had already put the vacuum away, thinking she was done with her daily chore. Sharise expected to hear, “I know!” escape from her daughter’s lips. Maybe she’d get a complimentary eye-roll too.
But the words that came forth from Amanda’s lips completely surprised and delighted her mom. “You are so right!”
Sharise smiled. Several days before, she and Amanda had discussed the use of the phrase “I know.” Sharise had explained to her tween that she had caught herself being disrespectful to her daughter by using that phrase when Amanda reminded her of an upcoming event that she needed Sharise to drive her to. She admitted she should have said, “You are right!” instead of quipping, “I know!” and then apologized for being snarky to her daughter, promising to try to communicate more respectfully in the future. She explained to Amanda that she had not treated her as if she was precious to her or to God and that she had confessed and asked God to forgive her as well.
In that moment, Sharise put a little dare together for both of them. “I know I’ve modeled the wrong thing for you, Amanda, but I’d like you to know you do this too. I’m guessing we both know how it makes us feel. I need to work on this one, and so do you. Want to do it together?”
Amanda smiled. “I think you’re right, Mom,” she replied. “I would like to work on this with you.”
Bottom line: Ditch the sarcasm. Your kids will feel more respected, and in turn they’ll treat you with more respect.
We often focus on getting and sometimes demanding respect from our children. But how often do we examine our own behavior to determine whether we are treating our children with respect? Just as with every other aspect of parenting, kids model what they see. Sometimes it’s the simple phrases or the small actions that speak the loudest. Ask God help you be more respectful to your kids. Say, “You are right!” instead of, “I know!” and admit your own mistakes.
The good news is that a change in behavior often leads to a change in the heart, and it usually works the other way around too. If you are choosing to follow Christ, He’ll transform your heart.
What About You?
- Think of the last time your tween or teen exasperated you over a small thing. How did you respond? If you did not respond gently, confess your sin to God and ask for forgiveness. Know He has forgiven you, and receive that forgiveness.
- How freely do you admit when you are wrong? How does this humble attitude model respect for your child?
- How does the thought of admitting wrongdoing or fault to your child make you feel? Ask God to reveal any issues with a desire to control, pride, or fear to you, and ask Him to grow you in these areas.
- Apologize to your child for the way you have treated her, and be specific. Promise to try to do better (and then do so!), and ask her to forgive you. If it is a deeply ingrained habit, you might even consider being vulnerable enough to ask your child to help you grow in this area by saying, “Ouch!” when you respond this way to her.
- Are your responses to your child ones that indicate arrogance? How often are you sarcastic or prideful in your responses? Instead of retorting with sarcasm or an “I know!” say, “You are right.”
Again, this story is from our new book, With All Due Respect: 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens & tweens (Thomas Nelson, 2016) The book has a devotional experience in that there is a prayer that goes with these. I look forward to visiting with you today! See you in the comment section! You can sign up for more parenting tips on our website, at www.GreaterImpact.org . We have a limited speaking schedule, but you can check out opportunities on our website, also.
Want more on dealing with this age group? Debbie blogs all things parenting on her website at www.DebbieHitchcock.com and you can find other marriage and family communication at www.NinaRoesner.com We’re giving a signed copy of the book away to the 427th person who signs up today for more marriage or parenting tips!
What are YOUR thoughts on the dare?
Sheila says: Love this, Nina, and I’m excited to share another practical dare with you from With All Due Respect soon! I do find that teens often are sarcastic or talk back without necessarily meaning to. Sometimes when my girls were younger I just had to remind them that I had feelings, too.
So let’s talk in the comments: How can you change the dynamics of conversation in your house–perhaps if your husband also verges on sarcastic? I come from a sarcastic family, and we’ve really been convicted that we have to stop that pattern. What about you?