Teens, did you know your parents wish they could say yes to your requests more often than they say no?
Parents find themselves in a strait. They want their teens to respect and like them, yet they often must restrict their teens’ behavior.
As a parent I often hear, “You don’t know what it’s like!” For many stressed-out parents that is certainly true. Trying to decide which dance, sleep-over, party or trek to the mall is appropriate, and when it might be putting your teen at risk, takes the wisdom of Solomon. Parents want to believe the best and offer teens the experiences that will help them mature and grow. But often they see their children walking through a minefield in which each step can bring unexpected dangers.
Making good decisions
If you want trust from your parents, you need to learn to make good decisions. Telling your parents you are staying after school to catch up on your grades by doing extra assignments, and then going to the gym to watch the cheerleaders practice or visiting a friend’s house to shoot hoops, is deceitful. If you want to be trusted, show that you can be. Learn to be honest and tell your parents your plans. Most parents want to give you freedom to make choices. But you must earn their trust.
Pushing the limits causes stress and tension for everyone. I remember many a night sitting up and waiting for one of my teens to come home, thinking that for every minute that passed after curfew some great tragedy was stalking him or her. Learn to communicate with your parents. Making a phone call and checking in goes a long way toward demonstrating your maturity and respect for them.
If you want to go places and earn perks from your parents, don’t wait to be nagged before doing chores and other work around the house. Emptying the dishwasher or taking out the trash rather than crushing the last milk carton down just millimeters from the top of the trash receptacle might not always get you pats on the back, but little things add up. Learn to make your bed and keep your room tidy and clean. You’ll be surprised how such actions improve your parents’ attitude toward you.
Parents want to say yes, and you can make that much easier for them if you consider your requests from their point of view. What do your parents want and expect from you?
Parents want you to be happy and successful while not getting hurt. The evils that pervade our world are beamed into our living rooms in living color on the nightly news. Remember that your parents are concerned about you and want you to be safe. Pick your friends wisely and introduce them to your parents. Remember that “bad friends will ruin good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
American King James Version×, New Century Version).
If you want your parents to give you permission to go places with your friends, make sure you cover all the bases. Have a plan.
My son calls it a “proposition” when he unfolds one of the most elaborate schemes you can imagine. He usually thinks of things that he knows I’ll quiz him on, like “Who is going?”; “Are there any parents going along?”; “Any girls?” (I wasn’t born yesterday); “Where can I reach you?”; and so on. Perhaps it is because he knows the drill, nonetheless he is on the right track. Parents want to say yes but want you to consider the risks.
It is my policy to try to say yes to as many requests of my teenagers as I can. But I have standards. I say, “Yes you can—if you can answer my concerns.”
This often makes a challenge out of the normal concerns that parents have about the risks that face teens. “If you can work out the transportation, if you can get home by your curfew, if you can promise me that adults are present, if you can get your homework and chores done,” and so on.
Learning to take a no
An important step is learning to accept no as an answer. Many times parents have their reasons for saying they don’t feel your social plans are the best idea. A rebuttal to parents’ real and imagined concerns seems natural for most teenagers. My advice is to defer to your parents with respect and dignity. Often your willingness to accept their decisions will allow them to reconsider after a discussion.
I do know that raising your voice, slamming the door and throwing a tantrum make matters only worse. Even if you wear your parents down and get your way, you still lose. You lose respect and demonstrate immaturity—two factors that will likely undermine your chances to participate in future opportunities.
Growing up is difficult at best in our hectic and emotionally draining society. Often teens try to fit in and find acceptance among fickle peers whose demeanor masks their insecurities. God intended a stable family to be the backbone of society. Make that backbone work for you. Grow closer to your parents by sharing your life with them and asking for their help.
Parents do want to say yes to your wants and needs. But most of all they want you to make that decision easier for them by showing you’re thinking about your choices. Be proactive. Keep a good attitude. Learn to take a no and communicate often with your parents about what is going on in your life.
Remember Ephesians 6:1 Ephesians 6:1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
American King James Version×: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise.” You might be surprised how many times you will hear: “Yes. Have a good time, and be safe.” GN