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How to Talk With Your Teen Without Losing Your Mind (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
October 31, 2023 2:00 am

How to Talk With Your Teen Without Losing Your Mind (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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October 31, 2023 2:00 am

Parents often struggle to communicate effectively during the teen years. Dr. Ken Wilgus encourages moms and dads to relax a little bit, back off from micromanaging, and start treating their teen more like a budding adult. This includes showing them more respect and communicating to them the same way you would another adult. (Part 2 of 2)

 

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Hey, parents. Parent here. If you're searching for biblical and practical tips for your kid's specific age, you know with all that extra time you have, well, you can stop. Focus on the Family has weekly age and stage emails that bring the tips to you. Each week I get an email for my son that I can read on my phone and put directly into practice. No more sifting through junk on the internet.

I can focus my time on being intentional. It's easy. Visit MyKidsAge.com, add your kid's age, and get to parenting better.

That's MyKidsAge.com. Tommy, I need you to clean your room, or you'll have to take a time out. No, that won't work.

He'll just sit around. No dessert, no TV, no friends. Right.

And no breakfast, no lunch, no eat dinner. Well, I know exactly how that mom feels. I tried that once. It doesn't work.

Oh my goodness. You want your child to do what they're supposed to do. How do you communicate this?

How do you get order around everything? It's hard. And we're gonna be talking about situations like that and so much more in our conversation, our follow-up with Dr. Ken Wilgus today on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. John, this is part two of the conversation. So if people miss part one, go back and get it.

You can get it on our website, get the app on your smartphone, and then you have access to the full library. Yep. And that's a good way to do it as well. But yesterday we covered a lot of wonderful content from Dr. Ken Wilgus, a book that he's written, Feeding the Mouth That Bite You, which basically is how to emancipate your teenagers so they can become successful, strong adults. And that is the goal. Sometimes as parents we tend to want to kind of put them in a time capsule and leave them at 12 and never mature the relationship. But guess what?

You need to and you're gonna be equipped today and last time to know how to do it. Yeah, Dr. Wilgus really does such a great job of keeping the end in mind. And so we're so glad to have him back. He is a psychologist. He specializes in adolescent behavior. He's an author and a speaker and a podcast host.

He's been here a number of times on the broadcast. And as you said Jim, this terrific book that he has, we're making that available to listeners, it's called Feeding the Mouth That Bites You, A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them Into the World. That's so good. Ken, welcome back. Thanks. Thanks. Glad to be here. I love it.

And again, I said this last time, you really helped Gene and I in our journey of parenting. So I am a fan of the content. Hopefully probably your number one fan. I think Gene has given away like 50 of your books. Gene is the number one fan.

So she just, you know, it's hard to move people and every author who puts their ideas into print, you're hoping for those people that really grab it and apply it and it works. That's what counts, right? And I can only attest to the fact that it really worked for us.

So wonderful job and again, great content. Let's get back into it. One of the problems you address is how many parents will discipline their teenagers the same way they did when they were children. Kind of what I've been talking about. You know, I'm gonna go at it the same way at 15 as I did when they were eight. And that's just a lack of probably energy and focus and thinking it through because you need to mature your relationship with the age of your child and so often I'll see a mom talking to her teenager like an eight-year-old.

I'm going, uh-oh. That's got to be really demeaning to the poor kid. Yeah, it is. And if there's anything worse than a teenager that doesn't push back against being demeaned like that, it's sometimes more and more teenagers that don't push back about being talked down to like that.

Yeah. That can be almost their spirit broken enough that they don't even try anymore. So yeah, it's it's not good. It does not prepare them for the adulthood they need to be prepared for. So with the thousands of parents that you've helped counsel, when you see that kind of thing, what how do you arrest that behavior in the parent and give them something to latch on to to say, okay, when I start doing that you got to move off of that eight-year-old attempt and get it back to the 15-year-old. It really depends on the parent. So one group of parents that that have a hard time with this is very nurturing mothers because that kind of talk is sweet. It's just trying to be helpful and there's a way of almost like having an accent.

You can't even hear it. And and but I've you know, the moms that come to me want to do this, you know, they get it intellectually, but in their heart it can feel wrong. Yeah, I'm not gonna just let him go out there and not remind him to this and this and this. That's unloving. But you have to add in a another part of how you hear things, which is what you're talking about. A lot of dads are a little better at hearing the respect part. It's not about being loving or unloving. It's about being respectful of the fact that at this stage of life that's not gonna be helpful in their preparation as an adult. Laying the foundation for this discussion today, let me ask this question.

And I didn't have the experience of having girls. So John, you guys need to jump in. But I've seen that. Do you see with your counseling, do you see certain regularities with like mom and sons and then dads and daughters?

Oh, yes. And speak to that. I know we're not even supposed to bring up the gender issue, but guess what? We're boys and girls.

It'd be foolish not to. Yeah, so with those differences, what do you see and how can you help a dad communicate better with a daughter and a mom with a son? So the probably the the straight line that all of the feeding the mouth is about most cleanly is your sons. Daughters are a little bit, they're always a little harder, a little more complicated. The issue of complete autonomy and respect is an issue for girls for sure.

But it can be more complicated because girls are more focused on connection. The most the most heated is a mother who was really close to her son when he was little, the boy that would get in and tell her everything and whatever and he was close to her. And that ironically can be a problem in adolescence because she can say, hey, how you doing? And he thinks she's in his head and reading his mind and he's just all worked up and it really hurts her feelings.

So that kind of intensity is is ironically one of the more common ones. The other probably right behind it is a father and daughter. Speak to, so the mom listening that's having that or maybe the precursor to that right now, how can she translate that into a healthier understanding of what's happening? Because that son is trying to become independent.

He's actually on the natural course, but it creates this friction. Well, you know, and I've, moms have really impressed me in that way. I can remember, I think I've even mentioned before, years ago there was a mom who fully got the feeding the mouth stuff. But she was just all about this boy and they were really tight. And I remember one day I'd seen him several sessions and they were in the waiting room and having an argument. So I come out and she goes, I want to go in with him.

I want to come. I'm like, okay. So she comes in and goes, I want him to tell me why is he mad at me all the time? And I turned her and I said, we talked about that three weeks ago.

He doesn't like you. That's, and she was like, oh yeah. But she understood what that meant. Of course he loved her.

They were tight. But it was hard for him to like her maternal stuff. But she laughed because she was very smart and she understood that those instincts, as strong as they are, does in itself create a tension that isn't real and it doesn't mean that he doesn't love her. You know, and I would think as a psychologist, what you're doing as a Christian, who's a psychologist, it's really about awareness for everybody. Awareness for the teen.

Right. But what I've heard from you pretty regularly is it's that awareness from the parent. The parent tends to be the bigger problem. Now we as parents don't like to hear that.

Yes. Well, you know, I want to be careful. It's not that parents are causing the problem, but we do heat things up for sure. And if we're going to talk about the mom example, it's another reason why your marriage is critically important. The, you know, the answer to that mom's heart that feels rejected by these kids needs to be her husband that's going, baby, this was great before they showed up and we can be great again. And he really needs to take a lot of time with her. Not to, you know, remind her, hey, not supposed to do that.

It's more like, hey, I get it. I know how that is for you and come talk to me, not them. And let's get through this together. It's really helpful to her because her heart is still going to be struggling, even though she understands that I need to back up. I need to give respect. Let me delve into that for a minute because I think it's important to talk about the marital relationship in that way. Moms tend to carry a big burden in that area. Oh, in the marriage or in the... In the marriage about the parenting.

Yeah, absolutely. And so moms feel it deeper. They're more concerned. And I think we as dads, we can give the impression that we're flippant. We're not concerned. Although I think what, if there's some credit due, it's that we have a bigger picture and this isn't a mountain.

It's a Mohill. We tend not to get stirred up quite like mom might. Fathering style is, I call it warrior training. From very early, most dads have that sense of, well, honey, if we keep doing this, he's never going to learn to whatever.

That's a common thing. We've never had these children in us. We don't know what that's like for mothers. It's the nurturing I'm going to provide and take care of. And those are two needed instincts in the household. That's why it's really important for your marriage to be strong because it can really scare a mother. It can feel like I'm talking to a husband who just doesn't get it. He keeps saying, well, let's just let them work it out. If he knew and was involved like I am, he wouldn't say that. And he needs to do the work of really letting her know, no, no, no, tell me again all that you're concerned about and try to prove to her, I get what you're saying, but I also think we need to let go of this. And I think in that regard, the key thing there is both are needed.

I want to put that in neon. That's exactly right. Because if a mom tries to make a mom out of the dad, that's not good because you're going to overweight that nurturing. And if a dad tries to make mom a dad, you're not going to have enough love and nurturing. And I have couples who do this in reverse where the mom is much better. She's like, hey, I showed him your book and he's not sure this is going to be caring for.

I'm like, she's doing it right. And so it's not always as predictable. So moving to practical application, one of the things you say in the book is that you need to become a judge as a parent, not a policeman. It's so easy to be the cop.

Yes. So feeding the mouth to bite you is not about backing off and letting your teenager do whatever. When we talk about the freedoms, parents are like, well, you're just giving over stuff.

Then we get to the limit setting. A lot of times parents are like, well, that's a little rough because if you say what you if you need to mean what you say. So if the curfew is, you know, 11, then at 1101, some consequence needs to happen. But there's a huge difference between the kind of idea that I need to make sure my kid is home at 11, which you can't do for a 17 year old or 16 year old. But you have a lot of power as a judge.

Remember, you own everything that they have, even the shirt on their back. And so a policeman may be the one that texts 100 times. Where are you? I thought you said you'd be here, whatever. It's a very here's a ticket. Here's a ticket. Come on. And the judge is the one going, so it's too late to even talk about it now. It's already 1145. Let's talk in the morning.

This is not going to be good for you. And you lay out clear consequences, not with a lot of words, but I hope it was a good time because you're grounded for a week. And make that count.

It's very powerful. You're you're a judge, not a police. One of the things that can be really hard is the severity of penalty, the responsibility you're talking about. And boy, between a mom and dad, they can be very disparate application. Like, you know, you're grounded for a month.

Well, I was thinking three days. Yes. How do you negotiate that before you get into the arena with your teenager? So you're both on the same page. Start by negotiating as married people, not co-parents. So the dad starts by saying, honey, that seems like a lot to me.

Can you tell me what you what would scare you if we were to drop it to a week? And then she would say, because husbands love to hear, but honey, if that's what you think we should do, I want to respect your part of it. And so he shows that kind of love and connection to her. She shows respect to him. And they come together in finding that again, it's the most common is a dad's going to say, well, that's a long time. And a mom's going to think you don't get it. You're not really seeing this. And he needs to prove to her, wait a minute, isn't aren't you concerned?

And if she hears her feelings coming out of his mouth, it's very comforting. I said the curfew one is so funny and close to home. So Trent, you know, our oldest, we had I think he was probably 16 or 17. So midnight was the curfew. And I had this dialogue with them and he's so science driven. And I said, you know, nothing good happens after midnight. And he goes, do you have data to support that? And I was like, no, but I think it's true.

And he was so straight faced about it. You got data that supports that. I don't know if that's accurate.

Some wonderful things that happen after. But it's still true. So parents keep on using that one. No, that's that's definitely in the I don't remember anything you said that my daughter told me. Can you mention this?

I want to tap this again. You urge parents to create an expectations and consequence list. So let's kind of use that as an example. What does it look like and how is it different from a contract? Let's say, yeah, I love the contract. Yes, contracts.

Parents always tell me we had a contract and he signed it. But guess what? He's not following. And therefore we're taking him to court. Yeah, yeah. It ain't gonna happen.

It was actually a story of that in New York, but that's not important. The thing is that you want to be clear that it kind of mixes the two when you try to be let's be understand, come to agreement. And that's not ineffective.

But often it's where it loses effectiveness is that it's blending two things. The teenager doesn't want to know when are you going to allow me to do this? It's there's a constant understated or underlying fear that when are you gonna leave me alone and let me do this? So the freedoms list is the first list that you put together, then the expectations and consequences list.

Once you have that freedoms list, you don't have to kind of kid around of expectations. Consequences is these are the things we expect put in clear language, and this is what we promise we will do to you if you do not do it. So it's the it's not an agreement as much as a way to trust that we will not do more than this. But this will be the consequence. If you don't get your food, if you have food in your room after we've told you you can't, it's a dollar for every plate cup. And that's it. We'll just do that.

But you know, it's a promise that this is what we expect. That's what I was going to ask you an example. So the freedom is you can certainly eat in your room, but the consequences, the expectation is the dishes never stay in the room. Or at the very least, yeah, I have no problem with you can eat in your room.

Yeah, if I find it and again, here's what the consequence will be. Now, how granular do you drive that list? I mean, the freedoms, is that a list of 12 things typically or 20? It grows with age so that by the end of pretty much high school, everyone listening. It's the end of high school that you don't actually have control. So by that point, you want to have moved everything that's on the expectations list over to freedoms. You may not be welcome in my home if you're going to live like that, but you know, we're not making you do anything anymore.

So both of those lists are shortening by their senior year in high school. Well, the freedoms list increases. So for my kids, their 13th birthday, they got the freedom to keep your room however you want. They had the freedom to listen to whatever music they want. Because again, these are things we didn't really have good control over.

You know, parents are gasping right now. Especially the room when I have photos. Room and music.

Well, the music, the best part about music is that, as I always mentioned, that's changed even in the 30 years I've been doing this. There used to be these plastic things called CDs. People don't probably don't even remember that.

It gave us more control as parents. That's exactly right. You did. But now you just don't. If you look on the YouTube of a popular song, it will have some billion listens. That's how it's being. It's just, if you have internet, you can listen.

It's ineffective. But to say, look, we get it. I wish we could control, but we can't.

You have to make your own decisions about that. And there's limits with it. Like if I catch your little sister listening to it, then you're going to lose your phone for a day. You can do that. But by being upfront, that's a freedom, it gives you more flexibility in communicating. But if it's a thing we've said that you cannot, then again, phones now are the thing that comes up all the time. You will have a set limit on the phone. You'll wake up three weeks later and go, hey, we're not doing that thing we said.

Clean it off, dust off home plate again, and set the limit that these things have to be on the charger by nine, whatever the thing is. Not in your room. And if not, here's the consequence. And that goes down easier if you've had those freedoms that you're giving and being able to communicate about it. And don't be surprised that your teenager is so upset that you're still making me bring this phone down.

Because their thought is, you should have nothing to do with this. This is up to me. And our thought is, that's not even your phone. And so we agree to disagree. But you didn't have it down when we told you to.

So here's the consequence. And it can create so much friction in the relationship. But really sticking to the principles is really important. So your kids, again, you're trying to equip them to have good discernment and to learn. And that's the goal. Whenever we talk about rules and enforcing consequences with teenagers like we are right now, the issue of disrespect comes up.

Because teenagers maybe aren't expressing themselves all that way. And so it comes out as this, yeah, whatever. Right. I remember the first time Troy, he gave me the W-E with his hand, you know, like W-E. You had to keep up with these things. And I was like, what does that mean? He goes, Dad, come on, it's whatever. And I'm like, oh, okay.

I was so slow. Did you make a rule over that? No whatevers?

No. And it wasn't even, Troy just doesn't have a disrespectful bone in his body. But he was just kind of getting me caught up to the lingo. Whatever. The parents are kind of on two different ends of that. There's some parents that I have to advise, you want to be careful that you don't accidentally make a rule that says you can't be real mad at me for no good reason. So tone of voice, yelling, if you're married, you know that yelling is quite a subjective thing. I'm not yelling.

Yes, I am. So you want to be careful to be clear on what we mean by disrespect is calling us names, cursing, being, giving direct threats, you be real clear on what that is and what it's not. Yeah, that's a big one. I remember, you know, Trent is six, seven. And I remember he was probably a senior in high school. And he said something was a little snappy at Gene. And I jumped up in front of him at six, two going, hey, you don't talk, of course, I'm looking up. You don't talk to your mother like that.

He's looking down at me going, what are you gonna do? And to his credit, he deescalated probably better than I did, frankly. But it worked. But that's limited. Because some other parent, ironically, I have more parents now that because he's upset, yeah, he drops f bombs all the time. And I'm like, wait, he didn't he knows he can't do that at school.

So you can have a rule with a reasonable consequence. You know, not huge. It's not nice, but it's fine. It's another dollar. Do you want to calm down, dude?

I think you're losing money fast. But being specific so that you don't either have a rule that says you can't be mad at me or the other end, which is, well, if you're mad, then we don't have any limits because we know you can't control yourself. That's not true. I could hear you saying, but correct me if I'm wrong, you know, being mad at me is okay. But lashing out or being deeply disrespectful is never okay. Yeah, well, I shouldn't do that to you. And you shouldn't do that to me. So you said this is stupid. And I don't agree with you. But you said I'm stupid, and that's gonna cost you a buck. So so there's a line of it's sort of like how you would talk to a boss that you're pretty close to you, you get along well, you know, then you but there's, there's a point where, hey, wait, I'm still your boss.

You can't talk to me like that. Yeah. Let's get into the house rules list. This is what we have on our wall.

Oh, it's for you. It may still be hanging up in the basement, but it definitely was there for a while. And it was a great list. By the way, we bought it at some great bookstore like focus on the family.

Great store. And you know, it had a dozen things we treat each other with respect and all those wonderful things. How do we inculcate house rules with maybe not having to hang them on the wall? I guess what's your philosophy about that?

Some people say house rules really aren't effective. I think with children. It's great. Yeah.

Like younger kids. Absolutely. Six, seven, eight, nine. This is what you do.

I check when you do you can even add rewards if you do it. I think up to 12 go nuts. The question is, does it change in effectiveness with teenagers?

Yeah, it really does. So you do better to clarify an area of control. You have to have this vacuumed by Tuesdays and Fridays. You have to empty the dishwasher every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Something very clear and a consequence if you don't.

But less of the tracking it is you want to basically just be able to check by bedtime so that you can say, hey, the dishwasher is still not empty. So you lost five bucks and if it's not done by the time you leave for school, you're going to lose your phone. Something that, again, you're not, you definitely, the implied rewards for teenager is leave me alone. Not a pizza party at the end of the week.

But being clear about that I need you to do this. And not being surprised if your teenager doesn't want to. What kind of a 16-year-old just eats his food and walks away and doesn't even think about his dishes?

Lots of 16-year-olds. Yeah. It's not unusual. You put a rule. You have to do this. And if you don't, there's a consequence. I mean, when you were right at the end, the time passes so fast. But when you look at all the parents you've counseled with their teens, what is that story or maybe a couple of stories where even in your own mind you're going, this is going to be tough, but it worked. Describe a scenario like that.

I have tons of those. I remember talking to a guy who came to see me years later, I'd worked through with his teenagers and he was wanting to consult about a career change. But I asked, hey, how's your daughter, how's your son? And he's like, oh, they're great.

We're going to see them, you know, with one of them has a grandchild and all this. And I said, remember when you were pretty sure everything was just going to go off a cliff and he was like, yeah, there really isn't a cliff, is there? And I said, no, there's rapids and you go through it and then you end up on the other side. But do you end up on the other side upside down or right side up?

It's always right side up. But it does make a difference that, you know, they had backed up, not panicked, clarified what they were really had limits on and clarified, and this was the harder part because there was some texting and things that were scary, clarified the things that they're not requiring and that calmed everything down and as happens always, their kids turned out better than they thought. So you back away, let your teenagers surprise you with just how well, not like you thought they would, but that they turn out the way that God has always said they would and it's not all about whether you did it right. There was nothing that we could foresee that turned Trent the way that this content did. And it was beautiful to watch. I mean, as soon as we backed down and gave over control, he turned emotionally toward us. In fact, the night I remember, Jean had made a wonderful dinner and he went out and he sent her a text saying, Mom, that was such an awesome meal. Thank you for taking the time to cook it and prepare it for us. Oh, I was like, and I remember saying to Jean, like, who is this? That was the, that was the day that it really turned and he hasn't stopped.

I mean, he does that regularly when he comes now, when he comes to the house and has a great meal that mom's made. And it's just a, to me, it's a great testimony to what you are asserting in the book and we give you great credit for that. And it worked. And so I hope people will catch this and it is fearful for a parent to give up control.

But you know what? It is so in alignment with the gospel. God says, choose. You choose me or you don't have to choose me, but it's going to go a lot better if you do. I think that's the same in our own parenting journey.

You know, you say to your child, your teenager, choose this path or choose that path, but it's your choice. And there's so much power that comes with that. So great to have you here the last two days. Thank you so very much.

Look forward to more because it's so good. And if you would like to really revamp your parenting approach, if you're in that teen or preteen mode with your kids at home, get a copy of this great resource by Dr. Ken Wilgus, Feeding the Mouth That Bites You. For a monthly pledge of any amount, we'll send this book to you. Your ongoing support is really, really key. It enables us to respond to the hundreds of thousands of moms and dads who are looking for practical help to raise good and godly kids.

And working together, we can meet that need. So sign up for a pledge today or a one time gift if that's all you can afford. We understand that and we really appreciate your generosity. Yeah, we're a phone call away. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. Or just stop by the show notes for all the details about donating and getting a copy of this terrific book by Dr. Ken Wilgus, Feeding the Mouth That Bites You. When you're at the website, check out our age and stage e-newsletters, which are designed for you. Our parenting team has compiled hot topics to keep you up to date, along with practical advice and encouragement tailored to the age of your child.

Best of all, this resource is free and you'll find the link in the program notes. Coming up tomorrow, we'll examine how pornography is putting far too many marriages at risk. If you are struggling with pornography, what that says about you is this, that you are actually in the category of people that Jesus came to save. He said, I did not come to call the righteous to repentance.

The well did not need a physician. So I know I'm not minimizing porn use, it's a bad one, but that's all it says. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. If the fights with your spouse have become unbearable, if you feel like you can't take it anymore, there's still hope. Hope restored marriage intensives have helped thousands of couples like yours. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face them together. Call us at 1-866-875-2915. We'll talk with you, pray with you and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-31 04:04:26 / 2023-10-31 04:18:04 / 14

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