by Shadra Bruce

I think all parents must go through a Rodney Dangerfield phase. Coincidentally, this phase starts about the time your kids become teens. At some point, your kids mutate from adoring little angels to some kind of alien species. And the problem is, you had a close and loving relationship with your adoring little angel, and now your mutant teen alien is capable of using that relationship to push your buttons. I hate having my buttons pushed!

When you have teens who know just how to evoke the frustrated reaction they are looking for, it can take all your strength not to fly apart at the seams. Even the best behaved teens cause their parents enough frustration to make them question the sanity of becoming parents. One thing I’ve learned going through the teenage years three times is that sometimes the only way to keep your sanity is to be able to walk away.

I think it’s human nature to want to win the argument and have the last word, but it doesn’t work with teens. If you’re having a communication breakdown with your teen, it’s time to change your tactics. You can’t stop your teen from trying to push your buttons, but as the adult, you are in control, even when you don’t feel like it. Instead of engaging with your teens when they are being disrespectful or rude, walk away.

You can’t stop your teen from getting angry, throwing tantrums (teens and toddlers have more in common than you think), or whining but you can stop yourself from joining them at their adolescent level. A quick jog, a count to ten, or a few deep breaths can do wonders for your stress levels in a situation like this. Anger tends to fade as quickly as it comes and your teens will work through their emotions on their own.

If your teen is being mouthy or disrespectful, simply dig your fingernails into the palms of your hand and calmly tell him or her that you’re willing to talk about whatever it is that’s troubling them as soon as they can have a respectful conversation. (Then you can walk away and scream into your pillow).

Let’s face it, having teens in the house is kind of like hosting an alien exchange program, because when your kids hit the teen years, you may not know what planet they came from. But as alien as they seem, teens are simply trying to establish who they are and get some breathing room. Sure, they are pushing your buttons in the process, but you can have ground rules in place to make life easier, and over time you might just find they can muster up a little respect after all.