Many parents struggle to receive respect from their teenage children. Parents often complain about their children ignoring them, not listening, or pretending to listen and then not following through with what is asked or requested of them. Parenting experts concede that these types of actions, which are so common of teens, are conditioned responses to their parents and the lack of discipline and consequences in their home. Teens have learned that they do not have to do what is asked of them, because there will be no consequences. Parents do not have credibility, and because of this, they do not receive respect.
Parents and other authority figures that have developed credibility with teenage children continually find that they are listened to, respected, and are better able to maintain control over their child and their home. On the other hand, those who have not established credibility find that they are challenged, ignored, and otherwise tested by those same children. But what is credibility and how does one establish credibility?
Credibility is defined as the quality of being trusted, convincing, and believable. Other words for credibility include authenticity, reliability, and plausibility. In order to be credible, you need to be believable, consistent, and genuine. These are difficult qualities to develop, but they are an important part of developing a positive and respectful relationship with your teen. Credibility is necessary for any parent to be effective.
Some children respect their parents simply because of the fact that they are parents. However, many children do not have this natural respect, and instead, need to learn that their parents are credible and will follow through on what they say. There are various ways to establish credibility with teenage children.
Holding Strong to Saying “NO”
How children react to the word “NO” can give parents some valuable insight into just how credible they are. Analyzing what “NO” means within a family is a great way to measure the parents’ level of credibility and determine which methods to use in order to establish or reestablish credibility within the parent child relationship.
In households where parents have established credibility and have the respect of their children, “NO” simply means “NO.” Whatever request that the child was making has been denied, no question about it. In households where credibility has not been established, “NO” often means one of four things:
- The child asked the wrong way.
- The child asked at the wrong time.
- The child asked the wrong parent.
- The child has not asked frequently enough.
If any of these alternative meanings seems to apply in your home, you will need to work to redefine “NO” and begin establishing credibility once again.
The key to establishing credibility with children is to hold strong when you say “NO.” By saying “NO”, and then changing your response later, you are only showing your children that you do not mean what you say, and that they cannot trust you to hold to your response. This ruins your credibility as a parent.
Hold strong when you say “no” by:
- Setting limits in advance. Let your child know the household rules so that every member of the family knows what to expect.
- Practice your response. Some parents lose their vigor in the moment. Practice saying “no” with resolve.
- Remember that your job is to set limits. It is not your job to control the way that your child responds to those limits.
The Importance of Follow Through
Without parental resolve and effective follow through, there is no way to develop credibility or respect. Too often, parents implement consequences, and then reverse those consequences immediately, or within a few days. One example is that of a parent who grounds their child for a week, only to let them out of the house in order to attend a school function a few days later. Though parents can often rationalize their decision to do so, this proves to their child that the parent does not follow through on their word. Over time – often a relatively short period of time – a child learns that they do not have to worry about any threats that their parents make. Consequences have no meaning to the child. This destroys a parent’s credibility and erodes the respect that the child has for their parent.
If you want your child to believe that you will do what you say, you need to practice follow through. Consequences without follow through are simply empty threats that destroy your credibility as a parent. Be consistent. Follow through on what you say. Within a short time, you will see that you get consistent results and reactions from your child.
How to use Consequences Effectively
If you want to establish credibility with your child, you need to recognize “NO” as a parenting tool and learn how to use it effectively. There are a few ways to do this.
- Only use “NO” when you really mean it. Using “NO” casually, or as a thoughtless response, often results in the word losing its meaning when you later change your response to “Yes.”
- Don’t be afraid to buy time. If you aren’t sure of an answer or response, tell your teen that you need to think about it. A delayed, credible response is far more effective than an immediate an unbelievable response.
- Work with your spouse. You and your spouse need to be on the same page regarding parenting decisions. If not, your child will soon learn which parent to ask in order to get the response that they want. This undermines the credibility of both parents.
- Be sure to follow through on consequences.
Parents who do not know how to use consequences effectively are often preyed upon by ruthless teenagers who only care about their own wants and needs. A parent who knows how to use consequences effectively, on the other hand, has established credibility and has earned the respect of his child. This results in teenage children who listen to their parent’s decisions and respect their response. Households with established consequences are far more peaceful than those without.
Recognize that consequences are important. Do not shield your child from hurt, anger, or disappointment. Consequences are an important part of growth and development. However, don’t implement consequences that penalize you as a parent. This will mean that you are far less likely to follow through with the consequence, and therefore, will undermine your credibility. Most importantly, if you say that a certain behavior or decision will have a consequence, follow through. The consequence should be substantial enough that it affects your teen’s life in a significant way in order to have a lasting, and educational, impact.
If you want to be a respected and credible parent, you want your child to believe certain things about you. Keep three goals in mind. The child of a credible parent knows:
- Their parent says what they mean, and means what they say.
- No means no.
- If their parent says an action will have a consequence, the action will – in fact – have the discussed consequence.
It takes a long time to establish credibility and respect. Parents often find themselves having to reestablish their credibility as their child grows and matures. This is a normal part of the endless cycle of parenting.
If you are a parent that is struggling with your teen’s behavior and are looking for ways to help establish your credibility and gain your child’s respect, consider these resources:
For more information on parenting teens, check out these FREE videos: http://parenttools.org