Which parent are you most likely to have a conflict with?
How often do you have a conflict with that parent?
How severe is the conflict likely to be?
It will be resolved quickly and peacefully.
It will be resolved but only after much arguing.
It will not be resolved
—even after much arguing.
If you can’t seem to get along with your parents, you might think they should do something to improve the situation. As we will see, however, there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency and ease the intensity of the conflicts. First, consider . . .
Why conflict happens
Thinking ability. As you grow up, you begin to think more deeply about things than you did when you were a child. You also start forming strong convictions
—some of which might be at odds with those of your parents. Nevertheless, the Bible says: “Honor your father and your mother.” —Exodus 20:12.
Fact of life: It takes maturity and skill to disagree without being disagreeable.
Independence. As you mature, your parents will likely grant you greater freedom. The problem is, it might not be as much freedom as you want or as soon as you want it
—and that can lead to conflict. Nevertheless, the Bible says: “Be obedient to your parents.” —Ephesians 6:1.
Fact of life: Often, how much freedom your parents grant you depends on how you handle the freedom you already have.
What you can do
Focus on your role. Instead of putting the entire blame on your parents for a conflict, consider what you can do to make peace. “It’s not always what your parents say but how you respond that adds to a conflict,” says a young man named Jeffrey. “Speaking calmly goes a long way toward smoothing things over.”
The Bible says: “As far as it depends on you, be peaceable.”
Listen. “I find that this is the hardest thing to do,” admits 17-year-old Samantha. “But I’ve also found that when parents see that you’re listening, chances are they’ll listen to you.”
The Bible says: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.”
Think like a teammate. Approach a conflict as you would a sport, such as a tennis match. But put the issue
—not your parents —on the other side of the net. “In a conflict, parents want what they think is best for their teenager and the teenager wants what he thinks is best for himself,” says a young man named Adam. “So, at least in theory, they’re working for the same goal.”
The Bible says: “Pursue the things making for peace.”
Be understanding. “I find it helpful to remember that parents have to struggle with their own issues, which are often just as menacing as ours,” says a teenager named Sarah. A young woman named Carla takes it further. “I try to put myself in my parents’ position,” she says. “What would it be like for me if I were raising a child and dealing with the same situation? What would be in the best interests of my child?”
The Bible says: “Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Be obedient. In the end, that’s what the Bible requires you to do. (Colossians 3:
20) And things will go much easier for you if you comply. “My life is less stressful when I just do what my parents ask,” says a young woman named Karen. “They have already sacrificed a lot for me, so it’s the least I can do.” Obedience is one of the greatest antidotes for conflict!
The Bible says: “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out.”
Tip. If you find it difficult to communicate, try writing out your thoughts in a note or a text message. “I do that when I’m not in a good enough frame of mind to talk,” says a teenager named Alyssa. “It helps me to express myself without yelling or saying something I’ll regret later on.”
YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
Good communication skills can help you build your parents’ trust and gain more freedom.
YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
Should I sneak out to have fun, or should I be honest with my parents?
YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
Consider three steps to gaining your parents’ trust.
Whether the issue is your curfew, your music, your friends, or your clothes, it seems that you and your parents always disagree. What can help?