Rodney Gage is the founding pastor of Fellowship Orlando and the author of the book, We Can Work It Out: Creative Conflict Resolution with Your Teen. In it, he offers valuable insight into the cause and effect of parent/teen conflict and offers creative, Christ-centered approaches to effective conflict resolution. Back in my Parenting Teenagers days, I interviewed him about the book, and here's a sample of that conversation.
It is, and I think it's very important to reassure and reaffirm parents that if they are in the process of raising a son or daughter who is a teenager, then whatever challenges that they're facing are absolutely normal. There are some situations obviously where parents feel that things maybe aren't quite as normal as it should be, and that's where I hope that some of the more specifics that we'll be talking about will give some direction and guidance on how to overcome that.
What are some key ways for parents to take a more proactive approach in resolving conflict with their teens?
One of the things that is really important for parents to do is to remain cool, calm, and collected. Don't rush to judgment on certain things. Admit your anger. This goes back to speaking the truth in love and admitting when you have been hurt. There are basic things that parents must do in order to get a true grip or handle on the conflict at hand. It's important for parents to understand that the conflict may seem overwhelming and uncontrollable, but at the same time they can get a handle on it if they're willing to do certain things to diffuse the conflict.
How does defining expectations and responsibilities help contribute to the lessening of parent/teen conflict in the home?
When is it time for parents to get some help from a pastor or counselor in resolving conflict with their teens?
There should never ever be any stigma that a parent should feel that keeps them from getting the help that they greatly need. For example, a lot of parents think, "If I go talk to my pastor or youth pastor, everybody's going to think I'm a failure." It's amazing how we'll seek counsel and wisdom about a business situation. We think nothing about picking up the phone and saying, "Here's a deal that I'm working on. What advice would you give me?" We think nothing about all of that, but when it comes to our family, why is it that they are the last ones to get the help they so deserve?
We ought to go the extra mile in getting all the help, wisdom, encouragement, and insight that we can possibly get - whether it's reading books, listening to tapes, seeking advice from other peers we highly respect, going to the pastor or youth pastor, or going to a professional counselor.
When a son or daughter is experiencing delinquent behavior (major issues of defiance or rebellion, becoming violent in any way, or using drugs or alcohol) that's when a parent must step in and say, "We have got to get professional help to help us with our son or daughter."
A pastor or a youth pastor can always be an incredible resource in terms of being the first step to getting the right kind of help.