Parenting Oppositional Teens

As much as a teen’s peer group has its influence over her actions, you are also a prime role model for her behavior. And the values or ideals you hold dear most likely may be passed on to your youngster.

Don’t be a hypocrite. In order to keep your household lie-free, of course don’t get caught lying yourself! Adolescents cannot look up to someone who’s telling them one thing while doing another. As much as possible, live by what you preach.

Use humor when you can. When discussing sensitive topics with your teen, such as sex or drug abuse, one can always look towards humor as a great tool in softening things up. If you crack a joke as an icebreaker to begin a topic about sex education, then once you are both laughing it’ll be easier to ease into the topic’s details.

Humor can also make you both feel instantly more comfortable with one another. It’s a great way to alleviate any stress! This is just one helpful hint that may clear up the communication line between you and your adolescent.

What exactly is active parenting?

An active mother or father:
  • would not wait for a teen to ask for help, but offer it
  • is not too busy with work to ask an adolescent how his/her day went after school
  • asks a question and takes the time to really listen to the answer

A point which can contribute to your adolescent’s misbehavior is your own underestimation of him. If you do not keep yourself fully aware of your teen’s full capabilities and the different possibilities that he may turn to when looking for a way around a given penalty, then you’re digging a hole for yourself to fall into. You mustn’t underestimate your adolescent.

When faced with a penalty, your oppositional adolescent will try and look for a way out. It may help to even think of back-up penalties to use in place of set ones in order to keep yourself a step ahead of your teen in the case of him trying to avoid original penalties. It’s never a waste to ask yourself, What if? By thinking things through beforehand, you can lessen the chances of your teen thinking them through ahead of you.

For a complete program on how to deal with oppositional teens, go to

Why Teens Have So Much Anger

There is probably no greater problem facing moms and dads than dealing with angry teens.

Anger and learning to deal with anger is a necessary and important part of growing up. Rather than rely on techniques to manage your angry youngster, it seems to help a lot of moms and dads if they understand what makes kids act that way.

What Teens Say About Their Anger—
  • "I get angry at my parents because they argue with each other. I don’t respect them."
  • "I get angry because I love my parents and they act like they hate each other. How am I supposed to respect them when they act like that?"
  • "I get angry when I have a lot of things on my mind that I can’t do anything about and then my parents ask me to do something when I’m already tired and over loaded."
  • "I get angry when my parents are unfair and there’s no point in talking to them."
  • "I get angry when my parents ask me how my day went. I’m trying to forget it and they make me remember it. I wouldn’t care if they didn’t make everything worse."
  • "I get angry when my parents make me feel guilty for something that already happened. I get tired, bored and angry and I forget to do things that make it worse."
  • "I get angry when there are other priorities, no time for me and I feel like I don’t matter."
  • "I treat my parents the same way they treat me."
  • "I’d rather be angry at my parents than feel afraid or feel hurt. I’d probably hurt myself if I wasn’t angry at them. That’s no excuse but that’s how I feel."
  • "I’m not angry but my voice gets louder when I end up with more things on my mind that make me feel bad."
  • "My parents are stupid. They don’t understand. They just say they do but they don’t. I can’t stand to be around them."
  • "When my parents make me feel bad it reminds me of all the other times that people make me feel bad. I already don’t like myself and criticism just makes it worse."

What Can Parents Do?

What kids tell you is not necessarily the whole truth but there is always an element of truth. Just listening to your youngster and understanding what makes them angry can help in most cases. You don’t have to agree with your teenager but it helps to just listen and show your youngster that you care.

There can be no simple solution when facing an angry youngster. It is not fair or even effective to expect moms and dads to avoid upsetting their teenager. Once your child gets angry, you can’t always make it better. But unfortunately moms and dads can make it worse and even reinforce angry behavior if they shout, insult or argue back. Sometimes the best we can do is to not make it worse and then deal with a youngster’s anger at a better time in a fair and effective manner. Giving kids a consequence later when you are not upset and they are not upset is always best. They may get upset later but at least your punishment was not given out of anger. Kids are less likely to "get even" later if you don’t punish them when you are angry.

Kids typically have a lot of expectations that they have not examined rationally. Changing our expectations is not easy – especially when we are used to getting what we want. But the fact is, the best time to explore your youngster’s expectations is not when they are upset. Lecturing an upset teenager or anyone who is upset for that matter is not a "teachable moment". Exploring and gently challenging a youngster’s expectations when they are calm is best. The key is to explore your youngster’s expectations before they get upset and then help correct any errors.

Some kids are just plain temperamental no matter what you do. Others kids are easily frustrated no matter what happens. But the underlying reason is almost always this: Kids become angry when they are frustrated and they assume they are being picked on, treated unfairly or made to feel bad on purpose. They get angry because anger is often the only way they know how to escape or avoid feeling sad, hurt, afraid or out of control.

Blaming others and ignoring their own behavior is a clear sign of an insecure youngster. Insecure kids with low self-esteem feel better when they are angry and blaming other people. Any teenager who is extremely angry at their self can become self-destructive, create failure or think about suicide. It is a sad reality, but anger at the world is not nearly as depressing as feeling like a failure with no excuses.

For help with angry teens, download your copy of the "My Out-of-Control Teen" eBook today…

Tips for Multi-Racial Families

There are approximately 7 million people in the United States who identify as mixed-race with half of these being under the age of 18, and it is estimated that the mixed-race population in the U.S. will reach 21% by 2050. Yet, multiracial people and families remain marginalized and overlooked by mainstream U.S. society. As a result, the unique issues and struggles they face are often poorly understood by professionals, co-workers, friends and extended family, making it difficult to successfully manage challenges when they arise.

Racial Struggles in Multi-racial Families—

All families, regardless of race, encounter challenges and stressors, but there are a variety of unique racially-based issues and struggles that tend to confront multiracial families. To assess if your family may be grappling with any of these, consider the list of questions below.

"Who am I?"

A core struggle for mixed-race people is how to define themselves racially, which is influenced by a host of factors including physical appearance, family values, geographic location, etc.

Does anyone in your family, especially kids or teens, have difficulty defining themselves racially, and experience persistent confusion, anxiety, distress, or irritability when posed with this question?

"Whose side are you on anyway?"

Parental conflict sometimes creates "sides" that kids have to choose between, and in multiracial families, this pressure can be “racialized.” Kayla's father (whose is white) and her mother (who is African American and Native American) argue constantly and Kayla feels torn between them, including racially. According to Kayla, "I'm afraid if I'm too in touch with my black and Native roots my father will think I'm rejecting him and siding with my mother, and if I'm too white my mother will think I'm rejecting her and siding with my father."

Are there parental conflicts in your family that, directly or indirectly, create "sides" and do the "sides" extend to racial issues as well?

When the Misdeeds of One are Held Against All—

Sometimes the hurt that a loved one causes is generalized to an entire racial group. Teresa (who is white) and Jose (who is black and Latino) recently divorced after Teresa fell in love with another man. Their three kids, who felt abandoned, have generalized their hurt and anger with their mother towards all white people. As their daughter stated, "You just can't trust white people, they let you down every time."

Has anyone in your family used the hurt and anger caused by an individual as "proof" of stereotypes or negative beliefs about an entire racial group?

Racial Devaluation—

Racial devaluation occurs when negative attitudes and behaviors are expressed toward any of the racial groups represented in the family. This may occur directly when family members make denigrating racial comments, or indirectly through behaviors where lighter or "whiter looking" kids are treated more favorably than darker kids.

How might you or other family members express racial devaluation? How often does this happen? What effects might this have on the family, especially on kids?

Between Siblings—

While some sibling rivalry and conflict is natural, beware of when it becomes racial. Tensions among siblings around differences in complexion, hair textures, eye color, and facial features often are tied to painful wounds that can strain relationships and compromise healthy racial identity development.

Do any of the sibling conflicts in your family revolve around racial issues?

“Race doesn't matter in our family…”

Wanting to see everyone as "just human" and to not make race "an issue" leads some families to avoid talking about race altogether. Yet race and racism are inescapable realities in our society. Families who don't talk directly about race often fail to provide their kids with the racial socialization they need to understand and manage racial realities outside of the family. As Mr. Jones explained, "In this family, we're all people, so we don't dwell on the race stuff." While a noble ideal, in refusing to address race, Mr. Jones failed to prepare his son, Carl (half white and half Asian), to handle the "the race stuff" he encountered when he went away to college.

Is it hard for your family to discuss race openly and directly? What messages do kids learn about race and how are they prepared to manage racial issues in the wider world?

When Friends are Unfriendly—

Many mixed-race kids experience racial scorn and rejection from peers. Such experiences are painful but with appropriate guidance and affirmation kids can cope successfully.

If and when your kids encounter racial rejection from peers, do they talk to you about these experiences? Do your kids have the coping skills and resources to manage these experiences with confidence?

What to Do If Any of These Signs Are Present—

If you recognize any of these signs in your family, consulting with a marriage and family therapist is highly recommended. Family therapists are trained to understand, restructure, and heal family relationships. A family therapist may spend some time meeting alone with mothers and fathers or just with kids, but at all times they are working for the benefit of both the whole family and for each individual member.

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