Respect for Myself and my Teen

A Deeper Look at Parenting…

Let’s talk about respect. None of my teen clients ever doubted that their parents loved them. But, they rarely felt respected.

You may be thinking, “But I do treat my kid with respect.” Do you? What exactly does “treating her with respect” mean?

(1) It means having the attitude that you are “for” her, that you view her as unique, as one of a kind, not as a mini-you. (2) It means that you view her as having value because she’s another human being. (3) It means that you see her as separate from yourself. (4) It means that you see her as responsible for developing her own potential so that she can become good at running her own life.

If you and I are friends, how do I act out respect for you?

First. I assign you value in my life. Your wishes, thoughts, and feelings are all important to me.

Second. I always respect myself as well as you in our relationship. I believe that it’s possible for both of us to get some of what we want. In other words, I have a win-win attitude, not an attitude that I have to win; you have to lose or vice versa. I view us as partners.

Third. I show respect when I withhold judgments about you and, instead, try to understand you.

Fourth. I show respect by giving you my time, my energy and my attention.

Fifth. I show respect for you when I help you cultivate yourself as you grow toward independence.

Why is it so important to show your troubled teen respect?

First. It will give her “appropriate” attention. Troubled teens are used to being treated negatively by their parents. Respect can be felt so your actions and attitude will calm her. The teens I see in my office are so angry, they’re suffocating with it. They’re angry with every adult they know, with the possible exception of a coach or teacher here or there.

Second. Teens are afraid. For all their bluff, they’re still naïve kids. They don’t know what to do with their anger or their fear. For the difficult teen to make progress, the significant adults in her life have to back up and start over by giving respect.

Third. When you try to build respect between you and your teen, your actions say you’re willing to help her out of trouble, not punish her because she’s where she is. It gives her a reason to try.

If your child feels you respect her, she can feel emotionally safe with you. If your teen can feel respect from you, she can not only feel safe with you, but she can also view you as a source of encouragement, of ideas, and of information that she can use without giving up her own individuality.

Your teen’s ability to respect you depends on how you manage your own “stuff,” that is, whatever life is handing you. If you deal with your own life positively and productively, your teen can respect you. You also receive respect when you treat her with understanding and patience while she’s struggling with what life gives her.

Is there Respect between you and your teen?

Warmest regards till next time,


P.S. This description of a respectful attitude and respectful behavior works with anyone, not just teens!

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