So, why should we pray hard that our children ignore us? Obviously this is not always the case, but sometimes when we adults get caught up in a moment of extreme emotions, we lose sense of what we are saying, to whom we are saying it and the consequences of our actions. In fact, sometimes our children realize this better than we do. They see that we are “losing it” as they would say. They realize our emotions are dictating our actions and that it’s best to ignore us for the moment. The bigger problem comes when they don’t realize what’s happening inside us and start believing what we say and what we do.
One example: A parent called me about her daughter who has been coming for therapy for close to five months. She called to tell me that her daughter was refusing to come down the stairs, even though she had been asking for a while. The mother stated that she had already been upset about something that had happened at her work during the day and was really short fused. Then she had then been calling her daughter with little response. When the daughter did respond, she was rude, loud and very angry. Finally, the mother went upstairs and found her daughter lying on the bed. At that moment, the mother became infuriated and began screaming at the daughter for her lack of consideration and cooperation. The daughter burst into tears and yelled back. In fact, the mother could not even remember what the daughter was screaming about. In anger, she told her daughter to get herself up and out of the house. Yes, in rage, she kicked her daughter out of the house. The mother ran to her room and burst into tears, becoming very physically and emotionally drained and embarrassed about her own “temper tantrum.” Meanwhile, the daughter realized that her mother had “lost it,” as she later put it, and after crying about what happened, stayed in her room for about half hour. When the mother realized her daughter was still in the house, she went into the daughter’s room with tears in her eyes. They both began crying and apologizing to each other. What the mother had not realized was that her daughter had been on the phone earlier with her best friend who had just told her that she had been diagnosed with a serious illness. The daughter was “in shock” and didn’t know how, or want, to discuss this with anyone. Meanwhile her mother was calling her to come downstairs. Emotions flailed and things were said and done that normally would not have been. This mother, like many parents, could say they are thankful the child ignored them (their angry outburst).
Now that we have discussed our kids ignoring us, here are some tips to motivate them to listen to us:
1. Everyone needs or deserves a boost. You got it when you entered college or university and if you never got it, then blaze a new trail and give your kid the boost they need in life. If necessary, pay them; negotiate with them to motivate them to start something new, something that will pay off big time for them in the future.
2. Nothing can demonstrate more to your teen that you are a fair person and that you are interested in seeing things from their point of view than to meet them half-way on an issue. Teach your teen to negotiate. It’s a skill they will thank you for the rest of your life.
3. The law of movement states that to every action there is a reaction. Nothing can motivate your teens more than to see you in action. If you want them to do something, then you do it first. If you want them to achieve greatness, then achieve it first.
4. Mentor or act a guide. This usually translates into influence. If you can mentor your teen or get a leader or positive role model to do so, you are well on your way to motivating him or her.
5. Networking can be a powerful tool in motivating support for families with delinquent teens as well as support for the teens themselves. Seek out help, positive influences and others who can get through to your teen and motivate them. Find the positive ones before he/she gets influenced by the negative role models.