Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ask me again. Ask me again! (who is the big dog?)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, December 10, 2007

This role-play or technique if you will, comes up again and again at our meetings as parents discover it's effectiveness in stopping teens from debating and pestering. It came up at our Alliance Meeting on 12-8-07, as one of our parents reported again on how effective this has been since he heard about it from one of the other parents.

Teens have learned that they can sometimes wear parents down by constantly badgering them. That especially, if parents allow themselves to engage in the big "debate" over whether or not a teen should be allowed to do a certain thing, that eventually they become weary of the discussion and may weaken to the point of saying something to the effect of, "oh it's on you- go ahead, remember I told you this was a bad idea," or "OK, but just this once don't ask again." This approach reminds me of a persistent hockey team playing against the best goalie in the world. Their game plan is to just put enough traffic in front of the goal so that something can slip in. Likewise, a teen is just going to torture his parents until he gets the answer the he wants.

Parents can declare freedom from this pressure when they admit a couple of things to their teenager.

1st. We are not going to convince our teens that we are right when we say "NO." We can sit there all night and debate and our teen will only get more annoyed or angry with the parent. The teen does not wish to understand. The teen wishes to have his own way. There is a big difference between wanting your own way and wanting to understand.

2ND. Some times our teenagers need to ask us a million times if they can do something. This is partly because they may have learned that it is one way to get their own way.

3rd. If we try to leave the teen to his own struggles, the teen might just stalk us around the house until we give in. Don't run if you think you will pursued. Stop. Face your stalker. Use strong body language and show your teen that you won't run from the issue. Exception; if you have opportunity to retreat to part of the house or to the car where there is sanctuary- then that's fine- however, often there is no safe haven and we must stop running if we can't get away anyhow.

Teen: Mom can I go out tonight.

Mom: No.

Teen: Please.

Mom: No it's late. Stay home.

Teen: Why? Give me one good reason why not?

Mom: It's too late.

Teen: I'll be home by eleven. That's not too late. You let me stay out that late before.

Mom: Not tonight.

Teen: Give me one good reason.

Mom: No

Teen: What do you mean "No."

Mom: Look, [leaning in closer and lowering voice]. I will never convince you that you should not go out tonight.

Teen: What does that mean?

Mom: Just this. We could discuss this all night. Come morning, you would still think that you should have been allowed out. I don't have the power to convince you that you should stay home.

Teen: Right. I know. So let me go.

Mom: No.

Teen: Just like that. Just because you say so- is it one of those again?

Mom: Yes.

Teen: I don't understand.

Mom: I know. And that's my point honey. You won't understand - no matter how long we talk about it, no matter how many reasons I give you- it won't be enough to convince you. So, I'm not gong to try to convince you. It's just the way it is. Deal with it.

Teen: You have no right to treat me like I'm 14.

Mom: Nevertheless, stay home- do not go out.

Teen: You don't even know where I want to go! I want to go over Laura's. You KNOW she's a good kid, Mom.

Mom: Regardless, stay home.

Teen: Mom, you have to let me go! I have to go. I have to see Laura. I have to talk to her tonight- you don't know how much this means to me!!!!!!.

Mom: OK, I can see where this is going.

Teen: You can? So you'll let me go? I love you- I promise I won't be out past 12.

Mom: That's not want I meant.

Teen: What do you mean - you see where this is going? It's going to where I wanna know why i can't go out- that's where it's going.

Mom: Like I said, I can't convince you honey but I can see that you need to ask me repeatedly about this. OK, lets get it over with. Ask me now.

Teen: What are you talking about?

Mom: Well you need to ask me, I suppose, 20 or 30 times to try to get me to change my mind. Go ahead. Ask me now. [mother moves closer.]

Teen: Can I go out tonight?

Mom: NO- ask me again.

Teen: Can I go out tonight?

Mom: No- ask me again.

Teen: This is stupid.

Mom: Yes - I agree. But you need to get this out of your system so go ahead. Ask me again. Ask me now.

Teen: No. [walks off angry.]

The idea is that once you give the teenager permission to ask you- it somehow becomes a "paradoxical task," or "reverse psychology." In any case it seems to take the wind out of the sail of the teen and they no longer wish to do it once they have permission to "fire away." The teen can sense the futility in the exercise.

The other thing that often happens is that the teenager pursues the parent into different corners of the house continuing to torture the parent who will not relent.

If you were in group in Wexford on Saturday or at Greentree last Tuesday, you may remember me telling about the time when I was small and I tried to outrun a dog who had jumped over a fence. I couldn't out run the dog. I got bit on the rear end. Stitches and everything. Very traumatic. What did i learn? Don't show your rear end. Keep good solid eye contact. Don't back down because if you do retreat you will get bit. The exception of course is if you can get away- then that is a different story. So many times, however, the parent knows that in their home for various reasons, there is no where to hide.

The remedy for this is to face the teenager. Bridge the gap. This is often a tactic that we recommend in group. Get closer. Face to face. Take a wee bit of their personal space away. Don't become their prey. If you are being pursued in your own home as you run from room to room, then it is clear who has all the power. If you allow yourself to become the prey then you are fast on the way to loosing any position of power.

Once you face down your teen you may sense the shift in power. In fact, with strong body language, you can now allow yourself to be conciliatory. This is often a very good way to take the offensive.

Mom: [trying to get away from teenager she starts walking away still saying these words] I'm done talking about this- this conversation is over.

Teen: [raising voice] Don't you walk away from me you little Ho, I'm not finished discussing this one. There is no reason - you can't give me one reason -that you have to treat me like this. I did nothing to you. I even helped you with the laundry today, and now you won't give me the car to use? What kind of shit is that?

Mom: [reverses direction- faces teen- moves into personal space of teen but keeps voice very low and very measured] OK- I can see that you still have things to say about this.

Teen: [startled with the reverse direction and the teen backs up a step to try to keep things more in her comfort zone] You're damn right I've got things to say.

Mom: OK, well I want to hear what you have to say. In fact, I'm going to give you the last word. Go ahead, you take the last word. I'll shut up and listen.

Teen: I want to go out.


Mom: Keep going.

Teen: I am going out. I need the keys to the car tonight. It's very important. If you knew how important it was to me you would let me go out.

Mom: Keep going. I'm listening.

Teen: Please Please Please let me have the car tonight- Please Mom I swear I'll be home by midnight.

Mom: Keep talking- let me have it.

Teen: Mom! Answer me.

Mom: No- I've said my piece. This is your chance to have the last word. You can tell me off or say anything you want. I'm listening.

Teen: That's no fair.

Mom: What's not fair?

Teen: You aren't going to let me go-it doesn't matter what I say.

Mom: It apparently matters to you - that's why you follow me around the house with this stuff- lets just get it out of your system. I'm not arguing - I'm giving you the last word so that we don't compete to see who gets to have it. You can have the last say. Go ahead- tell me what you need to tell me. I'm listening.

Teen: Can I have the car tonight please?

Mom: No you may not. Ask me again if you need to- go ahead.

Teen: Fu$& you. [walks away]

Both of these situations involve the parent giving permission for the teen to continue to ask or to have the last word. But now, to the teen, there appears to be no point.

No comments:


This layout (edited by Ken) made by and copyright cmbs.