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In an ever-changing, complex world, our beautiful little children seem to undergo some sort of metamorphosis that transform them into a creature that we no longer recognize as our child. It seems as though the monsters that our child was so scared of at night materialized from under their beds and ate the child we once knew. This monster left us with a being that poses some very difficult and real challenges for we, as parents, and the family. How do we manage this conflict?

Perhaps the best way to manage a conflict to understand what is happening from your teen’s point of view. Teens are trying to deal with the hormonal changes that seem to have them bouncing off the ceiling and walls, and it is happening at light speed. They feel a sudden sense of isolation, feeling that the world does not understand their feelings. As a parent, we are on the top of the list of not understanding them. As a teen, they feel angry, alone, and confused. All of this, and they are facing complicated issues about their identity, peers, sexual behavior, drinking and drugs. In turn, we feel much the same way. We suddenly feel frustrated because what worked as parenting skills just yesterday no longer not works today. Our choices of discipline have no impact on them, and now we feel frightened and helpless about their life’s choices.

As such, a conflict is brewing and is just waiting to happen. Given any of typical areas of concern, and we have will a conflict with our teenager. We may argue over curfews, choice of our child’s friends, spending too much time with their friends when we want them to be with the family more, their school grades, driving privileges, dating and sexuality, clothing, hair, makeup, and a list of self-destructive behaviors. I believe you know the routine. However, what a lot of conflict boils down to is perhaps their lack of self-esteem. It is a difficult task to get them to feel good about themselves and promote a healthy self-image. Let’s face it, they are surrounded by images of perfection, and unfortunately, they do not realize that this kind of beauty does not happen over night or exist in a real world. Often the people we see in Hollywood or on the cover of magazines, spend all day at the gym with their trainers, or have had cosmetic surgery to alter themself, or have had the photos touched. Makeup experts and the right lights can perform miracles for the camera. So for us, the parent, we need to take steps to help them foster a positive, healthy self-image.

So how do we do that? Trust me, they listen, and are listening, whether they show it or not. They listen to our opinions. If we make a remark about their weight or intelligence, just remember they heard us loud and clear. For example, if your teen has a weight issue, there is a strong likelihood that they know and are very much aware of the issue even more so than you. It sticks with them. A better alternative than to comment on their weight would be to suggest or ask them if they would like to go with you on a daily run or to the gym. When they see the weight drop, we will see a change for the good in their self-esteem and in their moods.

By suggesting to our teen that they accompany us to the gym, our child learns from us. We want instill a positive lesson in them. So the lesson here is to watch what we do. If we practice healthy eating habits and gym habits, so will they. However, if we are the the kind of person who obsesses over our weight, then our child will learn the same behavior pattern. For better or for worse, they will emulate us.

Above all else, remember to compliment our teenager on their good attributes. If we learn to emphasize their positive attributes on a regular basis, who knows, they may just start believing in themselves. After all, teenagers are not really that much different than us. As human beings, we tend to flourish when we are praised for our positives.




  1. Serena Jones-McGregor says:

    When I was younger my Dad would affectionately refer to me as “Thunder Thighs”. As an adult I KNOW he only meant it teasingly, but it has stuck with me all these years later. I think sometimes people say things to kids and don’t realize the effect it will have on them for years to come. I HOPE my children feel the self-worth I never did.


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