Presidential Debate Lessons for Parenting Difficult Teenagers

Presidental Campaign Lessons on Parenting Troubled TeensThe current series of presidential debates have not only captured the attention of tens of millions of Americans, they also have shed an important light on how responsible people deal with each other when they have disagreements – including parents of difficult teenagers.  While some may argue that the presidential etiquette has eroded, the truth is that when compared to many of the confrontations parents have with their troubled teens,these debates seem quite tame indeed.

Parenting difficult teenagers is a challenge unto itself, but many parents exacerbate the problem when confronting their troubled teens by letting their emotions get the better of them.  What follows are a few lessons that the presidential debates demonstrate that parents of troubled teens can use to help avoid a needless confrontation that leads to disastrous results.

Be Clear

You may have watched the debates and observed that their answers or unclear and do not answer the questions asked.  The points each candidate may have actually made you more confused about the subject and your opinion of them dropped.

Don’t make this mistake with your teen.  Parenting difficult teenagers is not easy task, but it greatly helps when you are clear and consistent when talking to them.  Setting rules and explaining your actions should be simple and straightforward.  You can add clarity by asking your teen if they have any questions about what your discussion and always ask what was understood.  Remember when speaking to your troubled teens, be clear, direct and to the point.  You may also want to consider how your nonverbal behavior communicates just as much as your words – after all, actions do speak louder than words.

Always Tell the Truth

You may have also noticed after the presidential debates that the next morning the media runs “fact checks” to verify the statements of each candidate.  Those candidates that don’t tell the truth are often penalized negatively by the press for making up stories or outright lying.

Lying to your children, especially to troubled teens is never a good thing.  You should always strive to tell the truth because it is the foundation of trust.  Plus, it’s pretty difficult to keep a lie straight over time.  Once the story inevitably changes your children know that you lied to them.  Telling the truth helps keep you consistent with your troubled teens.

It’s Okay to Agree to Disagree

During the debates when the presidential candidates reach an impasse, you have seen them agree to disagree.  This is a way to both acknowledge the position of the other candidate and to end the discussion without breaking into an argument.

Agreeing to disagree can help you when parenting difficult teenagers as well.  Understanding you are going to see some things differently.  By acknowledging that you see things differently by agreeing to disagree, you show your teen respect for their point of view without caving or giving in to yours.  In addition, it can short circuit a bigger argument from happening.

As you can see, the presidential debates serve as a strong reminder about how people can get along even with widely opposing viewpoints.  Applying this knowledge to your parenting can help you calm things down with your troubled teen.

Image By Fmcmahon93 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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