Here’s Why I Don’t Waste Time Arguing With My Teens Anymore

After several years of parenting teens and many emotional conflicts along the way, I made a decision. I would no longer argue with my teens.

Why? Because, they would always win. 

Arguments were once common in our house. I noticed that our teens were willing to prove a point with ruthless and harsh words, but as an adult, I understood that retaliating in the same way had the potential to damage our long-term relationship. 

Why I stopped arguing with my kids. (Photo credit: Sky Kahn)

When I stopped arguing with my teens their respect for me increased

Arguing put me on an even playing field with my teens and when I no longer went back and forth or debated heated topics, their respect for me increased. With a little practice and a lot of patience (mostly with myself), I stopped arguing altogether. If your teen is argumentative or tends to seek out conflict, this approach might also work for you. 

When our four children were young, I taught them the benefit of discussing and debating ideas. At family dinners, we practiced debating both sides of controversial subjects taken from the latest headlines and breaking news.

I explained that there were many ways to look at a topic and I emphasized the value of seeing things from another’s perspective. I was proud when our kids were able to confidently share their point of view or make a convincing case to a teacher or coach. 

I taught my kids how to take the other side of an argument and it backfired

However, this backfired on me as they grew older and held passionate opposing opinions on subjects that I felt were important or non-negotiable. I came to understand that there was a fine line between respecting authority and standing up for yourself and your opinions.

My oldest teen seemed to enjoy arguing and could also become easily defensive. “The deadline to sign up for the summer course is coming up,” I would say. “I still have time,” he would reply automatically. I stopped myself from going back and forth. Instead of arguing, I later left the program brochure on his desk with the deadline circled. In this case, I used the brochure as a neutral tool to address our disagreement.

I allowed my teens to suffer the natural consequences of their actions

“The grocery store closes at 10:00 PM, didn’t you want to run out and pick up protein powder so you’ll have it for school tomorrow?” I asked. “It closes at 11:00 PM,” he would say with certainty. Instead of disagreeing, I watched him leave at 10:30 PM and let the closed store speak for me. 

I no longer argued about when it was time to refill the gas tank. I watched it go to empty and sympathized when our teen had to walk a half a mile to pick up more gas. I didn’t give into the panic that I felt inside over another looming deadline involving an elite football camp. Although it was challenging not to intervene, I held back and allowed my teens to correct themselves. 

In the past, our disagreements escalated into insults about the quality of parenting (mine) or laziness and apathy (theirs). Now, in the absence of a power struggle, impassioned topics were discussed in a more peaceful way. 

I detached myself from needing to be correct

When our teen remembered ordering an item on the takeout menu that I believed was no longer offered, I said, “Let’s check the menu. You believe one thing and I think it’s another.” I detached myself from being correct and our disagreements no longer dissolved into a fight. 

“Don’t make a purchase on such a sketchy website,” I said. “All my friends use the site,” our teen replied defensively. Unfortunately, the website was indeed suspect and the battle with the bank was hers to fight. When our teen was required to correct herself, the lesson hit home.

It’s not healthy to live in constant combat

If you find yourself frequently arguing with your teen, try shrugging your shoulders instead. Make the decision not to argue. Instead, share the instructions, find the rules, and allow your teens to correct themselves. 

I eventually eliminated the habit of reproaching and arguing with our teens because it almost always caused them to lash out. It’s now an ingrained habit to avoid arguments altogether.

It wasn’t healthy for us to live in a combative environment and my teens were willing to say almost anything in order to be right. Now, I offer my point of view but I refuse to arm wrestle. Now that I’m no longer on an even playing field, our relationship has improved, and I’ve gained the respect that I wanted.

More Great Reading:

My Teens Began to Change When I Stopped Talking and Did This, Instead

About Sky Khan

Sky Khan is a childbirth educator and birth worker living in Texas Hill Country with her best friend Ben, their two sons, and two daughters. Learn more here.

Read more posts by Sky

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