“Why won’t my teen listen to me?”
It seems so simple. In your head, it’s super clear. All you need her to do is clean her room. That’s not asking too much. It’s the least she can do.
You are having guests over and you are cleaning the rest of the house, plus making dinner, etc.
You’ve done everything right. You’ve let her know ahead of time. You have reminded her several times. One time she texted you back and said “okay.”
And now it’s the day before and she hasn’t even touched her room. You have given her a deadline to have it done by that night.
Now it’s 5 pm and she’s with her friends. You start obsessing, “Is she ever going to clean her room?”
In your mind, you start reflecting back on how many things you’ve done for her just in the past week. You can’t believe that she won’t do this one small thing for you. You think she is the most selfish person in the world. You didn’t raise her to be that way.
You wake up the morning of your dinner party and she still hasn’t done anything to clean her room.
You remind her again and then she explodes and tells you that she is counting the days till she can move out of this house. (With a few curse words thrown in.)
She tells you that she has a lot going on and that she has more important things to do than clean her room.
What’s your next move?
- Do you threaten?
- Do you ground her?
- Do you give up and clean her room?
- Do you yell louder than her?
- Do you go into the next room and cry?
- Do you buy a one-way ticket to a tropical island?
How you respond is key. Without a parenting strategy, you are going to default into the infamous “Power Struggle.”
This is where you unconsciously and reactively try to make your daughter listen to you.
The problem is power struggles aren’t effective and here’s why…
- It is a battle of wills.
- Someone has to win and someone has to lose.
- Frequently it escalates and gets out of control.
- You lose sight of the big picture.
- You don’t see the other person in their context.
- It creates hostility, resentment, or hurts the other person.
- It damages the relationship.
- It builds a wall between two people
- It does not teach or instruct in the long run.
The bottom line being in a perpetual power struggle with your daughter is absolutely miserable and exhausting, which is why moms say things like, “I hope to survive the teenage years.”
There is another way.
To protect your relationship with your daughter you want to be super clear on the front end when you first asked your daughter to clean her room.
There are many facets to clarity.
- You need to be clear
- You and your partner need to be on the same page about what the consequences are in regard to cleaning her room.
- Your daughter needs to be clear about what exactly you expect from her and when you expect her to clean her room.
- Your daughter needs to be clear beforehand about what the consequences will be if she does not follow through.
The good news is that you don’t have to get mad or lose it; you can let the consequences do the talking.
If you would like to know more about how to implement consequences, I have a whole chapter on this in my book Dial Down the Drama. It’s full of relevant information and gives you a proactive strategy and the practical “how-to'” to get her to listen to you. See, it’s not simple; but it’s doable…completely doable.