Oops. That’s a quick way to start a fight with any teen!
Overreacting to those overt signs of disrespect can be the fastest way to derail a productive conversation with your teen. In the teen years, I often found that overlooking my children’s eye-rolls was my best policy. Even better, I learned to have fun with it.
Let’s try that conversation following the notorious eye-roll again:
Teen: “What are you looking at?
Me (Smiling mischievously): “The ceiling… all of it.”
Teen (Exasperated sighs turning to a mildly curious tone): “Why?”
Me: “Well, you spend so much time checking out the ceiling – and you are intelligent, funny, and enterprising – that I’ve decided there must be something important up there!” (Make direct eye contact and grin!)
In the first scenario, I’m entering an emotional battle I can’t possibly win; I truly have no control over my teen’s eyeballs. In the second, I’m diffusing frustration with humor, allowing us both to move beyond a tense moment. I can fight over a secondary issue with my teens – or we can discuss real issues.
Now, respect is an important issue, and sometimes it’s important to highlight behavior at the scene of the crime. However, the best time for us to discuss respect is usually during a calm moment, when hearts are soft and everyone’s eyeballs are under control. I don’t want to allow the issue at hand to become sidetracked over my annoyance.
I don’t appreciate eye-rolls any more than the next parent. However, I’ve found that making light of disrespect can be the easiest way to approach difficult topics my teens truly needed to discuss.
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a freelance children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr., Pockets, Devozine, Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.