PHELAN’S FOUR CARDINAL SINS
Dealing with adolescents is tough enough but when they have an attention deficit disorder, they can be positively exhausting. In our frustration, we often employ desperation tactics to try to get through to our teenagers. Some probably make matters worse. Tom Phelan, in “Surviving Your Adolescents,” lists the Four Cardinal Sins that must be avoided if you are to have any chance at having a good relationship with your adolescent.
Spontaneous problem discussions
By bringing up a problem that needs to be addressed when noticed, a parent usually catches their teenager at a time when their motivation to discuss the problem is near zero. Thus, irriability is increased and cooperation is decreased. Try to make an appointment with your teenager to discuss the important problem. For example, “I’m concerned with your use of the car. When would be a good time to talk about this? It shouldn’t take very long.”
Nagging is a set of repetitive, often hostile, verbal reminders about something a person wants accomplished. The person to whom it is directed does not share the first person’s desire to complete the task. Therefore, it just produces more conflict Behind nagging is what Phelan calls ‘a psychotic parental delusion’- that the repetition of an idea or request will actually sink in. A better way would be to determine whether your request is an important one and again, set an appointment with your teen to discuss the issue.
Phelan has a wonderful way of describing things. This is the parental lecture, but the notion of surgically implanted insight highlights how foolish the parental lecture is. They usually block you out within the first sentence. When you need to provide advise to your teen, pay attention to the response you are getting, ask yourself how many times you have said the same thing and do not expect immediate change.
Everyone recognizes that arguing gets you nowhere. The goal is to argue as little as possible. Don’t worry about who gets the last word. Avoid the power struggle that inevitably results from arguing. If an argument starts, just stop, say “I’m not arguing any more.” and walk away. Then, when cooler heads prevail, if the subject is worth discussing, arrange a time with your teen to discuss the issue.
We all commit these cardinal sins but if we try to avoid them, we may be better able to communicate with our kids and may eliminate a lot of frustration within the family.