Mental Health, Psychology, Psychiatry Blog » Parenting » Disrespectful teens, disrespectful parents

Disrespectful teens, disrespectful parents

by djbaxter on November 3, 2009

How to get your teen to clean up their room
by Anthony Wolfe, The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2009

If you force your kid to clean up, your victory will be short-lived. Trust that they’ll tidy up with time

The courtroom of the Honourable Justice Maureen Rascomb in the case of Matthew Thibodeau v. his mother.

Matthew: “It’s really very simple: It’s my room. Yes, it’s a giant mess, but I’m the only one who lives there. No one else even needs to go into it. I keep the door closed so nobody has to see it except me. I live here. I am part of this family. This is the one and only part of this house that I have any say over. My mother rules the entire rest of this house. I like my room the way it is. I choose not to pick it up. To me, the room is comfortable. End of story. My case rests.”

His mother: “It is my house. I own it. When I die, Matthew gets half ownership of the house along with his sister. But I’m not dead yet. The house still belongs to me. Matthew’s room is in my house. I own his room. I will not tolerate that the room that he lives in in my house – my room – be an abomination. When he gets older and moves out, he will have the right to have his room any way he wants. But not now. Not here.”

It’s an eternal household debate. Yet the bottom line is this: Who is right is really not the main point. 

My take: YOU own his room? It is YOUR house? The house belongs to YOU?

What about your son? Your daughter? Do they not also live there? It may be “your house” since it’s your name on the mortgage, but is it not also THEIR home?

When I hear statements like this, my reaction is that I fully understand why the parent is also complaining that s/he doesn’t feel respected by the teen – the teen almost certainly doesn’t feel respected by the parent either, so what else would you expect?

Bottom line: If you wouldn’t treat your spouse or a good friend that way, don’t treat your teen that way either. You are presumably trying to help your teen learn how to grow up to be a responsible and respectful adult. Start modeling what a responsible and respectful adult should look like.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

sandyphd November 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Excellent point. Hard advice to follow sometimes, but yes. It helps to respect teens and talk to them in a considerate manner. Model the behavior we want in return.

I do think there is a happy medium, too. Conversations to encourage a clean room. The teenage room is part of the house, etc.

But we can’t expect our teenagers to honor our feelings if we don’t honor theirs. It begins outside of their messy rooms.

Ryan January 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Exactly is the case with me. I’m a teenager and my mother keeps on telling me to keep my room organized. I plan to do it on weekend but never do it. But my mother never give me order she just keep on telling me in a very polite manner.

Peter February 21, 2010 at 1:30 am

Agreed, you teach people how to treat you and a teenager’s mind is fairly well developed. Not treating them with respect almost begs them to rebel. Would a grown adult tolerate being disrespected? Moreover, would you want to teach your child that it’s OK to be disrespected?

Jeremy June 19, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I also have a problem with disrespectful parents. I tell my dad that I would give him the computer when I am done eating dinner and he just blows me off and tried to throw something at me.

In my view, disrespectful parents can lead to disrespectful teens. When the child grows up, he or she will emulate how he or she was treated when he or she was growing up. If the parents are kind, patient, and learn to listen and be polite, unlike my dad, then the kids would grow up to become more respectful to their elders. But when the parent is like my dad and does stuff like yell and throw stuff at anyone or anything, then the child would more likely grow up to be as abusive and disrespectful as that parent, and would somewhat go to jail for his actions.

This is why violence begets violence. Parents act this way towards or in front of their children, and they emulate this bad behavior. What my dad is not an example of a responsible and respectable parent.

Also, they say in order to gain respect, you must earn it. The reason teens are being disrespectful is because the parents are disrespectful towards them.

In conclusion, parents need to learn to be patient, respect their children when it is needed, and watch how they behave. I now know why I can’t behave right. I learned it from my dad’s impatience and the temper tantrums that follows.

Norbert July 26, 2010 at 6:26 pm

This is a great article on how to get your teen to clean up his room. Fantastic! I will sure to share. Norbert Georget

Meka July 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I agree to some of these statements, but how long do you have to be patient about your teen room being nasty, when it causes roaches and ants and lord knows what else. As a parent I pay the bills and the mortgage so where do anyone get off saying that a parent is disrespectful towards their child when thats all that ask

djbaxter July 15, 2011 at 10:34 am

I think the real question is do you want to model “firm but respectful” or “disrespectful and aggressive” when you are interacting with that teenager? Remember that children and teens alike tend to take their cues for appropriate behavior from what they witness in their parents.

Alexandrawr November 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

FINALLY!! an adult that knows the true meaning of “mutual respect” and that it is MUTUAL, and not intended to be entirely one-sided (or, missing entirely)

Karen Matt April 28, 2012 at 12:38 am

The best way to discipline disrespectful teens is to treat them with respect. When teens are treated with appropriate respect, they learn to look at themselves differently, and consequently, learn to show respect to others as well. Respect is the foundation of a strong and healthy relationship.

This article discusses the importance of teaching teens respect:

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