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Wednesday
Jun152005

Teen Parenting Help

Request:
I have a 13 yr. old daughter who is helping me learn NVC!  I get to choose to practice with her all the time!  Unfortunately, I  feel a bit confused.  I'm concerned that if I tell her that I feel miserable and apprehensive about driving her to school in the mornings (she nags and complains the whole way) she'll feel so powerful that she will continue unless I leave out how I feel and just get to the request part.
I want to tell her that I value a peaceful drive to school, so I would like for her to brainstorm ways to make that happen or else I will not take her, or if we are on the road, that I will find a safe place to drop her off and she will have to walk the rest of the way.  I guess I'm confusing different parenting techniques, because I think I need to set some boundaries so I'll feel safe.  Would you please share your perspectives on this situation?


Response:
Sounds like you are really not enjoying driving your daughter these days.  Are you feeling frustrated because you are wanting some connection and cooperation?  And some ease while you are driving so you can both be safe?  Sounds like maybe you are feeling desperate to have some choice about the quality of the connection in the car and some peace of mind.  It also sounds like you are needing some trust that your need for respect will be valued.

I'm guessing that some of the strategies you mentioned you have considered may meet the need for peace, choice and safety for you in the car, however I am doubting that they will lead to meeting the needs for connection, cooperation and mutual respect with your daughter.  If these are important, perhaps you might try to have a discussion with her when you are not in the car and when both of you are feeling resourceful and connected, trying some honesty and empathy with her.

For empathy for her, some guesses I have about what is going on for her are that she is not enjoying the rides either.  I wonder if she is dreading going to school?  Is there something going on at school that is not meeting her needs, perhaps for inclusion, clarity, understanding, self-appreciation, or something else?  Is she perhaps feeling frustrated around her need for respect or choice at home?  Perhaps if she receives empathy from you she may be more receptive and trusting that you care about her needs, and more willing to listen to and work with you to find some way to meet your needs for safety and peace, or whatever needs you have connected to.

One thing I have found that is very helpful is to follow your sharing of your feelings and needs with a request, so there is less likelihood of her becoming defensive or of her feeling guilty.  Two connecting requests that I find very helpful to use before going to action are:

  1. Would you tell me what you heard me say, so I know you are getting that this is about me and not about making you wrong?  (Making sure message sent is message received and each of you is taking responsibility only for your own feelings.)
  2. Would you tell me how you feel when you hear me say that? (Remembering to turn your ears to listening empathically to whether any needs of hers are currently not met, and slowing the process down to make sure you are both hearing each other.)

Then, when you both have been heard and understand each other's needs, going to the action request you mentioned:  "Would you be willing to brainstorm how we can both get our needs met?" is more likely to effectively result in a strategy that could meet everyone's needs.

Jori 

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