Your Attitude

2011/07/26 in Health, Relationships

If your parents complain about your attitude, or say that you don’t show them enough respect, you know it can cause problems for you.


Maybe they fear that when they lose your respect, they also lose control over you. That could lead them to use “power tactics” to try to win arguments. Another way some parents react is to try to lay a guilt trip on their kids. An example of this would be saying something like, “When you act this way, it shows you really don’t love us anymore.” We’d like to help you deal with this problem by looking at why your parents may think that your attitude is lousy, or feel that they’ve lost your respect. We’ll also mention some things you can do to help the situation.

Your parents may be feeling that you’ve got a negative attitude or that you don’t show them enough respect, because that’s what’s actually happening. You may be doing this on purpose. It is one way to resist parental authority. If you feel that your parents restrict you too much. You might use disrespect as a weapon against them. Disrespect is an effective weapon for two reasons. First, it’s abstract so it’s hard for parents to prove and punish. Second, it’s a form of rejection, so it can hurt parents.

Another reason why you may come on with a bad attitude or not be respectful enough of your parents is that you feel your family owes you more than they’re giving you. Ask yourself if you’re walking around with a chip on your shoulder for this reason.

But what if you’re not acting this way on purpose? Maybe you’re unintentionally giving your parents the message that you’re not too happy with them, or that you don’t respect them.

We all tend to takeout our frustrations on those who are close to us. And most of the time, we do it unintentionally. For example, if you’ve had a really bad day at school, you might go home and kick the cat, yell at your sister, and ignore your parents. If your family doesn’t know what happened to you that day, they could see your behavior as being defiant and disrespectful. To keep this from happening to you, make sure you’re aware of your behavior around your family when you’re feeling uptight. Also, clue them in on what’s happening to you so that your ~ehavior isn’t misunderstood.

Maybe you’re one of those people who become very quiet and withdrawn when they’re feeling down. That’s one way of coping, but silent moods are often misunderstood by those around us. Your parents may think you’re being moody and sullen wben you’re actually feeling depressed. And, because we sometimes show people we’re angry by giving them the “silent treatment,” this can also add to the misunderstanding. So, if you just don’t feel like talking, or if you feel like being left alone for awhile, let your family know this. That way they won’t misinterpret your behavior.

Finally, many hassles between teens and parents – including those over disrespect and attitude – are caused by a breakdown in communication. If you and your parents aren t communicating, there are some things you can try to improve that situation.

If you’ve got problems with your parents because they think you’ve got a lousy attitude or feel thai you don’t show them enough respect, you can do something about it. If your behavior is intentional, ask yourself if you’re really being fair to them. Compare your behavior towards your parents with your behavior towards your friends. Who comes Out ahead? Think about whether or not your parents don’t deserve the same kind of courtesy and respect you show other people.

If your behavior is unintentionally giving your parents the wrong message about how you feel about them, you can do something about this, too. Look at when and how misunderstandings take place, and work at improving the way you communicate your feelings to your parents.

In this tape we’ve said that when parents believe that they’re losing your respect, or that your attit~de towards them is too negative, it can cause you a lot of problems. They may use power tacfics” or guilt trips to keep you in line. The first step in dealing with this problem is to find out why your parents are getting this message from you. If your behavior is intentional, maybe you’re trying to resist their authority or to let them know that you think they owe you something. If you feel that your attitude is good and that you show enough respect towards your parents – but they don’t – it may be because of bad communication. Both of these problems can be cleared up if you’re willing to deal with them. Try to behave towards your parents the same way you behave towards other people, and work on letting your parents know how you feel and what you think. Treating others as we would like to be treated is more than a golden rule – it’s a good way to live.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.