Imagine your favorite TV show. Now imagine that you REALLY like that show. Imagine that for you, it IS a great show, period. This goes beyond personal opinion, it seems like a fact. Now imagine that someone speaks poorly of that show. He says it is poorly written, poorly acted, and the entire premise is ridiculous. He REALLY doesn’t like the show. You might take that personally, and feel that he SHOULD like it. As if not liking it is a sign of disrespect to you. As if his statement about the show is really a statement about you, and your judgment for liking the show. You may feel the need to defend your show, to try and FORCE him to see it differently. If he would just LISTEN, he would see how it is clearly a good show. His not liking the show may seem like he does not know the show well enough, and if he only gave it more attention, he’d see how good it is. If you make your point well enough, and if he stops being so stubborn, he’ll see how good it is.

The idea that someone could think it is a bad show may be hard to accept. As if that opinion can’t coexist with your opposing opinion. Meaning that, if you can’t force him to alter his view, then you can’t continue to see it the same way with any confidence. This reaction is all the more intense if his opinion is important to you; if you respect him and want his respect.

The problem is that people forget that such views are subjective opinions, and not facts. Contradictions can co-exist. You can see a great show where someone else sees junk. The fact that he sees junk does not negate your view of a good show. So you do not have to abandon that view just because he doesn’t share it.

This is a good metaphor for when your teen disagrees with your idea. Now I should note that ideas are different than rules. A rule is something that strikes at your values as a parent. Something that you feel as a parent that agree or not, your teen must abide by for one reason or another (such as safety). As they get older, they become more independent and gravitate to adulthood. Your power over them recedes. So you must become more selective about what are rules and what are ideas. Meaning you have to pick your battles.

When your teen doesn’t want to take your advice, this can feel like a personal criticism of you or your authority, and so you may be tempted to respond defensively or try to force them to agree. But your idea does not represent you or your authority unless you think it does. It is just an idea, a perspective. You do not have to identify with it. You can just agree with it, and your teen may disagree. He sees something that you don’t, and vice versa. You don’t have to agree with his perspective to respect it. You don’t have to be able to see or agree with his perspective for it to exist. His view exists independent of yours, and vice versa. Your view is not negated by his lack of agreement. Disagreeing with your view does not mean that he does not have respect for you. He simply sees that idea differently than you do, because he is not you and doesn’t have your perspective.

If you truly believe in the wisdom of your idea, then it does not need you to push or pressure on its behalf. If you let your teen consider it free of your demanding that he see it the same way as you, the idea may sell itself. If you push too hard, your teen may become even more closed to the idea out of defiance. Sometimes simply sharing your perspective can show him something that he had not seen before, which causes him to change his opinion. Sometimes he will continue to have the same view regardless, and may have to come to see greater wisdom through his own experience.


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“Between what a man calls ‘me’ and a man calls ‘mine’ the line is difficult to draw.”                   – William James

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“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in the thing makes it happen.”          -Frank Lloyd Wright


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