Control is Gone, but Influence Remains

By George Ballew

Remember the days when your child would listen to you? When that sweet child develops into a teenager, we see our hold on them slip. They are slowly turning into adults which means greater independency, autonomy and privacy. It’s a natural progression.

  1. Understand Control vs. Influence. There are many things in life you can control, but many that you cannot – like a teenager. However, there are ways to have a greater influence on them.
  2. Set your agenda aside at first, and just listen. Ask clarifying questions. You don’t have to agree or approve of their thoughts, actions or attitudes, but you do need to understand them to have a greater influence. Right or wrong, how they perceive the world is their reality. We all feel valued when we are heard. People are interested in people that are interested in them.
  3. Psychologist William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” This desire for being appreciated, loved, admired and valued makes teens want to be popular, join gangs, act helpless or self harm for attention, do sexual favors for others, and so forth. If they can’t feel self-worth in healthy ways, they will automatically adapt their behavior to get it in odd, self-sabotaging or even dangerous ways.
  4. Have self-compassion. Recognize that you’re doing the best you can with what you have at the time and give yourself a pat on the back.