The healthy way to disagree with your teenager

Many teenagers would long for a real relationship with their parents. Some have the privilege of conversant and real relationships with their parents, and others don’t.

Patience, a teenager from Nairobi says, “I had just finished high school when I got my KCSE results, my parents were not pleased with my grades and wanted me to go back to school but I refused. I remember we argued about this and I expressed my frustration, and eventually, they came around.”

But not all parents come around, some are adamant about having their way, forgetting that they are handling a grown-up teenager who can offer a good level of reason.

Trust and the feeling of safety is paramount in sustaining healthy relationships between parent and child, and in this case your teenager.

Anastacia Kihwanga, a Psychologist from Equip Destinies says, “Trust is a delicate thing, and it’s a concept we start building on from the moment that we are born. The relationship with our caretakers is the first reference point we have for this idea of trust. When we learn that we can’t rely on our parents to respect us or keep us safe, we go on to apply this logic to other relationships. When you can’t trust your idols in childhood, it becomes hard if not impossible to do it in a couple of hours.”

Indeed the issue of downplaying what a younger person can offer in a parent-child relationship is more common than we think and erupts in outbursts of unnecessary anger, frustration, and worse extreme reactions like suicide or murder. We have heard of teenagers and young people getting into tiffs with their parents over issues that would have been handled more appropriately, but ended up in death, hurt, and brokenness.

As a parent or a caregiver with a teenager in your life, it is good to be aware of mental health and the seriousness of keeping your and your child’s mental health in check. When having conversations that include different points of view it is good as a parent to be aware of your frustrations.

In the case where negative emotions are expressed by your teen and they seem serious, Anastacia says, “Try to point out symptoms of suicide and the right to be heard as well as pointing out the risk of neglecting the child’s cry for parental understanding and support.”

Having gained the perspective that having healthy disagreements and collaborative conversations with your teenager is important, it is upon us to put out our intentionality hat and dive into better relationships with them.


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