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When Your Teen Says, "Get Out".... "Get In"

James, a student in our Redirecting Children's Behavior parenting class, grimaced as he told the group that he felt he was loosing his fourteen-year-old daughter, Brittany. He continued, "She either glares at me or rolls her eyes when I try talk to her." James was not getting the relationship he wanted with his daughter because he was either asking her if she got her chores done, telling her what she needed to be doing or checking up on her homework. (She was doing summer school due to bad grades.) Brittany was clearly saying non-verbally, "Get out of my life," and Dad was about to abdicate his parenting "powers" to his wife, Brittany's step-mom.

What Dad needed to do was "get in" relationship with her. The group suggested some ways to do this and Dad chose the suggestion to take her to school in the morning. It was a twenty minute ride and step-mom had be taking her.

His assignment was to not talk about chores, school or give advice unless she asked. Tough assignment! Dad reported that the first few days were grueling. Brittany silently stared out the window when she wasn't giving one word answers to his attempts to have conversation...more "get out" communication.

Dad hung in there! "Getting in" required that he showed genuine interest in what Brittany thought. It required some vulnerability, sharing his life and humor. Gradually his daughter opened up, tip toeing to see if Dad was "for real" or if he was going to slide back into his old patterns. Several weeks went by when, Dad reported with tears in his eyes that Brittany had told him that she loved him for the first time in months!

Teens are frequently saying "get out" and "get in" with their words and actions. In this stage of development, they want to be independent of family. But they also still need more than ever. It takes courage to face the "get outs" when the "get ins" seem far and few between. Persistence and patience are necessary. It also helps to develop a teflon that let's the "get outs" slide right off!

Parenting Practice -

If you have found yourself pulling a little distance from your teen, decide to hang in there and persist.


Parenting can be quite the challenge. It is always good to have new tools in your "parenting tool box." Want personal coaching and problem solving solutions? Sign up for a FREE 15 Minute Strategy Session. We will pinpoint an irksome behavior and plan a strategy for resolving this issue.


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Kathryn Kvols

Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach

(352) 494-1581

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