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Challenging Teenage Sons Blog

Transforming Conflict to Cooperation


Did You Train Your Son to Become The House Lawyer?

By Dr. Mark Schillinger, DC  November 11, 2014

LawyerLast night, I taught a course, “Stress Management for Parents – Increase Your Energy and Effectiveness.” We teach parents how to first become masterful using their energy to improve their well-being, and then, next, improve the well-being of the family.

One of the reasons why it’s so important for you to be physically healthy and mentally calm is to prevent your son from wearing you out with endless arguments. Your son loves to practice imposing his will – a healthy biological impulse for him to develop – to keep you from enforcing your values on him.

Your Son, The Attorney
During the course, the parents learned how to physically relax themselves when their son is stating his “opening remarks”, as if he is in a court of law. When parents over-identify with the problems, by continually talking about the issues with their son, they get frustrated. It usually ends up with the parents resorting to yelling or giving outrageous (and unenforceable) ultimatums.

When your son keeps you focused on what he wants, telling you why you don’t understand him and how “mean” you are, he’s behaving like a trial lawyer. He’s bombarding you with his perspective with the goal of swaying your mind – as if you’re the jury- in order to get a “positive verdict”.

The Golden Days of Parenting are Over
I was not surprised by the majority of parents, who said they feel like their son should automatically respect them and not argue with them at all. I know that attitude really well, because I had the same outlook when I was parenting my own teenage son, Gabe – and it didn’t work the way it did for my father. For better or for worse, the “because I said so” era is long over.

What makes it better is that parents are forced to clearly define and explain the values and behaviors they expect their son to demonstrate. What makes it worse is that we’re missing the natural innate ‘respect for elders’ mentality that used to be taken for granted.

Ideally, our son should trust our guidance, but because he often doesn’t do so, here’s what you should be aware of:

1) Understand what the resistant “forces” are that prevent your son from respectfully responding to you (excessive attention on social media, digital devices, drugs and alcohol, etc.)

2) Know the RIGHT principles and practices in order to overcome these negative forces so that you can have a resourceful relationship with your son

Relax & Respond – Don’t React
The simplest way to show your son that you’re no longer going to “on trial’ is to immediately relax your body and your mind first. This can be done in 5 – 10 seconds. Then respond with a specific virtue (responsibility, respect, discipline etc.) and a value (the clear, concise one sentence definition of a virtue) that you want to teach.

In order to be more effective in communicating and motivating your son to do the right things, there are more steps from the RIGHT Way for Family Unity method that I need to teach you. But I share this as the starting step.

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Transforming Conflict to Cooperation
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