Now that my kids have reached the age that their compliance to my wishes is challenged, are there parenting ideas to get teens to be less resistant to my parental requests? A recent example: my daughter wanted to go into town to the local carnival. I told her as long as her room was cleaned, she could go. When her two friends arrived ready to leave, I looked in her room, and it was its normal pigsty self. We had a medium fuss, but I reluctantly let her go anyway. I was angry all weekend, and thought there must be a better way to do this. Ideas?
First and foremost, a parent needs to train themselves to anticipate what’s going to happen. This one would have been an easy one to predict. So the carnival deal was cut on Thursday, Friday morning and after school, the parent might have reminded their sloppy teen that the carnival was looming. THEN, it’s time to whip out the Parental Mighty Martial Arts Technique.
I was 17 and made the mistake of calling my friend's judo tournament a karate tournament. He quickly admonished me and told me there were virtually no similarities between the two martial arts. He further lectured me: "Karate is for animals. It's meet-force-with-force. You block and strike back. Judo however is a real martial art. You take the attacking person's energy and move with them to disable them. That's why a 100 lb. woman can completely disable a 300 lb. attacker. It's a lot of throws rather than blows".
I have incorporated young Mr. Kawaguichi's summary into my own work with children, especially teens. Rather than attacking an issue or disagreement head on (force with force), it is far more efficient with the going-with-the-energy approach. A child complains to his father than he had said he was going to shoot some hoops with him after supper, but the Dad had to sweep out the garage first. The judo approach was to ask the son for a solution to the dilemma, as he (the Dad) definitely wanted to play, and daylight was running out. The boy suggested he could help the Dad do the sweeping, as long as the Dad promised to shoot hoops, even if got dark. Perfect.
A daughter, returning home on vacation from her first semester from college was concerned about curfews. In her first semester in college, she had no curfew, and didn't want to be treated like a baby at home. A karate approach would be to tell her tough luck: deal with it. The judo approach was to address her objections and figure out a solution. “I agree that a curfew seems to be a step backward. However, when your mother gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and you’re not back, she’ll never get back to sleep. What shall we do?” It was finally agreed that regardless of how late she anticipated coming home, even 3 A.M., she would keep her self-imposed "curfew". If she had decided to spend the night at the friend's house, she would call no later than 1:00. The family later reported that although they were initially nervous about the compromise, she kept her word. As a side note, they were amused that despite the no-curfew agreement, she was usually home around midnight.
In your case, after the return from school, the parent might have lovingly (vs. threateningly) told the daughter, “your friends are going to be here at 7. I’ve got a few extra minutes to chip in and help you clean your room. May I provide you some assistance?” Then make it as much of an enjoyable experience as you can. Try to avoid predictable responses such as, “Oh my GOD! This old piece of pizza has enough mold to start a penicillin factory!!” Just make her glad she asked you to help her out. In the event she refused your kind help and still didn’t keep her agreement, we now move into the proper accountability stage. However, that’s another topic for another inquiry. Obviously there are times when the parent has to pull out the because-I-told-you-so card, but the joy of dealing with issues by going with the other person's “energy” by adding a few twists or flips of our own is the superior martial art of parenting.
You will find yourself a bit inept at this brand of martial arts for a while, but as in judo (or karate for that matter), it takes practice to get good. If we expect our kids to improve, then so should we. In time, you may earn your fifth degree black belt in the Parental Mighty Martial Arts Technique.