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Controlling your tongue when you’re angry

Teens really know how to push a parents' buttons, but there are ways to "fight nicely." Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Teens really know how to push a parents’ buttons, but there are ways to “fight nicely.”
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

I know we’ve all heard this before, but it is really important to be careful when you’re angry.  Twice this week I’ve sat with teenage clients who have cried over things someone in their family said out of anger.  In both situations the teens had completely exasperated their families, but the teenagers still took the resulting comments to heart.


We’ve all gone through this.  In a fight with our spouse they might say some awful thing that cuts to the core, or you might throw out a phrase that you know you’ll be sorry about later.  With our kids though, it is essential to stay a bit calmer and be more mature.  I sat in my office with one girl who had said truly horrid things to her father during an argument, but when he finally was pushed far enough to call her a curse word, she fell apart.  She sat and wondered for a few weeks whether he really thought that of her.


As a parent you have to be intentional.  You have to keep the end goal in mind, which is to raise your child into a well-adjusted adult.  You have to keep in mind that each year brings new phases, and new ways your child will learn to mature.  Sometimes in that learning process they will resist you.  If you get caught up in these instances where your child is resistant, you will forever be struggling with them.  You will find yourself acting at their maturity level, or will find they have more power in the relationship than you.  Know ahead of time what character traits you’re aiming for.  It’s a lot easier to arrive at a destination if you know where you’re going than if you meander.  This in turn will help you to be calmer.  It will prevent you from saying useless, blaming things like, “You’re the reason this family fights all the time!”  How do you think a kid/teen will feel after that?


So, it is extremely important to control your tongue.  You are the example to your children.  If you’re rude to them, you’ll get it right back.  Do not let their vision of how they want to conduct their life, or what they think is the most important thing cloud your judgment as a parent.  A teenager will tell you that what college they are accepted to is the most important thing that will ever happen to their career.  As a parent, you have the wisdom to know that where they go to school is a small piece of the puzzle.  The bigger pieces are work-ethic, networking ability, work experience, drive and motivation, integrity, and fiscal responsibility.  If you buy into your teen’s vision then you will be overly focused on SAT scores, and not spend enough time helping them develop the rest of the necessary character qualities to succeed.


How do we best sum this up?  Watch what you say out loud to your child.  Make sure it is congruent with the person you are trying to help them become.  Remember that extremely rude comments made in the heat of the moment are not easily forgotten by children.  Know how to have grace, and know when to say you’re sorry.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

When To Rescue Our Teens

I am nearly always a proponent of letting adolescents experience natural consequences for their choices, whether good or bad.  However, there are times when something has gotten past the point of that being safe.  In those situations, much like God did for us one Christmas 2000 years ago, you have to step in and rescue your children.

When do we rescue our kids compared with letting them fight through their own mistakes?

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Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

A Simple Tip To Be A Better Parent

“If you want to be skinny, hang out with skinny people.  If you want to be rich, hang out with rich people and do what rich people do.  It’s called best practices.”  -Dave Ramsey


I agree, Mr. Ramsey.  Today’s video is about finding best practices for parenting.  I promise you that if you work at surrounding yourself with parents who raise their kids like you wish you were raising yours, you’ll start to do a better job.  Behavior is contagious.  When we spend time with people who know how to do something well, it’s catching.


Birds of the feather flock together. This is true with parenting styles too.

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Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

When She Just Can’t Break Up With Him (Or He Can’t Break Up With Her)

Ending a toxic dating relationship might take more courage than she thinks she has.

What does a toxic teenage dating relationship look like?  The simple answer is when a couple should break up but for whatever reason they can’t.


This post uses pronouns that assume teen girls have more trouble breaking off relationships than teen boys do.  This isn’t really true.  Teen boys have a hard time with it sometimes too.  Feel free to imagine your son when reading this if that’s relevant to your situation.


What are you supposed to do when your normally sensible daughter is so wrapped up in an insensible relationship that she can’t extricate herself?

  1. Put a stone in her shoe:  I don’t mean literally.  Work hard at creating cognitive dissonance.  This is when someone points out something to you that makes you uneasy with your current situation.  While they don’t outright tell you what to do, the thing they tell you causes mental conflict.  Here’s an example of what I mean: I dated a guy for my senior year in college, the next year, and my first year of graduate school.  My parents consistently told me he was skiddish about marriage.  When I asked how they knew this they would tell me it is because he would never talk about our future as a “we.”  This quietly ate at me until it became a big enough problem that it was driving me crazy.  Eventually it’s the thing that did us in.  My parents never said, “You need to end it with this loser!  What are you thinking?”  They just put a VERY UNCOMFORTABLE stone in my shoe.
  2. Set appropriate limits:  If your daughter has a boyfriend who is truly detrimental to her health in some way, don’t support the relationship.  Parents rarely have enough control over a teen that they can expressly forbid their son or daughter to date someone.  When try to forbid a couple from seeing each other, teenagers end up lying and sneaking around.  Now there’s even more behavior to be upset with, and it causes you to lose influence because your teen stops listening to you.  What you can do though is refuse to support the relationship even though you don’t wholly outlaw it.  If you replace the word “relationship” with “drugs,” you’ll know what to do.  You wouldn’t allow your teenager to do drugs in your house.  You wouldn’t give your teen money to buy drugs.  You wouldn’t drop your teenager off somewhere to use drugs.  Now put the word “relationship” back in those sentences.  Don’t allow him in your house.  Don’t give your daughter money to go out with him on dates.  Don’t drop her off to see him.  In simple terms, don’t enable.
  3. Control your opinion-sharing:  “Stick with the facts, m’am.”  Just call things as you see them.  Don’t then go on to explain why what you see means your daughter’s boyfriend is Satan’s spawn.  She is more likely to listen to you and confide in you if you only say what you observe or hear.  It’s okay to tell her, “Samantha’s mom told me she saw your boyfriend kissing Jennifer after the football game.”  It’s not okay to then go on and on about what a rotten cheater he is.  The reason I say this is that your daughter is responsible for herself, and you’re only responsible for her.  The focus needs to be on her.  If Samantha’s mom really did see your daughter’s boyfriend kissing Jennifer after the football game and your daughter still wants to go out with him, have a gentle conversation with your daughter about why she’s struggling with self-respect.  There are all kids of people out there who aren’t right for her.  Your job as a parent is to help her have enough courage to pass on them.

I know this is hard.  It’s really frustrating to see your child in a toxic relationship.  Whether you’re a teen reading this, or you’re mom or dad, make sure you keep talking.  Run your feelings by someone who will be very honest with you, and then start taking the steps to make a positive change.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Teens and Vaping

Sadly teens do seem to be vaping on an ever increasing basis.  From my observations based on working with teens in my therapy office, it appears more are getting hooked on nicotine and marijuana.


Are those commercials about teens vaping just being dramatic?

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Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Intentionally Raising Our Kids

Proverbs 29:18a (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  In context this means God’s people need to know what they’re aim is and what plan God has for them.  Once they understand this, they’re more likely to follow the laws of God.


How do we apply this concept to parenting?  You must know your aim with your children.  It is easy to sit back and let them develop into whatever they become.  In fact, the current cultural standard is not to interfere whatsoever with your child’s development.  You’re told your job is to encourage them to become whatever their natural tendencies are.


However, if you do this, in metaphorical (and sometimes literal) ways, your child will perish.  Children (including teenagers) need guidance and discipline.  You as dad and mom have to know where you’re guiding them.  Zig Ziglar always liked to say, “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.”


Here is a quick video on how to be intentional when raising your teenager.  This will help you reset your compass if you find you’re off course.


Have a vision for your child’s character.

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Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT