Q: I try my best, but my teenage kids don’t take me seriously. They are hardly ever obedient or respectful. What am I doing wrong?

A: I feel the power balance in your relationship with your teens is off kilter. You are their parent and as such you are in charge until they become adults. You are not their friend. I’m sure they have plenty of friends and they don’t need you to fill that role! Rather, they need you to be firm but fair, they need you to be a guide – role modelling what it is to be an effective adult and parent.

When I say you need to take back the power, I don’t mean that you’ve suddenly got to become the super strict parent that trails conflict in their wake. That doesn’t sound like something you want to be and that authoritarian style of parenting is the least powerful in my opinion. But before you see changes in their behaviour, you need to make changes to your own approach. Taking the power back into your own hands is all about becoming an authoritative voice that inspires high expectations for behaviour and respectfulness, but is, at the same time, supportive and nurturing.

We all know teens can be difficult. They’ll push boundaries and they’ll keep pushing if they don’t come up against any resistance. My first suggestion is that you take a step back. Assess where your boundaries are. Ask yourself which aspects of their behaviour don’t you like.

Openly discuss these issues with your kids. Not in a confrontational way. Instead, pick an issue and prepare yourself. By that I mean you need to be prepared not to get emotional. Don’t just talk, listen. Hear them out, it’s important that their feelings are acknowledged and validated. However, that doesn’t mean they’re going to have it all their way. You need to establish clear boundaries and clear consequences, which should be proportionate and always come with a warning beforehand. This gives them the opportunity to make the change you want to see. Warnings should be accompanied by a retreat on your part, so that they have the space to make that change without your constant surveillance. If the warning goes unheeded, you must follow through with the consequence.

Change does take time and you need to be prepared for that. Stop doing things for them, stop doing things with them and let the absence of this create its own impact. They will soon begin to appreciate how much you have been doing. Be friendly and loving, but not constantly trying to gain their respect by indulging them. That is a road to their ruin.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist (russellhemmings.co.uk). Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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