9 Reasons Why Your Teenager Doesn’t Respect You

parenting Sep 12, 2023

Do you remember your teenage years? 

Eye rolls, indifference, defiant attitudes, crossed arms, passive-aggressiveness, and general disrespect — do these ring a bell? If you were a rebellious or hard-headed teen, all your stubbornness from before might be biting you in the butt now that you’re a parent to a teenager.

As a dad, it can hurt a lot when your teen blatantly doesn’t show respect, but have you ever asked yourself why they act like this? Teens aren’t hardwired to be disrespectful, despite what popular media might show. There’s always a reason behind their actions.

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but oftentimes, teens’ attitude and lack of respect are caused by how their parents act towards them. Today, we’ll explore nine things you might have been doing that made your teen not respect you.

1. Not Actively Listening to What They Say

Active listening is key to earning respect from anybody. When you ask your teenager something, how well do you listen to what they have to say? If you let their words go into one year then out the other, brush off their concerns with a flippant remark, or immediately change topics, then you aren’t listening actively. You’re not really hearing what they are saying.

This will result in your teen feeling unimportant, unheard, or invalidated, which will make your teen less inclined to respect what you have to say and less likely to open up to you in the future — especially when it comes to their feelings.

2. Delivering Lectures All the Time

Always lecturing means you’re the only one speaking. Delivering lectures imposes a power dynamic between you and your teen that can prevent open communication and understanding. 

You need to give your teen the opportunity to express their opinion, feelings, and reasons, too. It’s better to meet your teen on a level playing field, where you can both express your thoughts and know the other person is listening and hearing what you say.

3. Always Comparing Your Teen to Others

Nobody likes being compared — whether it’s to their siblings, friends, classmates, neighbors, or complete strangers. Comparing your teens to other people can make them think less of themselves and their abilities. It can make them feel inadequate and develop poor self-esteem and self-confidence.

More importantly, comparing them can cause resentment towards the person you’re comparing them to and a lack of respect towards you. Instead, do your best to show your appreciation of their talents, efforts, and successes.

4. Constantly Criticizing Your Teen

Constant criticisms can significantly damage your teenager’s belief in themselves. This leads to low self-esteem, a negative mindset, a lot of self-doubt, and disrespectful teenagers

Comments like “Your hair is such a mess,” or “You’ve gained so much weight,” or even “Why are you always playing games?” can come off as a personal attack. Try to word your concerns or suggestions in a more constructive way. Try to understand the reason behind their actions first, instead of immediately attacking them with criticisms.

5. Being Overly Controlling

We get it. As a parent, it’s natural that you want to protect your teen and make sure they make the right decisions. However, being overly controlling can backfire big time.

When you don’t give your teen any freedom or trust them to make their own choices, they will only feel suffocated and rebel against you. Moreover, what you’re doing can stunt their personal growth. Be a guiding hand in their life, rather than a controlling one. Let them make mistakes — just be there to help them when they ask for it.

6. Disregarding Their Feelings

As adults, it’s easy for us to dismiss our teen’s feelings as trivial or hormonal. However, their feelings are just as valid and important as yours. Young age or going through puberty does not invalidate their feelings and experiences.

Dismissing them can make your teen feel unheard and disrespected. Doing so sends the message that their feelings or emotions don’t matter to you. Instead of brushing off their emotions, try to understand where they’re coming from. Put yourself in their shoes — after all, you were a teen yourself once. 

7. Shaming or Guilt-Tripping Them

Shaming and guilt-tripping your teen is never a constructive way to correct their behavior. In fact, it can cause more harm than good. It may temporarily make them behave the way you want, but in the long run, it will only build resentment towards you.

More importantly, it can hinder their ability to make sound or healthy decisions on their own. It can make them second-guess themselves and lower their self-esteem. It can also make them more vulnerable to ill-intentioned people manipulating them in the future.

8. Setting Unrealistic Expectations

As parents, it’s normal to have expectations for your teen. However, it isn’t good to set goals and expectations that are too high.

Unrealistic goals can be damaging to your teen’s mental health. It can create unnecessary pressure and stress on them. When they fail to meet your unrealistic expectations, this may cause them to wallow in their failure and negative emotions. Altogether, it can lead to rebellious behavior and more difficulties in parenting teens.

9. Lack of Empathy

Empathy is all about understanding the other person and putting yourself in their shoes. Lack of empathy towards your own son or daughter can lead them to believe that you don’t care about their struggles or experiences.

Showing empathy towards your teen doesn’t mean condoning their behavior or actions. It means supporting them, understanding them, and ensuring they do not feel alone. All of the reasons we discussed above are prime examples of displaying a lack of empathy towards your teenage child.

Respect: A Practice of Give and Take 

Teen respect isn’t always automatically given to you simply because you’re their parent. If you want genuine respect from teens, you need to earn it. Most importantly, respect is always a two-way street. You can’t ask for respect and not give it in return.

The good news is that good parenting techniques are rooted in showing your child love and respect. While it’s true that you can’t go back in time and get a do-over if you’ve used some non-optimal parenting techniques, you still have the present and the future to do better and mend your relationship with your teen.

However, if the disrespect escalates, consider seeking professional help. Speaking to a family therapist may be the solution to improving your parent-teen relationship.

Explore the Dad University blog or watch our YouTube videos for more useful fatherhood and parenting tips.

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