Teenagers and quick conclusions, not a good combination

Posted on March 10, 2014 · Posted in Communication, Teenagers

Parents sometimes have heated arguments with their older children and teenagers. I know this is not exactly breaking news. But, here is something to consider.  A heated conversation is a bad time to form lasting opinions.

For example, a father has concluded that his son is totally rebellious and has no desire to do anything he is asked to do. This is because in a heated argument his son appeared to refuse to do obey.  Let’s look at both sides of this particular argument. 

Scott, fifteen, was furiously finishing up a text message with a friend. He was trying to hurry because he knew he needed to get the grass cut. He was almost finished when Dad saw him in the living room and told him he needed to cut the grass. Scott looked up and was about to say, “almost done.” But before he could say anything Dad was already telling him to stop messing with his phone and get to work. Scott was upset. Scott was texting about a time to do a school project with his friend. He wasn’t “messing around.” So Scott said:

“Dad, you don’t even know what I am doing.  Stop judging me. The last thing I want to do now is cut the grass.” 

With that Scott stormed out of the room. Though his dad didn’t know it, Scott immediately felt awful about being disrespectful to his dad. He would ask Dad’s forgiveness as soon as he finished with cutting the grass.

That is one side of the argument. Here is the other side.

Dad automatically assumed Scott was not doing anything important because he was texting.  So dad concluded he needed to admonish Scott to cut the grass like he was supposed to.  He reprimanded Scott for being more interested about messing with the phone than doing what he should be doing. One thing led to another and the conversation ended with Scott saying what was recorded above..

Dad was convinced his son was about to go and join the Hell’s Angels, disown God, and had become a slave to his phone.

Mom listened without immediately responding. (A wise move on her part.) Then she said, “Remember that sermon we heard on I Corinthians 13 and that love believes all things and that love is not easily angered?

“Yeah, I remember. But he was so disrespectful. He will never cut the grass”

Silence from mom.

“Uh, maybe I was a little too pushy.”

Mom, “A little??”

“Okay, a lot..”

Mom replied as she handed Dad her bible, “Here is something I think would be good for your to read. I love you.”

Dad sat down at the kitchen table and read the following passage:

 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered. Matthew 21:28-31

As Dad finished reading he heard the sound of the lawn mower starting up.

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.