The idea of seeking parenting advice seems like a no brainer for many of us and you might wonder why I would write an article on the subject. The fact is that many parents think that asking for help around issues of parenting indicates that on some level they are not worthy of being parents, and further, they believe that "good parents" should be able to figure out parenting problems by themselves.
A situation that I run into a lot when I see people in therapy is the problem of identifying behaviors they see as "bad" in others versus the desire not to "be judgmental." In other words, someone who is a friend or acquaintance is doing something that you may not approve of, but you quickly censor your critical thoughts about this person because you don't believe it is right to criticize others. You end up saying something like "everyone has their own way of doing things," or "it's not my place to judge others."
A common conversation between parents and teens has to do with future aspirations and desires, most of which are usually focused around the teen's desire to move rather quickly and easily into the adult world, often without a realistic view of what that would mean or what it would entail. For example, the teen who is unhappy with some of his parents' restrictions and rules might say something along the lines of "When I'm 18, I'm moving out and getting my own apartment and then I'll come in at night whenever I want. Not only that, but I can do whatever I want when I want and you won't be able to tell me what to do."
A common experience for many of us growing up was learning how to respond to certain cues we got from our parents regarding our behavior. For me, it was the single raised eyebrow that appeared on my mother's face when I was getting dangerously close to being in trouble. That eyebrow, which sometimes barely moved, was an unmistakable message that I had better move in a different direction or pay the consequences. It was a very potent nonverbal communication that my mother established with me early on, and even today, the family jokes about mom's raised eyebrow.
The "cooling off period" (Nelson, 1996) is an effective tool for putting some space between you and your children when emotions run high, and communication breaks down. Basically, the cooling off period is a "positive time-out" that allows everyone a chance to readjust emotionally so that constructive solutions can be found to problems. You can use the cooling off period to: