For many parents, it seems that overnight their precious, sweet child has turned into a self-absorbed, eye-rolling teen. Teens might not understand their parent's rules, and parents are frustrated at the minimal amount of respect they are receiving. Teens need to realize the effect of their behavior and to learn ways to communicate respectfully with their parents. If you work with teens in some capacity, as a youth leader, teacher or parent volunteer, plan group activities that teach teens the importance of respecting their parents.
Respect Writing Activities
Give teens a piece a paper to make a list of all of the rules their parents have they dislike. Go around the room and have each teen state one that they hate the most from their list, then challenge them to look at it from a different perspective. For example, if someone wrote that he hates that his parents won't give him a later curfew, ask the teen to think about why his parents do not want him to stay out late. If they can better understand why their parents make the decisions they do, out of love, they can respect their decisions more, even if they do not agree with them. For another activity, have the teens write down a list of 10 reasons why they love their parents on one side of a paper and 10 ways they can show appreciation and respect for everything their parents do for them.
Divide teens into groups of three to act out respect scenarios dealing with parents. Give each team a scenario, such as parents denying a request to go to a house party, breaking the rules about no boyfriends or girlfriends in bedrooms, and running up their cell phone bill that their parent pays. Have the first act out the scene with the teen being disrespectful to the parents. As a group, discuss the scenario, how the teens feel about it and how they think the parents feel. Then have the group re-do the scene showing how to be respectful toward parents.
Respect in Visuals
Have the teens tap into their creative juices to come up with a cool poster promoting respect. You can have the teens work independently or in small groups. The kids can use magazines, art supplies and their own artists skills to come up with something that visually represents respect toward parents. It can include pictures of adults with teens and common words or phrases that are respectful in nature. You can make it a competition as well, with the teens voting for the top three posters.
Strategizing Respectful Approaches
Break the teens up into small groups to think of ways to approach their parents respectfully when they do not agree with a rule, with an adult in each group to help facilitate. The teens might talk about setting up a meeting with their parents to discuss an issue. Encourage them to talk about how to compromise with their parents. For example, if a teen wants a later bedtime, perhaps the parents will agree if he promises to keep his grades higher than a certain level. Trust is another issue that should be talked about in the small groups. The less parents trust their teens due to them breaking the rules in the past, the less freedom the teens will have. Have the teens talk about ways to rebuild that trust with their parents. Bring everyone back together and have the groups share the ideas and approaches that they came up with.