Tired of being manipulated? Want to take control back from the manipulative teens in your home? Find out what makes us as parents an especially easy mark for our own kids to take advantage of.
First (Knowledge) – our kids know us pretty well. After all, they have been watching our every move for many years and have a deep understanding of our verbal and non-verbal cues.
Second (Predictability) – we tend to be pretty predictable. As adults our values remain pretty consistent and therefore we rarely alter our opinions, comments, or expectations. We tend to walk through disagreements and decisions with our kids using the same rationale, delivered in the same manner and even at similar times of the day.
Third (Instability) – as parents we are not sure where our kids stand. Their undeveloped commitment to values makes them appear less stable and this flexibility gives them a tremendous edge during debate. Unable to pin them down parents tend to put a lot of extra effort into explaining themselves. It is like they are able to confuse us. While we make a concerted effort to communicate in a logical, methodical, and calm manner the manipulative teen keeps his or her parents guessing as to how to lead in the home.
Manipulative teens might act confused and deliberately “misunderstand” what is being said, keeping parents off balance. Unsure of how to get their point across parents will eventually become worn down, leading to ambivalence regarding outcomes.
Their ability to act confused gives them the upper hand in debate and usually takes the steam out of a parent’s argument. Any time we are required to repeat ourselves the impact of our message is reduced.
Now that you understand how a manipulative teen is getting what they want through their use of the ‘Confusion Principle’ maybe it is time to use this same approach occasionally yourself.
The Principle of Confusion works so effectively because it destabilizes ones world and forces them to think at a deeper level. Jesus was a fantastic example of someone that always changed the pattern of interaction. He used parables to change the paradigm of discussion and it always had the same effect. It stopped the manipulative Pharisees in their tracks, forcing them to go away and think more deeply about themselves and their approach.