I’ve read too many stories lately about bullying. A recent study showed that 23% of elementary students reported they had been picked on in the last month. It is believed that nearly 100,000 students carry handguns to school. A recent survey showed 77% of high school students felt bullying was destructive in their schools. Emotional, verbal and physical abuse occur way too often in a typical school day and chances are your teenager is affected in some way.
I remember the summer after 6th grade I was playing in my backyard in Fort Worth with some friends and we planned a campout under the trampoline that night. We were putting sheets over the trampoline to make a fort, when none other than the “snooty” kid from down the street came over to play. He was just kind of mean to most kids, but he and I had got along okay. He stood there for a while and then asked if he could spend the night with us. Kind, sensitive, godly me said, “no” and went back to working on the fort. That kid left, went home and told his mom that we wouldn’t let him spend the night. His mom called my mom and guess what? After a pretty tough lecture from my mom, he spent the night with us. I’m guessing it wasn’t much fun, but I think back to that incident and I think I was the one being the bully.
There should absolutely be no tolerance for kids that beat up kids, emotionally or verbally. School should be a place of protection and safety. But it is important, too, to look at the “whys” behind the perpetrators of abuse. Typically, they are kids that have been abused. They are kids that need to be loved and the abuse is their irrational attempt to be protected.
We need to teach our kids to report bullying and set their boundaries. But we also need to teach our kids to love. My mom taught me a good lesson that summer day. She taught me that it’s not okay to bully the bully. She taught me that rejecting the rejected only leads to more rejection. I ended up being pretty good friends with that kid, not best friends, but friends.
Teach your teen to set boundaries but teach your teen to love the unlovable. Of course, it’s difficult to teach what we don’t practice, so pray for a heart that loves and respects the unlovable.
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.
Watch this video to learn more.