How Mark Twain’s Father Became Smarter

Teenagers are known to be very opinionated and argumentative. They seem to believe that they know everything and that their parents are unintelligent. That was how 14-year-old Mark Twain felt about his father. Seven short years later, he was impressed at how much his father had learned. In reality, it wasn’t the father who had become smarter but Mark was humbler. 

When you find yourself in an argument with your teen, it is important that you remember these three things:

  • He is not arguing for argument’s sake. At puberty, your teen’s brain underwent a major overhaul and is now working at a much faster speed. You have probably noticed that he thinks differently compared to before. With this upgraded brain, he is able to handle abstract concepts, consider hypothetical situations, think of potential solutions to problems, and so on. When your teen is arguing with you, it shows that he is using his brain. And that is something to celebrate. Your job as his father is to be his guide by pointing him to trusted sources where he can find reliable information, and his sounding board by reflecting his thoughts and ideas back to him.
  • He doesn’t necessarily need you to agree with him. It is a good thing that your teen is openly expressing his views to you, even though they might not always be right. In our hurry to correct them, we end up dismissing and criticising them. Eventually, he will decide that it is better not to share his thoughts with you. Your priority as a dad is to listen, understand, and, most importantly, respect his point of view.
  • Prioritise your relationship with your teen above everything else, including winning the argument. You have to remind yourself that
    winning the argument isn’t the goal. It is to keep the channels of communication open. Communication is vital for a relationship to thrive.

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. 

Food for Thought: Arguments often strain the relationship between parents and their teens. What are you doing to maintain the relationship and resolve the differences?