Disagreements between you and your children are a fact of parenthood. When aging children begin asserting their independence, things can quickly turn for the worse when your "not-so-little ones" become blatantly disobedient and disrespectful.
When it comes to fighting with your kids, fight fair by avoiding these nine phrases at all costs:
Profanities are a total no-no. Don't fire back when your child hurls these at you. In the end, you are the adult and everything you do is teaching your child how to behave when he reaches adulthood. If you throw out profanities during a fight with your child, he'll do the same to your grandkids.
2. "You're/You're a (insert any insulting label here)"
Part of fighting fair is constructively expressing your real feelings and concerns and then working toward resolving them. Labels and insults do neither and only cause hurt feelings or increased anger. These words stick to your child like glue and may greatly affect his relationships and self-esteem for years to come.
3. "I never wanted you," or "I wish I never had you!"
It's easy to rebut the classic kiddy tantrum, "I wish I'd never been born," with one of these doozies. But don't drop that bomb. Questioning the validity of your child's right to exist is never a thought you want to implant in his mind - and it may come back to haunt you if he tries to make it a reality.
4. "You were a mistake," or "You ruined my life!"
Blaming your child for being here doesn't make sense and doesn't make you look mature enough to be a parent. Being born was not his decision - it was yours. And even in the heat of the moment, making such an ugly claim says more about you than it says about him.
5. "Why can't you be more like __?"
Comparing your wayward child to a more upstanding citizen is easy when he hits those tumultuous teen years. But your child is just trying to find himself. He is who he is, and asking him to be someone else is the same as telling him, "You're not good enough the way you are."
6. "I hate you," or "I don't love you!"
Let's hope neither of these statements is true. Pointless and tactless, they just create a greater divide between you and your beloved child. Even if they are true, they still don't need to be said - and it might be time for counseling!
7. "Shut up, I don't care!"
Listening is much harder and much more important than speaking. What caused the argument in the first place is likely a breakdown in communication, so reinforcing the point that you are unwilling to listen to your child will only further the insult and injury.
8. "I'm leaving," or "I'm not coming back!"
Your child needs you, no matter how much he claims he doesn't. Don't ever give your child a reason to feel abandoned. If you need to step outside to get some air, do it. But don't take your keys, and give yourself a time frame in which to return. Then, come back!
9. "Get out!"
Your child needs a safe haven to call home and a comfortable place to rest his head. Ripping this away from him is not only against the law, it causes catastrophic damage to your relationship. And your child may not be so willing to return when you've calmed down and want him to come back.
Keeping your wits in the midst of a meltdown with your kid takes grace, patience and immense amounts of self-discipline and self-control. But as the parent, this is the responsibility you took on when you started your family. Be the adult, and make sure every argument works toward a resolution - and remember to keep those unkind words to yourself.