"Avoid arguing, no matter what," responded the Rebbetzin, when I asked for advice, yesterday.
"You can not win an argument with a teenager," she continued. (My father said the same thing.)
She suggested making a list, together with the teen, of all the tasks that need to be done: chores, homework, clean room, go to bed on time, etc.
Then allow the teenager to choose one task that s/he commits to doing, on her/his own.
Give the teen the control over what s/he chooses. Then (and this is the hard part) ignore all the other tasks.
Repeat the process once the teen has successfully gotten into the habit of doing the task.
This might sound easy to you, but it feels increadibly difficult to me.
I know it makes sense, but that does not make it easy to "let go."
She said something else, too.
One of my children constantly wants to bring relatively valuable items on tiyulim (hikes). The likelihood of these items getting lost is high. I would like this child to wait until s/he is a little more reliable (read: responsible). The child thinks (mistakenly) that s/he is already responsible (even though s/he still loses things all the time!!!).
The Rebbetzin suggests that these items are not worth fighting about.
"Let them lose these things," she advises, "They will lose things, and they will learn. Kapparah."
"Arguing only makes them dig in their heels, even harder," she says, about all these issues.
I know she is right.
I just do not know if I can do it.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,