Hate It When Your Kids Talk Back to You? Don't

You coulda fooled me.

But did you know kids who talk back wind up being more successful in life?  At least, that's what a new study has found.  In my house it always resulted in a smack, or a sip of soap.

The experts agree, this behavior is actually developmentally healthy for kids,  according to yahoo.com. Clinical psychologist Kelly M. Flanagan explains there that “the inability to say "No” — the inability to set personal boundaries — is one of the most common, insidious causes of human suffering.“

 At its core, when kids push back at our authority, they’re trying to exert some sense of control over their own lives. They’re practicing that skill — flexing that muscle — with us.

I'm one of those people who has a hard time saying no.  I've had to learn it very slowly.  I was raised to be a good girl and good girls don't say no.  Ever.  This led to some relationships I'd been better off not having, and jobs where I started every day underpaid, overworked and resentful.  But over time -- and life -- you start learning.  Now I'm so good at it my mother-in-law could barely stand to be around me!

That doesn't mean we don't get sincerely pissed off and promise to take away their phones, however, when our kids sass us.

The truth is — it’s NOT whether they push back that really speaks to our authority, says yahoo.com. They’re kids. They’re going to push back. That’s their job. Our authority lies in HOW they push back, and in HOW we respond to them.

Don't we want them to say no to drugs when a friend is pushing them?  Don't we want, especially for our daughters, the ability for them to -- safely-- walk away from unwelcome sexual advances?

The key, experts say, is setting expectations (and positive examples) for appropriate communication. Do we help them understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions?  I'm afraid I'm not so good at this.  I've been blessed with a very good child (at least, when he's not ignoring me/pretending he can't hear me), and he has never really talked back.

Oh, he gets snarky and rolls those eyes all the time.  But the screaming, hair-pulling fights I remember with my own parents, thankfully never happens.  Do I worry that this will make him less of a man, less able to stand up for himself?

I used to worry, at least at the start of middle school, that he would be bullied, because he's a kind, gentle kid.  But that never happened.

He has a quiet authority.    I don't know where he got it from.  But even though -- and maybe because -- he is so quiet, people listen to him.  His high school teachers all comment on his quietness.  One teacher said it's because he's so "cerebral" (the best compliment ever).  He thinks a lot.  When he speaks, it's usually to say something.  Wish I could borrow it, sometimes.


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