Changing Family Dynamics Takes Time

Apr 22, 2020

Creating any kind of a change in our lives, whether a change around food habits, exercise or changes in our relationships, can be challenging.  Often, we lose steam because we are not seeing the results we want quickly enough.  How many people give up on diets after a week or two because they have not lost 10 pounds or because they are not fitting into their smaller clothes yet?  This happens to so many of us and it is because creating change can be hard.  We become frustrated and tired and then give up.  It sometimes feels more comfortable to stay in a “stuck mode” rather than invest a lot of time and energy into creating change when you are uncertain about how, if and when the change will occur.

This happens to many parents who want to change their relationship or the dynamic they have with their teenager (or with each other) as well.  Parents become frustrated with the dynamics of their family.  Whether there is too much yelling or disrespect or not enough helping out or quality time being spent together – there are likely things you would like to see different with your family dynamic.  The reality is, making a change like this is a process and getting from where you are today to where you want to be will take some effort and time.

What I have seen happen over and over is, parents put in the energy and effort initially and then give up too quickly.  This is not a negative reflection at all on you, as a parent, if you can relate to this.  It just speaks to how busy you are and how frustrating and seemingly slow the process can be to see positive changes in your relationship with your teenager.  What I can tell you though, is that when parents are clear about what they would like to see different in their relationship with their teen AND they put in the effort consistently – they have great results. 

Below are some examples of things that may be helpful to think about if you are wanting to make a change in your family:


  1. Be clear and specific: don’t simply say, I want things to be better.  You need to be as detailed as possible in what you want.  For example, say, I want to stop the yelling in the house, I want to have 3 meals as a family each week, I want you to do your weekly chores consistently.


  1. Be realistic: if you are trying to change something that has been going on for a long time, don’t expect that it will change in a week or even a month. Keep in mind that when you change your behavior, it will impact the behavior of others.  If you are consistent over time, their behavior will change in response to your behavior.  Have realistic expectations and play the long game.


  1. Have a plan and support: what are YOU going to do consistently to help bring about the change?  Be very, very clear with yourself and even write it down.  Often times telling another adult will help hold you accountable to what you are trying to do in addition to giving you support to vent or get suggestions if you are feeling frustrated or stuck.


  1. Let your family know what you would like to see and get their input: this CANNOT happen if you are not calm and your children are not calm, so be thoughtful about when you do this.  Sit down with your children, explain what you would like to see change and let them know that you believe these changes will benefit you all.  Then, try to get their feedback and make a concrete plan from there.


  1. Visualize: visualize what it will look like and feel like when the change has occurred.  How will it be different on a day to day basis? Take time to really think about it and see what it feels like.  Use this feeling to help sustain you on the days you want to give up – this can be very powerful.


You deserve to have things better or different if you are not happy with your current family dynamic.  Be sure you have support and that you give yourself permission to focus on making the changes you want for yourself and your family.

Like my How To Parent A Teen Facebook page and join my private How To Parent A Teen Group for ongoing tips and support. I am in there regularly offering support, tips and cheering you on as you work to navigate the challenges of parenting a teenager.



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