Parenting Teenagers

When Do I Let an Issue Go?

connecting with your teenager Jan 15, 2022

I am often asked “How do I know if I should let an issue go?” Or “Do I continue to address so-called bad behavior over and over or is there a point where you just let it go?”


If this is a question you have confronted, there are several aspects to explore. First, is an honest assessment of your mindset, meaning are you approaching the issue from a control-based mindset or an empowerment-based mindset? I have seen situations in which the empowerment approach can slip into a control-based mindset. For example: Your teenager is struggling with their grades so you have a conversation with them about it, with the goal to empower them to develop study habits that will work best for them. In the initial conversation, they struggle to come up with a plan so you make some suggestions. Before you know it, you are designing the study plan. In effect, you are in control mode. Don’t be surprised if your teenager doesn’t adhere to your plan. This is an example where it makes sense to let go of the “bad behavior” (your teen not adhering to your plan). Shift back into empowerment mode and revisit the idea of developing a study plan, this time, based on your teen’s ideas.


The other common control-based issues revolve around style preferences. Hair color and clothes will come and go… Your time is better spent on character development.


Next, I recommend taking your connection to the next level. One of our fundamental assertions is that all bad behavior is a call to reconnect. If there is a pattern of bad behavior, then your teenager is experiencing something new or being challenged in a new way. The pattern of bad behavior is a signal to you. Your teenager is reaching out. Keep in mind that there will not necessarily be a connection between the bad behavior and the new challenge. For example: Your teenager’s best friend since elementary school is experimenting with drugs and applying pressure to your teenager. The resulting bad behavior might be picking fights with a younger sibling. The fight is just a symptom of the added stress your teenager is trying to deal with. So rather than continuing to address the same symptom over and over, put your attention on leveling up your connection. Here are nine ways you build connection.



  1. Being playful
  2. Being compassionate
  3. Being present
  4. Being a source of hope
  5. Being vulnerable
  6. Being forgiving
  7. Being curios
  8. Being grateful
  9. Being kind


Finally, look at the bad behavior through the lens of the hero’s two journeys. Remember, we all are on two journeys—the outward journey of accomplishment and the inner journey of fulfillment. Focus on your teenager’s inner journey. Is there an underlying belief or character issue that is the root cause of “bad behavior. For example: Is your teenager slipping into the belief that everyone is against them and that nothing ever works out for them? This belief leads to a sense of hopelessness, which will manifest itself as bad behavior. This is a great opportunity to use your empowerment coaching skills. Cast a vision of a better future. Reframe the current circumstances from a love-based mindset and develop an action plan for moving forward. Note: The process of reframing the circumstance to approach it from a love-based mindset is the key to moving your teenager forward on their inner journey toward fulfillment.


Parenting a teenager is an awesome, ever changing adventure. If you are feeling isolated as a parent, join our community of family heroes. We would love to support you along your journey.   





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