In this episode, a mom calls in feeling frustrated with her fourteen year old son who is being disrespectful. Finding herself yelling and not being who she wants to be in the moment, this mom’s message is relatable to any mom who is experiencing a child’s behavior that doesn’t align with who they want their child to be.

You’ll get a look at how you can apply these parenting and personal development tools to yourself so you can show up in alignment with the mom you want to be. This means, you’ll learn what it takes to be calm, patient, and not yell even in the hardest of moments.

If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space designed to help you overcome challenges and live your best life. I’d love for you to join me inside the Mom On Purpose Membership where we take this work to the next level.

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Welcome to Mom On Purpose, where it’s all about helping moms overcome challenges and live their best lives. My hope is by being here, you are more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog, mama, Chicagoan, and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.

Hello, my lovely friends. How we doing today? I’m so glad to be here with you. I love this time that we have together and now I can tell you how nauseous I am and talk about it, because you know that I am pregnant. Ohgoodness, the nausea hits me so hard and I’m using these tools and it doesn’t mean that it’s, you know, totally gone, but it does make it more manageable. So that’s what’s going on over here. I do use medication for it, so it is managed a little bit, but man, that, uh, first half of pregnancy for me is just no joke. Of course, it’s, you know, two things are true. It’s really hard and painful, and also it is a wonderful magical time where I’m just filled with joy and gratitude and all of the good things to come.

What’s going on with you? I hope you’re doing well. Feel free to say hi to me over on Instagram @mom.onpurpose. I have been getting a lot of dms from new members of this community and it’s just so fun to personally connect. I love talking with you here, but of course, it’s more of a one way street. So, um, if you want to say hi, definitely pop over there. What else? Well, if you haven’t taken my Mom On Purpose free course, you absolutely must. head on over to That’s all one word, and you will get a four part video series that will give you tools that you can start using to help improve your life and just make your life better.

Today, I have such a fantastic episode for you about parenting, a disrespectful teenager. You’re going to hear from a member of this community who left a voice message for me on the podcast hotline about how she’s struggling to parent her teenager who is kind of being disrespectful and she’s trying to use these tools, but in the moment it feels really hard. So let’s start off with listening to her message.

Hi, Natalie. I’m struggling with, um, basically mothering my teenage son who is 14. Um, he just basically doesn’t want to hear anything I have to say, anything I’m saying he’s puffing and puffing about or like I’m getting on his nerves. So I’m just trying to get some help, guidance and then I’m getting frustrated and then I’m yelling back because I feel disrespected. But in fact I, I, I’m trying to use the tools, but in the moment I’m just reacting. So please help.

Alright, my beautiful friend, I got you. I have lots of tools that are absolutely going to help. The first suggestion that I have is to focus back on you. So you told me a lot about your son and kind of what’s going on, and you did tell me a little bit about how you’re feeling and that you do take some action of yelling, but what are your thoughts? I have a hunch what your thoughts might be, but I don’t know exactly what they are. So what are you thinking about all of this? What are your thoughts about your teenager not wanting to hear what you have to say? What are your thoughts about him thinking that you get on his nerves? What are your thoughts about him being disrespectful?

And without judgment, just notice how you’re thinking about this entire situation and I’m going to offer you some alternative thoughts that I think will probably be much more helpful and empowering for you because when we do this work, we’re not trying to change teenager. I’m trying to empower you so that you can show up as the mom that you want to be and in so doing, you will have a different impact on teenager, but we can’t control your 14-year-old son. And that’s kind of where I want to start off with just kind of some background information about attachment and kind of the, the cycle as I like to think about it, of mothering when our kids are little and school aged, that is all about attachment.

So our kids are wanting to be with us, wanting to spend a lot of time with us, they’re seeking us as their attachment, and that is how it’s supposed to be. We provide the secure attachment base for them. Then what happens in the teenage years is it actually flips to the opposite. The teenager is no longer seeking us for attachment. They’re actually much more focused outward and wanting to separate from us. It’s kind of like a, a cycle of preparation for adulthood. If you think about it in that way and remembering that this is actually a very normal part of child development is really, really helpful because then instead of having thoughts like my teenage son should hear what I want to say, you could have a thought like, of course my teenage son who is 14 doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.

He’s at the age where he is very focused on his peers and thinking he knows better, and it’s just a sign that he is maturing and going through adolescence and wanting to, um, kind of prepare for adulthood even though he would never use those words. That’s what’s happening. So this doesn’t mean to tolerate disrespectful behavior will get to the boundaries part, but this work ahead of time of changing your mindset, the mindset of something’s gone wrong, he should want to hear what I have to say, he should listen to me, he knows better.

None of those thoughts for you are going to be helpful. Instead having thoughts like, of course my teenage son doesn’t want to hear what I have to say. He’s a teenager. He is very focused outward right now and wanting to explore his relationships outside the home. He doesn’t want to spend time with me in the way that he did when he was little. And that can be a little bit sad and and heartbreaking. But also if you take a step back and you just think about it as the season that you’re in, it can also be really powerful to just witness your child’s own growth and development and to just know like you’re doing a really great job, nothing’s gone wrong, even if it feels a little bit sad for you. But all of that is part of your work.

So the first thing I would say is to just clean up your thoughts. Same thing with if he says that you’re getting on his nerves, my thoughts would be, of course, of course I’m getting on his nerves, I’m his mother and I’m probably having some rules and some boundaries that he doesn’t like. Of course I’m getting on his nerves. And so I’m wondering what your thoughts are about you getting on his nerves. Are you thinking that you shouldn’t be getting on his nerves?

Are you thinking that he shouldn’t think you’re getting on his nerves? Um, I’m wondering what you’re thinking because you said that you get frustrated and you’re getting frustrated not because he’s being a teenager, not because he doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, not because you’re getting on his nerves, you’re getting frustrated because of what you’re thinking and it doesn’t mean what you’re thinking is wrong, it just means that what you’re thinking is probably not helping you show up as the mom you want to be. And you of course already know that because you said you end up yelling and so you don’t want to yell, but you of course you want to have boundaries. And so how, how does this work? What does this look like? It looks like you don’t have expectations for what your son should be thinking and feeling, but you do still hold boundaries.

So it’s okay if your son feels like you’re getting on his nerves. It’s okay if he doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, you know, kinda like I said, of course he’s 14. And also you do have rules and boundaries for living in your home, and that’s okay that he doesn’t like those. In fact, if we really take a step back out of this and just think about how this sounds so much more typical and expected than if your son said, oh, thank you so much for having these rules and boundaries. Mom, I really appreciate your parenting.

Of course, we do not hear examples of 14 year olds saying that, at least not often. And so just reminding yourself of that, like he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. And also that doesn’t mean you just, you know, have no rules or boundaries. You still have rules or boundaries. You just don’t think that he should be any different. So I don’t know exactly what he’s doing, but you said that you feel disrespected.

And one way that can, you can change how you’re thinking about this that can be really powerful is instead of making it about you, separate out what he’s doing and don’t take it so personally. So when we take things really personally, it just makes it harder for us to show up as our best selves. It’s a cognitive distortion. And what I like to remember is that my kids’ behavior, particularly when it’s disrespectful, isn’t about me. Even if your child said I hate you or like it’s directed at you, it’s really not about you, it’s about what’s going on beneath the behavior. So what’s going on for your son is whatever he is thinking and feeling in that moment.

And so instead of taking it personally and then yelling back, it’s getting curious like, huh, I wonder what’s going on for him. And yes, you can still hold boundaries, so I don’t know exactly what the behavior is and that is going to determine what the boundary is. So I like to think of a boundary as something I do to help contain my child. And again, going with separating out kind of the actions from identity, remember that your child isn’t disrespectful.

So I really suggest not labeling your child as any negative feeling, any negative word, any negative label, because they’ll live into that. So instead what you can do is you can think of him as a really, really good kid who is exhibiting some disrespectful behavior, but the disrespectful behavior isn’t who he is. He’s a good kid inside. And so when you think about it that way, it’s sort of curious and interesting, like, huh, I have this really good kid and I believe he’s a really good kid and we’re on the same team. And I have that mindset that we’re on the same team and he is taking some actions that are disrespectful and kind of go against the rules and values and boundaries that we have in our home.

Like, I wonder what’s going on with him. I wonder what he’s going through that would make him think and feel and act that way. And from that place, this is going to help you not feel frustrated and not yell. So then you can contain and hold the boundary. So again, just a reminder, boundaries are not for the child. Boundaries are for you to help the child. So for example, um, you know, I’m in the thick of toddlerhood, my child is going to bite. I quite literally stop him from biting. I’ve coached a lot of my friends with their kids who hit. And when a child is hitting you quite literally stop them.

Like you grab them, you stop them in action and prevent them from hitting. Not because they’re in trouble, not because um, they’re bad, but because you want to help them succeed and they need help in that moment with the boundary. I like to say, I won’t let you, I won’t let you hit, I won’t let you bite, I won’t let you throw that. It’s about me and who I want to be. And the reason that all of the kind of introductory work leading up to right now is so important is because you can actually hold a boundary and feel very calm. You don’t have to feel frustrated, you don’t have to feel triggered, you don’t have to feel like you’re yelling, but that only is available to you if you first change your thoughts and feelings. And this brings me to kind of what you said at the end. I’m so glad that you said I try to use these tools, but in the moment I just end up reacting. The tools mostly, I would say like 85% are best used out of the moment. In the moment. If you haven’t done any of the work, then you are already going to be feeling frustrated and activated. And so at that point, your best bet is just to regulate your nervous system, to take some deep breaths, to take a pause. You’re really, your thoughts are already there, so you’re really just trying to calm your body down. But that’s such a small piece of the work that you’re really not going to see the most impactful change unless you do work out of the moment. What do I mean by that? I mean, in the moment is when your child is exhibiting disrespectful behavior. That’s not the time to work on your thoughts and change your feelings. That’s not just the time to, um, pause and say, what was, what was that that Natalie said on that podcast? That is simply the time for you to notice how you’re already thinking and feeling. And if you are already activated and feeling frustrated, it’s sort of too late. Uh, and what I mean by that is you can always kind of interrupt the thought feeling and action.

So you can always stop yourself from yelling. It’s just a little bit harder to do. And so you can add a pause, find the pause, take a deep breath and tell your son, I need a minute, and then excuse yourself and then come back to handle the situation. You can absolutely do that, but that’s a really, uh, like a small portion of the work. The most impactful work that you can do on yourself to become the mom you want to be is the work outside of the moment and what you do outside of the moment when your son is not exhibiting disrespectful behavior.

So maybe you’re journaling in the morning, maybe you’re just doing this at lunch or at night or whatever time you want to work on your thoughts is that is going to be done out of the moment where you practice new better feeling thoughts. So this is how you do it. You think about how your son is likely to do some disrespectful behavior, whatever that is. You didn’t say what the facts are. So I don’t know, I don’t know if he’s, you know, swearing. I don’t know if he’s saying you’re getting on my nerves and, and maybe a tone that feels disrespectful to you or maybe he’s walking away from you when you’re talking or he’s coming in late, whatever, whatever the, um, specific actions that he’s taking are, those are the facts. Come up with a few scenarios like three or five that you think are very likely for him to do again and come up with the specific thoughts and feelings and actions that you want to take in each of those scenarios. And then you practice them. This is life changing. It is the only way that I’m able to stay calm when my son is, more, you know, explosive or having big tantrums or meltdowns or, um, doing things that I don’t want him to be doing. I’m able to stay calm because I practice thoughts out of the moment.

And so some of the thoughts that you practice out of the moment are going to be specific to the circumstance, but I want to just reiterate what some of those might sound like. So let’s say that your teenage son starts walking away from you when you’re talking to him. He says, mom, you’re getting on my nerves and he’s sort of ignoring you. Let’s say that that is the circumstance. You might want to think thoughts like, his behavior isn’t about me. He is kind of detaching as a normal and healthy sign of human development. I know he is a good kid inside and I want to feel calm, supportive, loving, and firm with respect to how I show up for him. I know that this isn’t about me. I know that this is about him.

From that mindset, then you probably feel sturdier, calmer, more warmhearted and still firm. And then you can decide what actions you want to take. You might want to wait until he comes back around. Maybe he’s going to come back downstairs after walking away. You might want to go up and talk with him about walking away from you as his mom and how you think that’s disrespectful behavior and how you know he’s a really good kid and you know that he knows better. And you want to see him stay even if it’s hard and even if it’s stuff that he doesn’t want to hear. So in this example, notice how you are allowing him to have his thoughts and feelings. You’re not thinking he should be thinking. I love hearing what my mom has to say. We’re expecting him to think and feel however he wants, but we’re still holding him accountable to actions that are, you know, acceptable and unacceptable in our homes. I like to say that all feelings are welcome, all actions are not. So it’s okay to have those thoughts. It’s okay to have those feelings, but these are the actions that are okay and acceptable in our home. And you can decide how you want to think, feel, and act in each of these predictable circumstances. And I promise you it works magically really out of the moment when you practice and you can visualize your son acting how he would normally act, and then you thinking and feeling and acting how you want to think, feel, and act.

And it’s going to be some version of this isn’t about me, this is about him. I can still show up as the loving, warm and firm mom that I want to be. And then you get to decide what kind of boundaries that you want to hold without taking it personally and well giving him space to feel how he wants to feel. It’s totally fine if he wants to feel frustrated or it’s totally fine if he thinks you’re getting on his nerves. When you need him to kind of like you and validate you, that puts kind of a burden on him. It’s unfair to him and it’s unfair to you. Now again, that’s very different than, you know, tolerating different types of disrespectful behavior. But if you just give him space to feel how he wants to feel and think how he wants to think and then hold the boundaries around the actions, it’s going to be a much easier parenting relationship for you.

Alright, my beautiful friend, remember you have a really great kid who is just struggling with some of his actions and thank goodness you are his mother to be there to help him and support him as he learns these skills and navigates this transition from being a kid to becoming an adult. With that, I have been loving hearing your messages on the podcast hotline. I would love for you to leave me one so I can hear whatever you would like to get answered on the podcast. The number to call is eight three three three. Ask Nat. That’s 8 3 3 3 2 7 5 6 2 8. And I will talk with you next week, my friend. Take care.

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