NPR's piece takes the stand that a teen can learn to negotiate in adult life if his/her parents handle arguing with the teenager well.
I've been watching the five seasons of Friday Night Lights, a wonderfully written and acted TV show that didn't catch on too well with the public. The show follows the drama of a football coach and his family through five seasons. In the process Coach Taylor and his wife Tami parent a teenage daughter, Julie. While Julie has her moments of yelling and slamming doors, for the most part, the interactions between her and her parents are filled with mutual respect.
The respect is there because Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor demonstrate throughout the series one of the best marriages I've ever seen in a TV series. They disagree, they disappoint each other, but they also fulfill each other and respect each other throughout each interaction.
One of the best examples of a respectful conversation with a teenage daughter occurs in Season Three, Episode 10 - "The Giving Tree." Julie and Tami have a perfect interaction of a respectful mother and daughter in discussion after Tami discovers that Julie is having sex with her boyfriend. Coach has an equally respectful conversation with Matt, Julie's boyfriend, in this episode as well.
While modeling respect provides a good foundation for effective arguing, communication skills involved in a respectful argument can be taught as well.
The basic elements of a good argument are mutual respect, good listening, and the ability and willingness to put yourself in the other person's shoes.
- Mutual Respect:
A relationship which incorporates mutual respect has communication interactions that reflect this.
Sarcasm, contempt, or joking with the goal of poking at the other person are not demonstrative of respect. The dictionary defines respect as: "having due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others." Wikipedia says that contempt is the antonym of respect. When anything other than respect enters communication, then distancing results.
Remember that respect is conveyed not only by the words you choose but also by the tone of voice you use. Sarcasm, contempt and other distancing can be sensed if your voice tone reflects those emotions. A caring well-modulated tone of voice will serve well to send a message of respect.
- Good Listening:
An assertive way to demonstrate that one is listening is to say back to the other person what you heard him/her say or your interpretation of what you heard the other person say.
"So I understand from what you say that none of your friends have to be in by midnight."
- Putting yourself in the other person's shoes