Wednesday’s Parent: Button pusher’s resistance guide to parenting

Pushing buttons sounds the alarm. Photo by Alan Cleaver.

Pushing buttons sounds the alarm. Photo by Alan Cleaver.

It’s like a yummy pastry after a feast. You want it but know there may be unpleasant consequences if you get it. That’s the dilemma parents face when they want to give some choice advice to their teen after years of parenting about the issue.

Some topics push buttons and both parents and children react. Emotionally it feels like an alarm that keeps ringing. This changes a teachable moment into a lesson in frustration for all. Sometimes, parents’ own buttons are pushed. The result isn’t any better.

Everyone has a sensitive spot or two but there are ways to get a point across without being a button pusher. Communication takes desire and effort but if the parenting goal is to prepare children to be good adult decision makers, then the future is is based on staying in the loop.

This is especially true during the college process. If a student is not vested in a task’s outcome, from studying for a college admission test to searching for colleges and from applying and accepting admission to graduating, parents cannot expect them to do their best.

Here are 12 ways to resist the button push and spark a dialogue:

  1. Ask a question to start a conversation instead of making a statement that turns into a lecture.
  2. Keep your tone and facial expression neutral, interested and nonjudgemental. It’s not always words but body language and how it’s said.
  3. Trade places mentally to feel your own reaction to words about to be uttered.
  4. Stop, think and rephrase before blurting out if you sound like your own parent.
  5. Solicit an opinion in lieu of stating a fact.
  6. Provide and request honest feedback.
  7. Be prepared to put on “listening ears” even if you are not crazy about what you hear.
  8. Watch and see. Soon your child won’t be so easy to check up on so let him test drive independent decision making while you can watch.
  9. Focus on the positives. Make a list if you must to keep you on track.
  10. Take five before starting or continuing if things go south.
  11. Exchange compliments. It’s a great ego-booster.
  12. Get advice from a third person you both respect and has the credentials to advise on such issues.

Let me know your additions to my Button pusher’s resistance guide to parenting after reading Suzanne’s suggestions.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

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