It’s easy to treat a conflict like a tennis game … lobbing insults or arguments back and forth.  But with every smack of the tennis ball, the game continues without progress.  With this kind of banter, there isn’t an easy way to slow down and catch the ball without someone getting hurt.  Instead, allow the tennis balls to go by you.  Don’t give in to the temptation to hit them back by throwing another insult out there.  Even if it feels good, it’s not going to help the relationship at all.  Instead, listen to your teen.  Try to understand his issue well enough to say it back to him.  Keep the lines of communication open and stay calm.

If you’re in the heat of battle with your son or daughter right now, I know it’s a painful and confusing time for you.  Hang in there.  Stay engaged in a relationship with your teen.  Move toward your son and daughter and assure them that it’s okay to explore and formulate their own worldview, and that you enjoy helping them struggle with the tough issues of life.

Your poise and unflappability during moments of conflict will serve you well on the other side of the conflict.  Set the stage now for those inevitable moments with your teen that arise out of nowhere, so that your relationship remains intact and healthy.  Someday, your son or daughter will speak words of gratitude for your composure when they raise children of their own.

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear theParenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at

Publication date: June 26, 2012