How To Persuade Your Parents

This truly is one of the greatest skills I’ve developed in my seventeen years, and because I’m such a generous person, I’m going to give a few tips to help you teenagers out.

*Disclaimer: since I’ve only dealt with one set of parents, my tips might not work with everyone. But hey, they’re worth a shot.

 

1: Baby Steps. Never ever pitch the entire idea to your parents to begin with. Never. Always begin with the tiniest, least-threatening portion of your plan.

For years, my parents insisted that they weren’t going to let me get my license until I was seventeen, in order to ensure that I’d have plenty of practice driving with them before I was on my own. They had this terrible picture in their minds of me wrecking and dying, so they seemed to think that twelve additional months of practice would eliminate those odds.

Instead of immediately pushing to get my license at sixteen, I slowly eased into the idea. I already had a job, and I mentioned that being licensed would make getting to and from work a trillion times easier. I was running cross country, and it was a struggle for my mom sometimes to make sure I had a ride to and from practices and meets, so I tossed up the idea that if I were licensed already, I wouldn’t need to find someone to bring me home. With my mom’s work schedule, it was difficult for me to make it to early morning meetings for the various clubs and organizations I was in before school, so I suggested that being licensed would be really helpful.

Finally, my mom gave in and agreed to let me get my license before I was 17, but there were a lot of stipulations. I’ll get to that later, though. On to the next tip.

2: Pick The Easier Parent. You guys know the drill… if Mom says no, always ask Dad. If Dad says no, then go ask Mom. That’s how it was as a little kid, going back and forth until you got the answer you were seeking. But by your teenage years, you should know which parent will say yes, depending on the circumstances. Always start with that parent, and once they’re on your side, it’ll be much easier to drag their other half along for the ride.

In my case, I’m much closer with my mom than I am with my stepdad. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure where he stood on the case of my license, whether he was just agreeing with my mom or if he truly cared about my waiting ’til I was seventeen to drive alone. So, naturally, I worked on my mom first, and once she broke down and sided with me, she just filled him in on what was going to happen and things went pretty smoothly from there.

3: Compromise. Remember earlier, when I mentioned those stipulations that my mom gave me for obtaining my license? Here’s where I’m going to hit harder on those. Mom agreed to let me get my license, but told me I could only drive to and from work, to and from cross country, and that I could only drive to school on days I either had practice or a meeting before or after school. I was a little put-out by that at first, since I really was longing for the freedom of being able to drive wherever, whenever without being accompanied by an adult, but I know my mom very well. I know that if I let her think things will go according to her plan, there’s always a little room to wiggle around her rules later. And so, I agreed to her stipulations. Only months after I got my license, I was allowed to drive into town and to my friends houses. Today, I mention heading an hour or two away into the city with a friend, and my mom barely bats an eyelash. Baby steps and compromise work hand in hand in getting your way.

Another thing I should add is that I volunteered to pay for my driver’s ed class, which was two hundred dollars, and my mom really didn’t feel like paying for it. I’m pretty sure that by stepping up and responsibly saying “Mom, this is so important to me that I’m willing to pay for it in its entirety,” I really gained some brownie points.

4. Slow Extension. This, too, was already mentioned in my last point. At first, I had to follow my mom’s stipulations exactly. But slowly, I began extending the boundaries, and now, there really isn’t much of a boundary set at all. In a matter of months, I’m going to be eighteen, and I’m really proud of my mom for how well she’s doing with slowly letting go in preparation for the day I move out on my own. (Which is nine months away, for the record.) The idea here is that you need to slowly push your limits, and eventually, the limits will begin to expand.

5. Guilt Trips. Of all the tips I’m giving you, this is by far the dirtiest, sneakiest, most manipulative. It’s also extremely effective when it’s done properly. You can’t overdo guilt trips, or they’re annoying and make you look irresponsible (and when you’re trying to get your way, irresponsibility won’t help you out a bit). You also can’t entirely discount them from your plan of action.

In my own example scenario, while I was trying to convince my mom to let me get my license, I constantly hit on the fact that it was getting colder and darker outside, and that pretty soon walking home from work (even though it’s only about a quarter of a mile) was going to be dangerous and difficult. I also mentioned how terrible it was to have to wait an hour or more outside in the wind after practice or a meet for her to get off work and come pick me up (I didn’t mention that I sort of liked the quiet time to myself while I waited). Moms are compassionate. They love their babies, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. That’s why this tip can be so effective. If my mom thinks for an instance that I’m too cold or that I’m too hungry or that I’m in some way not taken care of, she immediately wants to fix it and make sure I’m safe and secure. Hit on your mom’s motherly instincts and it’ll be a struggle for her to turn you down.

It’s important to note with this tip that saying things like “but mom, it’s not fair. All the other kids get to…” will potentially backfire and ensure that you do not get your way. Never use the phrase “not fair” or compare your situation to that of another child. And again, don’t over do the guilt trips. That’s also ineffective.

 

I wish you luck on your mission of persuasion.

Perfection

I remember in seventh grade when one of my classmates and I were talking and he said she wished she could be like me. I was completely confused as to why in the world anyone would want to be like me, when all my life I’d been trying to be like someone else, someone better than me.

 

“You don’t care what anyone thinks about you,” she informed me. “I wish I could be like that.”

I just smiled and nodded. What was I supposed to do–inform her that I cared way too much about everyone’s opinion of me and ruin the high opinion she had of me? No. Again, I cared too much what she and everyone else thought. And hey, if she thought I was cool enough to be looked up to, I’d take that, true or not.

In the last year, I’ve begun to realize that it’s completely and utterly ridiculous to want to be like everyone around me when I could be just as successful being myself. Why strive to have hair that’s identical to that of my friend when I’ve got hair that can look good my way? Why attempt to copy someone’s wardrobe when I look better in the clothes like? Why post a Facebook status I don’t like just because I know it’ll get a ton of likes?

Being an adolescent is an awkward time. Honestly, it is. Middle school is the worst of it. You don’t know who you are, and you’re desperately trying to become who you wish you could be. Thing is, the person you wish you could be often isn’t you. That doesn’t mean one persona is better than the other, it just means that it’s not you. And you should always, one hundred percent of the time, strive to be yourself.

I’m finally starting to be comfortable with being me. I dress how I want to dress, and I don’t really care if someone likes it or not. I don’t wear a lot of makeup because I don’t think I need it. I don’t spend an hour on my hair because it’s easier to throw it in a messy bun and go. I say what think, not what will get people to think I’m funny. I do things how I want them done, not in a way to please others. I don’t consider going tanning just because my skin is pale. I stand tall and refuse to let the fact that I’m taller than a lot of people–including some guys–bother me anymore. It’s who I am, and it’s something I can’t change.

When I was a few years younger, one question took up a lot of my time: if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I spent hours upon hours pondering that question, trying to find one thing instead of dozens that I wished I could change. My hair, my skin, my body, my wardrobe, my feet (feet are weird no matter who you are, so I never should’ve been self-conscious about those!), etc. Thinking back, it makes me a little angry at myself for wasting so much time and energy thinking like that. I could’ve been studying for a history test instead of googling ways to make my hair shinier. I could’ve been out running and getting in shape for softball while I complained that I didn’t have the perfect body. (And hello, who even has the perfect body at age thirteen? Nobody.)

I think it all comes down to the fact that we have very few positive influences in our lives. Sure, our parents are usually good role models who are there to support and encourage us. But think about it, as a pre-teen or a teenager, did you want to listen to Mom and Dad? Probably not. I know I didn’t. In fact, there were times that I purposely did the opposite of what I was told to do.

The number of negative influences far outweighs the positive. On TV, there are hundreds of skinny, flawless-skinned, tan, gorgeous girls with lots of friends and even more boyfriends. In magazines, we come to see photoshopped, unrealistic pictures as the girls we should be. Commercials tell us that we’re not pretty enough or skinny enough or perfect enough, and we therefore need to buy their product to make us better. I’ve even heard teachers tell people that they’re not smart enough and that they’ll never amount to anything.

Our culture’s image of perfection is a too-skinny, tall (but not too tall!), gorgeous girl who has clear skin and wears designer clothes. Perfect has boys chasing after her, begging for a date. She’s the best at everything she does by nature, and she doesn’t need anybody’s help with anything. And she has money. Lots and lots of money. Not to mention the fact that everyone loves her.

Please, do me a favor and name one person who is perfect. Can’t do it, can you? That’s because perfection isn’t an earthly quality. Jesus was the only perfect being to ever walk the earth, and He’s not here right now. He’s up in heaven. But even so, He wouldn’t fit society’s perception of perfection. So what does that mean? It means that the perfection so many of us strive for isn’t really perfect at all. It means that we’re looking up to people who shouldn’t be looked up to. It means that we’re wasting precious time trying to be better when we’re all incredible the way we are.

I wish I could overturn the ideas that my generation has grown up with. I wish I could tell each girl individually that she’s beautiful the way she is. I wish I could tell every guy that it’s okay to not look like they live in the gym, and that they don’t have to break hearts to be a real man. I wish I could convince everyone that alcohol and drugs and cigarettes don’t make them cool. I wish I could ensure that my baby sister and all the other kids she’s going to grow up with would have more positive role models than negative ones.

I’m glad I’m coming to peace with myself and that I’m comfortable doing what I want, whether or not it’s what society says I should be doing. But a lot of people aren’t, and a lot of people never will be. I’m finding myself, but a lot of people have and will leave adolescence as a fake who never gave themselves the opportunity to discover who they are. So do me a favor: if you’re around my age and you’re reading this, remember that you’re absolutely incredible no matter what. Don’t let anyone bring you down. And if you’re older, try to remember your teenage years. Try to remember when all you wanted to do was fit in. Try to understand that now, we’re even more desperate than you were then, and try to bring us up. Remind us that we’re amazing. Remind us that we can do anything we want to do, no matter how crazy it is. Remind us that you’re there for us. Just make sure we know that there are people there when we need them, because it’s easy to forget sometimes.

 

Kids These Days…

“Those who criticize our generation forget who raised it.”

 

For some reason, many adults like to believe that teenagers spend their days drinking, smoking weed, cussing, flipping their elders off, having sex, and playing video games. These same adults have come to the conclusion that my generation is useless, lazy, and will amount to nothing. Truth is, I’m nothing like that. I’ve never in my life done drugs or even had a sip of alcohol. I don’t cuss (okay, I might let out a minor bad word here and there whenever I stub my toe or fall on my face, but who hasn’t done that?) and I definitely don’t flip people off. I respect my elders as long as they respect me, and usually even when they don’t. I’m a virgin, and I don’t spend all my time chasing after boys. I don’t play video games, and I don’t sit on my butt all day, every day.

Guess what? I’m not the only good kid out there. I know dozens upon dozens of kids who are like me. Sure, I know a handful that do all of the things I listed above, but how is it that such a small number of people created a terrible stereotype that so many people jump on? It’s like people want to find a reason to judge others. Are people really so desperate to find the bad in people that they’ll look to pathetic stereotypes as justification? I think that’s completely and utterly pathetic.

I’m not saying that I’m not perfect, and I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’ve never judged someone. When I’m out for a run and a guy drives by, I instantly flip out and assume that he will a) rape me, b) murder me, and/or c) kidnap me. I know that the chances of every male who drives by being a murderer/kidnapper/rapist are slim to none. But still, I get a sick feeling in my stomach and turn back towards home. That’s a prime example of judgement right there. Why don’t I worry about women the same way? Why do I assume that every guy is a criminal who is targeting me? Who knows. Maybe I’ve watched too many crime shows. Whatever the case, my point is that I, too, have judged others.

But at least I don’t give those guys disapproving, judgmental looks like the ones I receive almost daily for holding my baby sister in public. Apparently the fact that I’m sixteen and holding a baby means she’s my child, not my sister. And apparently holding a toddler means I’m a horrible, nasty person, as well. Or at least that’s what I take away from those glares I get. I just want to slap the dirty look off their face and curtly inform them that I’m holding my baby sister. Emphasis on the ‘sister’ part. In other words, no, I don’t spend my time in the bed of some boy’s truck. No, I didn’t hold a kid in my stomach for nine months. No, my life is not going to go to waste. Because the baby I’m holding is my sister, not my child.

If I didn’t love her so much, I’d probably not hold her outside of the house.

My rant is coming to a close, but I’ve just got a couple more things to bring up before I hit ‘publish’ and go eat breakfast.

1) Not all teenagers do bad things. In fact, a majority make good decisions and avoid bad things. And even if they’ve tried something in the past, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it again.

2) Being a teenager doesn’t mean that a person has no goals or plans for their life. I’ve personally been looking at colleges for several years now and arranging my schedule in a way that will help me later on in life. SPOILER ALERT!: I’m not the only one. A good amount of people I personally know and know of have been planning realistically (and sometimes unrealistically too, but it never hurts to have big dreams) for years.

3) We’re not going to completely screw over the world. Actually, I think my generation has the potential to fix a lot of things that have gone wrong. Do a google search sometime for young entrepreneurs. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

4) Have a little faith. I’m a thousand and three percent positive that there isn’t a single perfect person on this earth. We’ve always believed in the capability of you adults, so how about we turn things around and for once, you believe in us.

5) I’m well aware that not every adult feels this way. I’m not saying they do. That would be judgemental, after all. 😉 But I’ve seen dirty looks cast my way on multiple occasions simply because I’m young. This is written as a rant, full of my opinions, not in any way to single somebody out.

Well, my stomach is growling. This whole rant is probably crap, but at least I got a good amount of what I wanted to say typed out. Agree with me, disagree with me, do what you please. For now, I’m going to go stuff my face and then head to work. Bye!