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A single mother asked me what to do now that her teen son is bigger she is and says, “You can’t make me!”

Sassing and sarcasm are both pretty common in 15-year-olds (whether or not they are being raised by a single mom).

Size doesn.t matter, your attitude as a parent is what matters. Years ago we brought a parrot into our home where a Siamese cat was already in residence. When the cat approached the bird that she outweighed by a factor of twenty the bird raised her wings and stood her ground. The cat slunk away although one swipe would have killed the parrot. The bird actually got so bold she would sneak up on the cat and bite her tail!

No matter how big your teen grows you still need to be an in-charge parent. How? FEEL IN CHARGE! ACT IN CHARGE! You’re the parent.

I know it’s hard to believe but at the very time teens are their most obnoxious and obstreperous they most need for you to stand your ground. This tells then that you care enough to fight for what you believe in.

Be practical though. Avoid power struggles at all cost. Pick your battles (OK let his room be a mess, but if he doesn’t obey curfew, be sure there is a consequence.) Use humor: “Of course I can’t make you. You’re bigger than me but I may take karate lessons, then you’ll be sorry!”

Do what you would do at work when having trouble with a co-worker, ask your sassing kid out to lunch (neutral ground: restaurant). Tell him you are troubled by his behavior, you want to trust him so you can give him more grown-up privileges but you can’t while he acts so disrespectful which is childish behavior. Ask him how he thinks he can solve this problem. Then wait for an answer, i.e. don’t keep talking. You may be surprised at what transpires when the sasser realizes this behavior will interfere with privileges.