Current parent, former child here.
No, parents are not always right. Yes, there are times when they are the cause of a quarrel in the home.
But that does not give you an excuse for being quarrelsome yourself.
Parents, you see, are human. We get tired. We don’t always see all the facts. We make decisions in the heat of emotion.
We’re not perfect.
There will be times when parents are completely, totally, and undeniably wrong. A parent abusing and/or endangering the life of their child – in a sexual way especially – is completely wrong. That becomes a situation the child absolutely needs to get out of, and involve the proper authorities as well as other trusted adults.
As for the rest of the time? When you ask your parent if you can go to the school dance, and they say no instantly because they’re quite sure a teacher told them that it’s next Friday night, and that is your great-great-grandmother’s 107th birthday, which you will be attending with family members who flew in from around the globe – only, it’s the Friday night after that and there is no scheduling conflict – then yes, your parent is wrong. Technically the argument that will probably follow is “their fault”, because they are the mistaken one.
The solution is not an argument, however. Honoring your parents is not easy! Yet, in many situations, another very Biblical word of instruction helps greatly: “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
You can indeed argue it out. After all, it was their mistake that began it.
Or, you can quietly and calmly nod and consider the conversation respectfully closed.
You can highlight Great-Grandma’s birthday party on the calendar. You can pencil in the school dance on the other Friday – the one it’s really on. You can pop into the kitchen, fix your parent a glass of fresh lemonade, and while you’re near the calendar, the conversation could go like this:
“Wow, Mom – look! Can you believe Great-Grandma is 107 this Friday? I’m so glad her party is this week! My friends were talking yesterday about how excited they are about the school dance and they just can’t bear to wait two whole weeks for it. I’m glad I don’t have to wait that long! They might have to wait two more weeks for the school dance, but I only have to wait one week to go to Grandma’s party! Yay!”
At that point, your rather baffled parent is staring at you a little oddly.
“Run that by me again?”
“The school dance is in two weeks – everyone’s sad about waiting so long. Grandma’s party is this weekend!”
Some may call this manipulation – and, to a degree, it is.
However, it’s a far more successful strategy than engaging in a shouting match loaded with classic lines such as “You never let me do anything!”, “I’m the parent and I make the decisions”, and “That’s not fair!” all loudly yelled.
You never know what’s behind a parent’s decision. It may not always be a noble motive. They may just be exhausted – stressed – worried – or distracted. We’re human. We mess up.
But there is much to be said for honoring the position of a parent. Yes, the potential for an argument may well be sparked by a parent.
You, however, can choose to honor their position and not engage in a shouting match.
(As a former teenager I totally get it. That’s not easy. It’s not fun. But it is rewarding, often instantly and also in ways only the “long run” reveals.)