Mia has asked her son James to start putting away his phone at 11PM. When she first told him, he was upset. Mia is revisiting the conversation with him. 

 Mia: James, I know you’re upset that we’re going to be putting our phones away at 11. 

James: I’m not upset. It’s not going to happen. 

Mia doesn’t respond for a moment. 

Mia: I’d like to know… How would it affect you if you did put your phone away then? 

James: I told you before! I won’t be able to finish my homework! 

Mia: Yup, I remember that. Will it also mess up you talking to your friends? 

James: Yes… NONE of them have to get off then. 

Mia (knows that’s not true but doesn’t argue). So you’ll be the only one not talking… 

James: YES. 

Mia: I didn’t have phones when I was your age, so can you tell me… how does it mess things up, if you’re not talking at night? 

James: I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be talking about stuff the next day that I wasn’t part of. 

Mia (even though she doesn’t think that’s such a big deal, she doesn’t tell him that). And then you’d feel left out…

James: Well yeah. While we’re waiting for class to start, we’re usually laughing about stuff that happened the night before. 

Mia: Yeah, I can see how it’d be hard not to be part of that. (She is quiet.) 

James: So you’re going to change this dumb rule? 

Mia (not letting James’ Yuck control her): No, sorry, we’re not, James. (She does not justify her decision.) I get why this will be hard.  It’s OK for you to be mad… now I understand why. 

James (frustrated): Ugh! This is so dumb! 

Mia (not getting sucked in): Fair enough. 








  • Even though Mia does not approve of a lot of what James is saying, she genuinely tries to put herself in his shoes. 
  • Mia’s goal isn’t to change James’ mind. She doesn’t defend or justify her rule. 
  • Her goal is to show James know that she’s on his side, even as she’s NOT changing the rule. 






For this situation to go well, Mia must proactively:


  • Feel firm in the decision she’s made about her rule or boundary so that she doesn’t become defensive. 
  • Understand that James’ perspective is different than hers, but not less important than hers… and that if she treats it like it’s less important, she’ll motivate defensiveness and resistance 
  • Recognize that respecting James is not the same as condoning his behavior. (When their relationship is positive, she can help him learn to handle his feelings in a more respectful way.)