Wanna know why your teen gets so mad at you after you say no to what seems to you like the most ridiculous idea ever? Because in their head, in the fantasy they have created, they are already doing it. Your saying no is a fantasy-interuptess!. Think about this metaphor: You are sitting in your cozy family room ready to watch the season finale of your most favorite TV show. You have been looking forward to this all week, having the "water cooler" conversations with your friends and colleagues who follow the show, dissecting potential plot lines. It has all been leading up to this moment, and then, BAM an unavoidable but must take phone call comes in and your are torn from your set.
You are an adult and you get over it, but I have seen grown men and women weep and tantrum when there is an interference with a world series game, or super bowl, season finale of The Voice, or Downton Abbey, whichever is your pleasure.
Now times that by a million and you get your teen whose fantasy has just been erased, no matter how ridiculous or unrealistic. In these situations it is completely unnecessary to get into a huge whoopla. Somewhere in your teen's brain, they know this is ridiculous too, but once you engage in an actual argument over how silly this is, than the engagement itself is reinforcement that maybe they can change your mind.
I have coached parents who end up getting into huge arguments with their teens over things that don't merit argument. Maybe your teen is in 9th or 10th grade and they make some grandiouse statement about not needing college; "I can get a job and make money right away"... I have heard this one alot. And the parents get hooked right away, and start to treat this statement as if it is fact. WHICH IT IS NOT! It is simply a musing by a young teen who is anxious about the future. But when taken seriously, goes haywire. Sometimes it is better in these situations to use humor; " that sounds fabululous, love that, no college tuition and you can pay us rent. We actually make money instead of spending it. Go for it!!!"
When you don't engage in these fantasies, they become just what they are fantasies. The same one you may have had last week when you bought a superball lottery ticket and had already thought of all the things you would do with the $545 million dollars you would win!