Time to Negotiate?

2014-10-05 18.10.17


Tony was notorious for wanting to stay up later than his bedtime allowed.   At 12, he started a full-court press on Jennifer trying to get her to change his bedtime complaining that he was being treated like a little kid.

“Mom, you just don’t get it!  Other kids my age don’t even have a standard bedtime.  For heaven’s sake, I am in junior high!”

As Jennifer pondered the request, she replied.  “You know, Tony.  I realize that you are older and have a pretty rigorous schedule between basketball and homework.  Let me talk to Dad first and see what we can come up with.  Just remember, no promises here.  One of the things I’m concerned about is the fact that you are having to get up earlier this year to get to the bus.  I don’t want you to be so tired that you fall asleep in class.”

“Mom, you know that’s not going to happen.”

“Let me talk to Dad.  I’ll get back to you by this weekend with a decision.”

Mark and Jennifer had learned to make changes slowly in their household.  They realized from the Generations class they had taken that new rules needed to be negotiated and  be able to be changed back if they weren’t working.  The two decided to work out the details of the negotiation as they enjoyed the fall leaves walking through the neighborhood.

“So, Mark, what do you think we should ask Tony to do to earn the later bedtime?”

“Well, I would say that he has to continue getting up on his own and making it to the bus on time for starters.  If he starts missing the bus, then I would definitely want to push the bedtime back to its current time.  I would also tell him that we are going to monitor his attitude in the house.  If he tends to be more argumentative with us or his siblings, I would say that it is probably because he isn’t getting enough sleep.”

“That sounds reasonable.  Let’s say we give it two weeks and reassess?  Maybe we try a half hour for the first week, if it works we’re willing to stretch it to an hour starting the second week?”

“Makes sense to me,” responded Mark.

On Saturday, Mark and Jennifer sat down with Tony along with their “notebook of rules”.

“Tony, I understand that you and your mom have been talking about moving your bedtime to later in the evening.  You know, I think you have a valid point that you are growing up and you are right in that we need to start giving  you more responsibility like a 12 year old.  I’d like to give it a try to see if you can handle staying up later.”

Mark continued telling Tony the things that he and Jennifer had discussed.

“So you understand, right.  We’ll give it a week at half an hour extension and in a week we’ll bump it to an hour.  You can maintain that new bedtime assuming you can get up and get yourself to school on time and you aren’t more argumentative here at home.  If you start missing the bus or your behavior changes here at home, bedtime reverts back to what it is now.”

“Agreed!” Tony happily responded.

“Sign your name here by the date where we negotiated the rules,” Jennifer handed the notebook of rules to Tony.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Negotiating new rules in the home can be an opportunity to increase your tweens and teens responsibility while showing them that you respect the fact that they are growing up.  Through the negotiating process you not only validate their feelings, but you give them opportunity to succeed in the maturing process.  Writing down the negotiation will keep both you and your child from being exasperated if the child doesn’t succeed at keeping up their end of the bargain.

Enjoy negotiating!

“Let go…and let God,”


 I’d love to hear how you’ll implement this new strategy in your home!

The Respect Dare – Used and Hurting

2014-08-19 19.41.43

Not quite sure how to console her son, Lita was frustrated at the turn of events.  Her 14 year old son had been so excited to invite Ben over after church.  They had been planning the big day for a couple of weeks!

Starting school had been difficult for Logan as he tried to navigate his way through a new school and establish friendships.  Some of the kids had been friends since grade school and clicks were well established.  When Logan spotted Ben in the cafeteria the third day of school, he was elated!

“Mom,” he excitedly shouted as he walked in from school. “Guess who has the same lunch period as me!!”

Ben and Logan occasionally saw each other at church on Sunday, but now that they were in the same school together, Lita was hoping for a closer friendship.  Since she and her husband already knew Ben’s parents from church, it was only natural that the relationship was picking up speed with each new encounter.  Both sets of parents were excited that their sons had a “good” friend to hang out with.

Sunday hadn’t come soon enough for Logan.  After eating lunch, Ben suggested they go for a bike ride after seeing several bikes in the garage.

“Sure,” said Logan.  “That’s a great idea!”

As soon as they left, Ben was ready to take charge of the bike trip.  He knew exactly where they were going.

“Come on, Logan.  I want you to meet my friend, Sarah.”  Off Ben went, riding faster and faster as if Logan wasn’t even there.  “Hurry up, Logan, Sarah is expecting us.”

Not sure of what to make of the situation, Logan peddled faster to catch up.  By the time he arrived, Ben was already at Sarah’s front door.  “Hi, Ben!  I thought you would never get here.  Let’s go for a walk.”

In the woods behind Sarah’s house, Logan felt like a third wheel.  As soon as they had gotten out of sight, Ben and Sarah started making out, kissing with hands all over each other.  Logan didn’t know what to do.  He just walked around the woods trying not to watch.  Ben was his guest and he knew he couldn’t leave without him.

After arriving back home after the bike ride, the boys seemed to lose interest in each other.  Lita offered to take Ben home early since both seemed ready to end their day.

“Logan, what happened?” Lita asked on the ride home.  “You seemed so excited about having Ben come today.  Then it just seemed to fizzle out.”

“Mom, I just didn’t know what to do.  Ben didn’t come to spend the day with me.  He came over just to hang out with Sarah.  I just feel so used.  He’s not allowed to hang out with Sarah because his parents think he is too young to have a girlfriend.  He used my invitation as a way to spend time with her.”

“Logan, I’m so sorry you had to endure that today.  It must make you sad to think that Ben was more interested in seeing Sarah than spending time with you.”

“I’m more mad than anything!  What makes him think I can be used to see his girlfriend!”

“You know, Logan,” she continued, “the Bible talks about the need to forgive those who hurt you.  Sometimes that’s not very easy.”

Colossians 3:13-14

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

As parents we need to harness those teachable moments.  When our children are hurt by their friends, it is an opportune time to console them and teach about forgiveness.

“Let go…and let God,”


Who’s in the Dog House?

Dianne kept telling herself, “I can’t believe we just did it again!  How come that kid always outsmarts us?!”

She and Derrick thought they had come up with the perfect consequence for their daughter’s new endeavors to test the curfew limits they had put in place.  After all, it wasn’t like they were over-the-top strict. She had talked to several other parents with kids similar in age to Kari.  The curfew in their home fell right in line with what others seemed to be doing with their kids.  “Kari just seems to be one of those kids who think that the rules don’t apply to her,” Dianne lamented.

“If you come in late, then you’ll lose your ability to drive to school the next day,” Dianne and her husband  had  both agreed.  “Second curfew miss, two days.  If you hit number three, you’ll lose the car for a week.”

It really seemed like a fair way to solve the problem.  Both Dianne and Derrick had felt confident that it should work, especially since Kari liked her new found independence with her driver’s license and she hated riding the school bus.

The first time Kari missed curfew after the new rules were in place, Dianne had an appointment that took her past the school.  “Mom, you are going right past the school, can you just drop me off?”

Kari had asked politely, so Dianne decided to give her a break from the bus.  “After all, I am going right past the school,” she rationalized.  “I’d rather do that than have to wait to make sure she gets on the bus.”

The second time Kari missed curfew, she road the bus the first day.  But day number two went south.  Kari wasted her time that morning and didn’t make the bus.  “Mom, I have a chemistry test today!  If I miss, Mr. Robinson will make me take the more difficult test tomorrow!  I can’t bomb this test or I’ll get a “C” in chemistry this semester!  You don’t want me to do that do you?”

And with the last plea, Dianne was fishing in the hall closet to get a jacket and find her keys.  She gathered up her 4 year old to put him in the car seat.

As Kari pushed the curfew limit for the third time, the same game played out.  Kari missed the bus yet again and, as fate would have it, the 4 year old was running a fever and Dianne had spent most of the night rocking her son.  She wasn’t even dressed to take Kari to school.  “Mom, I have to be there! Our group is presenting our project in English.  I have all the props!”

Exhaustion took over and Dianne’s defenses were down.  “Go ahead and take the car, we’ll decide how to handle it later,” she wearily responded.

Galatians 6:7

 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  

Too many times as parents, we don’t think about how the consequences might impact us  or how we are teaching our children to manipulate circumstances to go their way.  We end up putting ourselves in the dog house because tweens and teens have this uncanny way of pulling on our heartstrings.  We want their success and we’ll do anything to help them achieve it.

Dare you to respect  both you and your child enough to follow through on consequences the way they were intended.  They will learn limits and you’ll stay out of the dog house.:)

“Let go…and let God,”