Are You Demanding Respect?

Often I get questions from moms asking how to get their kids to respect them.  I hear the anguish in their voice as they talk about the disobedience, the yelling, the consequence, and then more yelling.  I absolutely can relate.  I’ve been there too many times myself wishing things had not gotten so out of control.  Wondering what I could have done differently.

After all, in the heat of the moment, what’s a mother to do?

Let’s take a moment and unpack a typical scenario so you can think of how to respond rather than react. 

Sam comes in from school with plans to go hang out with his friends.  Mom was in the basement earlier today and noticed that it was a mess.  Sam had promised to clean it if some of his buddies could come hang out last Friday night.  Friends came, but the basement now looked as if a tornado had blown through.  

How do you respond when Sam comes through the door saying, “Hi, Mom.  Practice was canceled today.  I’m heading over to Bobby’s for a few hours.”

Scenario 1

“You aren’t going anywhere, son, until you clean the basement!”

Scenario 2

“Sounds like fun.  Just be home in time for dinner.”

Scenario 3

“I know you enjoy spending time with your friends.  I think we could use to talk before you leave.  Why don’t you run your books up to your room and I’ll make us some hot chocolate.

Some of you are laughing at the responses because you can already pick out your own.  

If you would respond similar to Scenario 1, you are like most parents.  You are already upset before Sam even walks in the door.  This response is one of a need for control.  When we have uncontrolled anger and a need to control a given situation, it means that our identity is tied up in something else.  In the scenario with Sam, could it be the need for full, absolute obedience from our kids at all times?  Could it be the need to have a perfectly clean house?   Could it be a need to have our kids always follow through in whatever they commit to?  Is it perfectionism–perfect kids + perfect house = perfect mom?

Hmm…something to think about.

If you are the Scenario 2 mom, you probably have a “I just want my kids to be happy” attitude.  If I don’t rock the boat, all will be calm.   Maybe you’ve already cleaned up the basement because Sam wouldn’t clean it as well as you do anyway.  After all you’re just glad he has such good friends.  My question to you is, “How does Sam learn to keep his commitments?  Is Sam learning that someone will always clean up after him?  What will that mean for his future wife? ”  Now a question about you, “Is your identity wrapped up in allowing your kids to have a ‘perfect’ childhood.  Are you modeling boundaries which will make them stronger adults?”

Typically when I mention Scenario 3, the first response is, “How can I be calm enough to respond that way?”

Think friend.

Think respect.

Think relationship.

Now, mind you, I am not saying that your job is to be your child’s best friend.  But if you are like most parents, you want a healthy relationship with your kid that will last a lifetime.  I’m suggesting that the best way to teach our kids respect is to be respectful in our responses to them teaching them to own what is theirs to own.  By responding in that manner we will help our kids feel respected and in turn they will learn to respect us.  If we are secure in who we are as parents, and our identity is based on our relationship with God and not wrapped up in something else, then we can calmly work out a win-win scenario for both us and our child.  

Let’s take Scenario 3  to the next step.  Now I’m fully aware that it won’t always result in the same calmness that it will show up in print, but I am suggesting that if you choose your words carefully and instill a sense of affection toward your teen, tempers are less likely to escalate and respect can be achieved.

Scenario 3 continued

“I love a good cup of hot chocolate!  Thanks for giving me an excuse for making it.  I love spending one-on-one time with you.  So you and Bobby are planning to hang out this afternoon.  What do you think you’ll do?”

Then your job is to listen–really listen.  Ask questions.  Show interest.  Let Sam know that you realize how important Bobby’s friendship is to him.

“I know that you are planning to spend time with Bobby, but I have a problem I need to solve.  (Notice it is your problem and not Sam’s.  Wording is everything.)  You had your friends over on Friday night and if I remember right, you agreed to clean up when they left.  Is that right?”

Again, listen to his response.  If he whines and complains that you don’t want him to go.  Just listen and don’t react.  When he’s through then it is time to calmly reply.

“You know that it is important to say what you mean, mean what you say, and keep your commitments don’t you?  I would really like you to keep your commitment about cleaning up the basement.  I allowed you to have your friends over and I need to know when you are going to fulfill your end of the agreement.”

Here’s where you remain calm and listen to his ideas of when he will clean the basement.  Negotiate if you want to.  Give him an “I need to have it finished by ________ time” that is within reason if necessary if it comes to that.

But respect Sam enough to let him be part of the “when” for the cleanup.

When kids see that we respect them by not trying to control the situation, and respect ourselves as parents in holding them accountable rather than letting them off the hook, maturity and respect will blossom.

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer everyone.

Dare you to check to see if you are trying to demand respect with your teens. If so, is there something your identity is tied to that might be impacting the respect that you want?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Message me and we’ll chat.

“Let go…and let God,”

Want to learn more ways to build relationship during the tween and teen years?  Why not join other women as we go through With All Due Respect – 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens.

By starting now, you’ll have the opportunity to start the new year off right focusing on one of the most important relationships you have–your kids!  By clicking here wadr-logo and entering the code daretorespect, you’ll get $40 off for a limited time.  That’s 50% off the regular price.

Dare you to join me and others as we laugh, cry, and pray together on the journey of parenting our tweens and teens. 


Dealing with Parenting Disappointment?


Last week was a roller coaster ride of emotion.  It ended in disappointment and I saw confidence crumble. 

My elderly mother was contemplating a move  “back home” to be closer to me (her only daughter).  We had talked for months about what it was that she wanted for the remaining years of her life and I had done all the research she had requested.  My house, her own house, a condo, independent living, assisted living — nothing was left to be explored.  If it was within a 30 mile radius of my home, I’d seen it or at least called about it.

(I hope you’ll stay with me here, because this post is about dealing with teens. 🙂 )

I flew out for a visit with brochures knowing that I’d come up with the best options.  She had choices.

She agreed that she was ready to put the house up for sale and we went and got boxes to start packing.

And then it happened.

The same thing that happens to our tweens and teens.  

Peer pressure kicked in.  

The phone began to ring from other people–telling her she was making a mistake.

And I watched her move from a confident woman who had thought through a decision ready to act to a person filled with fear that she would disappoint other people.

The week was like being back at home with a teenager.  At one moment I saw confidence, the next an unsettled fear, then a sense of anger and defiance (as if I was now the enemy pushing her to do something she didn’t want to do) .

Some of you are laughing by now at that last sentence.  You know.  You’ve been there with your teens.

So how can we deal with our own disappointment when we watch our kids move into the phase of defiance?

How many times have you had a discussion with your teen where you think they’ve decided to make a good choice only to have a sibling or friend shoot their decision down?

I remember when my oldest was around 12 we had a family chore chart on the inside of the pantry door.  It had worked great for several years.  One day the kid next door saw the chart and started ridiculing it.  Suddenly a decision that my son had made to comply with our family’s ability to keep a smooth running house was sent spiraling because of one friend’s comment.  My son moved from confident to afraid of being ridiculed to defiance in a matter of minutes.

Other kids and sometimes adults will challenge our kids’ decisions continually.  Our job as parents is to help them build the confidence they need to withstand the pressure from the outside world as well as contain our own disappointment.

Let’s face it, none of us have a crystal ball where we can see the future.  We can do our research trying to know what’s best for our kids, or we can offer advice based on our experience, but it is only when our kids experience the difficulties of life choices and mistakes will they learn.

So how do we deal with our own disappointment as a parent when our kids move into that phase of defiance when we thought that they were on the road to making a good choice?

  1. Remember that it is not about us as parents.  Our teens are the ones who have to live with their choices.  This is their journey–not ours.
  2. Release your disappointment to God.  Tell God your disappointment not your kids.  It is so easy to want to say things like “if you had only listened to me” or “I told you so”.  Resist the temptation.  Psalms 42:11 says Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
  3. Build confidence in your kids by letting them know that your love and protection is not based on their choices or their defiance.  Saying something like “I know that you have (or had) to make the decision that you feel (felt) is (was) right for you.  You know how I feel about the decision, but I know that it is important that you be true to yourself and not be swayed by those around you.  Know that I’m praying about the situation and hope you have been too.  Know that I love you and always want what is best for you.  I’m here if you need me.”

Dealing with our own emotions can be difficult when we are disappointed with our kids’ choices, but treating our teens with respect as  separate human beings who are capable of making their own decisions will build a confidence in them that will span a lifetime of peer pressure.

Dare you to take your disappointments to God and let Him be your comfort during the trials of parenting.

“Let go…and let God”,


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Want a More Peaceful Home as Your New Year’s Resolution?

As the new year rings in, I’m usually fast to make my new year resolutions.  These usually involve some type of diet, exercise, or other health considerations.  Next in line on that list is typically a project that has sat dormant for years and I resolve to complete it.  

Somewhere in the list of top 10 things I’m going to change are the behaviors I want to instill in my kids.  You know the ones I’m talking about– changing those behaviors that either embarrass me or make me go livid.  

By week two of the new year  life has gotten back to semi-normal after the busy holiday season and the top 10 resolutions have started falling by the wayside.  It doesn’t surprise me.  By the end of the year I probably won’t remember them anyway.

So this year I’m proposing that whatever resolutions you may be struggling to keep might be better served with only one new resolution.

Galatians 5:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Imagine what life in your home might look like if that was your focus.  What if you modeled this for your kids on a daily basis?

What if instead of getting angry you handled a situation with gentleness or kindness?

What if instead of acting on your fear you chose self-control knowing that God will be faithful to take care of your kids or the situation?

What if you responded with a quiet and gentle voice instead of spewing hurtful words at your teens?

So here’s a way to get started in your home.

  1. Focus on the scripture above.  If our desire is to have a more loving, peaceful, and self-controlled family, we as parents need to model it.  Focus on the good that we see in our tweens and teens.  Whatever we pay attention to grows!
  2. Define the problems.  When tempers rise try to get to the root of the issue.  Understanding the root cause helps put together a better solution.
  3. Find a solution that all those involved can live with. For example, if Rachel goes ballistic every time her younger sister comes into her room, set specific ways for both girls to respond in the future making sure they both agree to their new behavior in the next circumstance.
  4. Create accountability.  In other words, make sure to create an environment for honest feedback communicated in a healthy way so that others know when they are hitting the mark or falling short.  Remember it is always better to catch our teens doing things right.
  5. Pray for our kids relationships–with you and your spouse and with their siblings!  

God is our resource for each of the virtues above.  When I am struggling to be kind, it is up to me to reach out to Him for that extra dose of kindness that I need to give to someone.  The same holds true for love, joy, peace…

Now it’s time to be honest.  Sometimes we all struggle with this.  It’s hard.  But here’s a story one mom shared about how focusing on these virtues began to change her responses with one particular teen.

“I don’t think it matters how many kids you have, but one of them seems to grate on you.  For me it was my son who always chose to do the wrong thing.  Things got so bad in our home that I didn’t care if I did anything for him.  He didn’t want to listen to my suggestions or take advice from anyone. Eventually he ended up in trouble with the law.  

I know that it is hard to fathom a mother thinking these things, but my thoughts went something like this, he’s finally getting what he deserves.  Maybe this will teach him something.  I think I was so frustrated and hurt that I just wanted someone else to put him in his place hoping that he would learn how to do the right thing.

Recently we’ve been texting a lot.  It gives me time to think before I respond to him.  I’ve been trying to respond out of love instead of frustration.  I try to share the joy of us interacting with each other.  When he tells me he has made a decision, even though I don’t agree with it, I ask myself if he could have made a worse decision.  The answer is usually yes. That allows me to respond with a kind word–after all, it could be worse.

Self-control of my words and actions with him is not easy, but I’m finding myself relying on the Holy Spirit in me to prompt me in our interactions.  My son is beginning to trust me more and is asking for my opinion occasionally.  And if nothing else, that’s a start.”

Dare you to begin your new year focused on one new resolution–to become more like Jesus in your responses as you interact with your tweens and teens.

“Let go… and let God”,

Want to find more ways to family peace during the tween and teen years?  Why not join other women as we go through With All Due Respect – 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens.

By starting now, you’ll have the opportunity to start the new year off right focusing on one of the most important relationships you have–your kids!  By clicking here wadr-logo and entering the code daretorespect, you’ll get $40 off for a limited time.

Dare you to join me and others as we laugh, cry, and pray together on the journey of parenting our tweens and teens. 









When Deadlines Become Critical

Student information form

Shelly was watching with bated breath.  Her son Justin had just turned 18 in the middle of his last year of high school and senioritis was setting in big time.  Not only did school seem to be losing its importance, but his behavior exuded that “you can’t make me because I’m an adult” and was affecting the entire family.  The heated exchanges between Justin and her husband Kerry were beginning to escalate and Shelly was beginning to admit that she was ready for her son to go off to college. Having two men under the same roof with the younger trying to prove his independence was taking a toll on everyone.

The latest escapade was over college applications. Kerry thought Justin needed to take responsibility for them himself, while Justin was dragging his feet. After last night’s fiasco between the two, Shelly decided she needed to talk with Kerry. He was becoming so emotional about the situation she was concerned about what the future of his relationship with his son would hold.

Behind closed doors, Shelly gingerly brought up the topic.

“Shelly, if he really wants to go to college, then he needs to take responsibility for filling out the paperwork! I never would have made it to college if I had waited for my parents to do it for me! Deadlines are coming up. If he wants to go to school, then it is up to him!”

“Kerry, I do understand your point. You’re right. You had to grow up quickly given your situation at home. I can see why you think he should take responsibility of it on his own.”

“Well, I guess he has two days to fill it out…and I’m not doing it.”

“Honey, do you want him to go to college?”


“Maybe he doesn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the situation.”

“What’s there not to understand? It’s pretty basic! You don’t fill out applications, you don’t go to college! I’m finished talking to him about it. He’s on his own!”

Later that evening, Shelly decided to talk to Justin about the applications. Things obviously weren’t going well with him and Kerry.

“Justin, I’m sorry about your conversation with your dad earlier. Can we talk about the college applications?”

“Mom, I really don’t want to talk. I know, I need to get them done.”

“Will you just give me a few minutes of your time? I’d like you to hear my perspective.”

“I’ve only got a few minutes, Mom. Jeff is picking me up soon to run through our lines for the senior play.”

“Could you be home by 9:00 and we’ll talk then?”

“Sure. That should work. Jeff has to pick up his younger sister from some Girl Scout thing, so I’m sure we’ll be finished by then.”

“Thanks, honey! We’ll talk then.”

Later that evening…

“Justin, how important is college to you?”

“Mom, you know I’m going to college next year. I just need to fill out the stupid paperwork.”

“Do you know when the deadline is?”

“Uh…I don’t know.”

“Do you realize that if it isn’t filled out and mailed within two days, you probably won’t be going to college next fall?”

“Are you sure? I thought I had more time! There are more than 20 pages to some of those forms!”

“I know, honey.”

“Mom, I’ve got a calculus test on Friday and a speech in English tomorrow! I’ll never get it done in time.”

“Maybe we can do it together Friday after school? If we express mail it Saturday morning, it should make it by Monday’s deadline.”

“Thanks, Mom! I know I should have done this earlier. I’ll come straight home after school on Friday.”

PROVERBS 31:26-28

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed…

Communication is important as we weather the storms that brew in our households. Sometimes we forget that our teens’ brains haven’t fully developed even though they’ve reached the legal age of adulthood. Maturity comes at different stages for each of our kids and a wise parent understands when our kids need our help. Turning things over to them and walking away can sometimes backfire in ways that have an impact on everyone for life. Understanding where you teen is at emotionally and offering help might be exactly what they need to catapult them forward.

“Let go…and let God,”