Do You Discipline Your Teen Too Quickly?

I tend to be an observer of relationship interactions and the event gave me plenty to ponder.  I saw it happening and wanted to call a halt in the middle of it, but it certainly wasn’t my place.  I turned away–embarrassed for this young man and embarrassed for his father.  

It was intermission and Dad was obviously upset.  Oblivious to where they were and unaware of who could overhear them as others milled around getting snacks and drinks, Dad decided to have a heated conversation with his teen–in public.  It seemed his son’s every word had been scrutinized.

“What you said wasn’t  true.  You lied.” His father bellowed as they walked away from interacting with a teacher.

“Dad, I just answered the question.”

“But it was a lie.”

“Dad, I was caught off guard.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I didn’t lie intentionally.  I answered the question.”

“You lied.  You left your teacher to believe one thing but it’s not the full story.”

And the conversation continued–in public–with emotions spinning out of control.

The son walked off with what seemed like hurt and anger welling up inside.  Dad stared in disbelief.

Let’s face it.  We’ve all witnessed behaviors from our kids that we want to eradicate.  You know, those times when they roll their eyes, tell a lie, or ignore an adult because they are engrossed in their phones.  We want them to behave differently and we think they won’t get it unless we call their attention to it immediately

But is that the right approach?

One of the things that I’ve been encouraging parents to do for years is pause.

Unless there is blood or death is imminent, nothing has to be handled immediately.

And sometimes the wise thing to do is wait.

First of all, having an audience to a heated interaction between father and son has to be humiliating for at least one person.  Whether it is an out-of-control teen yelling at Dad or an out-of-control Dad correcting his son in a place where others can see and hear, one of you will most likely wish the floor would open up and let you fall through.  It’s not a fun place to be.  Pressing the pause button allows both of you to walk away with a sense of dignity.

Most parents don’t think about giving the Holy Spirit time to work in their teen’s life.  If we’ve taught them well and our kid has a conscience of typically doing the right thing, we need to let God work.  Let’s assume that the dad is right and his son intentionally lied to the teacher.  Given time to ponder the interaction, maybe the teen will reach the same conclusion that Dad did and seek forgiveness.  

If Dad had waited to talk to his son after they were in the privacy of their home or even in the car on the way home, the conversation could have started something like this:  “Son, something bothered me tonight as I overheard your conversation with your teacher.  It felt like you lied to her.  What happened?  That’s not like you.”

That simple “What happened?” let’s your teen take time to really think about his actions and put them into words.  It helps him think on a deeper level.  The “that’s not like you” says, I believe you are a good person.  I believe you know better.  I don’t understand, but I want to be “for” you.

And regardless of the reasons as to why your son responded to his teacher as he did, we need to coach him through formulating a plan for the next step.  

Does he need to apologize to the teacher?

Does he need to explain the whole scenario?

What needs to happen to clear his name of any wrongdoing?

The bottom line we as parents need to be focused on in these situations is our teen’s heart.  Did this young man have a heart of deceit or was he just caught off guard and didn’t know quite how to answer the question?  Were his motives pure? 

Proverbs 21:2

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Depending on whether you are a parent who thinks in the black or white, right or wrong, or if you can expand your thinking to the entire circumstance, choosing the right time will make a huge difference as you interact in difficult situations with your kid.

Regardless, I encourage you to pause and ask questions when no one else is around.  If you come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment, you are more likely to get to a clear understanding of why your teen did what they did and your relationship will be strengthened.

“Let go…and Let God”,







How Do We Foster Integrity In Our Kids?

I remember one of my kids coming home feeling defeated several years ago.  It was over a Latin test that she had failed.  I knew it had to be hard switching from one school to another between Latin I and Latin II–different text books and different teacher.  But she was determined to finish, even though she had the lowest grade in the class while others seemed to be doing exceptionally well on the exams.  Of course, we hired a tutor to help her bridge the gap.

It didn’t take long for her to bring up her grade, but the day dawned when everyone in the class got an “A” except her.  Perfect scores!

Almost the entire class.

All but one.

And, of course, as a mother, I started asking questions.

What did these kids know that my daughter didn’t know?  How could all of them pull off perfect scores?

And the water bottle story came out.

Take a clear water bottle.  Put all the answers on the backside of the piece of paper and wrap it around the bottle.  Voila!  Take a drink and you have all the answers.

And we had a talk about integrity and I told her how proud I was of her. 

Then I asked another question.

Does the teacher know what’s going on?

“Yes, mom, and he doesn’t seem to care.”

How sad.

Our kids are growing up in a society where they don’t know right from wrong unless we are intentional in our parenting.  The lines are blurred.  Even adults will allow integrity to fall by the wayside if there is something in it for them.

Just this week I heard another story.  A 20-something was interviewing for a job and had made it through several levels of the interview process.  His final interview would be a group interview with the CEO and top executives.  Three days prior to the interview he received an email from the recruiter who had presented his resume to the firm.  It was marked confidential.

It read, “Please review the attached case study for your interview.”

The email was followed up by a second email.  “Here are the answers to the case study.  Please study these and we can discuss them on Monday before your interview.  By the way, don’t let anyone know that you have this.  This is the actual case study they use for their interviews.  Hope you get the job.”


Is that what our society has come to?

Let’s face it.  This is what our kids are dealing with almost on a daily basis.

Are we preparing them to stand firm in their integrity?  Are we assuring them that even if they fail the test or don’t get the job offer, that their integrity is more important?

When I did a search on scriptures that had to do with integrity, I was blown away by the number of them.  Here are just a few.

Proverbs 10:9

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

Luke 16:10

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

And I love this one for us as parents.

Proverbs 20:7

The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!

So how do we teach integrity to a generation who will have difficulty seeing the lines?

  • Walk the talk.  Let our kids know the battles we face — with our extended family, our friends, our jobs, and, yes, even in our church families.
  • Let our kids know that integrity usually requires sacrifice.
  • Talk with your kids about their own integrity struggles.  Walk them through the process of what they could say and how to approach it.  Role play with them.
  • Emotionally be there for them when they have loss over doing the right thing.  Be the shoulder to cry on and let them know that their reward is in heaven.
  • When they do the right thing, let them know how proud you are of them.  By giving them kudos for a job well done, we are encouraging more of the behavior we want.
  • Be on the watch for integrity issues in the media.  These are great opportunities for discussion around the dinner table.

Today, I want to leave you with this verse.  The enemy wants our kids.  He wants to muddy the waters of integrity.  If they give in to the little things, he has them where he wants them–in the middle of the pack not knowing real truth.

1 Peter 5:8

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Dare you to pray about being intentional in modeling and teaching your kids to live with integrity.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Last week a woman shared With All Due Respect with a friend who was having “problems” with one of her kids.  This woman asked if her friend would pray for God to soften both her heart and the heart of her child.  After only a week, the mom has commented several times how her thinking is making a shift.

Praise God that He is working and answering her prayers!

Do you have a friend who is struggling in her parenting?  Sometimes all we need is a nudge to do a reset and move forward with our kids.  Can I ask you to share my blog, the book, and let others know that we’re here to minister to them?

After all, don’t we all want to be the best mom we can be?