3 Things to Consider with Rules and Consequences


Parents often ask me if I think a specific consequence is appropriate for a given situation with their kids.  They wonder if it is too harsh or too lenient or tied enough to the offense.  Inevitably the conversation transpires into the “rules” that have been established and why they are there.

The question I typically ask is this:  “Is there a need for a consequence?”

What I’ve discovered with a number of parents is the idea that “if the kid has done something wrong or inappropriate then there needs to be a consequence”.

Think about that mentality for a minute.

What if every time you said the wrong thing or failed to do something because you forgot or didn’t do it quickly enough someone was there to critically evaluate and issue you a consequence.

Would you feel grateful that someone was pointing out your mistakes?

Would you feel compelled to get it right next time?

Would you appreciate the consequence for your shortcomings knowing it was in your best interest?

Or would you feel frustrated and downtrodden at how incapable you are?

Trust me when I say that it is easy for us as moms to take Newton’s Law of Motion and apply it in our parenting.  We think that for every action our child does there needs to be  an equal and opposite reaction so that our child will be the _____ adult we want them to become.  

Fill in the blank with your own idol.  Perfect, talented, Godly, clean (for those of you who might consider cleanliness is next to godliness), organized, thoughtful…and the list goes on.

But is that how God parents us?

Does He chastise us every time we make a mistake?

Let’s face it, in the world in which we live thankfully there is not a police officer behind us every time we go over the speed limit issuing us a ticket.

I’ll admit that it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to issue consequences for every infraction.  After all, our desire is to raise good, wholesome adults.  But sometimes, especially when you have a difficult child that seems to break all of the rules, we feel like we need to do something.

Colossians 3:21

Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Psalm 127:3

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Here are some things to consider as you contemplate the need for rules and consequences with your tweens and teens.

  1. Are there too many rules?   Many parents like order in their home so rules and consequences are constantly being added.  Every time there is a new problem then a new family rule gets instituted.  Most times these are the homes that are dictatorial which translates broken rule = consequence or the parents become passive because there are too many rules to keep track of leaving the kid to wonder if there will be a consequence “this time“.  As kids move into the tween and teen years we need to be focusing on their character and the relationship rather than the rules. 
  2. Are there too many consequences?  Imagine walking into your 12 year old daughter’s room.  There are clothes all over the floor (offense #1), she didn’t vacuum the steps like she was told over an hour ago (offense #2), she is on your cell phone which she snuck into her room (offense #3), and this is the third time she has taken your phone without your permission.  i.e. this will be the third week in a row that she has lost her phone privileges if you take it away again. I’ve talked to many parents who think they have to issue a consequence for each infraction.  Try thinking differently.  A better way might be to handle a conversation something like this: “I know that the last couple of weeks have been difficult without your phone.  Help me understand what was so important that you felt the need to take my phone without asking.”  Then listen.  Maybe the conversation on the phone is important–more important to her than potential consequences. Consequences haven’t solved the problem before so why do we think they will this time?  And the other stuff (offense #1 and #2)?  Ignore it for now.  Unless it is life or death, it doesn’t need to be dealt with now.  Take one hill at a time.  Period.
  3. Do you keep issuing consequences for the same thing?  I’ve been guilty of stacking consequences for what must have seemed like eternity to my kids.  I’ve seen others do it as well.   One friend’s son had racked up enough consequences that he was grounded for almost six months from almost everything!  One day I asked his mom how it was going.  Her response, “I feel like we’re grounded because he is!”  It was to the point that her husband went camping with the other kids and she stayed home with the son who was grounded.  If we give our kids no hope of ever getting out of our self-inflicted jail, then maybe our kid is asking “what’s the point?”  If you find yourself there, try a reset.  Release both of you from the miserable prison you are in and start a discussion on what your kid needs from you to be successful.  Give your child a new lease on life that begins with hope.

Rather than issuing consequences why not use those shortcomings as opportunity for connecting.  Find out what motivates your child.  I’m not talking bribes here, I’m suggesting relationship opportunity.  Share a story about when you didn’t meet the standard as a kid.  Let them know that they are learning to become an adult.  Ask permission to make suggestions on how they could orchestrate their life to be more successful in certain areas.  And then encourage!

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

Dare you to consider whether you need to re-look at your parenting and how many rules and consequences you have.  Maybe it’s time to lighten everyone’s spirits and focus on the relationship.

“Let go…and Let God”,

6 Things I Learned from an Embarrassing Kid Moment

Have you ever wished you were invisible because your tween or teen did something that embarrassed you?  Trust me when I say that I’ve been there on more than one occasion.  With four teens under my roof at one time, there was plenty of opportunity for me to encounter situations where my teens didn’t use their best judgment.

I remember one time when my daughter was in junior high.   She got into our minivan wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants as we headed to a home school skating party.  The dress code for these events tended to be fairly conservative and I remember thinking at the time that she would probably get hot in the rink since it was unseasonably warm.  And wouldn’t you know it, halfway through the two-hour skate time, I overheard a couple of moms asking who that girl was out on the skate floor. 

The talk continued about how they couldn’t believe a mother would ‘let her child out of the house like that’ when someone came over to me and said, “Isn’t that your daughter?”

Sure enough my daughter was skating with a boy in short shorts and a spaghetti strap top that barely covered her blossoming figure.  I was embarrassed beyond belief.

If only I could have been swallowed up by the floor at that moment.

You see, I’m a rule follower.  Rule followers feel like they are being accosted when someone points out something that their kids are doing wrong.  And like those other moms said, “How could a mother let her child out of the house wearing that?”

In that moment, as a mom, I didn’t feel safe.  I felt like a terrible parent.  I just knew that others were blaming me for my child’s choices.

I believed the lie that if my children weren’t being obedient and following the rules, then I must be a failure as a parent.

Looking back on that scenario, thankfully, I can laugh about it now.  Kids will do the darnedest things. 

So what have I learned from that story?

  1. My children will make decisions over which I have no control.  I can either take them personally, as if I should be in control, or I can use the opportunity to teach my kids appropriate behavior so they learn from their mistakes.  The question is whether I address them from a place of humiliation (which breeds anger) or a place of grace.
  2. Society as a whole tends to judge our actions as parents when our kids make wrong decisions.  Instead of parenting from a position of ‘you have embarrassed me’, I choose to parent from a place of humility.  After all, I’ve made wrong choices in my lifetime as well.
  3. I need to surround myself with “safe” women.  That means finding other moms where I can be real and not have to pretend that I’m perfect because the other moms do the same.
  4. I can choose compassion when I see other moms struggling with wayward teens.  If I go out of my way to bring a word of hope and encouragement to these moms, maybe one day when she looks back she can laugh at the choices her child has made.
  5. God uses our children to refine us and sometimes we have to decide if we will listen to His voice, our own voice, or the voices of those around us.
  6. The choices our children make are not about us.  These moments are about Him.  Will I represent Him well in front of my teen?

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Dare you to go out of your way to encourage the mom of a tween or teen who is making poor choices.  Pray for her and her family situation.  Be that “safe” person who offers compassion to her sometimes dark and fear-filled world.  As a friend once said, “If you do, you’ll be Jesus with skin on to her.”

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you are a mom who needs support as your parent, we have an opportunity for you.  Find a group of “safe” moms and go through With All Due Respect together.  It’s a place where you will find encouragement and hope as you parent through the trials.

Teaching Our Kids To Date With Respect

I’ve been talking with lots of moms who have kids in the dating phase of life.  And it is amazing the amount of emotional impact these relationships are having. Whether your kids are barely teenagers or are ready to move into their 20’s, the dating game has changed significantly over the past decade with the advent of smartphones, Facebook, and Snapchat.  What used to be said face-to-face can be tweeted, shared, deleted, or copy and pasted in a nanosecond.

And heartache goes viral instead of staying between two people.

A “he said”/”she said” becomes a drama played out among people who now have access to all the data and the intimate details.

And judgment is made, lines are drawn, and what should have been a difficult face-to-face exchange now becomes the gossip that can cause massive emotional trauma rather than just another heartbreak.

If you are in this stage of life with your kids, you’ve probably done more emotional intervention than you expected as your kids play the dating game.  And if you are not quite there yet, brace yourself for the inevitable and parent ahead with your kids so they know what the rules of dating should be in order to respect themselves and the other person.

So what kind of things could we teach our kids?  How do we help them learn to respect themselves along with the other person?  Based on the nitty-gritty coming from moms who have been open to sharing the things they’ve encountered with their kids, here are some talking points that might help your teens seeing dating from a different perspective.

  1. Dating comes with one of two outcomes–either marriage or heartbreak.  Expect a few heartbreaks.
  2. Chances are you are dating someone else’s spouse.  Treat the other person with the same respect as you would hope your future spouse is being treated.
  3. Remember that when you enter a dating relationship, you will most likely give the other person your heart, just as they are giving you their heart.  Hold onto that heart as if it is precious.  That way when/if you choose to take your heart back and return the other person’s heart to them, there is minimal emotional damage for both of you.
  4. Know that a broken relationship will result in some amount of heartache.  Grieve the loss rather than pretend it didn’t happen.  It is normal to feel hurt, anger, and sadness.  Just be sure to not take it out on the other person.
  5. Most of us have hopes and dreams of what romantic love looks like.  We have expectations of the other person.  Know that your significant other will not be able to meet all your expectations.
  6. Keep in mind that early in the relationship you will see perfection because you haven’t had time to see the other person’s flaws.  Date with your eyes open and be aware of the other person’s tendencies that don’t line up with your value system.  Also get perspective from your parents.
  7. Keep two sets of friends–the ones you’ve had as a single person and add the other person’s friends.  If you drop your friends to engage exclusively with the other person’s friends, the breakup will be even harder because you will have no one to lean on.
  8. Define the relationship early and set appropriate boundaries.  Your kids see acceptable boundaries based on what their friends are doing.  If your kids are in junior high, let them know that it is okay to be special boy/girl friends; however, you need to help them define the boundaries.  The same is true with late teen dating relationships. How much can they be on the phone together?  Curfew? Double dating vs. single dating? What about going on vacation with the other person’s family?  Can they be in your house alone?  What is acceptable touching/kissing?  What is appropriate for texting?  The earlier these are defined, the more you can “remind” them rather than fight about the issues.
  9. Talk about Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, and any other social media.  Kids need to understand do’s and don’ts that are appropriate for their age.  An “in a relationship” that is posted and then unfriended can be devastating for our kids as well as pictures that have been taken off social platforms.  Suddenly seeing that they have been replaced with another friend of the opposite sex can devastate them.   
  10. Encourage your kids to text only what they would feel comfortable with all their friends reading. Recently a mom told me that her daughter had texted an apology to a significant other about something she had said and done that was inappropriate.  Shortly afterwards, her daughter accidentally received a text from the boy where he had copied and pasted the apology with a note that was supposed to go to his friends.  She was horrified that he had been sending her texts to other people.  Suddenly everyone close to him knew her darkest secret.  
  11. Talk about sex and help your kids know where the boundaries are.  Have them talk about them up front with the other person before they get in the heat of the moment, i.e. “I’m saving sex until marriage” or “I want to be friends; holding hands is okay, kissing isn’t.”  Teach them things to say to the other person if the other teen is pushing boundaries.  “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.  I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing this given where we are in the relationship.  Why don’t we go for a walk and cool things down.”
  12. When the time comes for a breakup, help your teen to think through what they plan to say and also let them know that the breakup needs to be in person. You can’t give a person back their heart over a text or Face Time.  Encourage them to explain the reason for the breakup, i.e. “I think you are a cool person, but I’m not feeling anything romantic” or “I like you a lot, but my priority right now needs to be ___ and I don’t have time to pour in to this relationship.” They should also state what the next steps should be, i.e. “If you text me, I will not be returning the texts”, or “I won’t be sitting with you at the games anymore”, or “I don’t want you hanging out with my friends.”  Let your teen understand that this needs to be done with kindness and not hostility even if the other person is making a scene.  Be kind but firm.
  13. Encourage your teen to forgive, especially if it is the other person who is initiating the breakup.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses

In our teen’s life, they need to understand that the way they handle breakups does have impact on the other person in a huge way.  If they state their wishes, give reason for the breakup, and set boundaries for the future giving the other person their heart back with respect and dignity, chances are both kids can go into their next relationship in a healthy way.  Encourage your teens to treat the other person in the same manner they would like to be treated.  And encourage them to stand their ground and once the decision has been made that it is over–then they need to respect that and move on.

Helping our kids process a breakup can be a time of strengthening our relationship with our teens.  Our wisdom and perspective can help them grieve and move to the next phase of life if we are willing to engage in a respectful way.  Give them a hug and offer encouragement.  After all, they will be married all too soon.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Would you like to be in a better relationship with your kids where you can help them set boundaries in dating?  Would you like to deepen your relationship with God and your kids?  With All Due Respect isn’t just a book.  It’s deep thinking curriculum that will help you look at yourself as you parent.  It will give you insight as seen through the lens of moms who are farther ahead in the parenting arena.  Why not pick up your copy now or better yet, do it in a small group?

Don’t have a small group?  You can join our eCourse with women across the country that are learning how to connect on a deeper level.  There you will find support from your eCourse mentors as well as myself.  Hope to see you there.


Curfew or Respect?

One summer day I remember my college-aged son standing in the garage with my husband and me.  Our son was more than a little miffed with us.  His annoyance stemmed from him wanting to know why he had a curfew when he didn’t have one when he lived on campus.  In his mind it wasn’t fair.  We were treating him like a child even though he was legally an adult. 

My son didn’t like it that we had put boundaries in place, especially when he had freedoms in other areas of his life.  

And as the great debate continued as to why he had to honor our wishes, my husband paused and casually said, “Out of respect.”

Suddenly my son was silent and I’ll admit I had no idea where my husband was going with this conversation.  What does respect have to do with curfew?

“Son, I know that you have freedom at school.  I also know that you are a fine, upstanding young man.  But I’m asking you to honor our curfew and here is why:

  1. This is our home and not a college dorm room.  We operate as a family and there need to be rules.  While living in our house, we ask that you abide by the same rules everyone else operates under.
  2. Your younger siblings are watching you.  They will learn respect from your compliance or disregard for our family rules.
  3. This house belongs to your mother and me.  I work hard and have to get up early.  My sleep, as well as your mother’s, is important to this family and I know this is probably hard for you to understand, but if you are out and not physically here when we go to bed, we don’t sleep as well and it impacts the next day.
  4. I work to pay for your clothing, your food, the car you drive, and your college.  I hope that all these things garner your respect.
  5. There will always be rules.  When you have a career, your boss will have expectations.  Those who are respectful get to keep their jobs.”

There was a long pause.

“Wow, Dad, that makes a lot of sense.  Thanks for explaining it to me.”

I’ll admit that I was shocked at how well that conversation went.  And I learned a valuable lesson as a parent that day. 

We need to help our kids understand that honoring the rules and respecting curfew means that they are respecting themselves, their family, and the families of the kids they would be hanging out with.

More on that in another post.

Proverbs 29:2

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

While I can’t guarantee that your conversation will go like this one did–and know that it probably won’t depending on your teen’s maturity.  Hopefully it will give you a new way to think about the rules and boundaries you set for your home and the conflict that surfaces as our kids start pushing the limits.

Dare you to think about your rules differently.  How can you connect them to respect?

“Let go…and Let God”,

Looking for other ways to teach your kids respect?  Check out With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with your Teens & Tweens.








What Culture Do You Need to Counter with Your Teens?

We are all familiar with the warnings that are written to parents about the need to counter the American culture with our kids.  Cell phones, gaming, clothing styles, piercings, tattoos, parties, friend’s, and the amount of freedom we give all come under scrutiny as we try to raise Christian kids in a culture that sometimes goes against the truth of scripture.

As I was giving this some thought, it occurred to me that sometimes we need to counter the culture to which we have become accustomed.  The things we sometimes take as truths that if we really thought deeply about them we might see things from a different perspective.

Many times as parents we automatically think that what was right for us as kids is how we should parent our kids.  If our parents gave a certain amount of freedom in an area then we automatically do the same without thought to the different world our kids live in today.  If we went to public school, or private school, or we home schooled then we’ll most likely do the same without thought to what might be best for our child.  If we grew up with “the teacher knows best” or “the rule is the rule”, we might not consider that there is a better alternative.

My point here is that sometimes the culture we need to counter might be within our own families of origin and the things we’ve come to believe.   I’ve talked to many parents who have chosen to counter the culture in which they grew up–sometimes to the frustration and verbal outcry of their parents.  I’ve even witnessed grandparents who have tried to bribe their grandchildren into trying to talk parents into doing things the way they think the grandchildren should be raised.  Countering the culture might be standing firm on what you feel God is calling you to do as you raise the children in which he has entrusted you.  

Another area we might consider is countering the culture of the church in which we attend.  I know that I’ll probably get some push back here, but hear me out.  Sometimes there is an underlying culture even within the church that is not accepting of parenting decisions other than what the body (or the loudest person) thinks is right.  If as a parent you feel shamed, or held to a standard that doesn’t seem right for your child, it might be time to take a stand or leave.  I’ve seen church environments that can impact our teens negatively because the rules (sometimes unspoken) have precedent over the relationship.  Are your kids being loved, nurtured, listened to, and encouraged to serve as a member of the body of Christ?  If not, it might be time to counter the culture.

A book entitled Start With Amen: How I learned to Surrender by Keeping the End in Mind by Beth Guckenberger  shares a story about the boldness we need as Christians to counter the culture.  When Beth came home as a teen to announce that she needed to quit her job at a local video store because they were renting pornographic videos, her dad’s response was (pg. 166),

“So that’s it?” my dad challenged me.  “As Christians, when we see something we don’t agree with, we just run away?”

I looked at him questioningly.  “Set apart, holy?”

He fired back, “Salt, light?”

“If you feel God telling you to leave, obey him.  But in the absence of that, I would say you might be there for a reason…I am just a customer of the store, with an option to boycott.  You are an employee with tremendous power to make a difference.  Instead of thinking of what you can say, why don’t you see what you can do?”


If only each of us as parents could be bold enough to listen to what God is saying and encourage our children in similar fashion to boldly counter whatever culture we live.  Are we parenting out of fear or parenting to make a change in the world around us?

I’ll admit, as a parent my first instinct would have been to ask my child to quit working at the video store.  It would be safer.  It would have calmed a fear that I am sure would have risen up within me.  Depending on the temperament or the age of my child, I might have seen the scenario very differently than this father, but oh my, his response feels like holy ground as I think about how he views the world in light of eternity.

Maybe as parents countering the culture might mean that we parent with the end in mind rather than the present circumstances. 


Scripture tells us how.

Philippians 3:14

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Dare you to look at the culture surrounding your family and listen to His voice rather than the voices of others.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Maybe you would like to join a community of christian moms who are being challenged as they parent the next generation.  Our With All Due Respect e-course offers you a chance to meet other moms who are in the same stage of life.  You’ll get to ask questions of the author, find encouragement, view relevant videos that enhance the materials as you experience this life-changing curriculum.  You’ll even have others who will be praying with you as you share your burdens.  So grab your book and come join us.

Or, if you’d rather lead your own small group, remember that the small group guide sale ends Labor day.  You can order your copy here.  Either way, we promise you an experience with God that will have you depending on Him for all your parenting needs.

With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens and Tweens by [Roesner, Nina, Hitchcock, Debbie]

Parenting Skills from a Movie?

TAKE INVENTORY of you.  What do you (2)Snuggling with my husband on the couch last night, we were looking forward to an evening without the kids.  It had been virtually months since we had watched a good movie and  Mom’s Night Out (2014)  had been recommended by several friends.  Being several years removed from the exhaustion of small kids under foot and the distant memory of a husband who traveled more than he was home, laughter filled the room from memories gone by.

Trust me when I say that the last place I expect to get any real parenting skills would be  from today’s movies, yet I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and realism of the characters’ parenting dilemmas. As I enjoyed the comedic antics of the young children and remembered  when girlfriend time was something to be craved, I was struck by the interaction between the pastor’s wife and her teen daughter.  From a parenting perspective there was much to gain for those who were tuned in to how the mother reacted to her daughters requests!

  1. WHEN YOU SAY “NO”, STICK TO YOUR GUNS.  It was great to see the mother of this teenager stick to her “no” when it came to an inappropriate pair of shorts that the daughter had purchased.  Several times the girl pleaded her case.  The mother’s response was always the same.  There was no dialog defending her position.  Just a simple “no”.  Know that teenagers fully understand what your standard of dress is and they will push the limit.  Why argue with them when they already know what your response will be?  They’re testing the waters.  Don’t let them push you to give in.
  2. SAY “NO” AND ANTICIPATE WHAT THEY ARE THINKING.  Plans had been made by the daughter to go meet a boy from church.  Again, the mother said “no”.  But she took it one step further!  Knowing that her husband’s sports car was sitting in the driveway, she told the girl that she was not to take his car.  She further told her not to ask her dad about going out when he got home.  Her answer was “no”.  How many times have our children skirted our “no” with a twist of circumstances that we didn’t anticipate? Make sure you learn to think like your child.
  3. LET THEM CHOOSE TO COMPLY.  This is the part where I struggled as a mom.  (Just being honest here).  In the movie Mom had a night planned to go out with girlfriends.  She told her daughter the rules, anticipated ways that she might try to get around them, and then left.  This is where I applauded her!  How many times do we as mothers try to control our teens’ decisions?  The truth of the matter is that her teen could have put the shorts on, gotten in Dad’s car, and gone to see the boy.  If mom had stayed home, the daughter could have been forced to stay as well.  But Mom did the right thing!!  She went out, had fun, and allowed her daughter to make her own choice to obey or disobey.
  4. GET REAL.  How many times do we choose to keep the past a secret?  All of us have a past that impacts how we parent.  As the film plays out, we find  that this pastor’s wife has something that she would prefer others not know about her.  She bravely faces that past and even chooses to share it with her daughter.  Yeah for the pastor’s wife!!  She took her mask off so that she could connect with her teenager!  If this were a true story, sharing that sordid past would most likely save her daughter a similar pain in the future.  I’m not saying that everything we’ve done needs to be an open book, but at some point, teens need to know about some of the decisions we may not be so proud of.   It helps them come to grips with not only our humanness, but the fact that we make decisions for them based on the painful experiences we’ve endured.

If only I had had such a role model early on in my parenting!  Watching the character of Sondra fulfill her role as mother on screen, made me take a look at my own parenting.  How many times have I changed my “no” decision because I allowed my child to sway me to their way of thinking?  How many different ways did my teen twist my intent because I had not anticipated their potential ways to skirt the issue?   How many times did my child succeed at playing my husband and I against each other  until they got the answer they wanted?  How many times did I forgo my plans in order to make sure they understood that I did not trust them?  How many secrets am I holding on to with fear that my child may do the same thing?

Dare you to take inventory in your parenting on some of these issues.  Maybe after watching this film and snuggling with your husband?

“Let go…and let God,”