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”,

Feeling Overwhelmed As A Parent? 10 Things You Might Consider.


Whether it be the lack of sleep during the infant and toddler years or the fear of what our kids are doing during the teen years or early 20’s, at some point in the journey we’re likely to feel overwhelmed as a parent.  For many of us we’ve been conditioned to be energizer bunnies; “we keep going and going and going” until our battery runs out or a cataclysmic event forces us to slow down.

I’ve been in that same place for a while now.  Stress from a child in chronic pain, grief from a 20-something making too many poor decisions, work, meals, and everything in between can send me to the point of exhaustion just needing a break.  Just when I think I can’t handle any more, I get a call letting me know that my mother-in-law has passed away this week.  The event that forces me to pause.

Why is it that when you get to the breaking point one more thing always happens?

I’ve talked to several moms this week who are in the same place.  One came home from work early and collapsed for a brief 10 minute nap before the kids came home from school.  Another was stressed because her 20-something does a verbal dump of all her problems in late night conversations.  A mom with a kid smoking weed, another having to be two places at one time with two separate kids, homework, new schedules, teacher issues, coaches who play favorites, and a husband who verbally tears down his kids are all stresses that can impact our well-being.

All the normal stuff of being a mom.  Right?

Why is it that as a mom we tend to take care of everyone else but ourselves?

Scripture gives you permission to do something different.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in the body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Think about it.  You are God’s temple–the place where He dwells.

In the Old Testament the tabernacle or temple had to hold up under extreme stress because it was portable.  God even assigned priests to take care of the tabernacle and temple.

If you are a mom, there’s no one to take care of you, except you.  You are the priest for your temple.

If you are too tired and are yelling at your kids, you aren’t taking care of your temple.  If you have schedules that require more energy than you have to give, something needs to go.  If you are getting a constant verbal dump from your 20-somethings, then maybe it’s time to teach coping skills and put time boundaries in place.  If you are responsible for the entire house and possibly the lawn, then maybe it is time to bring out the chore chart and enlist the help of other family members.

Give yourself permission to take care of you and make sure you are refilling your tank.

The other day after hearing about my mother-in-law’s death, since there were many things that needed to be done,  my first thought was to see what I could reschedule on my calendar.  As I looked at breakfast scheduled with a friend my first inclination was to cancel it.  Upon further review, I decided to keep the date because I knew I needed to take care of me.  This friend would listen; she would make me laugh; she would help me forget my sorrow so that I would be energized to do the next thing.  And I realized, it was the best decision to take care of me.

Here are some things you might consider as you move yourself up on your priority schedule.

  1. Are you getting enough sleep?
  2. Are you too busy to spend time with God in quiet meditation?
  3. Are there too many sports or activities for the kids?
  4. What hobbies do you enjoy?  Are you doing them?
  5. Do you have friendships that energize you?  If not, why not?
  6. What are your stresses?  Can someone else ease the burden?
  7. Do you schedule time away with either your spouse, a friend, or by yourself so that you can relax and unwind?
  8. Do you even know if your tank is more likely to be filled up if you are with other people or if you are by yourself?
  9. Are you worrying and trying to control things that are not yours to own?
  10. Are there things to which you should be saying “no”?

Dare you to take inventory of your stress level and give yourself permission to take care of you.  If you do, you’ll find you have more energy to take care of the people in your life–serving as He has called us to.  The difference will be that if you’ve taken care of yourself you are more likely to do it with a cheerful heart.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Interested in leading a parenting Bible study that will have women sharing on a deep level from the beginning?  Want them to walk away with a WOW! experience?  With All Due Respect will do just that and we promise to make it easy to lead.  You don’t need to be a perfect parent; you don’t need to have perfect kids; and you don’t need to have ever led a group before.



What’s Your Parenting Perspective?

In the midst of a pandemic I see fear almost everywhere I turn.  From the grocery store isles with people backing away so others don’t get too close, to the salons with plastic shower curtains creating the great divide, the need for hope is apparent.  This post isn’t about whether we should be firm in isolating our kids or allowing them to go on with life as if nothing is happening in this crazy world we live in.  It is about looking at our perspective as parents.

Perspective is all about the lens we see life through.  Let’s face it, if we have blue colored lenses, we see blue; if we look through green colored lenses we see green. 

Our perspective is based on our values, our life experiences, and what our parents and teachers have taught us.

Are we living in fear?

Are we allowing our kids to be kids?

Are we so focused on their well-being and future success that we forget to laugh with them? 

Are we so focused on what could happen, that we forget to savor the moments?

I ran across a post on a FaceBook page the other day and got permission from Jason Hartanov to share part of it.  It’s one perspective on life as a parent.



–Thank you for restoring my hope in the youth

–Thank you for bringing fun in a way too serious world

–Thank you for finding a great use of the excess toilet paper people bought during Covid

–Thank you for allowing me to bring tolerance to an increasingly intolerant society

–Thank you for targeting my house because you like my daughters 

–Thank you for making me smile and reminding me of the best days of my childhood

–Thank you for giving us all a break from the issues in this world

–Thank you for bringing light in the darkness





KIDS–next time, ask me for more TP so we can fill in the gaps–the trees are too bare, the roof has little to no paper, and you left half-rolls sitting on the ground.

Ask me for help, so I can show you how to coordinate an attack and TP the right way.

EXCITED TODAY to clean up the mess and smile the whole time.

THANK YOU for spreading joy to me and my girls.

I applaud you.

My prayer is that as you read this you’ll take inventory of how you might have responded if your house had been TP’d.  Go with your first gut reaction.  What does it tell you about your parenting perspective?

Are you too serious?

Do you know how to have fun and play?

What color of lenses do you see the world?

Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Do you wish you had a different perspective in your parenting?  Are you looking for more fulfillment and joy in the life you live?  What needs to change in your home? Email me if you’d like to know how to find a more abundant life as you parent.  Perspective Coaching is all about helping parents of tweens, teens, and 20-somethings discover what might be missing as they parent.  You can email me debbiehitchcock@gettingperspective.com

Setting Christmas Expectations?

The other day I found myself in a fast food restaurant  with two teens sitting a booth away.  As I eavesdropped on their conversation, I realized that they were in the same mode I was in–setting expectations.

I was sitting with my sandwich and my list of all the things I needed to accomplish to make the holidays perfect.  Making a list of presents to buy and activities our family could enjoy together, I listened as these two boys planned their perfect Christmas break.

“I’m going to move my gaming system down into the basement during Christmas and play games all week.  Hopefully, I’ll get the new controller that I want along with a game.  You can come over and hang out with me and maybe spend a couple of nights.  I’m also going to invite Josh and Simon.”


“I wish I could be Ryan this year.  Then I would definitely get all the gaming gear I want for Christmas.  His parents are both PhD’s with great jobs.  He’s set for life and can get whatever he wants…”

And the conversation continued.

But I stopped listening.

The light bulb in my head was shining brightly.  Oh, my.   I wonder what his parents are doing to combat his expectations?

How many times do we as parents plan the perfect holiday season while our kids are off doing the same thing?  I’m sure this kid’s parents didn’t envision their son spending his Christmas break holed up in his basement with his gaming system and all his friends.  I’m guessing all the boys that he is planning to invite have parents that are making family plans as well.

So what will most likely happen?

Conflict and lots of unrealized expectations.

It’s natural to have expectations; and planning does need to take place before the holidays arrive.  But what are we as parents doing to set expectations–realistic expectations–for both us and our teens?

A couple of years ago, my oldest son and his wife were coming home from Europe for the holidays.  Since I hadn’t seen them in a while, I absolutely couldn’t wait to have all my kids home for Christmas–it was a treat that only came around every two years.  I had set my expectations on all the fun things we would do as a family.  

And then my expectation bubble burst.  

Yes, they were coming home, but they were bringing his wife’s sister and my son’s best friend.

What?  For the holidays?  But that should be family time — was ringing in my head.  How are there going to be intimate one-on-one conversations when we are entertaining guests?  Christmas morning will be weird with others watching our family open presents. 

And the list of all my objections continued…

Not only did my expectations clash with my son and his wife’s expectations, but I realized that my other children also had expectations of what Christmas would be like.  They couldn’t wait for their brother to come home in anticipation of all they cool things they would do together.  They didn’t want to share this little time they had with their brother. 

I could see my youngest’s heart was heavy with disappointment as he realized that his brother’s time would be spent with his friend and not with him–a cruel reality in his mind.

It became a time of expectation readjustment–for everyone.

So how do you get everyone on the same page with expectations before school is out and the holidays begin?

  1. Plan a family time to have conversation–if not together at least separately.  Be sure to include kids that are away at college and those that are married.  Find out what each person is hoping for when you all are together.
  2. Set expectations early and stress the importance of flexibility.  Let everyone know that not every dream for their holiday can be met fully.  
  3. Let everyone know the non-negotiables.  For example, if dinner is on Christmas Eve with grandma then that might mean family only.  Period.  There will be other times during the holiday to include friends.
  4. Make sure everyone is in on the plan early rather than the day of the event.  Let each person know when they will have free time to do their thing.
  5. Make sure everyone has plenty of time to “grieve” their expectations before the holidays begin.  Time gives the person time to readjust the dream versus the reality.

As my youngest got used to the idea that his brother was bringing guests for Christmas, he had to “grieve” his expectations.  I’ll admit, I grieved with him.  For him and for me.  But what I discovered was I needed to allow him to express his disappointment.  We talked frequently about what he was going to miss about the one-on-one time.  And then we put words to his desires with his brother.

“What is one thing that you could do with your brother that would be special?” I asked.  As he contemplated that, it helped him to reset his expectations of the holiday season.  

For me, I knew that I wanted at least one moment where my oldest where I could just have deep conversation without interruption–just our special time together.   Once I shared those desires, it became an expectation that my son was more than willing to fill.  We went to his favorite restaurant while my husband entertained our guests.  That time together filled my soul.

That Christmas had a profound affect on our family.  It helped us be more flexible in our expectations of the holiday season.  It also forced communication in dealing with disappointment by verbalizing “one thing” that was import so that our  expectations would be lowered which meant less conflict.

For us, we also discovered that having friends join the festivities during the holiday season took the focus off the gifts and made it about connection.  What we got was the “best” of the Christmas season and memories that will last a lifetime.

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Dare you to start having your holiday expectation discussions today with your kids so that peace will reign throughout your Christmas season.

“Let go…and let God”,


Questioning What is True?

Have you ever been in a situation with one of your kids where you questioned what is true?  I’m actually in that situation like that right now and I’ll admit it’s a struggle.  I spin daily trying to see the situation from every angle, trying to understand what could have really happened to get us here, and the butterflies in my stomach and feelings of disbelief keep me from accomplishing little except replaying circumstances in my head.  My daily to-do list is slow to materialize and, thankfully, my husband is willing to pick up the slack.

If you are like me, you hurt deeply when there is something you can’t fix with your child.  You can’t change a thing, the damage is done, and all you can do is accept that it-is-what-it-is.

I meditate on scripture knowing that God is somewhere in the circumstance; yet, I question why he would allow this to happen.  I find myself constantly on the brink of tears yet holding them back so I can be strong.

I know in the past I would have questioned what I did wrong as a parent, but I learned years ago that God allows what He allows and my job sometimes is to just learn to walk through it without fear.

Easier said than done.

We think we know our kids by the time they reach their teen years and suddenly we are thrust into circumstances where we question if we really do know them.  They break our heart, do something stupid, make a choice that is against our value system, and even make a decision that we think is against anything we think they are capable of doing.

And then others, usually adults, interject their version of the circumstances and it has us questioning all over again.

What really happened?  What is true?  And how can I  be the adult in the room when I can hardly think?  How can I best put calm to the situation when I’m not even calm?

So what do you do when your world seems tilted sideways and you have no idea what the truth really is in a situation?

  1. Breathe.  Deep breaths bring oxygen to the brain which quiets the mind.  It brings about a state of calmness.
  2. Journal.  What are your fears?  What is keeping you from having peace in the situation?  Take inventory of what is going on within you and put words to your feelings.  Allow yourself to grieve the situation if needed.
  3. Pray and Listen.  Asking for wisdom and discernment in a situation allows the Holy Spirit to speak to you.   Ask Him if there is someone with whom you can share your burden.
  4. Get perspective. Share with a few trusted friends, counselor, or coach.  Others can sometimes see something in the situation that you can’t see because you’re too emotionally attached.  It will at least give you different views and help take bring a clarity that you might not have seen.

God showed up in my personal dilemma yesterday with a phone call.  A person I have never met wanted me to make a decision on a situation real-time in the moment.  I couldn’t do it.  And suddenly with the perspective they shared, I knew what God was calling me to do.

I love it when God does that.

This morning I shared bits and pieces with three trusted friends seeking input.  They all said the same thing confirming my decision.  They put words to their view of the situation that I hadn’t yet discerned.  Now I have clarity to act.  And I have more peace.

I’m so glad God gives us connection with others to help us on the journey when we can’t fully see.

A dear friend sent me some scriptures recently that I’ve been meditating on as I’ve been in this fog-brained state of consciousness filled with disbelief.  If you are in the place where I am, I hope they will renew your strength as you persevere.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your HOPE in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, HOPE.  And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

I’m so grateful for those who have been praying for me and our family.  Your texts of encouragement and scriptures have been a God-send when I find myself in the pit.  Please know that I read them over and over.  My journal is filled with the scriptures you’ve sent me and I feel blessed to call you friend.

If you too are having difficulty discerning what is true and could use prayer or a shoulder to dump your bucket on so that you can get perspective, just respond in the comments and I’ll be sure to pray or get in contact.

Thank you for joining me on the journey.

“Let go…and Let God”,







Am I a Good Listener?

As 24 year old Annie stood at work bored and waiting for the close of her shift at the local mall to end, she thought the next hour couldn’t come soon enough. Snow was supposedly swirling outside with the anticipation of another few inches and all she could think about was curling up at her apartment in front of a movie and being off her feet. These long evenings with little chance of customers in the store left her drained. With no one to talk to, time seemed to stand still. She desperately needed something to keep her mind occupied on these slow nights. Too bad there was no Wi-Fi she could connect to so she could surf the net.

“Oh, I know Mom will be at home!” she thought. “I’ll just give her a call.”

Michelle was tired after a busy day. As was typical of their evenings, she and Mitch along with their 17 year old were settled in for one of their favorite shows. It was the way they unwound each evening. Something Michelle particularly looked forward to. Sitting in her favorite chair with a cup of cinnamon tea, Michelle was engrossed in the happenings on the screen. Breaking into the silence, the phone rang.

“Mom, do you have to answer it?” Cadie whined. “Why does someone always call when we’re in the middle of a show?”

“Cadie, it will only take a minute. Pause the show, I need to take this.”


“Hi, Mom! What are you up to?” Annie asked

“Just watching TV with Dad and Cadie.”

“I just called. It is so boring here. No one is in the mall!”

“I’ll bet. It’s really starting to come down out there. Is there something really important that you need? If not, we’ve got about 10 minutes left in our show. Can I call you back then?”

“Sure. Just call me on my cell.”

As the TV program came to an end, Michelle picked up the phone to return Annie’s call.

“Hi, honey. Any more customers?”

“No. These evenings never seem to end. I hate it when I’m here ’til close by myself.”

And the conversation continued…

And continued…

And continued.

Michelle seemed to add little to the conversation. Just saying “un-huh” occasionally seemed to do the trick.

At 8:50, Annie finally looked at the clock. “Oh, it’s almost time to close. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”

As Cadie came down the stairs to get a snack before bed she asked, “Mom, why do you spend so much time with Annie on the phone?”

“Because she is lonely, Cadie. Sometimes it is tough to be her age with life being so drastically different than when she was in school. Friend’s work schedules don’t always line up with hers. If you are like Annie, you live all alone in your apartment. If you have a job like her, sometimes you get a shift all by yourself. On nights like tonight, no one darkens the door of the store because of the weather. This is when I want to be here for her. Yeah, I know it interrupted our TV show for a few minutes. But I made sure she knew that we were busy. I didn’t want to spoil my time with you if she didn’t have something urgent that needed taken care of. That’s why I agreed to call her back. You know, I want to be Annie’s friend now and sometimes friends are just there to listen.”

“Yeah, guess you’re right, Mom. At least I know when it’s my turn, you’ll be there for me.”

Colossians 3:12-14

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Sometimes our 20-Somethings just need us to be there for them. Whether it is just listening when they need a friend or someone to help them with a problem, sometimes knowing that you will allow them to vocalize their frustrations in a safe place is all they need. When others in your home get interrupted by older siblings, be sure to acknowledge that their time with you is important too.

Dare you to just be there to listen to your 20-somethings, even when it isn’t necessarily convenient for you.

“Let go…and let God”,