Tag Archive for: Christian parenting

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”,

Belligerent or Self Protection?

If you have tweens and teens, at one time or another you’ve probably seen that warlike seething that sometimes seems to explode even when asked to do what you think is a simple request.  Or maybe you see it in your spouse and don’t quite understand it.  How do you respond when you ask someone to do something because you need help or maybe just because it would be something good for them to learn to do, and you are met with a resounding “NO!”? Read more

What Can I Do About Bullying?

A common theme that seems to resonate in our groups who are doing the book With All Due Respect centers around the bullying that most teens and tweens experience at some point in their lives.  As moms we question how we can help our kids through the ordeal and most of us wonder if we should get involved.

The good news is that you know about the bullying.  That says that you’ve earned your child’s trust enough for him to come to you.  It’s sad how many kids have endured horrific ordeals or taken their own life just because they felt that there was no one to turn to.  

So if you know about it, pat yourself on the back and be sure to give your kid a hug for sharing his/her dilemma with you.

As parents most of us realize that the implications of long-term effects of bullying can be carried into every phase of life for decades to come.  Not only does bullying derail our kid’s self-esteem in a way that can make them either retreat to their own cocoon or lash out with behaviors that we’d prefer our kid not engage in, but research shows that it can become a trigger for similar behaviors that remind our kids of the same feelings of shame or frustration at any point in time.

The thing we need to know as parents is the best way to help our kids deal with the situation. It is imperative that we help them create healthy relationships that will boost their self-esteem and give them confidence.  We can do that by making sure they realize who they are.

So what are some ways we can boost their confidence and help them understand their true identity?

  1. Make sure they understand their value in your family.  Encourage them, hug them, be there for them, listen, and give them family responsibilities.  While there are more, know that these things will give them a sense of belonging.
  2. Help them find identity with a group.  Kids this age need to connect outside the family.  Whether it is through sports, dance, art, or youth activities, our kids need to identify with a group.  It not only helps them feel good about themselves but gives them strong friendships.
  3. Let you kids know who they are in Christ.  Help your child understand that God created them uniquely and allows difficulties in their lives to make them stronger.  Pray with your kids often.
  4. Give them opportunities to produce.  My husband Dave and I were talking about this earlier today.  In today’s society it is not uncommon for mom and dad to just do everything for their kids or to give them step by step instructions looking over their shoulder as they do the work.  Sometimes confidence is better achieved by giving our kids a task and letting them figure it out on their own.  Regardless of the outcome of the project (good or bad results), just thank them for doing the work and move on.

If your child has a strong sense of confidence and identity and is still being bullied, perhaps what he needs is a set of skills to help him work through the situation.  One good website is https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/dealing-with-bullying.htm. Keep in mind that unless this is a situation of life and death for your child, he will gain more confidence if he takes the lead without you stepping into the middle of it.  

Here are some things you can do as a parent.

  1. Coach your child through the process daily until it is resolved. Spend time strategizing what might work and allow them to role play with you to determine how they will handle the situation.  It will help build confidence.
  2. Help your child enlist the help of his friends.  Encourage your child to share the situation with his friends.  If he can do that while his friends are visiting in your home it might allow you to reinforce the severity of the situation and develop a strategy with all of them.
  3. Be sure to also give your child lots of grace during this difficult season.  Know that emotionally he might not be as engaged with school work or chores and might tend to be more moody or volitile.  Understanding on your part will go a long way.
  4.  Encourage you child to PRAY for the bully and FORGIVE him/her.  God can do an amazing work in our kid’s life when they learn to forgive.  Social norms tell our kids to get even, but forgiveness can help our child learn to importance of surrendering to God’s role as judge.  Verses like 1 Peter 2:23 and Luke 23:32-34 might help.

1 Peter 2:23

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Luke 23:34

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Parenting in the midst of our child’s difficulties can give opportunity for you and your child to look at true injustice in the world in which we live.  Even though as a parent you might want to take action–and we should if the situation is life or death–it’s better to walk beside our child in the midst of these type of struggles giving opportunity to teach our kids what mature behavior can look like during trials and our need for dependence on God.

Dare you to not only walk with your child when faced with bullying, but to also help them discover their true identity a child of the King.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Why not grab a few moms with kids ages 9-24  and go through With All Due Respect together?  Those who have told us that it has been life-changing!  Just last week I got an email from a woman who said that during her group study she got a call from the principal at her son’s school.  Having worked through the book she knew exactly how to handle the situation with the principal and her son.  We’ve been told it’s like having a parenting manual that makes an impact in times of parenting difficulties.

 

How Should I Handle Social Media With My Tweens?

A few weeks ago I got a text from a dear friend.  Her husband had posted a survey question on Facebook.

Survey:  who has preteens on Facebook?  I’m not quick to give my son access, but I am curious as to others’ experiences.

The minute it was posted, responses began coming in from parents who were at the same stage of life.  All with differing opinions and letting him know how they were choosing to handle the preteen Facebook dilemma.

Let’s face it, we’ve seen the social media quagmire of false pretenses, stalking, language, and advertisements not to mention the endless selfies spouting where someone has been and who they’re connected to.  Even as adults many are seeing how they easily get sucked into the time sink that often leads to what we lovingly call “chasing squirrels”.

Yes, as parents we have the right to say no or delay the inevitable as long as possible.  

But should we?

We worry about our kids being old enough – or mature enough to handle it.  But I’m not sure any of us are truly mature enough for it until we’ve experienced the downfall of it for ourselves.

Here’s a better question.  Are you willing to be a mentor to your kids in this area of their lives?

Kids need parents who are willing to teach them the pits they might fall into and how to steer clear.  They need someone who will walk beside them as they learn to navigate the unknown world they live in.  

If your preteen is asking about Facebook or Instagram or any other social media, it means their friends are most likely on there.  Like it or not it is how this generation socializes.  So why not walk beside them in the process?

And yes, that means we need to learn how to use it if we don’t already.

Most parents decide that their kid is old enough or mature enough at a certain age and hope for the best–turning them loose to sink or swim.  By then it is too late.  Chances are these kids will already know more about social media than their parents and may not be willing to allow their parents walk beside them. 

If we teach our kids to use social media when they are still at an age when they are open to their parent’s suggestions, they’ll be better prepared to handle potential consequences.

So how can you set it up to be a good experience?

Step 1Ask questions as to why they want social media access.  Let them know you are considering it.

Step 2 Say “yes” if you can devote some time to it.  But be ready with the boundaries:  time bound it (use a timer), put stipulations around when,  and make sure you are available to at least sit in the same room during access time.  Maybe even right beside them for their initial few times.

Step 3Share concerns about their maturity and also some of the situations they may be faced with.  Let them know that you will be reviewing their history and postings and make sure that you have access to passwords.

Step 4Let them know that if you become concerned about what they are saying on social media that you might be compelled to take it away for a period of time. i.e. if they behave maturely they have nothing to worry about. 

Step 5Make sure your kids know they can come to you if they run across things that upset or concern them and you’ll help walk them through it.

Step 6Don’t forget to monitor.

Step 7When they do or say something inappropriate – use it as an opportunity to teach.  

I’ll admit, I’ve had my own pit experience on Facebook where I had to learn humility. I was upset with a sales rep who had made a mistake on my order.  I didn’t catch the mistake until almost a month later.  When she refused to swap it out for my original purchase, I was visibly frustrated.  And wouldn’t you know it, she posted cruise pictures on-line thanking everyone for helping her make her sales goals.  In one of those anger-filled moments of seeing her smiling in front of the cruise ship, I responded to the post with an unkind word.

I tried to delete it, but it had already been posted to the world.  And she saw it.

And instantly I realized that I couldn’t take back what I had written and that I had said something in writing that I would not have said to her face — a rash decision in anger.

And I learned the power of my words – spoken or written.

And I ate humble pie and apologized.

And it was a pivotal humbling experience for me.

And that’s how our kids will grow in maturity–by making mistakes.

If we give them opportunity to make mistakes under our watch, we have opportunity to influence their values in the world they live in.

Dare you to not say no to your kids requests out of fear but to boldly walk through new things with them respecting the fact that they are growing up in today’s culture whether we like it or not.

“Let go…and let God”,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Aware! The Dating Game is Changing

This week in USA Today a shocking story hit the press that will influence our teens.  Many Americans are well aware that sleeping together early in the dating relationship is almost a given for a lot of teens.  TV and movies portray this as normal behavior and it has influenced more than a generation.  As parents we might  caution our kids and tell them sex is for marriage, but when pressure from the culture is hitting them from all directions at a time when they are taking steps toward independence, who will they listen to?  

Parents?

Teachers?

Coaches?

Peers?

Media?

According to the latest survey of single Millennials (remember that this includes our 18 year olds) over 1/3 of this demographic had sex before they decided if they want to spend time with that person!  It is as if the act of sex is an interview for compatibility.  Sex is no longer considered the intimate part of the relationship.

Like it or not our kids are not only being influenced by their peers, but if they have teachers and coaches they look up to, they are being influenced by them as well.  If the teacher or coach is in the under 34 age range and is single, they fall in that Millennial generation of values.

A mom recently shared a story about what was happening in their high school.  A contracted school nurse, a Millennial, had an open door policy especially for the athletes.  She would openly coach these boys on “how to get the girl” and would even go as far as arrange dates for these kids.  She was seen hooking kids up at the mall and sometimes hanging out with them.  

Think of the influence.

Like it or not the values of these adult figures will greatly impact how our kids see the world.

We need to remember that the world our kids live in is not the world we grew up in.

So what can you do to counter the culture in a way that will better align your tweens and teens values with your family values?

  1. Stay on your knees – daily.  And be sure to tell your kids that you are praying for them.
  2. Share articles like the one linked above.  Kids need to know what they will face in the world and what your values are.  Talk about the world they live in.
  3. Talk to them early.  Too many times as parents we fail to have these conversations early enough.  If your kid knows what sex is, then stories like this as well as sex or dating on TV and in movies is a great place to start.  What I hear most often from parents is that they waited too late because they wanted to protect their child’s innocence.  It is more important to talk to them young when they are willing to listen and learn from you.  
  4. Share what Scripture has to say.  If kids have a good relationship with you and a solid foundation for their values, they are more likely to stand up to the influences around them.
  5. Be honest with your kids.  Tell them your concerns about their future.  Share your regrets or some of the regrets of your friends or family members.  
  6. Role play.  If your kids are willing, role play situations they might find themselves in or maybe some they have already been in.  Teach them the skills and build their confidence to counter the peer pressure.
  7. Build relationship.  Even though our kids are reaching for independence, if we choose to interact with them in a respectful manner, the relationship will still be maintained and our kids will want to emulate us.

Deuteronomy 6:7

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  

Last night my husband and I were watching a Netflix episode of a police drama.  One of the single dad cops was trying to figure our who was targeting a swim suit fashion model.  Of course, the cop kills the guilty party and becomes the hero, but as the show comes to the finale, all the models start parading their bikini’s in a runway fashion show. And to my surprise, the cop’s 11 year old daughter is welcomed to the event with open arms and gets paraded backstage to hang out with the models in their dressing room.

And my thought became–“What parent in their right mind would do that?”

It is easy to get caught up in the world’s value system and the excitement of opportunity.  As parents it is easy to get sucked into what other parents allow their kids to do without thinking of future impact.  Letting go is not easy when the culture is encouraging a different mindset, but respectful communication can strengthen the odds that they’ll embrace your values.

Dare you to pay attention to who is influencing your kids and counter their culture with your influence by having discussions before the world does.

“Let go…and let God”,

 

 

 

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.