Tag Archive for: I keep yelling at my kid

Rules and Consequences Not Working?

A very wise counselor said to me one time, “If it isn’t a matter of life and death, it doesn’t need to be fixed right now.”

Oh, I wish I had heard those words years before and really grasped the true meaning.

The most common thing I hear from parents is that a kid knows the consequence and yet the teen continues to do the very thing that caused the consequence over and over again.  As parents we feel caught in a loop and we don’t understand why our kid gets angry and starts building a wall sneaking around us to get what they want.

The problem is that many of us think of parenting as transactional.  What I mean by that is that we’ve devised a system that says if our teen chooses to not abide by our rule, we issue a consequence.  Cut and dry.  Black and white.  No discussion.

Let’s face it.  Transactional parenting is easier.  We don’t have to get caught up in the tears and listen to the 99 reasons why we are being unfair and why our kid should get off this time.

But here’s the downside.  When we use transactional parenting, we might get the obedience that we want, but at what price?  

Obedience doesn’t necessarily mean compliance on a heart level.  More times than not, it means compliance on a fear level.

Several weeks ago I had a mom ask me what to do with her junior high age daughter who kept sneaking her phone into her room which was against the rules.  The family rule was that when they came into the house they were to park their phones in the kitchen until after dinner.  Already taking the girl’s phone away numerous times, Mom was upset that the girl had taken mom’s phone into the bathroom to call someone when she came into the house.  The daughter’s phone was sitting in the kitchen where it was supposed to be.  

I chuckled when I heard the story.  Isn’t that just like a kid?  We’ve all been there.  Most of us have experienced something similar at one time or another.  Can we just laugh?

Unfortunately in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to laugh.  Our rule has been broken, our tween needs to learn a lesson, and we feel the need to issue the consequence.

Unfortunately, that’s what this mom did.  She issued a consequence that escalated the situation into a shouting match.

Over what?  Yes, you heard.  Over what?

What was so important that this girl felt the need to violate the rule knowing she would most likely get a consequence?  To take her mother’s phone was a bold step.

When I asked the mom why her daughter needed to use the phone, Mom couldn’t tell me. All she knew was the rule had been broken.

How sad. 

Like I said earlier — transactional.

Let’s go back to my opening line — “If it isn’t a matter of life and death, it doesn’t need to be fixed right now.”

What if the mom in the scenario could have paused (after all it wasn’t life or death) before she confronted her daughter? 

Here are a few things that she might have thought of if she had taken the time to wait before the confrontation.

  • “I don’t want her to think she can use my phone when she isn’t allowed to use hers.  Do we need a consequence for that?”
  • “Boy, that was gutsy.  This must have been really important for her to sneak my phone.  Something must be up.”
  • “I wonder if it is time to revisit this rule and consequence?  Maybe we need to look at why we started this rule in the first place.  Maybe it’s time to think about it differently.”
  • “It will be interesting to see if she comes and talks to me about taking the phone.  If she does, I’ll know that the Holy Spirit is working in her life.”
  • “I need to have a conversation with her that won’t be combative.  I’ll try to talk to her after dinner or maybe tomorrow after school.”

If we’ve trained our brain to look at the possibilities rather than the rules, we’ll most likely discover that our kids have needs of which we aren’t even aware.  Sometimes those needs and desires are worth the consequence and it is up to us to be the detective to understand the “why” so that we can reach their heart without always reacting to the rule.  Sometimes we need to pause long enough so that we can see if God is working in our child’s heart.

So what can we do as parents when we blow a situation with our kids.  After all, if we’re in the heat of the battle we don’t always remember to pause.

  1. Initiate a casual conversation.  “Honey, I want you to know what I didn’t do a good job of handling the phone situation earlier today.  I got really upset and took your phone away and I know you think I was harsh in issuing the consequences.  I’m sorry I got so upset and I know that you are working really hard at following the phone rules otherwise you wouldn’t have left your phone on the kitchen counter. (See the positive?). I didn’t listen to you and I’m sorry.  I’m listening now.  So what happened today?
  2. Listen.  Don’t interrupt and listen with your heart.
  3. Make sure you understand the core issue.  Is it a rebellious streak of “I’m going to do whatever I want and you can’t stop me.” Or was the phone call so important that it was worth a potential consequence?  Do you have a relationship with this child so that she could have asked to use the phone without hearing a lecture?
  4. Pause before changing the consequence.  Too many times we hear our child’s side of the story and immediately change the consequence because of new information.  We think of it as fixing the problem.  I want to suggest that you keep the consequence until you’ve had time to process the new data and spoken to your spouse or a trusted friend who may be further along in their parenting.  Tell your tween that you want to think about your conversation and then promise to get back to her.  
  5. Revisit the consequence.  Pausing on the consequence gives you opportunity to rebuild trust and leaves the door open for more conversation on what happened.  Use this as a chance to right the wrong as well as address how you would like similar situations to be handled in the future.  Be sure to end the conversation with a hug.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.

Dare you to be still in the heat of the parenting battles.  Pause and let God work in your heart and the heart of your teen.

With the holidays around the corner why not put With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens on your shopping list?  Whether it is for yourself, a friend, or as gifts for your child’s teachers, learning the language of respect is important as we try to capture the hearts of the next generation.  

Here’s what one mom had to say:  “If you want to renew and energize your relationship with your kids, this book is a great place to start!  Each dare spoke such truth and I looked forward to each new real-life story.  I wish it had been available when my oldest was going through the teen years.”






How Do You Measure Up As a Parent?

Over the years it has been interesting to interact with parents who have kids that are just moving into the middle school years.  I see many confident in their parenting.  Whatever they have been doing so far seems to be working and they feel like they will glide through the junior high and high school years with little more than a hiccup.

Other parents at the same place are already holding on for dear life trying to figure out what hit them and who has replaced their child with this alien that is now living under their roof.  These are the parents who most likely live in fear for what tomorrow might bring and feel clueless as to what to do next to move their child in a positive direction.

Whatever parenting situation you find yourself in at the moment, and what stage of parenting you are in, I encourage you to stay on your knees regardless of today.   Tomorrow might bring about a totally different outcome.

  • I’ve seen a compliant teen make unbelievably poor choices in college that brought pain to the entire family.
  • I’ve seen a troubled pregnant teenager mature and find a Godly husband to not only love her but be a father to her child.
  • I’ve seen a teenager on fire for God fall into the trap of alcoholism later in life.
  • I’ve seen a teenager growing up in a Godly home choose a same-sex partner.
  • I’ve seen kids make good choices through junior high only to make a dumb decision in high school that landed them in Juvenal Detention.
  • I’ve also seen Godly parents raise Godly children who are also walking with God.

Regardless of where we find ourselves in our parenting, the thing we need to realize as parents is that we are only part of the equation when it comes to our kids.  There are so many other things to consider.

  1. God created our kids with a particular bent (Proverbs 22:6).  As parents we don’t get to choose that bent and we can’t control it.  Sometimes our job is to love them in spite of who they are or the choices they make even when they go against everything we believe as truth (Mark 12:31).
  2. Sin did enter the world (Romans 5:12).  Scripture talks about generational sin and we in our culture we often hear it said that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.  As we see behaviors in our kids lives, we need to recognize that the sin might have roots from a previous generation (Deuteronomy 5:9). Our job as parents is to teach our kids about the potential outcome of their choices knowing that even in the midst of their particular sin we can only try to influence.  Our children have to choose.
  3. God is weaving His story (The Holy Bible).  At some point we need to understand that our children are part of a bigger story and we are not necessarily the author.  Yes, we have a significant role to play as the scene unfolds, yet God has purpose for each and every one of us.  Our child’s testimony might have unbelievable impact in the future even though it is bringing pain to us in the present.

As I read through scripture I am reminded that some of the parenting stories don’t always end the way we want.  King David’s son, Absalom (2 Samuel 13-19) nursed hatred toward his half-brother and had Amnon killed, slept with his father’s concubines, and proclaimed himself as king in David’s place. The Bible says that David “longed to go out to Absalom” (2 Samuel 13:39) and later David mourned deeply over his son.  Yet, David was considered a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

At some point we need to come to grips with the fact that our parenting isn’t about how our kids turn out but rather how we respond in the critical moments with our kids. Our job isn’t to try to be the best parent on the planet, but to be the best son or daughter of a living God in the midst of our parenting.

Parenting is really about us and our relationship with Jesus Christ as well as our relationship with our kids.


Mark 12:28-31

 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

As a parent of a challenging child who seemed to make a lot of wrong choices, I often found myself longing to know what decisions were the “right” ones as I parented.  Then I began to realize that even a perfect God didn’t have perfect kids that made the right choices.  David, a man after God’s own heart, didn’t always “get it right”.  As I searched through scripture trying to grasp what God was trying to teach me in the midst of the pain, I began to realize that parenting was as much about me as it was about this child.

I realized that maybe parenting was more about changing me than it was about trying to control my child’s behaviors.

That’s where With All Due Respect begins.  Who do I need to become as I parent these children?  Where do I need to focus in my own sinful desires and behaviors?  And what do I need to do to love God and love my children the way He desires of me?

Take the assessment and see what God wants from you.  Whether your kids are making good choices or not, God wants to refine us through our parenting.

Dare you to take the assessment and respond below on what you discovered.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If God is speaking to you through the assessment, we’d love to have you join our With All Due Respect eCourse.  You’ll be joining women from across the country as we learn to depend on God in our parenting.  Dare to be changed–in your relationship with Him and your kids–as you work through the book.  I’ll be there to join you in the closed community where you’ll find encouragement and insight.

Another option might be to grab a few of your friends and go through the book together.  We’ve created a small group leader’s guide that will add insight and fun as you lead women to a closer relationship with God and their kids.  You can purchase the leader’s guide here.