Tag Archive for: my kid won’t listen

When Adults Tattle on Your Kid

With four teens under my roof at the same time, it was not uncommon to have adult “friends” who would tell me something that one of those teens had done that was wrong. I’ve had teachers, leaders, neighbors, and other moms say things like, “Well, if this was my kid I would want to know.”

For years it was hard knowing how to respond to the adult. “Thanks for letting me know”, was about all I could utter as I felt this wave of shame pass through me.

It was as if I was being judged as a parent. The feeling that I didn’t measure up and that now this adult knew it became my focus. I’ll admit I didn’t like the feeling. I kept second guessing what I was doing wrong in my parenting to deserve children who would do such things. My next thought was centered around the consequence this kid deserved so he would learn acceptable behavior.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I got to child number three that I had my A-Ha! moment.

It wasn’t about me — the first thing I needed to do was learn to take my emotion out of it and understand what was behind the shame.

It wasn’t about making sure that my teen was perfect to the outside world — after all, none of us are perfect.

It was about an opportunity to connect in a positive way with my teen.

Just last week I was having a conversation with one of my sons and he reminded me of a time when I got it right. Now hear me out. If the incident had occurred three or four years earlier in his life, I would have most likely messed it up royally.

Having practiced on his older siblings and done the wrong thing too many times, I became more adept at soothing the situation rather than ignite my emotion in front of my teen. Doing it wrong helped me learn how to connect with my teen when prior to that I might have started down my list of lectures or consequences for his behavior.

One day my son and his girlfriend went for a walk through the neighborhood. During the walk he decided to kiss her. And, as fate would have it, the kiss happened right in front of a house of my friend who stood watching out her window.

And the next time I saw this neighbor, I heard all about it.

This time, something was different. I was different.

I didn’t feel the typical shame that would have come over me. I had learned to recognize that this wasn’t about me. It was about my son’s behavior in public. And it was an opportunity to connect with him.

Rather than give him the lecture of how kissing can lead to other things, the conversation went something like this.

“Hey, honey, do you have a minute to talk?”

After I got his agreement on the talk, I continued.

“First let me say you aren’t in trouble. I just heard something that I thought you might want to be aware of and thought we should talk about it. Do you remember that walk you took last week with ________? Don’t get upset, but someone in the neighborhood told me they saw you kissing her in front of their house. (Insert chuckle to ease his shame of being caught). Honey, it doesn’t surprise me that you’ve kissed ________ . Most kids your age want to kiss their girlfriends. I can tell you really like her.”

“One of the things you need to think about is kissing in a public place. I know the neighborhood doesn’t feel public if you don’t see anyone around, but a lot of the neighbors know you. This time, someone happened to be looking out their front window. I don’t think you want to put _________ in a situation where her reputation might be judged or your motives misperceived.”

“Again, not a big deal. I just thought you would want to know so you can protect _______ in the future.”

He responded, “Thanks for letting me know and for not being upset.”

Whew. Totally different response than I expected.

Different response from you as a mom = Different reaction from your teens.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

“Let go…and Let God”,

How we think about parenting can make all the difference in our relationship with our teens.  Whether you have a 9 year old or a 29 year old, your daily interactions have a huge impact on your relationship.  Why not join other moms as we go through the book With All Due Respect:  40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens on-line?  We laugh and learn together as we share our own parenting stories.  There you’ll find teaching video and we have discussion in a private Facebook forum.  Seasoned moms are there to interact with you on a daily basis.  To join our eCourse, click here.  Or purchase the book here 

Too Busy for Relationship?

Standing in the kitchen I was focused on fixing dinner when my teen walked through the back door.  Barely looking up, I asked my son how his day went and continued pealing potatoes for the evening meal.  He sat down at the kitchen island and rambled on about all the things that had happened during the day.   With an occasional glance I would give him my half-hearted “really” as he continued his story.  I had other things on my mind–the to-do list of my evening activities.

As soon as he took a breath I interrupted.  “I need you to go get your homework finished.  Your dad and I have a commitment after dinner and I have several things to do before then.”

I could tell he was frustrated with me.  And, yes, I probably should have been more focused on his needs.  But life can’t always revolve around when my teen wants to talk, can it?

The truth was, I blew it.  It wasn’t in the fact that I ended the conversation.  It was in the how I ended the conversation.  

Matter of fact.

No consideration for his feelings.

And a “task” that I felt at the time was more important than listening to him. 

I wasn’t focused on the relationship.

As parents we all make mistakes in how we interact with our kids.  But do we make an attempt to recover from them?  Do we learn from our mistakes and think through how we should handle it next time?

As I lay in bed that night thinking through my day, I realized that I needed to apologize to my son.  I asked for his forgiveness the next day since I made my agenda for the evening more important than what he had to share.  I told him how I blew it and how I wished I could have a do-over.  I shared the specifics of what I wished I had done differently.  We talked through them setting a plan in place for the next time a similar thing occurred.

  1. Look him in the eye.  Teens want to know that we are really listening and eye contact is a mechanism to bonding.  It says they are more important than the task.
  2. Speak your truth.  “I would really like to hear about your day and I only have 10 minutes before I need to get ready for tonight’s activities.  Would it be okay if you share the highlights while I peel the potatoes and we’ll talk after your dad and I get home tonight?  I really want to hear about what is going on in your world.”  This is also where you would give any instructions about the evening.
  3. If he agrees, position yourself with your task so that there is eye contact during the conversation.
  4. When time is up, say something positive.  “I really love that you come and share your day with me.  I just wish I had more time right now.  I’ll look forward to our talk later tonight.”  

Teens have a lot to process about their world and it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that they are willing to talk with us.  We want to encourage them to see us as their confidant.  One of the most important things we can do to build the relationship is to be a good listener.

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Sometimes just sitting with our kids, listening as they talk about their day, can give us insight and opportunity to influence their decisions if we validate their feelings and show them acceptance and that they are important in our lives.

Dare you to assess whether you make your teens a priority in your life and handle your interactions with them with respect and humility.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Wish you could help Dad be more intentional in your teen’s life?  365+ Ways to Love Your Family:  Practical Tips for Dads of Tweens and Teens is an easy way to quickly help him have a positive way to have influence.  In less than a minute each day, he can put an action in place that will teach your kids the language of respect.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You a Reactive Parent?

Sitting on the deck reading while enjoying the warmth of the early summer sun, I barely noticed the activity at the pool nestled behind the evergreens.  Immersed in my book, I was suddenly blasted with a string of profanity being hurled from the pool area.  In a fit of anger, I watched a dad rant as he paced along the pool deck screaming obscenities while what looked like junior high age kids and younger continued to play in the pool.  As I sat amazed, shell-shocked actually, I noticed it took more than 10 minutes for this grown man to finally calm himself enough to be able to communicate to his kids that it was time to leave.

Talk about an anger issue.

But what about us as parents?  We might not be as explosive as the temperament of this man, but do we react to things our kids do in a way that others might sit up and take notice if they were to witness the outburst?

I’ll be the first to admit that there were phases in our parenting when our home was anything but calm.  Having had four teens under our roof at the same time at times equaled chaos and sometimes my responses as a mom didn’t help the circumstance.  Instead of bringing a gentle and quiet spirit into a conflict I would sometimes escalate the problem simply to be heard.

But what causes these outbursts in us?  And how do we determine the root cause so that we can learn to respond rather than react?

As adults we need to look deep within ourselves in order to put the pieces of what might seem like a puzzle together.  “Oh, I guess I’m just like my mom or dad isn’t a good enough response.”  If we want to be able to have influence with our teens, we need to show them that we have self-control.  After all, isn’t that what we want from them?

Looking at our childhood is a great place to start. 

  1. Did your parents or other close family members react in ways that as you look back were a little over the top?  If so, has it become ingrained so that it seems normal to you?
  2. What are your fears?  Sometimes our fears are rooted to something that we are afraid will happen in the future because we saw it happen to someone else in the past.  For example.  Your brother totaled his car at 16 so you might have a fear of your child driving.
  3. What are your beliefs when it comes to potential issues with your kids?  Dating, drinking, language, sex, clothing, hair, friends, church attendance, and a host of other things make up part of our belief system.  Which ones are you more likely to react over? 

Once you’ve had time to visit your childhood through realistic adult eyes, ask yourself if you can really control these things.

Let’s face it.  All of us want our kids to turn out to become the person we dreamed they would be.  In order to do that we think we need to be in control even though once our kids hit the junior high years, it becomes obvious to most of us that we can’t control the other person.

Learning to let go of our fears and relinquish control to a God who loves us and our children takes effort from us.  We have to learn better ways of bringing calm into the situation rather than reacting to our kids by getting upset and lashing out.

  • Learn to pause and breathe in the heat of the moment.  Deep breathing and counting to 10 brings oxygen to the brain rescuing it from a fight or flight response.  It will actually help you engage your brain better.  If that doesn’t work, let the person know that you need to break from the conversation to give yourself time to get your emotions under control.
  • Ask yourself what you are afraid of and what you are trying to control.  Reactions are about you and not the other person.  What are you feeling?  Why does this make you feel like you are not in control?
  • Look at the situation from your child’s perspective.  Sometimes we need to look beyond the NOW we are in.  What else is at play with our child’s reactions?  Is there a big test coming up?  Did he get in a fight with a friend?  Many times the conflict we find ourselves in with our child has very little to do with the current situation.
  • If you are feeling the pressure of an immediate response, say “Let me think about it”.  Putting boundaries in place so that your teens know that you will not give them a response at a moments notice will allow you time to exercise this option most of the time.
  • Learn to think positively.  Many of us typically think of the worst outcome when, in fact, most situations have several alternatives.  By learning to look at potential options rather than focusing on the worst scenario, we will be able to change our outlook to the positive.

Just last week I was sitting in the family room holding our new grandson while my husband and son were in a conversation in the kitchen that was starting to escalate.  I’m sure I was probably more aware of the increased intensity of their conversation because of the baby’s startled reaction.  Knowing what to look for, it became obvious to me what my husband feared most in the moment.  I gently reminded both of them several times that the situation was escalating.  By doing so, I noticed that my husband was finally able to verbalize his fear to my son in a way that my son understood.  My son then reassured his dad that his fear would not materialize.  With that the problem was resolved.

Being aware of our reaction is the first step to self-control.  Being able to identify the fear can help bring resolution to an escalating discussion. 

1 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Dare you to look at your own reactions as you parent your tweens and teens.  What steps do you need to take be be the calm parent instead of the reactive parent?

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to learn more skills as you try to become a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit in your own home?  Gaining control over our own emotional responses can change the tide in how our children react to us.  That’s why we’ve designed a women’s retreat to teach moms how to deflate defensiveness with their kids.  The next one is near Cincinnati, Ohio May 30-June 3, 2018.  Not only will you meet other moms who want great relationships with their kids, but you’ll enjoy the bonds of sisterhood in a way that will encourage you as you parent.  You’ll leave with resources and friendships that will be there to carry you through on those difficult days of being a mom.  

Price includes 4 nights stay in a private room and 10 meals in a retreat setting in addition to a world-class training like you’ve never experienced.  Most women come back year after year after they see the change it makes in them and all of their relationships.

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Is it Time for a Reset in Your Parenting?

I don’t know about you, but I seem to do my best parenting after the fact.  Maybe you can relate; so let me explain.  

  • I give my kid freedom he isn’t ready for it and then I don’t know how to take the freedom away without a fight.
  • I don’t think about the potential consequences of a given situation because I don’t know what I don’t know, and then my ‘yes’ in that circumstance equates to a ‘yes’ in the next situation in my child’s mind resulting in conflict.
  • The consequence I issue brings more grief and frustration to me because all I get is whining and push back from my teen.
  • Sometimes the consequences for my child put me in a situation of having to always monitor making me a slave to the consequence I created.
  • My teen has a way of manipulating things in a way that force me to say ‘yes’ when I should be saying ‘no’.
  • I enforce a family rule just because one kid needs it and it is easier to deal with everyone rather than just dealing with this particular kid’s issue.
  • My kid breaks so many rules where I have to issue consequences that my child will be grounded until they are 25.

If you are like me, sometimes when the conflict gets to be too much and the heat is on, it is easier to disband with the consequence or not worry about the potential negative outcome of a behavior because parenting just becomes too difficult.  Sometimes our main focus in the weariness of it all becomes peace — and peace can be achieved if we choose to look away.

But is peace always a good thing?  If our kids are out doing their own thing and we are doing ours, there may be peace but is there relationship?  It may be easier, but who will they become?  What will be their moral foundation?

I want to encourage you not to take the easy way out.  Parenting is hard, parenting is messy, and sometimes parenting needs a reset.  

What are your parenting goals?  Kids with good behavior?  Kids who can think in tough situations?  Kids with a moral compass?  Kids who love God and others?  Kids who can succeed at life?  Kids who will want to have a relationship with their parents when they are adults?  Kids who won’t have a lot of baggage to carry into adulthood?

The reason I ask you about your goals is so you can focus on the majors.  You know, those areas that will really impact our kids’ future. Putting all our energy in making sure we correct every little issue we see in our kids’ behavior will create more conflict than we can possibly handle.

In other words, as parents we can’t close our eyes to things our kids need to learn but we also shouldn’t focus on all the issues we see from our kid.  Our lives are a journey.  They can’t learn everything at one time or they’ll be discouraged and give up.  

So how do we handle things when we’ve created a situation where our current consequences are creating more problems?  This is  a time when you my need a reset.

Ask yourself:

  1. How important is it that this kid needs to learn this lesson?  
  2. Will it impact his future as an adult?
  3. Is there need for a reset? 
  4. What exactly is the problem?
  5. Is this consequence creating more conflict in our home?
  6. Are the consequences escalating such that my kid keeps getting into more and more trouble?

Instigating a reset with our kids always starts with an apology.  This is where you admit that you don’t always get it right in parenting.  Let your child know where you messed up and ask for their forgiveness.  Let them know you are on the same team–you both want the same thing–their freedom.

Let your teen know that changing or resetting the consequence means the goal is the same — to help them become better adults.  Freedom and adulthood go hand in hand.  Learning consequences in the structure of your home will be a lot easier than learning them in real life situations out in the real world. 

Remember that parenting isn’t a battleground (I win/you lose/you will do what I say or else).  It is a place where both of you are working toward the same goal–a partnership to freedom.  It is important to remember that as parents we do have authority over our children, however, if we can establish a win/win mentality then conflict will decrease as a result of the partnership.  We need to major in the majors and let the little things slide that don’t necessarily have significance.  We need to see our job as parents is to put wind under our children’s wings along with giving them opportunity to fail.  Parenting with wanting to control the little things will increase conflict and negate the partnership.

Institute the new consequence.  After apologizing, explaining the reason for the reset, and establishing the partnership with your teen, be sure to issue the new consequence.  Our teens need to see that we have their best interest at heart.  We want them to be mature adults who understand consequences of wrongful actions.  Forgetting about the infraction or letting them off the hook doesn’t right the wrong and won’t allow them to learn the lesson you are trying to teach.  

Parenting is full of do-overs.  After all, parenting is a growth process as well.  Take the time to do a reset as many times as is necessary.

2 Chronicles 1:10

Give me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people.

Whether we realize it or not, as parents, wisdom comes from our mistakes, from God, and from watching other people get it right.  It isn’t an easy road.  But if we will humble ourselves God will be faithful to complete the work in us and our children.

“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.

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In addition, for the next month we’re offering our new Small Group Leader’s Guide for only $5.95 so you can get your small group started right away.  That means you can start a group at an almost 80 percent discount!

Our Small Group Leader’s Guide is an easy-to-follow guide that will give you questions, exercises, and opportunities to engage with other parents as you think about your own parenting.  If you know a mom who has kids that are 9 or 29 this study will be life-changing as they think about parenting.  You can even get suggestions on how to run your groups from me.  I love to engage with other moms and leaders and you can reach me through the website at www.greaterimpact.org. 

 So grab your friends, and grab a copy of the Small Group Leader’s Guide here along with your eBook copy of With All Due Respect.

Dare ya!

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

 

 

How to Get Your Kid’s Attention When They Aren’t Listening

Last week I gave you two homework assignments.  If you didn’t see them, you can read about them here.  How did you do?  If you were able to complete them, especially the one about remaining silent when your kids weren’t listening, pat yourself on the back — well done!

I talk to moms all the time about their concern that their kids are addicted to video games or YouTube or their phones.  If you didn’t read it, I wrote about the potential of this addictive like behavior  and the frustration of trying to get our kids to listen to us when they are engrossed in something.  We ask them to do something (like come to the dinner table), they might grunt (if we are lucky), and continue without thought as to what we are asking.  It is almost as if they are oblivious to our voice.  We then get irritated and yell or potentially roll over and ignore the whole scene.  I’ve had moms tell me that they’ve unplugged the device they’ve been so upset and I remember one Facebook video where a dad actually threw a gaming system out the window because he was so mad at this kids.  None of these responses is healthy.

So what is a mom to do?

Before we go there, something you might not realize is that if your kids are engrossed in something–say video games, an intense movie, lively and intense music, or some other activity they are really enjoying, like texting with a friend–then they are revving up their dopamine levels.  Sometimes as much as of doubling them.  Dopamine works like a feel good hormone.  If they are engaging in these activities, then most likely they won’t hear you. 

The other thing is that they don’t want to hear you.  Who wants to go from happy, exciting things to listening to their mom?  That would be boring.

So how do we break out of the cycle of our kid being engrossed in an activity, not listening to our request, and then us getting upset and grounding them?

First, let me assure you that while  it is doubtful that your kid is an addict if he’s involved in other things, as a parent it sure feels like it sometimes.  

Second, if we can take a moment and look at addictive patterns, it might help us as parents figure out a way to break the cycle with our kids.

 

There is one thing I’ve learned about addictive behaviors that I’m told holds true 100 percent of the time:  You can’t help an addict unless they want help and recognize their need for help.

So, as mom, it becomes our job to help our kids recognize their need for help.  Here are some suggesting on how to do that.

  1. Make them aware of the problem.  Since most kids’ brains don’t fully develop until they are 25-27, your kid may not even recognize that they have a problem.  If they aren’t making the connection between their behavior and your response, you might need to have a conversation over ice cream or a hot mocha. Most teens don’t want privileges taken away .  The only thing they see is mom being mean.  It’s your job to help them make the connection.
  2. Ask questions.  Ask about their dreams for the future and let them know you want them to have fun and friends.  You might even ask them how they see video games, or whatever they spend their time on, helping them reach their goals.  Listen, listen, listen.
  3. Admit your own addictive behaviors (within reason of course).  Was there a time you became so engrossed in other things that the important things didn’t seem so important?  Empathize and make a connection between your current or past behavior and your teens’.  Let them know what is happening is normal.
  4. Talk about life balance.  Trust me when I say this is a real issue for college students!  Now is the time to teach these skills.  Draw a pie chart and have them draw what they think each piece of the pie equates to in terms of time in how they should spend their day.  Then have them keep track of the time in each category in how they do spend their day.  Most kids have no idea how much time gets consumed by their habits.
  5. Get their input on how to solve the problem.   Maybe a small reward if they can become more aware of your requests?  Perhaps a timer to put the device away at a specific time?  Or maybe a friendly competition to help both of you change behaviors.  Know that it will most likely need to be something they “want” to do over the activity you are frustrated about.  Again, they have to want to change.  

Anger and resentment or being a doormat for your kids doesn’t teach your kids the skills they need to be successful as adults.  Respecting them in a way that builds relationship — I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine — helps them see the need to move forward in maturity and obedience.

I think the words that Hannah Whitall Smith writes in her book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life about how God parents us is so applicable as we parent our teens.  She writes, “He writes his laws on our hearts and on our minds, and we love them, and are drawn, by our affections and judgment, not driven, to our obedience.”

Dare you to woo your tweens and teens to obedience by writing on their hearts and minds through respectful communication.  If you do, maybe they’ll want to hear and respond in kind to you.

“Let go…and let God”,

What to become a MASTER at handling conflict? Titus 2 Leadership Boot Camp