Do Teens Need Privacy?

Do Teens Need Privacy?

In the past week I have had three phone calls with desperate moms who need help in handling a teen who keeps crying out about the injustice of having their privacy invaded. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts about this with you all too….in case any of you are also dealing with this issue.

The truth about teens demanding their privacy....

The thing about teens needing privacy is…..it’s bunk.  This is a “rule” of life that the teen just made up.  Then society and psychology feeds it by telling them that they deserve it.  I’m sorry, but it simply isn’t true.

Yes, we all need times that we can be alone with our thoughts to figure out problems or rest or help a friend occasionally.  But the idea that we should be able to keep secrets about what we are doing or planning or that kids should be allowed to hide their texts from their parents is pure craziness.

You, the parents, are responsible for your child’s actions and you are providing for and protecting them.  They have no right to privacy from you.  You give them the privacy that YOU think they need, not that they demand.  In fact, the more they demand it the less I will give.  That just tells me that they are hiding something and that’s not OK.

God gave us all a built in private place through our thoughts, dreams and prayers.  Your children have that automatically and they have complete control over how much of that they will share with you.  Parents definitely should not try to push their way into their child’s thoughts.  It’s disrespectful.

BUT they do not automatically get privacy over what’s in their drawers or who they talk to on the phone or where they are going.  That privacy is earned by proving you are trustworthy.

Now let me say here that I have never gone through my children’s drawers or made them show me their texts.  When we have a problem, I may tell them that because I am not trusting them in a certain area it would be best if they show me those things.  If they refuse (which has never happened so I am just thinking here) I would take the phone, contents of the drawer, etc. from them and hold it until they agreed to show it to me and discuss it responsibly and face whatever consequences come with their choices.  I would not just look through it behind their back unless I felt something dangerous was happening.

I work hard to make sure my kids can trust me not to overreact when they tell me they have done something they shouldn’t.  However, I have no problem taking a phone away, putting restrictions on it, holding favorite toys, whatever it takes to teach the lesson.  I love my children too much to let something like an ipod or toy come between them and their godly character.

The very idea that a child (and yes, teens are still children no matter what they think) can demand to have secret phone conversations or hide what is in their purse is simply the result of a world losing touch with righteousness.

Here’s what God has to say on the matter from Luke 12:2-3, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”

He also says in Romans 13 that we are not to resist the authorities that God has appointed for us.  It is clear on that subject, but never says anything about 13 year olds having a right to use their phone at midnight.

I know this seems harsh.  I do think that a responsible, respectful teen should be able to have some private areas, as long as he knows that he is subject to being asked to share those places if a problem arises.  The main point is that YOU decide where privacy is allowed and not.  A young person does not yet have the wisdom, no matter how smart they are, to understand when that is necessary.  They also do not carry the weight of the financial, emotional, legal, physical or spiritual responsibility if something serious happens as a result of their actions.  You have every right to know what they are doing.

As long as my children are doing their work, taking care of their things, being respectful and kind….I give them privacy.  Although what’s funny is they don’t really feel the need for it as much if they aren’t trying to hide anything, which leads to me being happy to give it to them….the beautiful circle of trust.

 

10 Bible Verses for Brothers & Sisters

10 Bible Verses for Brothers & Sisters

Many moms talk to me about how their kids fight and don’t get along.  People will tell them that’s just the way it is and they should accept it.

No!  My guide through life is not what society tells me is OK, but what God says is OK.  And He says fighting with our brothers and sisters is WRONG.

I put together a list of great Bible verses to learn as a family that will help your kids understand what God says about getting along.  Memorize them, talk about them, have your kids copy them in an artful way and frame them, write them on notes….get them into your heart  and mind any way you can!

10 Bible verses for brothers and sisters! -- The Pennington Point

1. Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and reconcile to them; then come and offer your gift.”

God says we can’t even come to Him unless we try to work out our problems with our siblings.  This is a great example to point out when your kids want something from you but they aren’t getting along.  You could point out that you will listen to them after they go and reconcile with their brother.

2. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Kindness and forgiveness….it’s at the heart of Christianity.  We are the example to the world that we are different.  We teach our children to ask for forgiveness when they hurt or wrong someone else.  But we also teach them that you should forgive another person even of they don’t ask for it.

3. Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

I love this verse.  Teaching our children to love discipline is a challenge, but you can do it.  In the case of siblings, they need to be willing to take correction from their siblings and not get defensive about reproof.  I encourage my children that while they don’t have the authority to be bossy, they do have the responsibility to help each other learn and grow.

4. 1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

No one is perfect….this is an important lesson in getting along with others.  Knowing that you are imperfect is key to being understanding when other people mess up.

5. 1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

We do not all have the same talents.  You may not be good at what your brother is good at.  We teach our children to rejoice in each other’s gifts and talents and it makes or a very sweet family life.

6. Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Having your children serve one another is a gift to them for their entire lives.  Helping with chores, moving out of someone’s way, just doing what you can to bless someone else is how we all need to treat each other.

7. Proverbs 31: 8-9 “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy”

This verse shows us how to treat those less fortunate.  If your child thinks his sister is “dumb” or a “pain” then instead of belittling her he should work to build her up.

8. Hebrews 13:16 ” Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”

Sharing.  Yep.  It’s important.  I am not good at sharing either if I’m being honest….but I do it and I do it with a whole heart for God and because I choose to love that other person more than I love myself.  I want to please God.  Sometimes that’s all the motivation we have to offer and we must teach our children that in the end that should be enough.

9. Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

It’s just so hard to think of others sometimes, especially when you’re young and immature.  Building these abilities takes time and patience and perseverance.  Don’t be upset when your child acts selfishly, but keep feeding the Word into them over and over.

10. Galatians 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another”

Conceit, provoking, envy.  One, or maybe all, of those will be at the core of sibling problems.  Ask God to show you which of these your child struggles with and help him through it.  Don’t let him get away with acting out and keep on top of him, but let him know that you understand his feelings.  They are something you want to help him conquer.

Learning these verses together and sharing your thoughts about them is the best way to help your kids learn to get along!

 

Sibling Relationships & Consistency

Sibling Relationships & Consistency

One of the difficulties in helping your kids build godly relationships with each is teaching them to be happy for one another.   It takes maturity to set your own wants aside and let someone else get the attention.  This kind of maturity takes time to develop.  I want to encourage you to be patient about it, but still expect growth.

A great tip is to be very, very consistent.  I can’t stress enough how important consistency is in every area of raising kids.  If you teach them, for example, to act joyful when their brother is opening his birthday presents and not get all annoyingly selfish about it.  Then when they flub up…..hold them to it.  Correct the behavior, don’t let them get away with acting like they should get some of the stuff their brother has.   But also be kind and understanding.

Don’t get mad or irritated by it.  Just keep correcting and don’t give in.

You can’t expect them to show loving care for their sibling if half of the time they get the message from you that being jealous and attention grabbing works.  Spend time teaching them how much God loves them and gives them each what they need.

Keep at it…..it is possible for your kids to love each other and rejoice in each other’s blessings!

Here are a couple of articles I recently wrote about raising kids.  Parenting is a tough job and it’s always nice to get some encouragement on the journey!

9 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Kids

10 Creative Ways to Show Love to Your Kids

And here’s a great one my daughter Grace wrote about how God uses the struggles in life to grow you!

When Life Gives Your Broken Sharks

Have a great weekend!

This is part of a year long series on sibling relationships.  To start from the beginning go HERE.

Helping Siblings Find Their Love for Each Other

Helping Siblings Find Their Love for Each Other

Since it’s the day of love, I have to talk a little today about helping siblings show love for each other.

Sometimes the heart comes before the actions, but sometimes the actions come first.  In this case, you can act like you love someone even if you don’t always feel it.  Being loving toward someone doesn’t require feeling loving toward them.

Do your kids need encouragement in showing love for one another

When I notice a bitterness growing between a couple of my kids, I will give them some assignments.  I will tell them each to do something kind for the other, in secret.  I give them some ideas if they need it, then they are to only tell me what they did.  Don’t tell anyone else!

It’s a way of helping them think about what their sibling needs and what pleases him.  To think about another person is a skill that we need to practice and this is a good way since it’s done in secret. Telling only you about the kindness gives you a chance to help them see where the gaps are in their acts of kindness.  Is it really helping their sibling?  Can they do more?  Are they thinking of themselves?  Did they successfully bless their sibling?

You should praise their efforts even if it was small, even if you are a bit disappointed in the lack of sacrifice.  Then give them their next assignment.  Maybe they need some guidance.  But the bulk of the idea should be their own. Of course, they don’t know that their sibling is being given the same task.

Some ideas for secret acts of kindness:
1. make their bed
2. clear their place at the table
3. finish a chore for them
4. help with school work
5. share your dessert
6. let them have first choice on something
7. ask their advice
8. give a genuine compliment
9. offer to do something they like
10. let them have the best place to sit These are just a few ideas to get you started.

Encouraging this kind of love between siblings is a great way to build a godly, loving relationship!

Love One Another: Obedience is Key

Love One Another: Obedience is Key

One of the questions I get asked most often is about siblings fighting.  “How do you keep your kids from fighting?!”

There are many possible root issues for fighting and we will talk about some of those later in the series, but today I am going to tell you my first tip on this.  It is about obedience.

Obedience to parents is key to siblings getting along....great post!

(I know….people don’t like the word obedience, but God uses it in His Word so I am comfortable using it.)

In order for you to have influence over your children’s relationship with each other, they need to be obedient to you.  If you say, “You two need to stop arguing and get your chores finished,” they should immediately do it.

You can deal with heart and sin issues later, but for now let’s just help them to obey you.  If your children are fighting even after you have told them to stop, then I suspect they are not obeying you in many other areas as well.  It’s up to you to pay attention to their willingness to do what you tell them to.

Teaching them to obey you at the dinner table or at bedtime is part of teaching them to get along with one another.  It’s all connected.

So work on obedience in your home and you will be making strides in improving their relationship with each other.

Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Now hang on….we’ll be talking more about their attitudes toward each other next week!  If you’re wondering how to get your children to obey, here are a few of my posts on that subject:

Follow me on Facebook!

What to Do About Tattling

What to Do About Tattling

In my series about siblings, one thing we must discuss is tattling.  I get a lot of questions asking about this and I have a great method.  It’s so simple you won’t believe it.

I wrote about this years ago on my old blog that is now in blog heaven.  So I am sharing it again with you here and I hope it blesses you!  Be sure to read the follow-up posts answering a few readers’ questions.


This has worked beautifully in our home for many years, so I hope it inspires you to conquer the tattling issues you may have.

It’s a problem.  I need to know if someone has done something they shouldn’t have. I don’t want my children running to tell me the juicy details of another child’s sin. So how do we solve this?

Here’s how…and it works!

Let’s talk about Susie and Johnny. One afternoon Johnny catches Susie sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar. Does Johnny run to tell Mom? No! Johnny tells Susie, “Go tell Mom you took a cookie.” Susie must go tell on herself….no matter what. Now stay with me….here’s where it gets good. If Susie refuses to tell (I know, your children wouldn’t do that, but let’s just pretend) then Johnny comes to Mom and tells Mom that Susie refuses to tell Mom something. Johnny does NOT tell Mom what Susie did. Susie is then called to Mom (or Mom goes to Susie) and gets automatically disciplined (whatever is your discipline of choice)….just for not telling Mom something when a sibling told her to. After that is dealt with, Susie must still tell Mom she ate a cookie and that is dealt with however it needs to be handled.

What if, you say, Johnny gets a thrill from telling people to go tell Mom things that are unimportant? If Johnny tells Susie to go tell Mom something unimportant then HE gets automatic discipline. So they will be very careful to only use this plan for important things.

There are times when Johnny may not know all of the circumstances. Let’s say Susie appealed to Mom’s soft side and Mom told her she could have a cookie and Johnny didn’t hear that. It doesn’t matter. Susie goes to Mom and says, “Johnny told me to tell you that I ate a cookie.” Mom says, “OK Honey. He didn’t know you were allowed to have one. Thank you for telling me.” Nothing happens to Susie, but she did what she was supposed to do so all is well in the home (well, except for the matter of Johnny now thinking he should have another cookie if Susie got one, but that’s another problem we will solve another time).

Let me lay it out in quick, easy steps:

1. If a child sees a sibling doing something they shouldn’t, they tell them, “Go tell Mom (or Dad) that you ______”
2. There is no discussion between them about it.
3. The child goes to Mom and says “Johnny told me to tell you that I _______”
4. Mom disciplines as necessary (it doesn’t always require discipline).
5. If they refuse to go tell on themselves, the first child goes to Mom and tells her, “Johnny won’ tell you something.” (without telling the actual offense)
6. Mom disciplines for not coming to tell because it’s a matter of family trust….someone tells you to “Go tell Mom” then you have to do it no matter what.
7. Then Mom disciplines separately for the actual offense (making the child go ahead and tell what they did).
8. IF a child sends someone to tell something unimportant then THEY get disciplined.  (the root of this may be trying to get other people in trouble, pride, rejoicing in another’s sin, etc.)

The beauty of this system is that it promotes the Biblical principle of confession. It builds the relationship I have with my children and it doesn’t disintegrate the relationship they have with each other. In our experience it builds trust between them when they are faithful to follow through no matter what. If you are consistent and patient….this plan is foolproof. 

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. “

Be sure to check out my follow-up posts on this topic: More on Tattling and When Little Ones Tattle

Love Your Brother, Fair vs Just

Love Your Brother, Fair vs Just

In part 1 we talked about understanding what God has to say about loving one another.  This week let’s talk about fairness.

If you, as the parent, are trying to keep everything “fair” and equal then you are taking away an opportunity for them to learn to handle when things don’t go their way.  OR when they get more then their share….how to be gracious and generous.

God isn’t concerned with fairness.  He is all about justice.  What’s the difference?  Well it’s huge.

Fairness:  Fairness is subjective based on what one person feels.  Take games, for example.  We play a lot of games in our house.  Depending on what we play there is always someone more talented at the skill required for that game.  Fairness would say we should handicap that person somehow to make it fair for everyone.  Maybe they get less time to fill in their answers or they have to go 10 extra spaces on the board.  It wouldn’t be fair for Mr. Smarty to play with the same rules as everyone else or he would win.

Fairness tries to make everyone equal and we simply aren’t equal.  If you try to be a fair parent, you are causing some child to shrink by holding them back and others to be stunted because there is no reason for them to try to improve.

Justice:  Justice is like gravity.  It holds us all to the same ground with the same pull no matter who we are or what we need.  It doesn’t care if we’re the youngest or the weakest or the loudest complainer.  Same rules for everyone.  If you jump in the air you will fall back to the ground.

Justice is holding people to the consequences of their own talents and actions.  It is winning a game because everyone played by the same rules and you were just better or luckier.  If your brother always wins then it’s motivation for you to improve your skills, practice and get stronger in that area.

In other words, fairness creates equality by comparing us to each other, justice creates equality by holding us all to the same outside standard. 

What am I getting at you may wonder?  Well it’s this.  Let your kids be different.  Let some succeed and others fail.  Comfort them, help them up when they fall, but don’t try to soften the pain of the loss.  It is necessary for them to grow.  And also praise your child’s successes, but remind them of where that success comes from.  God gaveth and He can taketh away.

Then teach them to appreciate each other’s strengths and help each other when they’re weak.  Don’t teach them that they should be equal….it will only serve to damage their relationships.

That’s what it’s all about friends.  Justice and kindness.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

 

Love Your Brother

Love Your Brother

With 9 kids we have many different personalities.  Different interests.  Lots of moods…..

Despite all of that, our children have very loving, caring relationships.  We have almost no arguing or fussing and there is never physical fighting.  Our children really enjoy each other.  This brings such delight to my mother’s heart!

That led me to decide to write a series about building godly sibling relationships.  I want you to have that same joy!  I’ll be sharing each week what is happening in our home and how we manage problems.  We will open up and answer questions as we go along.  It’s gonna be great!

So let’s not waste any time getting started……

The first thing we always do when we are figuring out how to manage anything is look to God’s Word.  It has a LOT to say about how we should treat one another.  We should be kind, merciful, put others first….I could go on and on.  So this is what we teach our children.  And we make sure they know where these ideas come from.  Knowing God said it holds a lot more weight than if it’s just Mom’s crazy idea.

You may have noticed that the Bible never says, “Be kind, unless you’re three and haven’t had a nap.”  Nope.  We must treat each other well and set ourselves aside no matter how old we are and no matter how we feel.  Of course, a three year old hasn’t learned how to be selfless and that’s why you need to teach her.  Be patient, be understanding, but do not be lenient about proper behavior.  Kids can’t be perfect…..no one can.  I am still trying to figure this out and I am 48 years old!  Perfection in NOT the goal.  Learning and growing to be more Christlike is the goal.  And glorifying God instead of ourselves is the BIG goal.

Begin to teach God’s principles for how we are to treat one another.  It’s a good place to start.  Write out a few verses and start memorizing them together.  We will work build on this through the series.

1 John 3:16-18 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Be sure to follow me on Facebook!

 

The Speech We Didn’t Want to Hear

The Speech We Didn’t Want to Hear

My niece was graduating this weekend, so we drove to Austin for her graduation ceremony.  It was a group of homeschoolers graduating together, about 60 of them.

We had the whole family there, plus a lot of my extended family and everything was going fine.  Until.  The commencement address.  It was a young man.  He was passionate about Christ, which was good.  But he was also passionate about making an impact.  Which was not so good.

I’m guessing that his motives were pure, to motivate these graduates to get out there and make a difference in the world.  But there is a time and a place to discuss the evils happening in the world in such a detailed and dramatic way, and this was neither.  I am not going to mention the subjects he spoke about since I know many of you let your children read my blog, but you can imagine.  And he had pictures; I’m not kidding.  About 7 minutes into his 30 minute speech James leaned over to me and loudly whispered, “Get the boys out….hurry!”

So I led my four young sons, who now had questions about what they just heard, out to the lobby.  My youngest daughter (age 16) quickly followed, asking if she could leave also.  It was more than her tender, protected heart could take.  “Mommy, I felt so uncomfortable.  I’ve never seen images like that,” she said.  These are subjects we have purposely not exposed our children to at a young age.  It is our place to decide when they learn about the horrific sin happening outside of our doors, not the guy speaking at a graduation.

Other people were filing out, offended.  One father expressed his outrage at having to take his 10 year old daughter out of her sister’s graduation.  He, like us, is conservative and while he agrees that the young man may have been right about his points, it was not the right place to give such a graphic message.

I tell you all of this not to complain about the graduation, but to say that we have become so desensitized to sin that we think we have add shock value to make a point.  James and I have purposely sheltered our children from as much as we can so that when they are grown and learn about the things our country is doing, their hearts will be naturally broken over it and we don’t have to add drama to the simple message, sin is real.  Just the fact is enough to make us grieve over someone’s ungodly choices.  We don’t need a visual example mixed with dramatic language.

And my 90 year old grandfather certainly didn’t care for the message.  He is a wise man who has spent much of his life honoring God.  Afterward when we were talking about the speech he summed it up perfectly, “That just wasn’t necessary.”

This is so often what happens to us even in churches.  A pastor takes off on a rabbit trail, naming sins that are socially accepted today and going into detail to stir up his congregation.  We so often have to shuffle our children out that they have become used to it.  I don’t like doing this.  It feels rude, but I can’t prefer politeness over protecting my children’s hearts.

I want to write a letter to Christian speakers to tell them it is possible to make the same points, but be discreet so that it goes over the heads of those that don’t know about such things.  It is possible to motivate people to action without showing graphic pictures.  It is possible to speak words gently and trust God to stir in our hearts.  We do not need to be manipulated emotionally.  That is shallow at best, offensive at worst.

Maybe you won’t agree with me about sheltering your children and that’s fine.  But it is still our decision what our own children should hear and how they are exposed to immorality.  No one else has a right to inject that into our lives.  We don’t let them watch TV, we are extremely careful about the movies they see and we spend a huge amount of time building a pure, godly foundation for them.

And guess what, our adult children have turned out to be joyful, caring people who understand now what is going on in the world and are not falling down dead from the shock.  They didn’t need to be prepared by knowing about specific evils.  They needed to be prepared by knowing what is right and good and true.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Are You a Mean Mom?

Are You a Mean Mom?

I got an email recently from a mom who is struggling with her pre-teen (let’s call the daughter Susie).  Susie gets really upset when she doesn’t get her way and it always ends with her shouting, “You are a MEAN mom!”

Susie knows that those words cut into mother’s heart.  Of course, that’s why she says it.

I tell you friends, the whole idea that a child would call their mother mean is so unimaginable to me.  And that moms are allowing themselves to be manipulated by it just feeds the craziness.

Moms, this is what you need to remember…..

Your job is to teach your children, prepare them for adulthood and life on their own.  You do this through talking/teaching, being an example and through discipline.

Discipline is a necessary part of life.  We, as adults, are disciplined every day.  If we act nasty to our neighbor it will cause trouble for us.  If we spend money we don’t have we suffer the consequences of debt.  When I eat too much chocolate cake my clothes don’t fit.  Discipline.  As adults we have the maturity to make those connections.

Our children need us to discipline them.  They don’t know enough about how their body works or finances or responsibilities to make good decisions on their own.  So we teach them.  We create consequences.  That’s all discipline is.  You create consequences and gradually they learn and begin making wise choices for themselves.

We say, “You must eat your peas before you can have dessert.”  That’s not being mean, it’s being healthy.  Children won’t make healthy choices on their own, so we teach them.  They still have a choice….they can choose not to eat the peas and have no dessert.  If you let them eat dessert anyway, you are teaching them that there are no consequences.  Don’t do that!

And don’t feel badly about it.  Sure, it’s hard to see our children suffering (although most of their suffering is just over-dramatizing).  But it is good for them.  If you rescue them from the pain you are doing them a disservice.

I suspect Susie’s mom has done this over the years.  She let her tender mother’s heart keep Susie from feeling any real pain so now Susie thinks she should never hurt.  Then when Mom actually expects Susie to suffer a consequence it turns into a battle.  Susie knows her mother is tender hearted, so she pulls out the big manipulation….calling her mom mean.

Is the stove mean when it burns you?  Is the thorn mean when it sticks you?  Of course not!  That’s just the way life works.  And you are not being mean by disciplining your children.  You love them and you want them to have the best life possible.  So you teach them how to endure hardship and make wise choices.  You also teach them that calling you mean is never the solution to their problem.

My best advice is to be unaffected by their words.  Don’t show a response, don’t give it any weight.  If it doesn’t change anything they will learn to stop doing it.  Just continue to be caring, but follow through with your discipline.

Mom tells Susie, “You can’t go to your friend’s birthday party because you didn’t do all of your homework.  I told you last night that if it wasn’t finished you couldn’t go and you chose to watch TV instead.  So now you will stay home and finish the work.”

Susie goes into hysterics.  That’s not fair, everyone she knows is going, Mom is mean, blah-blah-blah.  Mom’s response is, “I wish you could go, but it was your choice.  Now get the homework done or you will also miss the football game tomorrow.”  Moms stays cool and is unaffected by Susie’s drama.  So Susie changes her game plan.  Maybe she starts begging, maybe she starts crying, maybe she sulks….doesn’t matter.  You can show care for her pain, but nothing she does will change the consequence.

Remember, she is making the choice to act that way.  She is deciding to choose the consequence over doing the right thing.  You aren’t making the choices at that point.  Your choice was back when you laid out the consequences in the first place.  If it seems too harsh when it’s happening, then next time lay out a lesser consequence, but follow through with this one.

To Susie’s mom: It’s not going to be easy, but you can do this.  Keep your eyes on the prize….a wise, healthy, responsible daughter.  When she calls you mean, let it roll off your back.  When it hurts your feelings, don’t let it show.  Think before you hand out consequences then let her make her choice.  Pray for strength and remember how God loves you both.

(Ed note: I sometimes hear a mom say, “Yes, I’m glad to be a mean mom.”  The word mean in this case is defined as cruel, malicious & spiteful.  To proudly call yourself mean as proof that you discipline your children tears down the idea that you are doing a good thing.  Being strong, confident and consistent is not mean; it is loving.)