Home > Brian's Blogs, Parenting > Parenting Teenagers, Part 10

Parenting Teenagers, Part 10

Previously I’ve attempted to make the point that both love and discipline are required if we are to help our teenagers become biblically wise adults. This means that we must develop a nurturing relationship, avoid that which provokes our children to anger, and discipline our children when appropriate. But what does appropriate disicpline look like?

Here are a few core principles of discipline:

  1. Discipline within the context of a relationship. Remember, rules without relationship equals rebellion. Nurturing your relationship will make discipline effective.
  2. Be consistent. Mom and dad must be on the same page and firmly hold to their rules. Many problems are not “strong-willed” children but inconsistent parents.
  3. Remember the goal: to become a biblically wise adult. Are you disciplining a biblical issue or a preference issue? Be careful on spending a lot of time disciplining to your preferences.

Now, to see this in action, let me give you a case study:

Your 16-year-old daughter was caught cutting class with her boyfriend so they could “make out” at his home. He is not a Christian and does not attend any church. Your daughter professes faith in Christ. What do you do?

Here are some common approaches to discipline (that may not work!):

  • “I don’t want to hear your excuses…go upstairs…you are grounded!”
  • “You must never talk to him again!”
  • “You will never date anyone again!”
  • “This wouldn’t happen if you didn’t dress like that!”

Let me suggest a better approach to this situation:

  1. Ask questions: “what happened today?” “What were you thinking and feeling?” Remember, it is possible that she felt very pressured to do this and feels horrible about it. Let’s not assume!
  2. Teach the Word of God. Help her understand that God created her sexuality and sexual desires, that they are normal, but that God has provided marriage as the appropriate context for fulfilling these sexual desires.
  3. Teach the potential outcomes of this behavior.
  4. Ask, “how can I help you?”
  5. Set clear expectations: “because of this, you may not…but you may…”
  6. Pray together.

I think this case study provides a brief example of what it looks like to love and teach through discipline (with the goal of creating a biblically wise adult), rather than just trying to change behavior.

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