Life with teenagers can get tricky. They want all the freedom and little responsibility, don’t they? On the other hand, we want them to have the responsibility equivalent to that freedom.
Like Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
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What if they never have the opportunity to be responsible? What if the first time being responsible is when they actually have great power…
With a car?
Away at college?
With their first paycheck?
Permissive parenting isn’t the answer though. Giving our kids reasonable and appropriate boundaries is what they need. Early and often. It allows our kids the opportunity to practice being responsible for their choices.
We aren’t raising kids here. We are raising the next generation of adults. Hopefully, caring, compassionate, God-fearing adults.
We’re praying hard and crossing our fingers for it anyway.
Boundaries Get Pushed, Rules Get Broken
With a full house of kids (literally… 3 girls and 2 boys) and more than one who is strong-willed, the word ‘no’ is the small spark that can often lead to explosions.
So, we’ve learned setting boundaries early is especially necessary.
And kids know how to push boundaries early.
I know if I don’t set limits and stay consistent, I’m going to be raising the next Veruca Salt. You do remember her from Willy Wonka, don’t you? “I want one! I want a golden goose!”
Oh, what a terrifying thought!
The good news about pushing boundaries (or crashing right through them) when it comes to our teenagers is that you can sit down and reason with them.
With our teens’ latest blunder, we decided to sit them down and explain to them why we set boundaries. I don’t really like the word ‘rules’. It seems too permanent and rigid. We have a better chance at making my big kids feel like they have some room to grow and gain more freedom.
USE THIS ANALOGY SO your kids appreciate boundaries
One day recently, we needed to have a talk with the big kids. Pushed boundaries required it but we knew lecturing wouldn’t work.
But analogies work wonders. It’s no wonder Jesus told parables so often.
We have a bridge close to our home that is a good 50 feet or so up from a rocky bottom. I asked our teenagers if they would let the Littles just roam and run across that bridge. They said, “Yeah.”
I asked them if I took the side rails off if they would feel the same way.
They answered unequivocally, “No.” (Whew. That’s a win.)
“What if there were no rails, would you walk across the bridge?”
They agreed that they would.
“And what part of the bridge would you walk on?” They both agreed that they would walk toward the middle of the bridge to make sure they were kept far away from the edge.
Hmm… They walked right into my setup. (Insert evil laugh.)
“So, the presence of the boundaries allowed you to have more freedom on the bridge?”
Children Need (And Want) Boundaries
Our children need boundaries (in fact they actually want boundaries despite what they say, more on that toward the end of the post).
Proverbs 25:28 AMP says, “Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected] Is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].”
Removing the boundaries leaves them open to [insert terrible circumstance here].
Part of our job as parents is to raise them up in the way they should go and when they grow older they will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6). It starts at such a young age. You’ve heard of Terrible Twos and Threenager, right?
Our kids discover that they have a free will, can say “no,” and even stand their ground and refuse to move. There is a reason why getting dragged “kicking and screaming” is a thing.
But setting boundaries early, being consistent, and following through with consequences when the boundaries are crossed (or obliterated hulk-style) sets your kids up for success as adults.
And bring peace to your home.