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This is part 4 of the Parenting Teens series.

Discipline can be hard but it is essential for your teen’s development.

Can you remember what it was like to be a teenager? Whether you were an angelic teen or grounded every weekend, you needed ground rules and boundaries. Teenagers today are no different. They are caught between childhood and adulthood, and they need their parents to help them navigate the teen years.

[Related: 8 Tips for Parenting Teens]

We do our children a disservice when we lay aside our roles as parents and try to be friends instead. It’s our job to discipline our children, so here are three C’s to help you parent with purpose.

[Related: BFF Parenting Is a Terrible Idea]

#1 Be Clear

One of the most important things we can do for our children, and ourselves, is set clear boundaries.

As parents, we need to take the time to sit down with each other and define what we want our family structure to look like. What are the rules? What areas are we insistent about, and where can we be a little flexible? Decide together what the rules and requirements will be for grades, chores, sports, media use, etc. Write down a family mission statement and a set of by-laws, and go over them with your children. If they don’t know the rules, how can they be expected to follow them?  Depending on your teen’s age, it might be appropriate to let them have a say in some of the family boundaries. Your kids are much more likely to buy into what you want to accomplish in your family when they’ve had a hand in making those decisions.

[Related: Creating Boundaries With Your Teens]

#2 Be Consistent

Have you ever shrugged off certain behavior one day, and given a severe consequence for it the next?  It is confusing for our kids when we are all over the place with our expectations.

Part of the conversation about family rules and boundaries is establishing set consequences. When we outline consequences in advance, it makes it easier for us to be consistent and level-headed with our discipline.

We need to be on the same page about discipline and consequences for the sake of our children’s developmental health. If dad grounds them for one offense and mom doesn’t, it sends a mixed message and gives kids the idea that the parents are not a team and can be pitted against each other.

In the case of divorce, parents must try their best to co-parent with consistency and to support each other in their respective roles. Imagine how counterproductive it would be for a child to have one set of rules for their time with mom and another for their time with dad. Put your children and their needs above whatever issues you have with your ex-spouse.

[Related: Intentional Parenting]

#3 Be Corrective

Parents must teach their children right from wrong. We want to raise children that have a strong moral compass, and who also understand the importance of accountability.

There are expectations for performance in the workforce. There are natural and logical consequences that are a part of adult life. When we take the time to set clear boundaries and have consistent consequences for our kids when they are young, we can help them learn valuable lessons while they don’t have a lot to lose. Being grounded for the weekend, or the loss of phone privileges are small in comparison to the loss of a scholarship or a job in the future.

Determine your child’s currency. An effective consequence for one child may be ineffective for another. While one kid may hate being sent to their room, another might enjoy the solitude. Be sure to determine the best course of action to help your teen stop and think about their choices and to make better ones in the future. Don’t be afraid to discipline! It’s our God-given responsibility. Ask God to help strengthen you in you in your role as a parent.

Proverbs 19:18 (NIV) Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

Raising teenagers can be one of the most rewarding seasons of parenting. It is a treasure to watch young children develop and come into their own as they journey toward adulthood. While these years can have their challenges, if we are clear and consistent with corrective discipline that is used to teach, rather than to punish, we can prepare our children to be thoughtful, responsible adults.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. What was your behavior like as a teen? What similarities do you see between your teen and yourself at their age?
  3. What were some of the boundaries your parents set when you were a teenager? Would you say that you discipline your teen in the same way your parents disciplined you? In what ways are you different?
  4. In what ways do we do our children a disservice when we try to be their friend instead of their parent?
  5. How would you define your parenting style when it comes to discipline?
  6. Give yourself a grade: how are you when it comes to being clear? Why do you grade yourself this way?
  7. Give yourself a grade: how are you when it comes to being consistent? Why do you grade yourself this way?
  8. Give yourself a grade: how are you when it comes to being corrective? Why do you grade yourself this way?
  9. Read Proverbs 19:18. What does it mean to “discipline while there is hope?” How can failure to discipline your kid derail their future?
  10. Do you and your spouse always agree on how to parent and discipline? What do you do when you disagree?  How would establishing boundaries help you compromise and co-parent better?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
Written content for this topic by Jamie Casperson.