Do you ever wish you knew what to do with a disrespectful teen or tween?
Do you ever feel like your teen or tween thinks you work for them? “Take me here, take me there,” it can be non-stop driving!
Sometimes we forget to respect ourselves – and then we’re modelling the wrong thing.
A few weeks ago I shared a post from Nina Roesner about examining ourselves and the way we talk when you notice your teen getting mouthy. But sometimes that isn’t enough. Once we’ve got our own hearts in order, it’s time to tackle our teen’s hearts! So I’ve asked Nina back to give us some excellent advice about how to stop mouthiness and disrespect in its tracks! I absolutely LOVE what she has to say here, because it’s so in line with what I write–if you want those you love to exhibit Christlike behaviour, then you have to stop allowing them to treat you in an unChristlike way. Here’s Nina to explain:
I’m really honored to be back here sharing another dare on To Love, Honor and Vacuum! This story is also from our new book, With All Due Respect: 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens & tweens (Thomas Nelson, 2016). I’ll be chiming in now and again today in the comments! Stay tuned til the end and we’ll tell you how to grab MORE parenting tips!
Dare 18: Be True to Your Word with Your Disrespectful Teens
All you need to say is simply let ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
Loretta and Jacob pulled into the driveway. Immediately Jacob scurried from the car and commanded, “Be ready in ten minutes! And I’m hungry. Make me a sandwich!”
Hmm . . .
Loretta wondered if aliens had abducted her fourteen-year-old and replaced his brain with someone else’s. Her family never treated each other like that. Loretta decided not to respond while she was irritated and instead chose to wait before addressing the issue. Giving herself that time helped her stay calm.
“Thank You, Father, for this opportunity,” she whispered.
Knowing that teenagers are frequently in phases of hormonal flux, she also chose not to take his behavior personally. Loretta sensed the Lord’s prompting for a teachable moment, and instead of carrying out her son’s request, she went upstairs, lay down on her bed, and started reading a magazine.
Jacob burst into her room. “We have to leave! We’re going to be late. What are you doing? Where’s my sandwich?”
Oh my. Father, help me be Your love to this man/boy.
It was time to push the reset button.
“Jacob, I love that you have all these friends and fun things to do. I usually enjoy taking you places, and I love to see you spend time with your friends. However, I have noticed that you have been increasingly bossy the last few weeks, and though I’ve talked to you about this a few times, you haven’t changed your behavior. As a result, I’m not going to make you a sandwich, nor am I going to drive you over to your friend’s house. You can go, but I won’t be the one getting you there. If you want to walk, that’s fine,” she told him.
His mouth fell open, eyes wide. “But . . .”
Then she got up, left the room, and went out the front door to get the mail. She knew he needed to chew on what had just happened. She chose to give him space to process.
When she came back in, Jacob was waiting. “You’re right, Mom. I’ve been really rude and bossy. I’m sorry. I haven’t been respectful, and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. It must make you feel like I take you for granted. I really appreciate your driving me around and stuff. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course I forgive you. Thank you for understanding how I feel. I do feel taken for granted. I don’t want to feel that way in our relationship, and your apology and how you treat me in the future will impact that. Thank you,” she replied.
“So can we go?” he asked.
“Honey, you can go, but like I said, I’m not going to drive you over there. Let’s see how things go, and maybe tomorrow or the next day I’ll feel like driving you around again.”
“But you forgave me. I’m confused,” Jacob replied.
“I love you and I do forgive you, but there are consequences.”
Jacob eventually managed to talk his friend’s mom into coming to get him, and when he returned, he was a kinder, more respectful, gentler young man.
Bottom line: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and keep your commitments—this will change your relationships with teens being disrespectful!
There is a line we walk daily as we interact with our children between respecting the temple of the Holy Spirit (ourselves) and serving our family.
Sometimes our children don’t fully understand our role in their lives, and expectations can creep in that don’t lead to mature behavior. It is important that we don’t allow our children to manipulate us into getting their way. Once we state that we are not going to do something, we shouldn’t let them tug on our heartstrings to make us back down on our decisions. Simply let your “yes” be “yes,” and your “no” be “no,” without emotion. Accept their apology, but once you’ve stated a consequence, follow through. This will give them time to process their mistakes.
Remember, too, that it is important to develop your own relationship with God so you know how to handle the situations that present themselves to you daily. If you stay connected to God, you’ll be wise to the enemy’s lie that you are a doormat when you serve.
As a mom, you have the opportunity to gently teach the next generation to respectfully treat you with dignity.
What About You?
- Do you ever feel taken advantage of in your family? Is it by your kids or in other relationships? If so, what might you do to push the reset button and set some healthy boundaries for yourself? Remember, boundaries are for you; they aren’t punishment for other people.
- What do you think of the way Loretta handled the situation?
- Notice Jacob called his friend’s mom to come get him. How would you have felt in that situation? If you saw the mom the next day and she complained about coming to pick him up, what would a healthy response—one that respected her and honored your boundary—look like?
- Do you have difficulty letting your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”? Explain.
- How do you generally react when your child makes demands of you, or are your kids considerate of your time? Do your reactions need to change? How?
- Is your relationship with God so close that you hear His voice when opportunities for a reset present themselves? Discuss what might need to change in order for this to happen.
Pray with me about how we handle our teens when they’re disrespectful?
I will admit that at times I have allowed my children to take advantage of my generosity. Sometimes I feel I need to always respond to my children with love, so I continue to take them places and acquiesce to their requests when, in reality, I need to be teaching them how to respect others, especially me. Lord, am I modeling self-respect in these situations? Is there something I need to be doing differently rather than always responding to my children’s demands? I love that You know me, Lord. Give me strength to teach my children rather than just meet their needs.
Give me the strength and wisdom to hold fast to the boundaries and rules I have set for my children. Help me teach my children to trust that I will do what I say I am going to do. Let them learn from me to have integrity and be true to their word by letting my “yes be yes,” and my “no a no” – I need help with that!
May my prayer be Psalm 139. O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Lord, help me respond to my children well, modeling the truth that You fearfully and wonderfully made me.
In Your Son’s name,
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And listen to Nina talk about more fulfilling relationships with teens on Family Life Radio!