Discipline for the Long Haul

Teenagers still need the guidance of parents. Here's how to stay the course.

Morgan came home from a party where she had been drinking. Morgan's parents had made it quite clear that if she ever drank and then drove, they would immediately sell her car. That night there was very little discussion and the next day the car had a "for sale" sign on it. Morgan wasn't very happy with her parents and having one less car inconvenienced the whole family. However, her parents did the absolute right thing.

There are plenty of changes that come along with the onset of the teen years. But one part of child rearing remains constant no matter how old your children are: all kids, whether they're 5 or 15, need loving, consistent discipline.

But disciplining your teenager comes with all kinds of unique challenges. Not only is he bigger, more verbal, and able to get into a whole lot more trouble than his younger self, he is emotionally preparing to become an adult and that means he's more likely to challenge your authority and push the limits of the laws you've laid down.

The Bible offers a wonderful model for parents struggling to discipline their teens. Scripture talks about the "rod" of discipline (Prov. 13:24; 23:13-14). "The "rod" used in biblical days was a staff shepherds used to guide their sheep. It wasn't a tool of punishment, but rather a way to lead the sheep down the right path. Here are four practical "rods" of discipline to consider as you guide your teen down this final leg of path to adulthood.

Quit fighting and arguing. You can't effectively guide, disciple, or mentor your teenager if you are fighting and arguing with him all the time. When conversations get heated, agree to walk away until you've both calmed down. Some parents don't like hearing me saying this, but the responsibility for creating a parent-child relationship that is relatively relaxed and respectful, rather than tension-filled, rests primarily on the parent. The best way to stop constant negativity, nagging, fighting, and yelling is to not allow it or engage in it.

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May 25

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