It’s true. If a teen wants to do something foolish or dangerous, we can’t physically tie them down. But we don’t have to participate. Teens need to believe that you take lying and dishonesty, and breaking moral boundaries (whatever those are in your family), VERY seriously. One father I know would not allow his 15-year-old daughter to stay overnight with her boyfriend, have sex openly, and still be a fully included part of the family. He, with the support of his wife, and with great sorrow, said she had a choice. He couldn’t stop her from going to live with her boyfriend as she threatened (why his mother unaccountably allowed this is a mystery to me). But if she did, she couldn’t come home when she felt like it and enjoy all the benefits of full harmony, support, and participation in family life. He wouldn’t support or condone her choice. Because he loved her.
This young lady was free to foolishly rebel, but not free to enjoy the day-to-day closeness of her loving family. It was the approaching holidays and missing her family that woke her up to the consequences of her “free” choice. She came home, broke it off with her boyfriend, and made a complete change in her life. Four years down the road, the family has complete trust in this once wayward, rebellious daughter.
This “tough love” approach won’t always bring results like this, but the alternative to putting down our foot can be chaos in the home, damage to other siblings, and a child who learns that boundaries can be crossed at will. For more on the tough love option, read the article (CLICK HERE) “What Tough Love Is, and What It Isn’t.”