I recently received a call from a parent wanting reassurance on whether or not it was time to draw a hard line of discipline on a rebellious teenager. I appreciated the spirit of the call because, even though in my mind it seemed like the right thing to do, this parent was still struggling to draw that hard line of discipline. Allow me to explain.
A few years ago this couple had taken in the teenage son of their niece who was struggling with several personal issues. The couple has three children of their own all in their early teen and pre-teen years. Over the past couple of years the young man has grown in his rebellion, lying, and refusal to cooperate with obeying house and school rules. After putting up with his defiant behavior and dealing with it through talks, discipline, and encouragement, the young man continued to refuse to cooperate. In addition, when he would visit his mom on the weekends he was given free reign out of the guilt the mother felt for having to leave him with her Uncle and Aunt and thus did not feel she could exercise discipline and be the “bad cop” during their special time together. Of course this only added to the problem since when he came “home” it was right back to the expected responsibility and yet more discipline for his lack of compliance on a daily basis. As you can imagine, this was causing the couple problems and his rebellious behavior began to show up in their growing children as well. Nevertheless, they continued to endure and work with him and hope for a change. But, it hasn’t happened, and now the final straw.
What prompted the call was catching him in the act of smoking weed (I know it sounds better to say ‘marijuana’, but I prefer the street vernacular for emphasis) in the basement of their home. This lead to drug testing all the kids and opened Pandora’s box to all sorts of other revelations the couple had no idea was going on under their benevolent noses. Thus, it was time (and perhaps, past the time) to draw the hard line and tell the young man it was time to move out and go back to live with his mother.
The above true story is not unusual in many homes dealing with teenagers. Whether it be your own children, step-children, foster children–or as in this case–the child of a relative, defiance and rebellious behavior is never easy to deal with. Yet, too many parents take the convenient road and simply give in and give up the battle of earning and winning respect for their authority. A huge mistake and one I believe is hurting our homes, communities, and country as parents become derelict in their duty to raise obedient, respectful and law abiding citizens.
I applaud this couple not only for making a stand and drawing the hard line they were forced to draw, but also for being willing to take on this young rebel in the first place. Only time will tell the final outcome, but I do believe they will eventually see the fruit of their labor. After all, no farmer can expect a harvest overnight–and dealing with a rebellious teen is exactly that–farming that includes the consistent work of plowing, planting, watering and cultivating the human heart, soul, and spirit.
This is one reason I teach parents that it does NOT take a village to raise a child. It simply takes good parenting and good parenting is hard work. It’s inconvenient many times, it takes sacrifice, discipline and yes, even being “hated” (though not really) by your children for awhile, that is, until they grow-up and wake-up to the understanding of why we did the things good parents do with their children. The African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child”, is well meaning and correct in its larger context of the community providing help. But it was never meant to replace parents and their responsibility of raising their own children as it seems many have interpreted it to mean and expect it to be done by the school, teachers, principles, probation officers, pastors, and priests, on the community playgrounds, parks, pools, and prisons.
There’s a lot of talk and debate about the proper use of discipline and in my view it seems like many of our decision makers and society in general, discourages parents from exercising their authority through the use of discipline, rather than encouraging it. Parents are accused of abuse and under pressure by their children and community agencies for applying discipline in order to teach their children proper respect, obedience and citizenship. That is not to say that their aren’t parents who abuse their children with improper discipline practices, but I’m not talking about that here. I’m talking about parents who rightly put their children in their place, teach them who’s in charge, and confront and correct their wrong behavior, words and attitudes. I’m not talking about “authoritarian” parenting where the child has no voice or recourse for a parents wrong actions. I’m talking about “authoritative” parenting where parents consider themselves as an agent to shape character and their children receive discipline that is supported by unconditional love, instruction, explanation, and consequences applied in a firm but fair manner. As a matter of fact, I’ll go a step further and say that when parents don’t correct the behavior of their children that they know will cause them problems later in life, that is a form of abuse as well. And guess who ends up having to pay for it and address it? The Village. It shouldn’t be that way.
This is the type of guidance and principles we cover in the “Parents on a Mission” (POM) curriculum. If you are married, a single parent, step-parent, blended family, grandparent raising your children’s children, or foster parent–I highly recommend you get our full curriculum and/or join a POM group in your area.
To access the POM information click here: www.RichardRRamos.com/pom-cds