I Finally Found a Discipline Technique that Works on Teens

imagesNow that summer is here and my house looks like the sloth exhibit at the zoo I have reached my annual disgust/summer hysteria at the laziness my cherubs display.

I always give them a free first week to watch TV, play video games, sleep in etc. It is my no nagging week. After that I set up a list of chores & school mandated summer reading.

Honestly I feel I am pretty easy to get along with, I am not asking them to dig ditches, just basic stuff; do your own dishes, brush the dogs, sweep blah blah blah.

By their reaction you would think they had been sold into slavery and were working 18 hour days with a few saltines as their only snack.

Every summer we go through this cycle of my calmly asking… them looking up from their show or video game and saying sure thing.

Me calmly asking again,,,this time to a slightly disgusted response of; “We said we would do it”

This quickly spirals from my calm request to a much more cranky and insistent demand.

At this point I abruptly (with loud exaggerated stomping and a flourish of hand gestures) turn off whatever they were doing in the middle of whatever game or show was on.

This results in much loathing towards me and just all around teenagery snottiness.

And they still are not getting anything done.

This year after the first dysfunctional week I decided something had to change. I put allowance in their bank accounts at the start of every month. They get x $ amount in exchange for doing chores.

This summer I ask once, I give a gentle reminder and then I am done. I take away a % of their money every week if the chores don’t get done. I just transfer from their account back to mine. I don’t yell. I really don’t care anymore. I am using the extra money to hire a house cleaner once a month to help me out.

When this results in indignation and a general dislike of me I don’t care either. I used to yell or get sarcastic. Now I do not say a word. One benefit is that I am getting great passive aggressive pleasure because it drives them crazy. But it also comes with another benefit. One that I had not anticipated and am just tickled pink about.

Without my nagging and responding to their negativity they go off in a huff, slam doors, mumble things about how rotten and unfair I am. But, 20 minutes or so later, they come out apologize and do their chores.

Who knew??? It is the craziest thing.

I almost get excited now when they don’t do their chores because I feel like I am participating in some amazing scientific experiment that is working. It is like finding a cure for a rotten disease.

I wish I had stumbled on to this 15 years ago. Better late than never I guess. Just don’t say anything back to your kids when they are snotty. Wow!


Satan is a Turd

downloadWhen I was a newer Christian and my more mature Christian friends spoke about the devil or the enemy it used to totally freak me out.

Honestly I thought the people who talked about being vigilant because the enemy is just waiting like a lion to attack were pretty scary religious zealots.

As the years have passed and I have seen more and more inexplicable things happen I totally get it now. The enemy is real and he is clever, patient, manipulative, and very strategic.

All the times that life kind of blows up in my face and I sit there wondering “What the heck just happened” are examples of the enemy prowling and seeking someone to devour. They are attacks strategically set to undermine the strength of a family and faith.

I don’t know about you but when things are going great and I feel blissfully happy all of a sudden a rug is pulled out.

We are getting along great and then a random lame argument.

The cherubs are making us proud and then one of them goes to a party and has a few drinks

Or we have a few extra dollars and bammmm a giant dental expense.

We are then left shell shocked because things were going so great. Sure they are all just the normal things that happen in life. But they quite a departure from our happy space of 20 minutes ago.

These bumps in the road are not the issue.

They are just the tools the devil uses to derail us.

It just recently happened to us. Mr Incredible and I just got back from a romantic full week away with no cherubs. We snuggled as we read the paper and had coffee in bed.  We dined in little quaint restaurants and wandered the streets hand in hand. It was ideal. We talked about how blessed we were to be married 20 years and still be so in love. How great the cherubs were…. blah blah blah.

We arrive home and just about the moment we get our bags reality was there to slap us upside the head.

Nothing huge, just the speed bumps I was talking about;

But all of sudden Mr Incredible and I have a a difference of opinion and that led to one of the most strained times we have had in many years.

The seed of bitterness took root in both of our hearts quickly. We went from being crazy in love to a yucky yucky place in the matter of a couple of days.

It got me thinking. Why does this happen so often? How are so easily led astray?

Well here is my theory;

Scripture describes this adversary as a thief who is bent on robbing, killing and destroying.

The enemy hates when we are strong and united. There is no greater threat to him than a family strong in faith. What better way to stop spreading the gospel than to let bitterness and anger creep in and slowly eat away at the family institution God commanded.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

So the enemy swoops in and subtly chips away at that foundation. He knows where you are weak. He is the one who gave you your baggage so he knows exactly when to unpack it so it does the most damage.

Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Matthew 12:29

When we take our blessing for granted, when things are good and we forget to pray, give thanks, read our bible, we hand the binds to Satan and allow him to plunder our house.

I am not saying to be wary of good times but we need to vigilant during good times. Be aware that Satan is waiting to destroy our families in his sneaky terrible way. Exploiting our weaknesses and using them for his amusement.

Well I say screw the devil. The only authority he has over us  is that which we give him. We have God on our side. We simply need to stay connected to Jesus and turn to him as often in times of peaces as we do in times of strife.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4  


Talking to Your Kids About Sex…what worked for us

sex_talkDuring our 17+ years of parenting we have come up with an ever growing looonggg list of things we wish we had done differently.

We also have a much shorter list of things we think we did pretty well.

One of those things on our short list is how we approached talking about sex and puberty.

All of our babies (now 17, 17, 15 and 11) have been pretty comfortable chatting with us about most anything from where do babies come from to condoms to other more intimate things.

It is not like they come home and share it at the dinner table but it will be a subtle comment like, “I told such and such that I loved her today” or “Mom, I had my first kiss last night” (usually when just the two of us are driving somewhere so there is no direct eye contact.) This will lead to a larger conversation where you can ask your child to weigh in with their opinion or ask them if they have questions about specifics. One of my favorite lines was from my, then 13 year old, who had his first kiss. He proceeded to ask me if he was supposed to launch into french kissing the next time he saw this girl. I am grateful we could discuss that question instead of him thinking he needed to shove his tongue down a 13 year old girl’s throat.

We started the dialogue about sex as soon as they asked the first “kind of sex” question. Our rule is you can ask anything you want  and we will answer you honestly as long as it is not personal. So they can ask,” What happens when a man and woman have sex”? but not “How many times a week do you and daddy have sex”?  We try to give them age appropriate straight forward answers with just the information they were requesting. If they asked where babies come from we would give an explanation like, “a baby grows inside the mother and that at the right time he or she comes into the world through the mother’s vagina.”  They then scream ewww gross and wouldn’t ask anything for a few months. But the key is that they do continue to ask.

As they got older and more curious they would want more detail and we would elaborate with just the facts.

We also attend Lovefest every year. Lovefest is an amazing program put on by Our Savior Lutheran in Arcadia, CA. It consist of a variety of different topics (cyber bullying, masturbation, healthy body image etc.) You and your child attend certain forums together and then you go your own way and pick the symposiums that interest you.  The beauty of this event is that it throws the doors wide open about any subject. Each presenter tackles the subject openly, many with humor, and more importantly with God’s design and plan for your sexuality.

Our rides home from Lovefest would be full of questions and discussions. It helps instill the fact that sex is a positive, beautiful gift from God, provided you participate in it according to God’s design.

Now that they have serious girlfriends the decisions they make carry much more significant ramifications. We are grateful that sex is not a taboo subject, that they are not learning from their peers. We feel like we have equipped them to make respectful and sound choices.

You don’t have to have a Lovefest in order to have an open dialogue about sex. We didn’t make it a  big one time birds and bees discussion. It is just something we always talked about.

If that makes you nervous start small. If they are little just ask them what they know about sex? What have they heard? You may be shocked what they already know or think they know.

We always felt that giving a child facts about reproduction and puberty, including details about intercourse, does not rob him of innocence. Innocence is a function of attitude, not information. A school-age child who understands the specifics of sex, while seeing it as an act that, in the proper context, both expresses love and begins new life, retains his innocence.

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.

Matthew 19:5  ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’