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Truths and Consequences: Don’t Get Derailed by Manipulation

If you’re just joining us, we are reading the book Boundaries With Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Dr. John Townsend. Go to the Reading Schedule if you want to start at the beginning. 

We are covering chapters 18 and 19 this week. If you would like to join us, you can download the book for Kindle through my affiliate link: Boundaries With Teens and get started right away. Come back every Monday from now through the end of July, as we cover 2 chapters per week and discuss them in the comments of each week’s post.

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 Truths and Consequences: Don't Get Derailed by Manipulation

Don’t Get Derailed.

The title of Chapter 18 is appropriate in so many ways. Over the course of this book we have looked at our own backgrounds, our parenting strengths (and weaknesses), the character flaws and motivations our kids have, and begun to set some boundaries with them.

The derailing comes in subtle ways, and it comes in obvious ways.

Mostly it comes by way of manipulation. Why are teenagers so adept at manipulating us? Whether it be by explosive tantrums, or whining pleas, the effect is the same: We cave. We don’t want to deal with that kid’s angry accusations, however wrong they are, so we just don’t go there. “It’s not worth the fight” we tell ourselves.

Your Daddy’s girl who always, always comes up with the most logical explanations, and she was only ten minutes late so what’s the big deal? Except that she is ten minutes late on a regular basis and you’ve already told her what would happen if she was late again. But you gave in and let her off with barely (another) warning.

Are we proud of this? No way. But we still do it. I say “we” because this chapter could have been about our family. The examples hit SO close to home the author could have been sitting in our living room, listening to our endless go-rounds with our daughter. Endless. We didn’t know much about setting boundaries. Obviously she knew more about how to bend and break them than we did about enforcing them, and when we did enforce them it was with an iron fist. No grace, no love, just angry rules and heavy handed consequences given out of frustration.

“Most teens react with manipulation, arguments, anger, or defiance when their parents set limits with them.”

Yes, they definitely do. And they use as many tactics as they can come up with to get what they want. Dr. Townsend gives some guidelines for setting realistic boundaries and enforcing them.

1. Know what is a typical consequence for kids their age, as in, talk to other parents about how they dole out consequences.

2. Set the rules and consequences WITH your teen, rather than when he’s away. He won’t be able to say “Well you never did that before. You never told me that!” Work them out together.

3. Learn to contain your teen’s angry reactions. This is new territory for me personally, and something that we would have really benefited from. (Read the chapter because it goes very in depth on why and how to do this.)

“While your gut-level reaction might be to escalate to the same level as your kid, or to back off, neither is the best response. The first forces your teen into a power struggle with you, and the second conveys that the anger will keep you from setting limits.”

4. Use active listening. Your teen needs to know that you are listening and hearing him. Repeat back to him what he says, such as “You are upset because I am enforcing your curfew time. You feel that it’s unfair for me to restrict you from your friends”  rather than “You’re just mad because you’re in trouble. If you would have just come home on time you’d be able to hang out with your friends tomorrow. You did this to yourself.” Show him you are understanding what he is saying and keep your own feelings and experience out of it.

5. Don’t let them manipulate you. Learn to recognize manipulation! Ask a trusted friend or other adult who is around you and your kids regularly to make observations. Then listen to them.

6. Follow through no matter what. Enforce the rules you set.

7. Watch out for the yes-kids. Kids who always comply may have emotional or other issues related to pleasing you, or they may be mask wearers who are one way with you, and another way with their friends. (We had one of these and it took us a long time to figure it out. By then she was into a lot of unhealthy activities!)

Above all, pick your battles.

You need to decide which are important issues and what rules are worth enforcing. Choose consequences that hit your teens where they live. You know the things that your teen finds most valuable: Music, dancing, computer or video games, driving, their cell phone, time with friends. Always take away things before adding things. If taking away the cell phone for two weeks is effective, then there is no reason to pile on a lot of other consequences on top of that.

Make the punishment fit the crime.  

If she is texting while driving, you could take the phone, the keys, or both. Oversleeping might warrant an earlier bedtime. Disrespecting a neighbor could earn him being that person’s errand boy for a week.

Natural consequences are the easiest because usually you don’t have to do anything. 

Getting caught texting at school will won’t even involve you. The teacher may confiscate the phone.  If he gets benched from the wrestling team due to bad grades, well, he gets benched. He’s the one who has to live with that choice. (Our son did this, two days before the championships! It was  a very sad tournament for him.)

Choose consequences that you can live with.

If you ground your teen, remember you’ll be grounded too. If you decide to make her weed your flower beds, you’ll need to be around to make sure that she does it the way you want it done. Be selective and make what ever you choose, enforceable.


I hope that this study has been helpful for you. Every parent needs a few more tools in their parenting repertoire, and this book has been that for me. I pray that if you’ve been reading and following along, you will feel better prepared for spending the summer with your teenager.Faith: The Process of Growth

Part Four is the last section in the book, and I’m not going to cover all of it in posts. It is more of a reference for various teen issues, from academics, drugs,  and self-mutilation, to driving, the Internet, handling money, friends, and sexual activity. If you’ve just been reading along but haven’t read  Boundaries With Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, I urge you to get the book!

I can’t tell you how much I have learned from reading it, and how many regrets I have about the way we parented in the past. We weren’t bad parents, we just didn’t have a clear focus for the whys and hows. This was my second time reading the book, and I’ll keep it on  my Kindle so I can glean from it as needed. We still have two preteens at home, and we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

What have you learned from this study? Anything really big? What are you changing because of it?


North Star Geography & WonderMaps Combo

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On Special Needs Moms

If you have a friend with a special needs child, you’ve probably noticed that she operates a bit differently than you do.

She may survive on less sleep. She watches her child closely– closer than you watch yours, and you’re a good mom. She monitors him, paying attention to the telltale signs his body language or the look in his eyes give off. In one second she’s no longer sitting next to you, because she’s there, with him, mediating a situation you aren’t even aware of, because it hasn’t “blown up”– YET.

Your friend needs you, but she also needs you to understand that her life, and yours, are completely different. Yes he seems “normal”, but her child may have certain issues that, left unchecked, can quickly turn into bad situations. She sees to her child above all else, because family comes first. Even when it may seem like what’s happening there isn’t such a big deal.

She knows her child. She knows what may come next.

I live this every day. I watch and listen and mediate and help him navigate the daily steps of life. This is not helicopter parenting, per se, this is enabling a child to become responsible for himself, with supervision. It is giving him space but also being there to help him through the rougher parts. Because he needs the extra support.

This special needs parenting stuff isn’t for slackers.

If you have a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance with a special needs child, there was an article today on the HEDUA blog that touched me and I think every friend needs to read it. I wish some of mine would.

So go on, read 5 Things Special Needs Moms Won’t Tell You (but you need to know).  If you follow me on Pinterest, I pinned it to my Homeschooling: Special Needs board too. It’s not my post, but it hits me today especially because of a difficult situation we are dealing with regarding our son.

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Summer Homeschooling Goals

It’s summer, and boy have we been looking forward to this!

No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s…. wait, what?

No quite.

Summer Homeschooling Goals: Strengthen Weaknesses Over Summer

It is true, that once June hit here in the Inland Northwest, I was done. SO done. I was so happy to report, too, that not only did we have a great school year, but we finished WELL. This is big for us, because many years we just fizzle out.

When we hit June, the time was right to take a well-deserved break. Enjoy the sunshine. Rest and relax and just breathe. Of course, with all the years we have schooled year ’round (and we’re not this year) they had to know it couldn’t last. Not completely.

This week we are starting on some summer goals that I came up with for my sons at the end of the school year. They aren’t hitting the books, per se, but they are doing something.

Just a few minutes a day. 30 at most. Our two goals for the summer are simple:

1. Learn to sign their names, in cursive.

This sounds innocuous, except you must remember that we have learning disabilities which severely affect their ability to write. D1′s Autism keeps his brain and his hand from communicating effectively. He has nice handwriting, but getting those words from his head to the paper is a long process.  And D2′s dysgraphia still renders his writing nearly illegible much of the time.

When a look of panic crosses your child’s face because you’ve just handed him a birthday card saying “Sign this for Gramma”, something needs to be done. He can’t go on like this.

2. Work through Keyboard Classroom’s typing instruction.

On the recommendation of the developmental psychologist who tested them three years ago, we have begun to teach them to type. Keyboard Classroom provided us the opportunity to review their program last winter, and they are now getting back to working on it regularly. Typing will speed up both boys’ school work by cutting out the majority of their writing difficulties.

By spending the remainder of the summer working on these two goals, my hope is that the boys will be more than ready to take on this new school year with a couple less hindrances in front of them.

Do you have any summer goals for your kids? What are they?

Special Homeschool Pricing for Families

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Setting Boundaries

If you’re just joining us, we are reading the book Boundaries With Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Dr. John Townsend. Go to the Reading Schedule if you want to start at the beginning. 

We are covering chapters 16 and 17 this week. If you would like to join us, you can download the book for Kindle through my affiliate link: Boundaries With Teens and get started right away. Come back every Monday from now through the end of July, as we cover 2 chapters per week and discuss them in the comments of each week’s post.

Be sure to subscribe to receive posts by email so you’ll get them as they come out. (Enter your email address in the blue bar up at the top of this window.)

Setting Boundaries

This week is all about motivations and setting boundaries.

What do you think of when you consider the word ‘boundaries’? If you’re like me, you think about rules. Dr. Townsend explained that boundaries are much more than just rules made up to keep our kids in line. What more, they can’t learn to live by or accept boundaries without us. It just doesn’t come naturally to any of us.

“Teens need love, self-control, values, restraint, and a sense of responsibility for their lives. But they do not come by this without the hard work of their parents.”

As much as I might like to set the rules and move on with my life, it’s not a “set it and forget it” proposition. The boundaries have to serve a purpose that make sense to the teenager. This is not easy. This is not fun. This is work!

Dr. Townsend mentioned that many times, parents will skip the why and how chapters (the ones we’re covering this week) and jump right to the the chapters on specific problems that teens have. The trouble is that we learn a lot through these chapters that will serve us well later on. If you’re tempted to just jump the the solutions for the problems, let me encourage you to stick it out and read this week’s chapters first. 

We are still in the discovery mode. Kids don’t just turn rebellious and obnoxious out of the blue. Every issue has a reason behind it. You have to turn detective and try to find out what that reason is.

It’s tempting to jump straight into enforcing consequences for bad behavior (and often that may be warranted,) but if you’ve lost your child’s heart, or if he’s lost it to someone else as in the break up of a friendship or romantic interest, then you won’t get it back on track by piling up discipline. This takes tact, and genuine caring on your part. If a kid is past caring for himself, then consequences won’t have much effect.

Dr. Townsend recommends using Four Anchors of Boundary Setting:

  1. Love
  2. Truth
  3. Freedom
  4. Reality

I’m not going to go into depth about these here, because I simply can’t do it justice. In a nutshell, your teen needs to know you LOVE her, in order for her to receive what you’re saying. She needs to know the TRUTH about what is and isn’t acceptable in your home. She needs the FREEDOM to choose the right or the wrong way. And she needs to understand the REALITY of what will happen if she chooses the way that isn’t for her best interest. Please, if you haven’t already read chapters 16 and 17, DO.

Rules should be specific, understandable, reasonable, and applicable. And when your teen decides to choose the wrong way, Dr. Townsend says, “Don’t get mad. Get clear.” 

I’m ashamed to say that we are the parents who always tended to jump straight to the REALITY with our older kids. This is what will happen and BAM! here’s your consequences. We weren’t the best about expressing in a loving way our reasons for the boundary in the first place. Thankfully God’s not done with us yet.

Tell me your thoughts on this week’s reading. How will the Four Anchors help you inyour parenting?

Join us next week as we discuss Chapters 18 and 19.Faith: The Process of Growth

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Not Skinny, Just Healthy

Sometimes people annoy me.

I don’t do this very often, but I’m going to drag out a box– not a soap box, but a gym box, jump up on it and say a few words. Okay it might be more than a few words.

Not Skinny, Just Healthy

It’s no secret that my weight struggles have been off again, on again, mainly because haven’t been consistent. When D2 was a baby I went on Weight Watchers and lost 55#. I was very successful with WW and really liked it. I used their online program and a lot of determination. I was able to not only reach my goal but also keep it off for three years.

Then I slipped back into old habits and the weight started coming back on. I have realized that the key to fitness is exercise.

Back in January I told you 23 reasons for doing a fitness challenge. I completed that challenge in April, with 12″ and 22# gone, and a good start toward my goals. In the process of that challenge I learned a lot about myself, my body, and nutrition. It was SUCH a great experience, in fact, I joined another challenge for the summer. We’re now 8 weeks into it, with 4 weeks to go.

I work out five mornings a week, I track everything I eat, turn in my food journals weekly, drink massive amounts of water, and pay attention to what my body tells me.

Since the beginning of the first challenge I did in January, I am down 38#, from a size 14 to a size 8 in jeans, from very snug large shirt to a loose medium, and I’ve put extra holes in my belt down 7″ from the first holes I wore it in when I bought the thing in December. I am so close to my goal, I can feel it!

I have four weeks and 14# to go, ideally, but you know, I am healthy and strong and comfortable with myself. I’m proud of what I have accomplished in these fitness challenges! My relationship with food has changed drastically, and I crave weird things. Things like protein, and heavy weights, water and veggies, and… oh dear God I shudder to say it… burpees!

The fact that I look forward to my workouts and miss them on the weekends is huge for me. Remember, I’m the girl behind the laptop. But this laptop girl has become a gym rat!

I expected friends and family to be happy for me. Excited even, because I’m just not that fat mom any more. I have energy, and I feel so much better about myself overall. Here’s where I get to step up on the box. When someone you know decides to finally really do something about their health and take charge of their life by way of fitness and changed eating habits, be careful of what you say. And how you say it.

Please note: This post is specifically about people like me who are willing to do the work, eat right, and not look for a quick fix or resort to starvation or other drastic, unhealthy means to weight loss. If you know someone with an eating disorder, please help her get help. She doesn’t need criticism either, but rather treatment and long term counseling.

No please, don’t say to me, “Oh don’t lose too much weight! You’re getting too skinny!” because I’m not. I am only just NOW into what is almost considered a HEALTHY weight range for my 5’3″ body. If you only knew what my weight was when I began, you would shudder.

It’s a rude awakening when your husband’s waist is smaller than yours and you outweigh him, even though he is nearly a full foot taller. You just don’t know where a person came from or what they had to work through to get to where they are.

I will lose until I am safely healthy, and not more than that. I love food too much to do anything else. So please. Enough already. Also please notice that most of the bulky fat I had is gone but I have some nice muscle instead. I am not nor will I be SKINNY. Neither will I be a muscular body builder.

Not Skinny, Just Healthy

Did I mention I am the worst selfie taker in the world? Yeah. Can’t do them. This is the first time my Color Me Rad shirt has fit- from the race I ran a year ago. It was too small when I got it!

Instead of telling others what you think they should do, please do a heart check. If you were me, working very hard and getting a many-years-long problem under control, would you want to hear what you want to tell me? Would it help you, or hurt you?

And if your motives are less than pure, maybe you should get off of the couch and do something about your own extra padding. Ahem. Stepping off my box now. (20 times per leg!)


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