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 3 and 4 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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This week’s chapters are all about us. The key word this week isn’t boundaries; it is INTEGRATION.
We began chapter 5 reading a conversation between two parents, one strict, and the other overly loving/permissive. Neither parent is bad, but neither one has balance. Their argument over how to handle their child could so easily have taken place in any one of our homes. It is rare when a couple have exactly the same parenting style. Usually, the opposite is the case.
It is in my house.
So how do we handle it when one parent has good boundaries but not a loving attitude, and the other has all the love in the world, forsaking the boundaries? We need to communicate with one another. If you are recognizing one of these tendencies in your spouse, then chances are that you swing to the other side of the pendulum.
Do you notice that your teen likes to play the divide-and-conquer game? There’s a reason for that: it works.
If she can play to daddy’s little girl heart to get out of the curfew that you agreed on, she will bypass you to make it happen. Why? Because she can. Teens are hard wired for the comfortable path. We need to be communicating openly with our spouses ahead of time and establishing some expectations.
Dr. Townsend recommends writing down the family rules and consequences and posting them somewhere that they can be easily referenced. This isn’t just for preschool any more. And they’re not just for the kids– they are for US. If you and your spouse are consistently bumping heads over parenting styles, then having posted expectations and consequences for breaking them should help eliminate those spur of the moment gray areas our teens always seem to catch us in.
If you’re finding it difficult to resolve your split parenting issues, find a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor to help walk you through both sides so that you can come to a healthy balance. Some churches even have Boundaries classes or groups that are specifically designed to help you achieve integration, both as a couple and as a parent.
The other integration problem that parents often have is one from within: We know our kids need rules and boundaries, so we make them. When we find our child breaking the boundaries, rather than enforce them with appropriate consequences, because we know our kid is going to make a big stink, we sometimes find it easier to take the path of least resistance.
After a while of letting things slide, we get fed up, jump on them, and go overboard, adding consequences on top of consequences to make up for our lack of action in the first place. Dr. Townsend calls this the “ignore and zap” method of parenting. Not good.
I may be singing to the choir here…but I’m in the choir. Guilty as charged. We have both found ourselves doing this at one time or another. It only adds stress to our kids, to our marriage, and to life in general. If you can’t be a fully integrated parent with good balance and boundaries yourself, you will not be able to teach your teenager to have good balance and boundaries. This is one of those skills that is caught, not taught.
“When parents consistently provide teens with warmth and structure, teens become less extreme, impulsive, and moody. In other words, they begin to grow up inside, to become integrated.”
Are you finding yourself in a split parenting situation, in need of some integration to bring your two halves together in balance? Do it!
Are you thinking about changes since we began reading this book? I sure am! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Tell me about your parenting methods. Let’s talk about this.
Next week, we will discuss Chapters 7 & 8