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Reward or Consequence that is the Question

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Reward or Consequence that is the Question

Teenagers can be amazing and terrible at the same time. They can be mouthy, disrespectful and opinionated; however, They can also be considerate, compassionate, and understanding. As parents, our job is to give positive or negative consequences to help children learn from their choices. This time of learning through our discipline helps them make better decisions in the future.

As parents we have to know when to reward actions and when to let natural consequences run their course. It is a hard act to balance. What’s funny is being the good parent who teaches your child right from wrong is not always easy.

How many times have you been at this crossroad? I know I have been there and being a single mom, sometimes I am not sure what the best course of action is for my teenage daughter. Our actions are so influential to the way our child views themselves. At times, it is hard for me to believe this because many times it seems that my daughter is not listening at all, but I know this is not true because later she will say something she learned from me in the midst of a discipline situation. These moments are where I say, it did sink in! I do have more influence than I thought!

I know for myself many of my negative messages come from my perception of what others have said to me or experiences I have perceived as negative. If that is the case for me, then it has to be the same for my daughter. We influence the internal messages by the way we perceive every situation. When using discipline we have to be careful not to help our children build their negative soundtracks. We have to understand how our children perceive the messages we are sending to them. The Bible explains this when it says speak the truth in love. This means say the hard things, but be sure you say it in a way that builds someone up and doesn't tear someone down.

I am the first to admit, I have not always done this well. Many times, my words have done more harm than good. Knowing the balance of how to respond to our teenagers actions is not an easy task. It requires thinking carefully about how we respond before responding, patience, grace, mercy, and love.

Parenting can be the hardest thing in the world. On one hand you want to provide a better life for your child, protect them from the world and try to make their life perfect by controlling it. On the other hand you know that life is not easy and protecting them from hard things doesn't help them in the long run. We have to let our children experience hard things. We have to let them find ways to overcome bad choices or struggles because we cannot provide a perfect environment for them forever. They will grow up and have to get through life on their own.

God understands this better than anyone. How many times do you think God feels this way with us? He wants to love us and give us the world, but knows that we have free will to make a choice. These choices don’t always keep us on the path God intended for us. The good news is when we have a struggle from our own choices or just life in general God is there to support and help us through it. The same is true for us and our teenage children. We cannot always control their choices, but we can be there to support and help them through it.

God promises to always be there, we are the ones who leave. Think about that. As a parent you promise to always be there, but your children will eventually leave. When they leave you want them to make Godly choices. So how do we help train them in this way?

Well we do the following:

  1. We pray. All the time, everyday!

  2. We love. Love does not mean we give them everything they want, it means we give them what they need.

  3. We provide a good example of the truth of who we are. That means when we struggle, we don’t hide it from them, we share it with them and show them how to give it to God.

  4. We allow them to make mistakes. We step away when we know what is better and we let them fail. Then we support them, give advise (not a lecture) when they are ready, pray, and help them know that there is a way out of their mess.

  5. We praise them when they succeed and when they make good choices. We celebrate their ability to overcome hard things.

  6. We are honest with them about the world, themselves, and what it really means to be a Christ follower. They need to understand that God’s way is not easy, but it’s the best!

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