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Email of the Day: How We Got Through the Teenage Years

By Dr. Laura on May 4, 2023
Woman in striped grey dress sits in a chair next to man in blue button-up, both seated across from young woman in white shirt and young man in navy shirt sitting next to each other on couch

When our son and daughter were in their early teens, my husband and I became weary of arguing about consequences for their poor choices and we decided that having a contract with them might be appropriate. We sat down with them and came up with a list of behaviors that might happen in the future, like drinking underage, not turning in homework, not telling us the truth about where they had been, and they came up with a few on their own. We made two columns – one was for β€œdisciplinary action,” and the other was for lying about a misdeed or having us hear about it from someone else. The second column carried with it DOUBLE the discipline! Amazingly, we all agreed on the items and the consequences, and we typed it up as a contract and signed it.



We found out quickly that we had some dissatisfaction with this contract, as the kids eagerly accepted the consequences of their actions. When they came home late, for example, they’d walk in the door saying β€œWe know, we know – we’re grounded for a week!”

But my husband and I never had to yell or slam doors to get our frustration out. We had created an environment where there were expectations, consequences, and freedom to choose, while knowing the consequences for their actions. Our grandchildren have been brought up being responsible for their actions as well. 



How We Got Through the Teenage Years


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