Why does youth go astray? How to discipline a teenager who is defiant? We sometimes have trouble knowing how to help children stay on the right path.
Every parent hopes to see their child succeed in life. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some end up in jail, take drugs, have children out of wedlock or become unproductive in society.
This article will help parents identify pitfalls in which it is so easy to fall. Well-intentioned parents, who love their children, wonder why they sometimes go in the wrong direction. Some feel guilty at having the impression of having failed. Others refuse to admit that they may have made mistakes, blaming social pressure, schools, or the fact that their child had a bad relationship. No sensible person can deny the reality of social pressure or the influence of secular education. These are great challenges for parents, but why do some of them have more success than others in educating their children? Is it just a coincidence? A stroke of luck?
Why do some children get off track? What are the factors that can improve our chances of raising happy and well-educated children who will become productive citizens? Which are the errors to avoid?
During my 45 years in the ministry, said Gerald Weston, Leader of the Living Church of God, I worked with many families and met young people guilty of almost everything: armed robbery, break-in or in a store, snatching theft, male and female prostitution, and countless pregnancies out of wedlock. Why? In this part, we will see ten reasons why children go wrong.
Let’s discover ten (10) causes of the misguidance of youth.
1. Hypocrisy Is the Worst Way How to Discipline a Teenager Who Is Defiant
There is nothing worse than hypocrisy for a child to disrespect his parents and their values. When we teach them one way and we act on another, the children notice it right away. They are masters in the art of detecting hypocrisy in others while beginning to control this defect themselves. How many parents do not they say, “Do what I say, but do not do what I do”? Parents who threaten to punish their children if they utter another word, while they use the word themselves, cause disrespect towards them by their children. Teaching a child how to be a good teammate will not work if his father does not show good team spirit on the field, in the stands or watching a game on television. Children need to know that their parents really do what they say. If you do the opposite, your words will not have a convincing effect.
The Best Way to Discipline a Teenager Who Is Defiant Is to Do What You Teach
No parent is perfect, but our good example and way of life should be as close as possible to what we teach. It is important to understand that there is a big difference between an occasional error on the part of parents and a hypocritical lifestyle. Everyone will forgive us some mistakes, even our children, realizing that we are doing something that does not look like us. In other words, our entourage knows that it is not our practice to do certain things, but that we happen to “make a mistake” from time to time. It is possible to be guilty of a hypocritical action, without having a hypocritical character.
Be Honest Despite Your Imperfections
Children must be convinced that their parents, despite their imperfections, are honest – that they believe what they teach. When a parent makes a mistake, apologizing, instead of trying to justify himself, will help build a strong bond between him and his child. This is a way how to discipline a teenager who is defiant.
Children Hear Us
A life without hypocrisy begins very early. I remember a TV soap opera in which a father remembered with his long-time friends what they were doing before being married. Shortly after, he noticed that his son went to sit outside, completely disgusted. When he asked him what was wrong, his son said, “You always told me not to get drunk, not to ride like crazy, and so on. But you and your friends are talking about how much fun you had doing all this.” Touched flowed! Our old sins come back to us sometimes when we least expect it.
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2. The Lack of Wisdom
Parents must have common sense and wisdom, and they must use it if they want their children to respect and imitate them. A biblical proverb tells us: “Like the snow in summer, and the rain during the harvest, so glory is not suitable for a fool” (Proverbs 26: 1). No parent can keep pace in our changing world, but to raise our children well, we need to identify what we do not know and we need to educate ourselves on these critical issues when necessary.
Give the Warnings with Wisdom
In the 1960s, the Beatles and other rock bands introduced the drug culture, which the Western world never recovered. Many parents told their children that if they smoked cannabis, they would become addicted and they would suffer. But reality does not always correspond to warnings. Everyone does not develop an addiction and not everyone dies. Parents are right to warn their children not to touch these substances. They know instinctively that there are dangers, but sometimes their warnings are not given with wisdom and understanding.
Parents Must Not Act Senselessly
Cannabis sold today is much stronger than that available in the “sixties” and this can create an addiction. Some talk about psychological or physiological addiction, but personally I have known both people who have tried and who have given up, and others who have become addicted. But if our children realize that we do not know what we are talking about, they will not respect us. It is much more profitable to admit that we do not know and to help them to look for information on a subject, rather than throwing them into the dust. Parents must not act senselessly, in public or in private. This is not a way how to discipline a teenager who is defiant.
How often do children say, “It’s not fair”? Most of the time, the decision is right, but it’s important for kids to know you’re right with them. Justice does not mean equality. John Wooden was one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest basketball coach of all time. His team at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) won ten national titles in twelve years. In his book They Call Me Coach, he wrote this sentence full of common sense: “I do not treat my players equally, I treat them with justice. “
Children Must Know Why We Are Making Such Decisions
When you allow your daughter to start accompanied driving at the age of 16, but you refuse to do so with your son, you will probably hear the phrase, “It’s not fair! Instead of repelling him, it’s important to explain to him why you made that decision. “Your sister has shown that she is responsible. When you have proven that you act responsibly, you will also have the right to drive. We cannot set arbitrary dates for our children, regardless of their maturity and character, but it is important that they know why we are making such decisions. This will not stop their protests, but it is important to explain how your decisions are right. It is useless to force them to accept them, for that will not usually lead to anything, but deep down inside they may recognize the truth.
Parents Should Correct the Decision Sometimes
That being so, we must not always reject their protests when they demand more justice. I remember a family with two children, in which the youngest got almost everything he wanted, while the eldest seemed to get nothing. She understood that she was treated unfairly and the damage was catastrophic. When we hear the phrase “It’s not fair! We should take the time to reflect on and review our decision. Maybe that is not fair and, if so, we should correct the decision. Parents should not be fooled or intimidated by these protests, but they must also question themselves, be wise and just.
4. The Lack of Presence
Is it worth remembering the importance of spending time with our children, be they, babies or teenagers? This should be one of our priorities. It’s so easy to be too busy with our problems. Egoism is a sign of our times. Many couples choose not to have children as this would impinge on their freedom and leisure. Others have children, but they live as if they do not have any.
You Have to Have “Quality” and “Amount” of Time for Your Children
At one time, my wife was babysitting a neighbor’s baby. Sometimes when the mother came back from work to pick up her daughter, she was crying because she did not want to go home. It should have been a word to parents, because most babies want to spend time with their mother – they can even be very sticky. When a toddler is more attached to another adult than his or her parents (or to older children), it is a sign of danger. Infants put our patience to the test with their crying and incessant questions about how everything around them works in their little universe, but spending time with them is important. To justify oneself by contrasting “quality” with the “amount” of time spent with them is a fallacious argument. Both are necessary.
Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle”
In 1974, Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle” conveyed a powerful message. At first, a baby boy is born, but his father is too busy “flying for work and paying bills” – and the boy “started walking when his father was away”. In the second verse, he is ten years old and he wants to play baseball with his father, but this one answers him: “Not today, I am too busy. The son nods and walks away, saying to himself: “One day I will be like him. The following verses are built on the same model and end each time on the following dialog:
When will you come home, Dad?
I do not know when I’ll be here,
But we will spend time together.
Later, we will have a good time together.
“Later” Never Arrives
But the “later” never arrives. Towards the end of the song, the boy returns from college and his father finally find time to devote to him, but his son has now a busy schedule and he has no time for his father. Once retired, he realizes that his son grew up and became like him – he is too busy to spend time with his family.
They Don’t Grow up Too Fast
We often hear the phrases: “They grow up too fast! We do not see the time passing! It is impossible to recover the time lost and some parents, although full of good intentions, are sometimes too busy to spend precious time with their children. And when they realize it, it’s too late.
Go Fishing with Them or Whatever
We know that teens enjoy spending time with their peers. This is normal, but have you noticed that some teenagers only want to spend that time away from home? When your children want to spend more time with other people than you, the solution is not to surrender, but to spend more time with them. Go fishing with them. Go to a shopping center. Play with them. Take them to their favorite restaurant. Find something to do with them, such as gardening or sports. Even if they are not happy at first, they will soon begin to appreciate this time with you.
5. Lack of Education/Instruction
The book of Deuteronomy shows parents how to teach the commandments of God to their children: “You will inculcate them to your children, and you will speak about them when you are in your house, when you go on a journey, when you lie down and when you go to sleep. rise up. You will bind them as a sign on your hands, and they will be like foreheads between your eyes. You shall write them on the pillars of your house and on your doors “(Deuteronomy 6: 7-9).
An Example of Educational Learning
We must be diligent in this teaching. Sometimes in a formal way, sometimes in a relaxed way. This teaching must be continuous and appropriate in all circumstances. One day, a friend told me the following story: he was about six years old and he was in a restaurant with his father. He took a 5-cent coin from his pocket and put it on the table. He looked at his son and asked him, “Who owns this room? And the son replied, “To you, daddy. The father then asked him, “If you take this piece without my permission, what would it be? The son replied, “A robbery! The father then gave him this precious advice: “Son, when you take something belonging to someone else, whether 1000 euros or 5 cents, that makes you a thief. This man remembered all his life from this lesson. He had a father who was devoted to actively instructing his son.
6. The Rejection of Authority
If parents refuse to accept divine rules or civil authority, it is likely that their children will follow this example. Sneaky parents will breed sneaky children. And if you reject the divine and civil rules, your children will add another category to the list of authorities they do not respect: you! “Do not be deceived: we do not make fun of God. What a man has sown, he will also reap “(Galatians 6: 7).
We Must Act with Respect
It is important for parents to be consistent in their respect for authority. How can children respect a police officer who asks you to sit on the roadside if you do not respect it? How will they respect a religious authority if you take them to the Church and then “destroy” the minister during the evening meal? If you do not respect the civil or religious authorities, how could your children do it? If you disagree with the teachings of your church or with a teacher of your child, this may be the time to change church or school. In everything we do, even when we do not agree with authority, we must act with respect. This is especially true in the case of divorced parents. Indeed, you will cause a lot of harm to your child if you belittle his father or mother in front of him. A child who disrespects one of his parents, as well as a civil or religious authority is on the road to failure.
7. Division Within the Home
Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:25 that “every kingdom divided against itself is devastated, and every city or house divided against itself can not stand.” Let’s be honest: marriage is often difficult. Men and women think differently. In the musical My Fair Lady, Professor Higgings asks, “Why can not a woman look more like a man?” ” – But that is not the question! God created men and women differently for a specific and beneficial purpose. This is especially true in the education of children. With a few exceptions, women tend to be more sensitive and less strict than men. That’s why we regularly hear the phrase, “Wait until your father comes home! This difference often creates dissension within a couple. Some women are too lax with their children who behave badly, while some fathers are too strict. This is at least the impression that the other parent can feel.
Parents Must Work Closely Together
Parents must work closely together and this must be done privately. I remember a family that illustrated this principle well. Toddlers can do a lot of nonsense: put metal objects in the power outlets, drop bedside lamps, spill milk and, when they grow up, they start to lie. This couple talked in detail about what was most important at each stage of their children’s lives. Thus, they were more concerned that their daughter was playing on the street than with a glass of spilled milk. Working together, they focused on the same priorities and this allowed their daughter to know what was really important to them. Mom did not scold for one category of error and daddy for another. Parents can not know everything a child will do, but they can work together on the most obvious points.
It Is Best Not to Oppose the Correction
An excessively strict father and an emotionally weak mother who always comes to the aid of the child are two attitudes that cancel each other out. With the exception of extreme situations, it is best not to oppose the correction – or lack of discipline – in front of the child, but to settle it privately a little later.
Divorce is the ultimate family division. Unfortunately, this has become commonplace in today’s world. Yet even in this situation, children should come before our personal interests. Too often, one parent denigrates the other in front of his children. If it happens that two individuals can not live together, but really love their children, they should provide a Herculean effort to support the other parent. After all, a child has only one biological father and only one biological mother. These two individuals are extremely important for a child. Do not destroy this relationship!
8. Lack of Discipline
God tells us that children need to be disciplined with love, consistency, fairness, and proportionality. It is not good to go to extremes. Some parents physically abuse their children, while others let all the bad behavior happen.
What About Spanking?
The discipline can go through a spanking or the removal of a privilege. The book of Proverbs mentions the benefits of moderate corporal punishment (13:24; 29:15), but sometimes people do not understand the words used. The word “verge” does not mean a big piece of wood but a simple stick. Depending on the country, spanking may be permitted or prohibited, as some nations punish all forms of corporal punishment and parents need to know the legislation in force. If spanking is allowed, it should never be administered violently or in a fit of anger.
Sometimes a Child Has to Suffer the Consequences of His Decisions
A form of discipline often ignored is to let a child suffer the consequences of his decisions. For example, parents explained to me that if their daughter (aged 7 or 8) wanted to wear her favorite dress for a party after laundry day, she would not be able to wear it to the church that week. It was her choice, but his mother was not going to wash and iron the dress for the Church again.
Give Them the Opportunity to Practice Making Wise Decisions
When their son and daughter became more mature, they let them make bigger decisions, but they did not vouch for their mistakes. They had to learn to live according to their choices. These parents carefully checked for potential harms to intervene and impose a decision if their children’s choices could have caused lasting harm. Some decisions were never left to the appreciation of their children, such as going out late at night or using drugs. Parents cannot guarantee that their children will never do harmful things, but by giving them the opportunity to practice making wise decisions at an early age, they can make sure that their children will be less reluctant to parental authority in the moments when it will count the most.
If Advice Often Turned out to Be Right
For this family, their two children now lead a fulfilling life and they are good citizens who contribute to the well-being of society. They learned to discipline themselves from an early age. When their parents let them make decisions, they also learned that their advice often turned out to be right. When their son wanted to spend a few hundred dollars to sound his car, the father told him that he would waste hard-earned money, that he would ruin his hearing and that he would spend his money on something useless. A few months later, the son confessed to his father that the latter was right. This was an important lesson. Dad knew what was the wisest!
A Few Tears During Can Prevent Many Tears Later in Life
If parents “stay the course”, no lasting harm will result from the choices proposed and appropriate to the age of the children. A few tears during childhood can prevent many tears later in life, but too often parents “drop ballast” and children do not learn that their decisions have consequences. Moreover, they do not develop self-discipline.
9. Demoralizing Parents
Over the last 30 years, many publications talk about self-esteem, but this concept is often wrong. The principle is that if an individual has low self-esteem he will fail, but if “we give him” high self-esteem he will succeed tremendously well. Fortunately, many experts questioned this state of mind by pointing out its inconsistencies.
Don’t Let It His Well-Being to Rest on the Goodwill of Others
First, when parents only tell their child how special they are, it means that their well-being depends on them. What will happen when he enters the real world, where people think he has nothing special? Do we really want his well-being to rest on the goodwill of others?
Don’t Let Them Lives in a Dream
Second, what he thinks of himself and what he is will not fit. He may think he’s special or that he’s great at sports because people do not want to tell him the truth, but if he thinks he’s ready to play in a big team, he lives in a dream. We see this on television in shows like France has an incredible talent or New Star. When they are not selected by the judges (who know the job), some candidates persist in telling them that they are wrong.
The Balance Began to Lean on the Other Side
How has this trend of “self-esteem” become popular? In his book Eternal Principles for Children’s Education, Dr. Jeffrey Fall discusses the balance between encouraging a child and demoralizing it. Children need encouragement, but in the past, some parents, especially fathers who have had a difficult time struggling to survive, have tended to be tough and very demanding with their children. The parents of the generation of the Great Depression and the Second World War wanted their children to have a better life and the balance began to lean on the other side.
Do Not Provoke Your Children
Another truth is that fathers often tend to be demanding by nature. This is why the Apostle Paul gave them the following warnings: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they are discouraged” (Colossians 3:21); “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children, but lift them up by correcting them and instructing them according to the Lord” (Ephesians 6: 4).
The Child Needs Many Honest Encouragements
Never tell a child that he or she is good for nothing. Do not be so perfectionist that your children give up. The children are children. It is normal for them to make mistakes and they need many honest encouragements. When they succeed, let them know. But if they behave badly or go astray, tell them honestly and with love at the right time.
10. Poor Aspirations
Some parents say to their teenagers, “I know you’ll probably get drunk, drive too fast, or have sex before marriage. Some parents even provide the contraceptive pill to their daughter. This kind of reaction often comes from parents who did these things when they were young. They expect their children to do the same. It is true that many young people make these mistakes, but not all. Some will never get drunk, will not try drugs, and will not have sex before marriage. When a parent expresses poor aspirations, it is almost like giving permission.
Show Them Your Disappointment
A better approach is to aspire for your children not to do these things, knowing that they can potentially do them. If they make bad decisions, let them know how disappointed you are that they do not meet family expectations. If the bar is set too low, children will not develop their potential. If the bar is too high, the child may not even try to reach it. It is all about balance in the education of children, but low or low aspirations favor failure.