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4 Tips to Setting Healthy Boundaries For Teenagers


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Mother setting healthy boundary with her teen child playing video games

Setting healthy boundaries for teenagers need not be a difficult feat for parents to achieve. Many teenagers go to the way side because parents give up on parenting once their kids have reached the age of 14 or so.

Did your parents also set healthy boundaries for you when you were a teen? I wonder if they had a tough time, or whether you were an easy teen to handle without any set boundaries?

Practical parenting is about extending your parenting skills further and for longer.

There’s no point nurturing them in their young years only to stop suddenly before they’re ready to be let out on their own, just because you’re not sure of what to do next.

Teenagers still need careful supervision. They still need to be told what to do and shown how far they can go.

They still need guidance in every aspect of their lives because they aren’t wise enough (yet) to see the pitfalls the parents are experienced enough to notice.

This is the reason they pick unsuitable friends. They’re just not ‘ripe’ enough to have great judgement and mature awareness.

Here are 4 great ways to help you the parent, in setting healthy boundaries for your teenager before they set off on the road to destruction.

Let your teenagers know what you expect of them

Be a practical parent by showing your teenager what you expect of them.

Don’t talk down to your teenager. Don’t tell people they’re off the rails or that they’re unruly. Tell people how great they are. Pick out their best bits and always talk about this with others and to them.

When setting healthy boundaries always remember to give them confidence in their abilities. Do not bring them down with negativity.

Reinforcing their faults only makes them worse. (You don’t want your spouse to constantly talk about your faults. It’s worse when your parents do.)

Show your teenager that you expect good behaviour and you’re proud of the things they do well. They will reward you with more positive behaviour.

Provide incentives for your teenager to be responsible when setting healthy boundaries

If they cook dinner, they could have an extra hour out with friends.

If they pick up a young sibling from school each day, they could do something special with friends at the week-end as a reward.

If they make you tea when you come in from work, then you can surprise them with a treat in their packed lunch now and then.

You know your teen, so you can find suitable ways of rewarding them according to their personality and likes when setting healthy boundaries.

Practical parenting uses incentives for two main reasons: they show your kids you love and appreciate the good things they do, and they condition them to the fact that good deeds are rewarding.

Give your teenagers healthy boundaries

They may say they don’t like it, but in my job as a youth worker (and parent of 3), teenagers thrive on boundaries.

They quickly roll downhill – personality and behaviour-wise if boundaries aren’t set early in their lives.

The hormones and confusion they experience in teenaged years work up something nasty if they aren’t set blueprints of how to conduct their lives.

In this pressuring time, the only thing that keeps them advancing in a positive way is a map to follow.

When setting healthy boundaries, you have this map in your hands. Draw out the path they should travel and show it to them.

Give them clear guidelines in the form of boundaries. You don’t have to be crazily strict, just show them where to go. This is so much easier than letting them choose for themselves.

They have exams, peer pressure, spots, periods, brain freezes, annoying teachers, un-cool parents… the list goes on.

They need your help. Don’t leave them in a lurch.

Boundaries have to be set and reinforced when the need arises. As your teen gets older, boundaries also have to be moved and pitched differently. You as a practical parent have the wisdom to do this – not your teen.

Your teen needs some time with you

Of course, you’re working and very busy. However, spending time with them is not a marathon.

You only need a few minutes to have a chat. You don’t have to spend money on quality time either.

Spend time with your teen on an individual basis. They need this more as they get older.

Your relationship is changing rapidly, and in order to keep up with it, you need to see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going with your teen when setting healthy boundaries.

A trip to the shop to do the food shopping, a cinema trip, cooking a meal together, a car journey are all subtle ways of spending time with your teen without appearing to be pressuring them into it.

If your teen is accustomed to spending time with you anyway, they wouldn’t feel this is a negative thing. If this is something you’re just beginning to do, then the above examples will get the ball rolling for more lengthy quality time together.

Your life with your teenager need not be a miserable one. It takes work if you’ve let it slip a little, but once you get your relationship back on track, teenagers can also be sweet, responsible and fun to live with.

You just have to keep in mind that with practical parenting, the ball is always in your court. You run their lives – not the other way around. Do it sensibly, will you?

Over to You -

Have you had trouble recently – setting healthy boundaries? How did you overcome them and what advice could you give the other readers where setting healthy boundaries for your teenager is concerned? Share in the comments below.

 


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Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

About Anne Lyken-Garner

Anne Lyken-Garner is a blogger and published author. She blogs at theGetConfidence Blog and The Relationship Blog. She also wrote ‘How To Raise Your Kids To Be Responsible Adults’ available on Amazon.

74 Comments

  1. Avatar of Harleena Singh

    Harleena Singh

    October 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Wonderful post Anne!

    I welcome you as the second guest author – it sure is a pleasure to have you over and share your parenting and relationship expertise with everyone. :)

    These sure are awesome tips for setting healthy boundaries for their teenagers, something that any parent can relate to. For that matter, I remember the time my parents had to do use their parenting skills with me too, just like I have to do with my teens. I guess that’s how we pass on lessons from one generation to the other.

    Teenagers DO need more of our time and attention, and yes, giving them responsibility when they are in their crucial years, prepares them for their life ahead. It’s something my parents did with me and I do the same with my kids.

    Thanks once again for being here. :)

    • Anne relationship help blog

      October 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      It’s an honour to be here, Leena.

      Thanks for the privilege. My parenting skills don’t necessarily come from my own parents. I worked hard, researched, picked up good examples from others, and studied within my profession. Most of all, working with teenagers for 10 years gave me a lot of teen-parenting experience. Just like all parents, though. I’m learning everyday.

      We can all learn from each other and there’s so much more I want to be able to do with my teenagers. I have 2 and a pre-teen at home at present.

      • Avatar of Harleena Singh

        Harleena Singh

        October 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

        You are most welcome Anne!

        I can well imagine all that you must have undergone to accomplish and reach where you are today. And yes, having practical knowledge of working with teens is first hand experience, which is commendable. Having your own kids the same age makes it all the more easier as you are able to see them grow through the years too.

        I’m sure everyone is going to love your post and have something to take back home from it. :)

  2. Mayura

    October 9, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Hi Anne,

    I’m not into parenting yet, but I’m getting ready for it :) I can agree with your tips as I’ve been through them as a teenager. To be honest, I don’t think anyone can be perfect always as each and every person sees the world differently and changes over time. But there are practical capabilities to practice and overcome issues as you mentioned here.

    Actually, I haven’t been through much healthy boundaries and got to figure out things myself :) It was killing my confidence and still hidden inside me. I had to find solution for my problems as a teenager. So even I have a problem, yet mostly I’m not trying to ask help from anyone else and win or lose depends on my capabilities at that time.

    I’ve seen many of my friends at their teenage level, how they are with their mother and father. They are so much confident about what they do and parents always encouraging them. The bond between ‘em are so much powerful :) So I can see how wonderful your tips would be with the application on teenagers. It could apply for even on children, right? :)

    Thanks for sharing such a nice post about setting healthy boundaries :)

    Have a great week for both of you, Anne and Harleena :)

    Cheers…

    • Anne relationship help blog

      October 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Mayura, I’m like you. I didn’t get these examples from my formative years.

      I grew up in a very volatile home. I was beaten on the spur of the moment. Abuse was how ‘parenting’ was done by my grandmother. Fear – not confidence was my strongest emotion. That is why I write about building confidence and parenting now. I’ve learned both of those the hard way – from scratch. I had to erase all that was given to me and re-learn everything.

      Like you, I used to really envy other teenagers who had what I saw as ‘normal’ homes. I’m sure you’ll make a fantastic parent. You’ve already learned all you don’t want to be.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      I’m sure you’ll make a wonderful parent Mayura!

      I’ve seen your earlier replies to a few of the parenting posts here, and one can make out that you have all the qualities of a wonderful father. :)

      Yes, none of us are perfect, and just as Anne mentioned, some of us have to really go through hardships to become what we are today. That kind of learning exposure helps you learn things much faster and in a better way. You too have gone through ups and downs that are part of life, but am glad you are over it now and doing well for yourself.

      Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your week as well :)

  3. Jay Carter

    October 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I have no kids, although I am only in my 20’s.

    I know teenagers and I generally like them but if I had kids I’d probably send them to boarding school and provide moral support over the phone.

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      I know you’re joking. Your kids need you more than anything else. You would’ve missed out on getting to know them if they lived most of their lives away from you.

      • Jay Carter

        October 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm

        I’m partially joking. I agree with you on one hand but I think having kids is hard and at a school the teachers are trained for their behaviour (or lack of it).

        • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

          Anne Lyken-Garner

          October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm

          Agreed. But training children is a parent’s responsibility. Teaching children is a teacher’s responsibility. Doctors take care of their health.

          At the end of the day, a parent trains, teaches, doctors, entertains etc. We have all the jobs rolled into one :-) However, the important thing is that we’re not ignoring our ‘parenting’ responsibility of behaviour-training to other professionals. This usually leads to kids who’re out of control.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Glad you were joking Jay!

      Sending them to the boarding school would deprive you of enjoying their growing years, and that’s the time they need more of their parents love – isn’t it?

      Parenting surely isn’t easy, and it takes a lot to be a good parent. However, if you are willing to learn how to get better with your kids, nothing’s impossible too. :)

      Yes, at school teachers are trained to do their part, but as parents we can’t ignore our duties – can we?

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • Carolyn

      October 22, 2012 at 2:24 am

      I sent my oldest daughter to boarding school last month, Jay. She’s 16 and it’s a local school that requires boarding for 11th and 12th grades. Just wanted to clarify that those who send their children to boarding school aren’t necessarily; a) bad parents, b) giving up on our kids.

      My daughter is thriving there but it is tough only giving moral support over the phone and on Facebook.

      • Avatar of Harleena Singh

        Harleena Singh

        October 22, 2012 at 8:08 am

        Some schools have such rules Carolyn, though must have been a tough decision for you to send her to boarding. And you are absolutely right, sending kids to the boarding doesn’t mean that we are giving up on our kids or that we are bad parents, sometimes you need to take such actions for their better and brighter future. But it’s nice to know that she’s doing well there. :)

  4. Aditya

    October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Well, almost all questions in the above post are for parents but I’ll share my experience here. (I’m 19)

    Me and my mom have a really great relationship and I cannot ask for more, she completely understands me, always always always stands by my side and has supportive throughout my life. I really love her, though I loose temper and get very angry sometimes, I do run errands for her and try to make her happy as far as possible.

    You were right about picking the wrong friends, it happened to me and I can honestly tell you, I’ve matured a lot and understand people better. However I’ve stopped being judgmental, I keep my opinions to myself, talk gently and respectfully most of the times and I’ve really refined myself ever since I realized my mistakes.

    This is a really good post, every parent and teenager should read this, particularly strict parents like my dad who doesn’t understand me completely and.. well.. he doesn’t do all those you’ve mentioned above.

    Aditya

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      Aditya,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great that you’ve noticed your mistakes and are trying to correct them. That quality is very important for maturity and contentment in our lives.

      A lot of dads feel extremely pressured by having to work and take care of their families. I’m not defending your dad – I don’t know him. What I’m saying is that a lot of men feel so pressured by financial worries, they sometimes forget what’s really important where kids are concerned.

      Taking care of your family financially is extremely important, but it can be so burdensome sometimes, it takes the fun out of life. Parents really have to work hard to strike that balance, and it’s especially difficult for men. Hopefully, one day your dad will mellow out and stop seeing you in him, or himself in you.

      Perhaps one day he’ll realise that you have to live your own life and live up to your own expectations – not his. He’ll learn to respect his son for who he is, rather than who he wants or wishes he could be.

      • Aditya

        October 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm

        Well at this moment he does hold me back a bit. I’m way way different than him and our thinking and attitude differ a lot. I hope he realises that soon and I’ll agree he is under immense pressure because he is afterall the breadwinner.

        Aditya

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      Glad that you could relate to the post Aditya, even though you aren’t a parent yet!

      Nice to know about the relationship you share with your mother, and it’s nice that she is always there for you, which must be giving you an inner feeling of strength and support.

      Moms are simply great and take in all that their kids give them…the good, the bad…all of it. I guess that’s why God made mothers – isn’t it?

      I can well imagine all that you underwent as I’d read on your blog about it, though I’m glad you are over that phase of life. And yes, such trying and testing times make us wiser and mature sooner than our age.

      Yes indeed, Anne’s written this post very well and hope more parents learn to understand their teenagers better after reading this. Just as she mentioned, I’m sure your Dad would understand you better with age, more so, she raised an important point about the financial burden often falling on most Dad’s that keeps them away from really enjoying their kids. I’ve also seen lot of men undergo this problem, though with time and patience things do get better.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your personal experiences with all of us. :)

  5. Sylviane Nuccio

    October 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Great tips you are giving here for anyone having teenagers.

    I’m not an expert of the subject, and I don’t have teenagers, but I can tell you that I’ve learned quite a few things thinking back on my own teenage years and how my mother handled me and my brother. I learned from the good and the not so good.

    Teenagers, don’t know everything. Far from it. As a matter of fact, thinking back I know that I knew nothing. Even though I was never attracted by any kind of drugs or bad associations, I made other mistakes that could have avoided.

    1) Teenagers needs to feel that their parents are strong and not scared to tell them NO!!!!
    2) You need to know as much as you can about what’s going on in the life of your teenagers
    3) As you mentioned, Harleena, don’t ever tell people about what you don’t like in your teenage kids, tell them.
    4) Whatever mistakes you are going to make as a teenager, tend to follow you through the rest of your life. So beware!

    Thanks for this great post, dear :)

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Sylviane,

      You made some very good points. I’m glad that we’re seeing the prospective of the young person in many of these comments.

      Falling into bad company can be detrimental, but sometimes we do forget how misleading parents can be (and how they send mixed messages) when they don’t tell their kids no.

      I agree that the consequences of our mistakes can follow us throughout our lives. However, sometimes mistakes can really teach us what we don’t want to be, and how we don’t want to live. Sometimes mistakes are the very things which can give us direction in life.

      Thanks again.
      Anne

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Glad you liked Anne’s tips, Sylviane!

      You surely do have first hand experience as I’ve read about your teenage years along with your Mom and brother, so that makes you a person who has undergone quite a bit too. :)

      Teenagers often think they know everything, and that’s where the real trouble lies. I guess you really can’t tell them what they don’t want or like to hear, unless they are the real teens who listen. I was like that I think, though I would need to confirm with my Dad once again!

      I love the points you shared. You are so right about not telling people about what you don’t like in your teens, instead talk it out with your teens. This is such an important point that often leads to low self-esteem and lack of confidence in their later years. And parents need to be as involved in the lives of their kids, teens more so, there are no two ways about that.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with all of us. :)

  6. Corinne Rodrigues

    October 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I’m not a parent, Anne.

    But I have seen friends struggle with their teenagers. Having taught teens for a few years, I know how much we need to work with and train parents! I’m sharing this so that more parents can be helped.

    Anne is a great choice for a guest, Harleena.

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Corinne, you’re too kind. Thank you.

      Thanks for the share. I really appreciate it, and I’m sure Harleena does as well.

      Teenagers can be easy to parent if the hard work was put in way before-hand. It’s difficult to bend a grown tree. However, as a keen gardener, I know it’s easy to train a young tree to do whatever you want it to. You can even put it in a plait if you have 3 shoots.

      Every age comes with its particular difficulties. Teenagers too. With good guidance, it can work out well. I help my 2 teens and my pre-teen through their difficulty. It’s never me against them. It’s me WITH them.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      Having taught teenagers is as good as bringing them up Corinne!

      They sure are a full time job, in fact parenting as such is that hardly leaves you any time for anything else. But just as Anne mentioned, with your love and care you can raise them just the way you like. :)

      Anne sure is a great choice with the many feathers in her cap, and her own experience as a mother of three adds up to it too. :)

      Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate you sharing the post. :)

  7. Jodi Heal Now and Forever

    October 10, 2012 at 1:47 am

    My son just turned 13 and I get the worst and the best of him. He is crabby in the morning and then wants to hugs before going to sleep. In the morning he is nervous about all he is expected to do all day, at night he is so happy to be home and relaxed. I am tired however and done for the day. I want to go to sleep, but I have to adjust myself to what his needs are ( within reason) be available when he is so I have this special time.

    • Anne relationship help blog

      October 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      I know what you mean. My son is also 13. He’s not very touchy-feely and I have to steal kisses and hugs from him. I tell him that I go into his room each night and kiss him. He says, ‘choo’ (meaning he has a sneezy allergy to kisses).

      He’s had a difficult time, being dyslexic and dyspraxic, but we love him for being him. He’s a bit moody, but he’s an excellent kid. I wrote on his mirror this morning: I’m very confident.

      He asked me why and I just said I’m doing an experiment. I want to positively ‘brain wash’ him into believing in himself and will be writing different messages for him to see.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Nice to know more about your son Jodi!

      I can so well relate to that because my younger one is quite similar, though gets irritated when she returns from school because she is tired, hungry, and sleepy. I guess waking up early and the studies they have to catch up with at school, and all the other kind of tensions makes them such. Nor is she the kinds who likes hugs and kisses much, like Anne’s son.

      Oh yes! Evenings, or the time when they have finished their work, or during family visits – they are all happy and gay. Being parents we have to adjust our moods most of the time with theirs, that’s what parents are for – isn’t it?

      Being humans and with the daily chores we have to handle, it does stress us out too. But there is just no other way. We need to reach out and connect whenever our kids are free and reach out to us, it’s as simple as that.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences. :)

  8. Fanny Bucheli Rotter

    October 10, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Dear Anne,

    I am a parent of 2 teens (14 & 16) and I enjoyed reading your tips. I would like to add two points which seem to work for me and my children. First of all, I try to be involved in their lives, without nosing around in their business. I pick my children up from parties or activities and I give many of their friends a lift. I also work as a sub in their school. It seems easier for my children to talk about their day and their friends when I know who they are talking about.

    Second, I notice that it seems to be fashionable among moms of teens to complain about their kids’ shortcomings. Even if at times, I would know way more positive to say then negative. If I say my kids are wonderful and I love the age they are right now, I get strange looks, like I’m bragging. We need to turn the trend around and tell of our teens’ good deeds instead of complaining just to fit in with other moms.

    • Anne relationship help blog

      October 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Fanny,

      Exactly one of my points in the article! We need to be positive about our teens. Let them hear us validating how great they are and how helpful/responsible/ etc. they are. This shows them we expect good, not bad from them. I do this with my family and haven’t had any of the teenage angst many people complain about.

      I’m not saying my kids are perfect. They’re just kids. That’s what they are. They’ve got parents who do the best they can and try hard. We’re not perfect either. Together we learn how to be a happy, contented family. It should never be you vs them. It should be ‘us’ as a family.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Welcome to the blog Fanny!

      Those are wonderful ways to connect with your teens. I can relate to the first one because there was a time when I was also teaching in the same school where my kids were studying, though they were young that time. As parents if you are able to do things they like, it helps a great deal. They are easily able to relate to you better when they see more of you around them – yet not too much of it.

      You are SO right about your second point! Never criticize your kids or teens, whether in-front of anyone or even within your own family. As parents, we need to accept them for who and what they are. However, like you, I’ve also noticed most Moms complain about the drawbacks or problems their teens give them, without any word of appreciation. Each one of us have our own set of problems, but what matters most is that we learn to see the positives, even in the negatives and learn to stay as “one” family – just as Anne mentioned.

      Thanks for stopping by, and your wonderful contribution. :)

    • Viola Tam

      October 11, 2012 at 6:03 am

      Hi Harleena,

      Thank you for introducing Anne and her insights! Awesome and very practical tips!

      As a mother of three ex-teenagers, I could not agree more about setting expectations and healthy boundaries.
      Although your teenager (boy, in particular) may LOOK stringer than you, they are still growing. I could not agree more about the need for quality individual time together.

      I totally agree with Fanny that some parents are too focused on the shortcomings. What about shifting to start noticing little acts of kindness, occasional good manner, gestures of concern, etc…?

      Everything start s from us. Change the action. Get different reaction.

      Thanks, Harleena, Anne and Fanny!

      Viola Tam

      • Avatar of Harleena Singh

        Harleena Singh

        October 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

        Glad you liked the tips shared by Anne, and Fanny’s contribution too!

        No matter what age your kids are, and whether they are young still or in their teens – they all need quality time with their parents, and there are no two ways about it. You would know best being a Mom yourself to three ex-teens!

        Being parents most of us tend to focus on our kid’s shortcomings, mainly thinking that by doing so we can somehow make them realize where they are going wrong. However, often times it turns out the other way round and we reduce their self-esteem, especially when they hear us talking ill of them to others. We need to focus on their positives more than on their negatives, just as you mentioned – after all they are still kids and learning.

        Loved those lines in the end….change the action and get different reaction…so true. :)

        Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone. :)

      • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

        Anne Lyken-Garner

        October 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        I love, ‘ Change the action. Get a different reaction.
        Einstein said that only idiots expect to do the same thing over and over and get a different result. If we’re trying something that doesn’t work with our teens, maybe it’s time to try something else.

        Thanks for your insightful comment.

  9. Donna Merrill

    October 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Thank you Harleena for having Anne as your guest post!

    Teens are very difficult to deal with as we all know. It is a difficult time of life where they are children and adults all rolled up into one. I agree that setting a good boundaries is an important component of all the things involved with your teens. I once had someone tell me that teens react better to boundaries by calling them “house boundaries” instead of “my boundaries.” I posted a list of them on the frig and oh boy did it work.

    Never underestimate your teenager. It is a time for them to experience every emotional flip flop there is to life. But having open communication and a strong sense of safety you give them will help. I am a survivor!

    Thanks for this article.
    Donna

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Thank you for your input, Donna. I especially liked the ‘house boundaries’ point you raised.

      We do something similar in our home. If our kids say they should be allowed to do something because so and so is doing it, we tell them that our family has a different set of rules.

      So and so’s mother may have several boyfriends. That other person’s dad may get drunk once in a while and beat on them. That other person’s family may eat take-outs every evening. The point is that each family has their own rules. They have a right to having boundaries for themselves, and so do we.

      They understood sometime ago that we don’t confirm to other families’ rules. I will use that fridge thing. I like it very much.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Nice to see you Donna, and yes, Anne has been a wonderful guest author!

      Yes indeed, teen years aren’t easy for parents, nor are they easy for teenagers themselves. They are just a confused lot not really knowing what path to tread, and need our guidance and help, though not in the direct way! I love the term house boundaries too – I think it shows them that we all as a family have to stay within our own boundaries as a family without having to follow any other families lifestyle. They do well when we set healthy boundaries for them because they get a feeling of being cared for too.

      Keeping the communications channels open and being more of a friend than a parent to your teen helps, though we need to be within our limits and not overdo it.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your contribution to the post. :)

  10. Jeevan Jacob John

    October 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Great Post you got there, Anne!

    As a teen, I don’t have much to add to this ;) These are some great ways to bring up a teen into a responsible adult :)

    Personally, the only thing I don’t like about teenage (especially here in US) is how much freedom the parents give their teens (Like you said, most people just stop parenting at the age of 14 or 16). They tell their teens to take care of themselves (Well, in a way, it’s a good thing that teens get job and take care of themselves but like you said, teens aren’t matured enough to make their own – responsible – decisions). There is indeed a lot to learn more in life ;)

    Anyways, appreciate the tips (this will help me to strengthen the boundaries I have set for myself).

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Great to hear from a teen, Jeevan.

      I’m glad that the post has inspired you. Even if it has inspired just one person, it’s well worth it.

      I’m all for teens getting jobs, because this teaches them vital financial-related lessons for later life. However, you’re right in saying that even though teens can be quite informed, they’re still not fully ‘ripe’ yet. They still need some sort of direction and supervision.

      Good luck with your plans for the future as it relates to setting boundaries for yourself.

      • Jeevan Jacob John

        October 11, 2012 at 6:06 am

        Yes, I do agree that a job can teach teens lessons on financial management (I think the parents themselves also should keep tabs on how the money is spent, or maybe not. Maybe the mistakes they make will serve as lessons for the future).

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Glad you liked the post Jeevan, and yes, these sure are wonderful tips shared by Anne!

      I ditto what you said about the way teens are given complete freedom at that young an age. They aren’t really mature enough at the age of 14 or 15 to take decisions on their own, which is often the reason for them going the other way into things like drug abuse and other stuff.

      Parents often realize their fault rather late in the day, though yes, being left to fend for themselves gives them exposure to look for jobs and earn. I think we are better off in our country where teens are with their parents till they graduate at least, so that care and bonding is stronger.

      Thanks for stopping by. Always nice to have you over. :)

      • Jeevan Jacob John

        October 11, 2012 at 6:24 am

        Yes, lot of things like drug abuse are happening just because of the excess freedom given to teens (unless parents are able to watch what exactly their teens are doing, they shouldn’t be given this excess freedom).

        • Avatar of Harleena Singh

          Harleena Singh

          October 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

          The control always lies in the hand of the parents I think, though few of them really make use of that and tend to get carried away by their teens demands. I guess a lot would get better if parents realize the outcome of such freedom.

          Thanks for your contribution to the post. Always nice to have you over. :)

          • Jeevan Jacob John

            October 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm

            Yes, of course ;) But, many don’t take care of it, or don’t care (well, they
            “allow” children to misuse their freedom).

            I think the problem is answering the question of how much freedom should be given to teenagers? And how much is too much?

            • Avatar of Harleena Singh

              Harleena Singh

              October 19, 2012 at 8:27 am

              Yes they do Jeevan, and that’s where special care and attention is needed. I think parents need to think about the question you raised about the amount of freedom that they should give their teens, which again would depend from family to family and how they raise their kids – isn’t it?

              Anything overdone results in problems later, and we all know that. I guess keeping everything within a limit helps teens to know their boundaries too.

              • Jeevan Jacob John

                October 27, 2012 at 5:31 am

                Yes, lot of factors playing on that one. It is not like we can experiment much with life (because when we do that, we actually change the behavior of the child – knowingly or unknowingly!), so every “move” must be made with caution.

                • Avatar of Harleena Singh

                  Harleena Singh

                  October 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

                  Absolutely Jeevan! Kids and teens are always handle with care.:)

                  Thanks for your contribution. :)

  11. Amandah

    October 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    This was a great post and it did strike a nerve. Here it goes…

    I agree with Corinne, 21st century parents need to be trained on ‘How to be Parents.’

    My parents didn’t have a problem setting boundaries for my sister and me. We had rules and regulations. We had discipline, structure, and organization. Of course, my father served in the U.S. Army so it was easy for him to teach us boundaries. My father wasn’t a saint (I now focus on the positive) and my mother had her faults, but compared to parents today, they’re #1 in my eyes. I thank God they taught me how to do things. They taught me about finances the best they could. They spent time with us when they weren’t working. They took an interest in our schooling and jump back, managed to attend parent-teacher conferences. They didn’t make EXCUSES. They made it work and jump back again; the teachers were willing to work with their schedules.

    I’m surrounded by teenagers, I have my niece and nephew living with me and my mom always told my sister, “If you don’t nip their (my niece and nephew’s) behavior in the bud now, you will have problems later.” My sister and brother-in-law didn’t teach my niece and nephew anything. I’m the one teaching them about finances. I’m the one helping them make decisions and teaching them how to make educated decisions. I’m the one who wants to go to my nephew’s construction open house. My sister and brother-in-law should be the ones to go, but like most parents, they’re not. That’s what happens when you’re in the middle of a separation/divorce.

    It irritates me that people today have kids, and they don’t parent them. They just have kids and wing it. Why are you having children? Do you really have a strong desire to be a mom or dad? Do you know and understand what that means? Or, are children a status symbol like a Mercedes Benz?

    I believe parenting doesn’t have to be difficult. I love the story Joel Osteen tells about his older son Jonathan when he was a baby. When Joel and his wife Victoria were having dinner at a restaurant, a couple said to them, “Your son is good now. But wait until he reaches the terrible twos.” Joel then tells how people told him, “Wait until your son becomes a teenager.” Joel tells how his son is still kind and loving and respectful as ever. It comes down to parenting!

    If you didn’t have a great childhood (most people haven’t) get help so you don’t make the same mistakes your parents, grandparents, etc. did. Discover your family’s self-sabotaging behaviors and patterns and heal them BEFORE you have kids. Or if you have kids, start doing the work so you and your family have a better future.

    I admit that I was not an easy teenager to parent, but my parents let me know that I would have consequences for my actions. I also have worked on myself and discovered my family’s self-sabotaging behaviors, thoughts, and patterns. I have written about it so teens can see they too can break the dysfunctional cycle of their families.

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      A very comprehensive comment, Amandah. Thank you so much for your input.

      It’s sad about your sister and brother-in-law. What’s worse is that they’re not in the minority. So many families are like that these days. Then they blend with another ‘half family’ and the cycle gets wound even tighter.

      This, thankfully, is not inevitable. People can still put reins on their family’s life. Parents have to work hard to train a teenager from scratch. I’ve said this so many times in my book (Harleena has kindly linked to it on this page). Getting in there early saves so much heartache.

      My kids have consequences for their actions, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, they have rewards for their actions. We notice when they do good and reward it. Trust me, a carrot works way better than a rod (metaphorically speaking).

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 11, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Glad you could relate to the post Amandah, and thanks for your wonderful comment too!

      Our times I feel were much better, or perhaps our parents were much better off than parents nowadays. There was much more of time and patience our parents had with us, than we have with our kids now – just as you mentioned. All that they taught us is still so clear in our mind and embedded deep within our hearts – isn’t it? And yes, being from the Army too, I can vouch for the disciplined life we lead at home, though that never meant my parents were strict, but yes, everything was well planned and laid out.

      I never stop saying this Amandah that I do marvel at your patience to raise your sister kids, which isn’t easy. You ARE a real parent to them, even though you aren’t really a parent. Yes, even if they are heading for a divorce or separation, the least they can do is take responsibility of their kids while they are still married. Even after that, either one of them should ideally be taking charge. I guess they must have left it all on your Mom and you – an easy way out.

      I completely agree with you about parenting views. Some people don’t have great childhoods but that is all the more reason to ensure that your kids have a wonderful one, as no one can realize this fact better than you. And it really costs nothing to become a better parent, provided you are ready to learn how to be one!

      We need to remember that when we punish or put restrictions on our kids, which all parents need to sometime or the other, we also need to reward them for the good deeds they do – something that most of us forget doing. Happens with me too!

      Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to the post. :)

  12. Debbie

    October 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks Anne and Harleena.

    Those teen years are very important. You have some great tips here. Bringing out the good points is very important. Actually I feel very sad for teens in this day and age. The pressure that they are put under.

    Many parents are to busy making money and buying the material things that they forget to have that relationship with there teens. The boundries are so important and I do like the idea of ‘house boundries.’

    My girls are grown and on their own, but when they were teens, one other thing that I did is when they came home from an evening out, whether it was with friends or on a date, I would get up and sit on there bed and listen to them as they told me about their evening. My mother did this with me and I really remember enjoying those little talks.

    Thanks again for the post and I love the way the teens are commenting and giving there take on there lives. Oh, one other thing I tried to do is always reflect back on my teen years, so I could identify with their own emotions.

    Thanks again,
    Debbie

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Debbie,

      You’re so right. It helps to reflect on how you felt as a teenager (to understand your teen). Today my daughter was telling me how bored she was in her French class because her teacher is ‘rubbish’. I wanted to tell her off for saying that. I wanted to tell her she should pay attention to her French no matter what her teacher was like – that she was going to school to learn, not to bad-talk the teachers.

      I said none of this. I thought of the way I was with a certain Maths teacher. I was fine with Maths until she came into my life. I was a bright student, but Maths let me down from that year onwards. She wrote the equations on the board, then solved them all herself – no explanation. I remembered how she made me hate Maths.

      So, instead, I said to my daughter, ‘I know. It can be hard to concentrate when the teacher isn’t what she should be’. We carried on with a pleasant discussion about school. She, standing there in her school uniform, and me cooking the dinner…

      If I’d said what I initially thought, this would’ve never happened.

      • Debbie

        October 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm

        You really handled this one right. And your daughter proably learned more by you talking to her in this manner instead of giving her your first thoughts.

        Blessings to you,
        Debbie

        • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

          Anne Lyken-Garner

          October 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm

          :-) Thank you, Debbie. Have a great evening.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Absolutely Debbie!

      Teen years are crucial for the teenagers as well as for the parents. They DO need to be handled with care, and lots of love and understanding. Yes, there is a lot of pressure on them nowadays, be it at school, their teachers, friends, or expectations parents have out of them. They are a pressurized lot, and the least we can do is find ways to ease those tensions and help them relax when they come home.

      Seems like a coincidence, but just like Anne’s daughter, yesterday my younger one was complaining about the low marks another teacher gave their class because their own teacher didn’t check their copies this time – something that isn’t normally done. And she was furious and complaining as to how it would affect her overall grades. We all heard her out as a family and said that perhaps she needs to work harder, though knowing that wasn’t the case, but we also added that there seemed to be something wrong and we would talk to the school authorities whenever there is a parents meeting. It calmed her down a great deal as she had someone to let out her feelings to. I am glad for these precious moments our family has to share with one another, which are usually during mealtimes. :)

      You are so right – we need to take out the time and connect with our kids, whenever possible so that they share their feelings and emotions with us. And you will be surprised at the amount they have within that needs a hearing. I remember my Mom always being there for me too, though I feel guilty at times for not being able to spend as much time with my kids as I really want to.

      Oh yes…we have wonderful commentators here and I’m glad even the younger ones are able to connect with this post. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom with all of us. :)

  13. Amandah

    October 11, 2012 at 3:42 am

    @ Anne… I agree that kids need rewards and praise. I tell my nephew how proud I am of him and his accomplishments. He’s a good kid, who unfortunately, is in a somewhat sticky parental situation. He says he doesn’t mind living at grandma’s, but I know my mom feels bad.

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      I think your nephew will benefit from this really difficult point in his life. He’ll learn that things do go wrong, but that when they do, there are people (like you – his aunt, and his grandmother) who will step in and help you deal with it. This is a great life lesson for building confidence.
      There’s nothing devastating to a teen like feeling no one cares about them. I’m speaking from personal and professional stand-points.

  14. Fanny Bucheli Rotter

    October 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I totally agree with you ladies, when you talk about the “good old times” when parents had time and took the time to raise and nurture their children. I also feel that my mother’s parenting happened at a much more “comfortable” pace than what I see today. And considering that mothers had fewer electric and electronic household gadget available, it’s even more commendable.

    However, I don’t think it’s all the parents’ fault either. The rhythm of life today is so different from when we grew up. Instant gratification is a way of life today, for kids as much as for their grown-up role models. We don’t wait for the right season for a specific food, we import it from the other end of the world. We don’t wait for a letter, we have email, etc. Everybody is used to have/do/get everything at the snap of a finger.

    Therefore parents are pressed for time too, and are expected to make decisions in an instant. Often that ends up being the wrong decision, or simply the faster/easier one. Not a great long term strategy, for sure, but a parent would have a hard time trying to change this by him/herself. Our entire way of life needs to slow down if we want to have the time to do things right.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      Absolutely Fanny!

      I think those were very happy and relaxed times, because parents really had lots of time with their kids for the many reasons you mentioned. There were fewer distractions and a simpler life lead to better parenting I feel.

      Yes indeed, we really can’t blame the parents nowadays for the fast paced lives that they are leading where they are needed to multi-task, and work as well as raise their kids – it’s easier said than done. This does result in making regretful decisions sometimes, while at other times it distances them from their own kids due to the lack of time. I guess all of us need to slow down, just as you mentioned, though knowing this fact also we aren’t able to do anything much about it.

      Thanks for your wonderful contribution. :)

  15. Amandah

    October 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks Harleena!

    I’m teaching my niece and nephew about the “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra. I’ve drilled the law of cause and effect into their brains that both of them repeat the meaning back to me from time-to-time. :) My hope is that it will help them to make good and solid decisions versus impulsive ones.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      I’ve heard a lot about that book Amandah, though not really had the time to read it yet!

      I’m sure your hard work and effort to make them good adults is going to pay off, and those kids are surely going to look up to you once they grow up. Just keep the faith, and all the very best with them. :)

      Thanks for your wonderful contribution. :)

  16. Betsy at Zen Mama

    October 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Anne,

    I really enjoyed your post. When I was trying to control them because I “knew what was best” for them, the relationship tanked. I found that when I stopped nagging, really listened, laughed and found out my teen’s true interests that our relationship got better. I’m happy to say that when I began to these things and a few more, our relationship flourished. And now with our third teen, everything is much better!

    Harleena,

    I spent some time reading through your blog this morning and love it!! I just subscribed and I’m looking forward to reading your posts as you write them. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      That’s great that you worked that out. So many parents never get it right and go through child after child, messing up what could be an enjoyable time indeed.
      I know hormones are rife during teenage years, but this is no reason for unresolvable problems in the family. There will be difficult times, but this is why they have parents – to help them work it out.

      The solution has to come from us. It’s never going to come from them. They’re only kids, after all. I remember once my dad (estranged) said he stopped sending me birthday cards because I didn’t send him any. What? Who’s the parent? (I’ve never lived with my Dad. That one’s a very long story :-))

      Thank you for your input.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Welcome to the blog Betsy, it’s so nice to have you over!

      Glad you enjoyed the post, and than you for subscribing and reading through the blog. :)

      You are absolutely right – I guess we need to loosen ourselves a little as parent with our teens especially and not always be strict with them. Yes, a certain amount is required, but if there’s a blend it’s any day better because it helps the relationship get better.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  17. Adrienne

    October 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Anne and welcome to Harleena’s blog.

    Well, I’m not a parent and I am much older but I love the generation that I grew up in. Parents actually disciplined their children and trust me, I knew my boundaries.

    When I broke the rules I was punished and I didn’t get out of it until my time was up. When my Mom set time limits it was to the tee. There was no getting away with anything when I was a kid and I wish it were like that today.

    I know that parents are busy but both my parents worked and my mother cooked every single night. Trust me, it was luxurious dinners but there weren’t any fast food restaurants back then either. We sat down at the table every single night and ate dinner together unless my Dad was traveling. We were a family and our parents spent time with us.

    Just a whole other generation and one I’m blessed to have grown up in.

    ~Adrienne

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Thanks for the welcome, Adrienne.

      I’m fitting in nicely. I work both outside the home and in. My husband and I share the cooking and give our kids a cooked dinner each night. We seldom have take-outs. We do it as a treat. So like your sweet family, there are some remnants of that sort of family life today :-)

      I won’t say I’m strict with my kids, though compared to other parents in the Western world, I’m very strict. I allow them some lee-way. I allow them to make their own decisions – after all, this is why I parent them – so they can make good decisions.

      Having said this, they do have boundaries. I do want my kids to know I’m human. I want them to know I make mistakes and I say sorry when I do. I want to teach them that they too can feel free to accept that no matter how much they know, they can be wrong too.

      I want them to know I’m not perfect, but that I try my best and do love them enough to let them see that.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you for welcoming Anne, Adrienne!

      Oh yes! I remember my time too and how we were thorough disciplined kids – perhaps because my Dad was in the army, so it came naturally to us. But even otherwise, we enjoyed as a family and did everything together – that was the biggest plus point we had. Right from the meals we shared together, to the outings we had as a family, it was always all of us as one.

      Even though there were times Dad had to go out of station on his transfers, but that never stopped us from loving one another. I guess once that bond is created, it just gets stronger by the day, unless you let loose some place.

      We had our boundaries set too, but we never really broke them or were told of the consequences and had a lot of respect for our parents to go against their wishes. And I agree with Anne that being a parent, we have to be a little strict with our kids too so that they are well geared for their life ahead as adults. The teen years are their learning years for adulthood, so they better be groomed well. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone. :)

  18. Dwayne Castle

    October 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Hi Anne.

    Thanks for a great post. I would add to it that in today’s world, there are many broken homes, single parents, etc., who came from homes of similar situations. This has seriously caused parenting skills to suffer over time. As you wrote, boundaries are necessary. The other thing is the need for parents to be real and transparent.

    My daughters are grown and now I have a 5 year old grandson who is awesome. He thinks I am the best. Smartest, strongest and supermaniest man ever. When I mess up I share with him. When I see him doing wrong I tell him about my mistakes and what learned from them. When he does well, I acknowledge it. I make time for him whether it is to do something special or just to hang out.

    Things I wish I would have done better with my girls. I have a better balance between stern and soft with him than I had with my girls. So, I guess my point is that it is best to have grandkids before having kids. Much better prepared that way.

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      What a lovely comment! You made me smile. I’m not a grandparent yet, but I can see what you mean.

      Grandparents (mostly) don’t have to worry about raising kids, paying the mortgage, keeping the kids in school, job security etc. Most grandparents are secure home-wise and job-wise. Notice I said MOST. :-)
      They have so much time to just love the kids. Parents haven’t got that privilege unfortunately. While loving them, we have so much more stress in our lives. Ultimately, we’re always worrying if we’re doing the right thing by them. Grandparents (who’re not parenting grand-kids) just have to love them and give them back.

      I’m sure your girls love and appreciate you for being a great grand-dad. Tell them what you’ve said in this comment (in your last paragraph) and you’ll see. Not all grandparents are as great as you. I have first-hand experience with this.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Nice to see you Dwayne, and glad you liked the post too!

      You are absolutely right – grandparents have the time now at their age to enjoy their grandkids, more than they could enjoy their own children. And just as Anne mentioned, that’s because they are through with most of their major responsibilities of raising their kids and working hard to get them educated and settled.

      Now it’s their time to sit back and enjoy their ripe old age and have fun with their grandchildren, and yes, it’s never too late to include your own kids in the enjoyment too. I’m sure your girls would love to be a part of you and your grandchildren, and they must be realizing the time that you couldn’t spend with them was for a reason. All of us are going to go through the phase you have undergone, because life has become so very hectic nowadays. One’s just caught up in the rut of life and sooner than we imagine, our kids would have grown up and left us thinking just what you think too. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and your contribution to the post. :)

  19. Cathy

    October 12, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Hi Harleena,

    This has so much great tips on how to raise teenagers. This line is great – “Provide incentives for your teenager to be responsible when setting healthy boundaries.” Teenagers are at that stage mentally where they appreciate a reward for their efforts, and you offer some good suggestions.

    Thanks for an informative post. Take care.

    • Avatar of Anne Lyken-Garner

      Anne Lyken-Garner

      October 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      You’re welcome, Cathy. Thanks for your kind comment. I’m glad you could take something away with you.

      Incentives have worked wonders for us.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Yes indeed Cathy, these tips are wonderful and any parent would love to follow them too.

      Incentives work wonders with everyone, even if they are kids, teens, and us too – don’t they? I guess if we appreciate their efforts more than what they don’t do, it would help a great deal to make the relationship better.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  20. Carolyn

    October 22, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Hi Anne, Welcome to Harleena’s place!

    You’re so right, setting boundaries is very important. Sometimes it can be difficult to stick to those boundaries, but this shouldn’t be an issue once your child understands that you are serious about enforcing those boundaries.

    Other parents will support and accept your boundaries too. If you set and respect boundaries, you are setting a great example not just for your teenagers but for other parents as well!

    • Anne relationship help blog

      October 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks for the welcome, Carolyn.

      On behalf of the parents – It can only be difficult if parents aren’t sure of themselves, or why they’ve set those boundaries. It can also be difficult if parents don’t support each other in the boundaries which are set.

      My husband and I have always supported each other and the rules we’ve set for the kids. All we have to do now is make sure the kids know them and keep them, and give rewards for positive behaviour.

      You’re right. Other parents can get good examples from those who’re able to set boundaries for their kids.

    • Avatar of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Absolutely Carolyn!

      Sometimes it does get tough, but if parents set the rules and make sure that they do so right from the time their kids are young, things work out perfectly. And yes, you need to stand your ground with these. ( I used to have a tough time when my kids were young, but soon realized that it was needed.)

      Yes indeed, other parents, and even both our parents are supportive of the boundaries we set for our kids and don’t interfere, which I think helps reinforce what we say.

      Just as Anne mentioned, both parents also need to support each other when boundaries are set, which is very important or else the kid’s find their weak points and are quick to get away with things.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom with all of us. :)

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