A follow-up question that has risen more than once: “What are consequences for the rude remarks, bad attitude and overall negativity that are frequently dished our way via the teenage crowd?”

I just got off the phone with one mom whose daughter piled it on this morning while taxi-driving mom was hauling the crew to school. The kicker… Dad happened to be in the car, too. He couldn’t believe it … even questioned his wife, “Does this happen every morning?!” Her response, “Pretty much.” She was thrilled that her husband witnessed the ordeal and that she wasn’t going crazy. I think the mom has started down the road of building a big crusty wall to deal with the assaults. As a consequence, the mom instantly took the girl’s phone. The kid appeared not to care.

Thanks, Jody for sharing your thoughts on this and so many other topics.

… and thanks for walking the road with me.



OK, this is a tough topic, as we know. Here are my thoughts:

1. The brain of a teen is different than the adult. (see excerpt from the chapter below) When we react to the crummy way they act, things get worse. So, as the adult, we must be proactive and respond with a plan. This is what I suggest as “the plan”.

2. First of all, talk with your teen in private. Set up a time, take ownership for what you feel and think. “I feel disrespected when you treat me this way with your friends. I feel hurt. Can you help me get this resolved? want to drive you and your friends, but I can’t if this continues.”  If you start with a “You…” statement, your teen will get defensive, emotional, combative, and you won’t get anywhere. You will both leave angry and most likely say things you will later regret.

3. Give your teen a chance to be part of the solution. If he/she gets combative, say, “I see that I have made you angry, that was not my intent. Please think about this and get back with me when you are ready with a solution.” And WALK AWAY, not angry or slamming doors or saying disparaging remarks, just walk away in a calm, detached manner. You are detached from the words your teen said, not your teen.

4. If your teen comes up with a solution, great! Go with it.

5. If not, then come back and say, “(ownership of your feelings, not attacking your teen with a “you” statement) will not be able to drive you and your friends until this is resolved. Please talk with your friends about a solution. If you want to invite then over for snacks and we can brainstorm this together, that is great with me.” Again, detached. Don’t get angry or emotional.

6. If your teen screams and says, “You HAVE to drive us, that’s YOUR job…!” You may RESPOND with, “love driving you and your friends and you are right, that is part of my responsibility as a parent. However, it is not part of the deal for me to be verbally abused/assaulted. If you treated or talked to your boss in this way at a future job, you would be fired. Consider this some on-the-job-training.” AND WALK AWAY unless  your teen is responding in a respectful way and now willing to be part of the solution.

7. And of course, as always, “Pray without ceasing!” :)


FYI: This is what I wrote for the book Bonding with Your Teens with Boundaries about “Understanding Your Teen”.

It sounds as though your son has developed a real attitude problem. Andy argues with you about almost everything. He’s being defiant, disrespectful, and definitely disagreeable. He was such a sweet boy a year ago. Who is this person…this adolescent…this young teenager?

Being a parent of a teen is no easy task. Teens can be exhausting. Their range of emotions is vast and their developmental needs are daunting at best. Being a teenager is challenging as well because on any given day here are some of the doubts and questions a teen may wrestle with…

  • What happens if I can’t pass this class?
  • How many people can I text today?
  • Is anyone going to bully me today?
  • Who’s values do I follow? My parents? My friends? School? Church?
  • What can I do to stay awake in class?
  • What if I mess up during the game Friday night?
  • Where the game is Friday night and how do I get there?
  • Who posted information about me last night and why and who saw it and what did they say?
  • Am I going to get into a good college…or even get a job in today’s economy?
  • How am I going to get my homework done since I have to work my part-time job tonight?
  • Who’s cool and who’s not. Who’s in and who’s not. Where do I fit in?
  • Should I have a date for Homecoming next month…and who should it be?
  • Should I try out some alcohol, drugs, tobacco and sex?
  • Where is everyone going this weekend and am I included?
  • Do I have money I need for food, clothes, entertainment and gas?
  • Why do my parents act like such weirdoes?
  • Why do I get so mad at my family?
  • When will my parents get off my case and let me do what I want?
  • Do my parents like me simply for who I am?

And why do people keep telling me these are the best years of my life? Is this really as good as it will ever get?

A Time of Transition

Adolescence is a time of transition. Your teen is changing from being a child and moving towards being an adult. Change is the one constant in their lives.  The Latin word for adolescence is adolescere which means “to grow up”.

[Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (electronic edition) (Merriam-Webster, 2001)]

Physically, your teen is

  • Developing soon than previous generations
  • Experiencing hormonal changes and developing sexually
  • Needing at least 8-9 hours of sleep at night

Emotionally, your teen is

  • Living in the ‘now’ and not anticipating consequences
  • Arguing and resisting your authority
  • Believing they are indestructible and immortal

Mentally, your teen is

  • Increasing in ability to learn, reason and problem solve
  • Seeking out  novelty and creative choices
  • Multi-tasking with electronics as they study

Socially, your teen is

  • Transitioning from parents to peers
  • Wanting to feel connected to others
  • Searching for identity, significance and security

Spiritually, your teen is

  • Questioning what faith in God means for them
  • Needing an authentic relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Wanting to get ownership for their own convictions

Tomorrow Jody will share the “What can you do’s”.

Jody Capehart is an educator, author and speaker with nearly 40 years experience. She is the author or co-author of over 15 books including Cherishing and Challenging Your Children, Teaching with Heart, Christian Charm Course, The Discipline Guide, Discipline by Design, Bonding with Your Teens through Boundaries, and Discipline to the Design of Your Child. Please see The Pantry if you’re interested in her book Understanding Your Teen.

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