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Marriage; adolescent dysfunction

Discipline is guidance.
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What is it about angry, violent and disrespectful adolescence? Every day marriages are plagued and challenged with troubled or just plain troubling teens. Do they even grasp how marriage already comes with enough challenges of its own? How do we get them to see that the disrespecting of one or both parents and the running off with people they don’t need to be with affects the whole house. What’s troubling is that couples are so devastated and the damage is such that the marriage reaches a point that can’t be repaired.

Sure, we can probably agree that these kids have underlying issues that need professional help. But what about those teens that do come from healthy family scenarios and have no real mental issue to speak of. Are they just simply selfish and self-centered? Are we dealing with severe entitlement? How in the world do they get that way…from peers, society, how? Some would say they also seem to see the parents fighting as victory for them, possibly wanting to see the crashing of their parent’s marriage.

Let’s keep this scenario between two good will parents, seemingly, no major issues between them. The only time there is stress in the home is when it comes to dealing with their teens. Somehow they manage to win, purposefully pitting one against the other. What happens is they manage to successfully manipulate one spouse. They break and finally give in to the child allowing them to have their way. Sometimes it’s out of tiring defeat or just simply to get away from them. The problem is that sometimes means going against the disciplinary decisions of the other spouse.

Come on! Is that really what our teens want to see happen to their parents? Do they really want to see their parent’s marriage cave in over the stress their creating? Whereas most people are warned that the blessed event of a new baby may challenge the romance in their marriage, not enough warning is given to parents about dealing with their teen. As adults, we are always warned to draw our boundary lines in the sand. Should we do this with our teens, to a healthy extent. Yes.

Picture this: you are a happily married couple whose only pressing challenge is the defiant behaviors of your teen. Your teen will be grown and moved out before much longer. Why not fight for your marriage? At the end of the storm, once they leave, you can find yourselves as two depressed divorcees that otherwise, had a fighting chance. Sure, continually being overridden and disrespected by the kids and spouse, in most cases, can be deal breaker. In that case, it is totally saddening to see teens manipulate to this level of breaking point.

Most couples know the positive sounds of silence, the mutual experience of sharing time and space together without needing words. Many couples also know the silence that reflects tension, conflict or disconnection. They are unable to speak beyond the necessities of daily life. To talk about family means to talk about a family issue that involves the kids. So even when they’re not present they manage to chip away at a marriage. Don’t focus on the kids more than the marriage.

Parenting shouldn’t be looked at as something you only do for a season, and when it’s over, then you’ll have time to work on your marriage. You might hate this statement, but my wife comes before my kids. She should be your life partner; the kids will go on to live their lives. Once they are moved out, why let them wreck your home only to live in the perceived harmony of theirs. This is where the ball gets dropped most of the time. Be on the same page with every parenting decision.

And, that means every single decision, in theory. Like this: you may not tell your wife which movie to show the kids, but you both agree on the type of movie. Keep in mind we are talking about two seeming healthy people who are parenting together. We’re not talking about one healthy parent and one unhealthy parent who would rather be the kids friend and avoid confrontation with them. That is a whole other article topic.

Although society has declared a vigilant pursuit on child abuse, because that is never alright, discipline is still discipline. Your children should never rule your home. Not holding them accountable may just be setting them up for failure. Sometimes these behaviors are truly because our kids are just feeling unwanted or unheard. Or maybe it is some other perceived void in their life that feels real to them. Before you gripe or ignore them, find out what’s hurting them if you can.

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