Live with intent, take time, have patience and gain a new perspective. See how having a relationship with your teen can change both of your lives. Say goodbye to status-quo.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Something that works really well for my daughter building trust in her life, is the visual of a HOUSE. A house starts from virtually nothing, there is land, and then through time it is built up. The foundation/land has to be good/safe/healthy/trustworthy, and there is more than one person building it. People work together to build a house, or any building for that matter. Over time, the house's completion can be beautiful! The transformation that takes place is amazing. But if, during the building process, there is a storm, or an accident, the process gets damaged, and it "falls behind". It loses "bricks". This is the analogy I've used with my daughter.

As she was and is growing up, and she would ask to do certain things, I'd always say, "Remember, you are building a house of bricks, and you want to keep adding, so your house turns out beautifully. But if you lose a brick or two, just know that the bricks equal trust, so the more bricks you add to your house, the more trust you earn."

I think that really helped her and I relationally. She'd do different things, like go to a concert with a friend when she was 13. We dropped them off and we stayed near by, but they went alone. She hadn't done anything at that point in her life for me not to trust her, so why should I say no? They had cell phones, and I was near by and it wasn't a concert where there would be drugs or anything. This was one of our first and biggest milestones! Anyway, it went great, and she definitely built trust that night, lots of bricks!

But there have been other times, over the last few years, where she would lose bricks. I am not much of a "rule" person, but one of my rules is no boys in the house when we are not home. Well, one night I came home and not only were there boys in the house but there was a hole in the wall in the basement, and a picture frame down in the entry way of our house! I was NOT happy.

But I didn't scream and yell. I mean she IS human, and she was in her TWEEN years, so she needed grace, and compassion but also need discipline and a punishment.
So I think finding the balance as I said earlier in one of my blogs, is that when your child misbehaves (or whatever you want to call it, I don't like the word disobey), our response MATTERS. What good would yelling at her do? Or making her feel bad, and putting her down, or being negative? I say if you think this might be your response (which according to my daughter's friends, is most parents responses), then COUNT TO 10! Cool down, and then approach her; get yourself together and zoom out, it isn't life or death here.

I ended up sternly asking her if she remembered the rule of no boys in the house when we are not home. I asked her then why she had them over anyway. I basically asked a lot of questions, and didn't accuse or assume, or insult. That can so easily happen, we can't let it. Our kids, good or bad, NEED US. There are constructive ways to discipline and handle misbehaving.

By asking her questions, this gave her a chance to have a voice and answer, instead of treating her like some object I'm trying to control. It's important our kids know that there is GRACE and that we all make mistakes, especially at the vulnerable ages of 12-16. They have to know they have a voice in this, we have to create a two way street, it takes two to tango! It's not about having power of these little humans, it's about walking along side them on their confusing journey. Does that make sense???

I obviously told her how disappointed I was, and that I was not happy with her, but that I forgave her, but reminded her that she's not building her house of trust by making these sort of decisions. I asked her, "Wouldn't you rather have more trust so you can do more things?" Her answer was YES, of course. She was grounded for a week, and it all blew over.

Through the last couple of years she has lost many bricks, but she's also GAINED a bunch too. Because she's built so many bricks of trust, she's able to do things that parents look at me like I'm nuts! But as long as she keeps building something trustworthy, she'll have more freedom, as long as what she wants to do is healthy, and safe, it's ok with me!

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a perfect analogy that many parents can apply. It is a great reference point over the course of years.

    Another shocker that I hope you don't mind me sharing for you Gina, is that I've seen you get upset with Madelynn, but also in the same time ask for her forgiveness because you didn't think you treated her well in that moment. I don't think many parents out there would ask their teenager for forgiveness. That takes vulnerability and a feeling of "loss of power."

    I thought it was very brave.