By: Darren Lane, Director of Residential Therapy

Try not to punish the relationship when trying to correct the child. I had a chance to see an example of this not too long ago. The situation was a well-known, typical scenario: a teenager broke a rule. It wasn’t the breaking of a life-threatening rule, such as drinking and driving, or doing drugs, but it was a case where the teen knew better and had been warned. The adult in this situation stated what rule was broken, and after the attempts of the teen to minimize and mitigate, stuck to her guns and issued the consequence. No lecture. No yelling. No “how many times do I have to tell you?” It was a beautiful thing. A little while after the consequence was given, I saw the mom braiding the teen’s hair. Correction was issued, but the relationship remained intact and a high priority.

For those of us who have (or had) teenagers, we can probably think of times when our precious offspring have ignored every lecture, warning, and our feeble attempts at bartering and simply chose their own way. This is the part of child-rearing that requires parents to remain strong. We adults must continue to “train up the child,” to help our teens realize that self-centeredness is not one of the seven habits leading to success. But this continuous “training” can be draining and extremely frustrating. It is my experience that this is where we may begin to damage or punish the relationship in order to get our teenager to do what we want.

Let me encourage you that you’re not alone in this battle, and that no one does it right most of the time. Fight against using shame, guilt, comparisons, criticizing, condemnation, force, or aggression. There is a saying I use with the people I serve: connection before correction. It helps remind me that unless I work on building the connection, I may not even have a voice in “training up” the teenagers I serve. Once a genuine connection is established, I am oftentimes amazed at the level of loving correction I’m allowed. I’ve seen this in action, and I’m praying that you will too.

Darren Lane has been a part of The Joy House team since 2008, initially serving as a Counselor for the Residential Program, and then becoming our Director of Therapy. Darren has lived in Pickens County for almost 40 years. Darren has a B.S. from Kennesaw State University in Psychology and a Masters in Family and Marriage Counseling from Liberty University.