Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No

Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No

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Teenagers - you love them to pieces, but sometimes you feel like the pieces are falling apart. Look no further for the help you need. Boundaries with Teens will help you establish wise and loving limits that make a positive difference in your teen, in the rest of your family, and in you.

The teen years: relationships, peer pressure, school, dating, character. To help teenagers grow into healthy adults, parents and youth workers need to teach them how to take responsibility for their behavior, their values, and their lives.

From bestselling author and counselor Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens is the expert insight and guidance you need to help your teens take responsibility for their actions, attitudes, and emotions and gain a deeper appreciation and respect both for you and for themselves.

With wisdom and empathy, Dr. Townsend applies biblically based principles for the challenging task of guiding your children through the teen years. Using the same principles he used to successfully raise two teens, he shows you how to:

  • Deal with disrespectful attitudes and impossible behavior in your teen
  • Set healthy limits and realistic consequences
  • Be loving and caring while establishing rules
  • Determine specific strategies to deal with problems both big and small

Discover how boundaries make parenting teens better today!

Plus, check out Boundaries family collection of books dedicated to key areas of life – dating, marriage, raising young kids, and leadership. Workbooks and Spanish editions are also available.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480554313
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 779,704
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

Dr. John Townsend is a respected leadership consultant, psychologist, and New York Times bestselling author. Dr. Townsend is the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling and the online digital platform Townsend NOW; he also conducts the Townsend Leadership program. He travels extensively for corporate consulting, speaking, and helping develop leaders and their teams. He and his wife, Barbi, have two sons, Ricky and Benny, and live in Newport Beach, California.

Read an Excerpt

Boundaries with Teens Copyright 2006 by John Townsend This title is also available as a Zondervan ebook product. Visit for more information.
This title is also available as a Zondervan audio product. Visit for more information.
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Townsend, John Sims, 1952 — .
Boundaries with teens : when to say yes, how to say no / John Townsend. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25957-2
ISBN-10: 0-310-25957-6
1. Parent and teenager — Religious aspects — Christianity.
2. Child rearing —
Religious aspects — Christianity.
3. Parenting — Religious aspects — Christianity.
4. Teenagers — Conduct of life. I. Title.
BV4529.T685 2006
649'.125 — dc22
This edition printed on acid-free paper.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright
1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL 60189 USA.
All rights reserved.
The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan,
nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Published in association with Yates and Yates, LLP, Attorneys and Counselors, Orange, CA.
Interior design by Melissa Elenbaas Printed in the United States of America
06 07 08 09 10 11
• 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Chap ter 1
Revisit Your Own Adolescence One night when I was seventeen, I ran my parents' Ford Fairlane station wagon as fast as it would go. It gave out on me after about two miles. It just stopped, and that was it. The engine had to be rebuilt.
What was I thinking? It was a station wagon! I had to call my dad at
1:00 a.m. so he could take me home. We had the car towed the next day. While the Fairlane tragedy isn't a good memory, I benefited from that experience. When one of my sons told me that he had lost a watch I had given him, I remembered how crummy I had felt when I had to call my own father and tell him what had happened to the Fairlane.
That memory helped me understand how bad my son was feeling about losing his watch, so I just told him, 'Oh, well, we'll get another and try again.' If you have a pulse, you have similar stories from your adolescence.
Teens do things that are irresponsible. That is the nature of adolescence. For some of us, the teen years had some minor blips, and for others of us, they were miserable.
For the sake of your teen, remember your own adolescence. The more you can recollect how you felt and what you did then, the better a parent you will be.
Your Teen Needs You to Have a Past Why should you unearth those days? What benefit will it bring to your adolescent? Significant ones, as we will see. Remembering can help you show your teen:
Empathy and identification. It is easy to forget how difficult the teen years can be, and parents sometimes judge teens too harshly for behaving like a teenager.
But your teen needs a parent who will connect with him and show him empathy, who can identify with what he is going through and who understands the struggle of adolescence. He needs to know that he is not alone in the fight.
Think about how much you need someone to hear you and be there for you in your everyday struggles as an adult. What if every time you screwed up, all you heard was, 'What in the world are you doing? Are you trying to ruin your life?' Wouldn't it be easy to feel disheartened and give up? Your teen, whose brain is less developed than yours, is even less resilient in the face of criticism. Your support can soften the blows that will inevitably come your teen's way.
This doesn't mean that you should tell your teen lots of stories about your own adolescence. Parents often do that, thinking it's helping,
when it really ends up being more for the parent than for the teen.
Instead, remember those days, give them a few stories now and then,
but keep most of your memories to yourself and allow them to help you identify with your teen. I have had so many teens tell me how disconnected they feel when dad tells them all the stories of his adolescence.
It's much better for you to enter their world.
Nor does identifying with your teen mean you will approve of all his choices; rather, you are able to put yourself in your teen's place — even when he is being rude, self-centered, and unreasonable.
When you see a little part of yourself in your adolescent, you can give him the connection he needs to mature.
Insight and wisdom. Because you have survived your own adolescence,
you have access to what helped you during those turbulent years, and why. When you remember what made a difference in your life, those memories can give you insight and wisdom so that you, in turn, can provide what your teen needs.
So ask yourself these three questions:
1. Who stuck with me without giving up on me?
2. What truths helped me make sense of the world?
3. What did I learn from the consequences of my actions?
My Boy Scout troop leader, A. J. 'DK' DeKeyser, spent time with me during countless meetings and trips. He encouraged me to stay in Boy Scouts when I was ready to bail. And he didn't tell my parents every bad thing I did; instead, he handled each one himself. DK is one of those people whose wisdom helped me learn persistence, and my memories of him have reminded me of the kind of parent I want to be.
Hope. All parents wonder if their teen will ever change, become responsible, or care about his or her life. Parents don't know their children's future. Yet, because you can remember your own adolescence,
you now can understand your own life and decisions. You know that you went through tough times and made many bad decisions, but that you gradually became more connected, self-controlled, focused, and responsible. Your own years should offer you hope for your teen; you can convey that hope even when your teen is floundering.
My mother raised four kids. After I had grown up, I asked her how she made it. She told me that when she was overwhelmed with us, she would go to her own mom, who had raised six kids. Her mom would always tell her the same thing: 'It's just a stage; they'll grow out of it.'
This helped my mom put up with us and help us get to the next stage,
whatever it was.
Try to Remember . . .
Even though it's not uncommon for parents to talk about how much more challenging the world is today for teens, research statistics say otherwise. For example, between 1978 and 2002, the average age for drinking alcohol for the first time went from 16.3 years to 16.2. The age for smoking the first cigarette went up from 15.2 years of age to
16.1, and the age for smoking marijuana for the first time went from
18.4 years of age to 17.2. In 1991, 54 percent of students had had sexual intercourse. In 2003, the percentage was 46 percent.
Today's parents can rest assured that many of the challenges they faced in adolescence are similar to the challenges their teens face.

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments 7
Introduction: Who Threw the Switch? 9
Part One Be a Parent with Boundaries
1. Revisit Your Own Adolescence 21
2. Be a Boundary 29
3. Get Connected 33
4. Face Your Guilt and Fear 39
5. Be United in Your Parenting 45
6. Be an Integrated Parent 49
7. For Single Parents 55
8. For Stepparents 61
Part Two Understand the Teenage World
9. Adolescence: The Last Step before Adulthood 69
10. A Period of Tremendous Change 75
11. Teens Think Differently 79
12. Separating from Parents 83
13. From Earthly to Eternal Parent 91
14. Understanding the Differences between Boys and Girls 95
15. The Influence of Culture 99
Part Three Set Boundaries with Your Teen
16. Dig beneath Your Teen's Problem 107
17. Use the Four Anchors of Boundary Setting 113
18. Don't Get Derailed 121
19. Consequences 101 131
Part Four Address Common Problems
20. Academic Problems 143
21. Aggressive Behavior 149
22. Alcohol, Drugs, and Dependencies 155
23. Argumentativeness 161
24. Breaking Agreements 167
25. Chores 171
26. Clothing 175
27. Curfew Violations 179
28. Cutting and Self-Mutilation 183
29. Deception and Lying 187
30. Defiance 191
31. Detaching from the Family in Unhealthy Ways 195
32. Disrespect 199
33. Driving and Cars 205
34. God and Spirituality 209
35. Ignoring Parents 213
36. Impulsive Behaviors 217
37. Internet 223
38. Money 227
39. Moodiness 231
40. Parties 237
41. Peers 243
42. Phone 249
43. Runaways 253
44. Sexual Involvement 259
45. Silence 265
Epilogue 269
Appendix A: Seeking the Help of a Professional 273
Appendix B: Tips for When You Don't Know What to Do 275
Notes 277
Index 279

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Boundaries with Teens 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You must read this book when your child starts 7th grade, I wish I had. But, even if you are like us and are late in seeking help with parenting, do not despair, this book will give you the support you need. It really opened our eyes to understanding the teen of today, not the teens that my husband and I remember being as we grew up in the 70's. Perhaps we all forget what it's like to be a teen, after college and having careers one's priorities do change to become successful. There are so many experts out there, the schools, TV, etc. that tell parents about the dangers for teens, it can make any parent bolt the door and become a tyrant just to keep your child safe, and that doesn't work. This book helps parents to understand how to help your teen to grow their wings of independence, which must happen, yet to keep your values and remain respected as a parent.
parentofateenager More than 1 year ago
This book has been helpful to us at a time when our teenage son's behavior was worrying us. It is easy to understand, yet it says things which I would never guess on my own. While it is not easy to put the principles of this book into effect, it does give you an idea of the direction you should be aiming in
hppymom More than 1 year ago
I was at the end of my rope with my 15-year-old when I finally picked up this book. I haven't finished reading it yet but from what I've read so far, I'm already learning a lot and can see myself actually liking my child again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish I had known about this book a long time ago! The tools in it would have saved us huge pain in dealing with our teenage daughter. It is a must read and keep in your library for all parents. I recommend getting it and reading it and learning the tools when they are still babies before they ever become a teenager! You will be glad you did.
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It really helped my twin daughter and really works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I diddntlike itat ll