Talk Back: Footloose OR fancy free?

When my Mom was in high school, she broke the rules and went to a school dance. Later that evening she was pulled off the dance floor in front of all her friends by a fuming, God-fearing man. My Grandfather. He had told his daughter there would be no dancing and he apparently meant what he said. So he dragged my humiliated Mother home and poured on the guilt, I'm sure.

Footloose, anyone?

I've heard that story a thousand times in my life. My Mom would tell it to me pretty much any time she allowed me to do something she was not allowed to do in her own childhood. Or on the rare occasion that she had to say no, I would hear the inevitable, "Well, I wasn't even allowed to dance when I was growing up so I think you should realize that there are a lot of things I DO let you do."

Then I would stomp off to pout, waiting and hoping that she would change her mind.

My parent's decisions made no sense to me at the time, but now as a mom, I'm finally catching on. My boys are only ages three and one, but I think a lot about the future, wanting the very best for their lives. I know a very important part of parenting is having boundaries, but I'm not sure yet what ours will look like in the teen years. I'm naturally pretty laid back about rules, but I also believe boundaries are very important for kids, so I don't want them to have too much freedom either.

It seems there are many different ways to apply boundaries, rules and expectations in the teen years. I'm not convinced there's a best approach? Is there a best? If you have pre-teen and/or teen children, how did you decide what the "rules" would be? Is what you've chosen to do working for your family? Did you follow any certain advice from books or other sources?

If you don't have teens yet, is this something you think about?

I realize I have many years before my boys will be teenagers, but let's face it, the teen years are daunting. I figure I should start thinking, preparing and praying now!


  1. I've had a teen for a year and a half, and in another year I'll have a second. I feel like I'm walking through a maze, blind. But so far we're doing okay. I make it up as I go. :)

  2. Hey girl - my girls are 6 and 4 and my boy is 1. I do my best NOT to think about the teenage years for pure survival. I need to function throughout my day not just sit and weep in fear.

    One thing I do know?? No one is driving until they are 17. End of discussion. Period. 16 is too damn young. I actually hope they increase the age t0 18 by the time by kids get there.

  3. I could write a book here. Don't worry, I won't!!

    All the rules that I thought would have are out the window. The things that I said would never allow - I allow. The MOST important thing to me is that my kids know that they can tell me anything. And I do mean anything. Sometimes I hear things that I wish I didn't know. It's a fine line to walk then because you have now been told the truth and how do you discipline for that.

    I loved my parents, but didn't tell them anything. And I never (or rarely) got caught. Boundaries are great, but just don't be so set in stone that you are inflexible. Teen years are very fluid. No two days are the same.

    I'm done now. I have 2 teens home from school today, maybe I should go see what they are doing.

  4. I'm terrified of the teen years. Mine are only 7 right now but in ten years...YIKES! SEVENTEEN?! I REFUSE! GET BACK IN THE WOMB RIGHT NOW! NO, YOU DON'T GET TO DRIVE!

    Ok, seriously--I worry a lot about it. My teenage years were hands-down the worst years of my life (thus far. Knock on wood.) I don't ever want them to go through what I did or feel the way I did. My husband and I talk a lot about it because we knew each other during those years and went through some terrible things together. We've made plans but our most important thing--We want them to be able to feel safe with us and feel safe in being honest with us. If they don't know that we're on their side, what's the point? We don't want their teenage years to be the stereotypical "Parents vs. Kids." We want to be natural allies.

    For us, that means being allies NOW as well as later. Putting that trust and love and relationship in now so that the foundation is set for later.

    Sorry for the novel response. I get carried away in this vein of thought. =]

  5. I am just flat freaked out at the thought! Honestly? I was terribly shy and awkward as a teenager, and that did save me some grief, and somehow my parents managed to be my best friends through those years . . . I don't wish that kind of struggle on my girls, but I won't be too sad if they don't "blossom" until they're past those scary teen years!

  6. I have a teen and a tween. People say that my girls are some of the nicest and most well mannered girls they have met. The biggest thing that we have done is to make sure to treat them like people. I don't talk down to them and hubby and I discuss things before we decide anything important. It has always been like that for us. they need to know that they can't divide and conquer. I have seen that with a lot of the girls' friends. I also agree with Sheryl you have to be flexible-it isn't all rainbows & unicorns here, and you have to realize that.

  7. My kids are 13, 10 and 8 (and the 8 year old thinks she's a teen). It's been more fun so far than I expected. You DO see big changes when puberty hits, and I do better when I take the observer role and remember the hormones are talking. Love 'em for who they are, not what they are doing at the moment.
    I hope I will always remember what it was like to be a teenager--how I felt, what was going on, and how I handled/didn't handle it. And how, sooner or later, I turned out okay. I knew my parents were there for me even if I didn't want to hang out with them. If I can remember that I too did stupid things, took risks, and eventually learned from it all, I hope I can help my kids through it too.

  8. Hee, hee - expect the unexpected. And for all of you who are patting yourselves on the back...not so fast! You've been lucky. A parent can do everything "right" (whatever that means) and still have a troublesome teen. Believe me, I know...

  9. Funny you should ask...My post today is about "remembering" those teen years. You post some great questions. and the best answers I've found are these: The only boundaries that don't change are God's limits. So those are the firmest No's. Add to that anything that could impair their safety, be life-threatening. I'm reading an excellent book right now called Kids Are Worth It (from Mrs.4444, who works with teens, and is a great parent herself.) And a friend of ours has a great line I like to recite in times of conflict: The calmest one wins. (last night I lost, btw).

    My teenagers have made some very tough choices, ones I would never made myself at that age. Even our daughter is pushing the boundaries. But I have to say I feel great about the relationships. We are close. We talk. We listen. We affirm. We hug. We laugh. And they are turning into wonderful people that I can see myself enjoying for the rest of my life.

  10. I have two teens at the moment. One 19 one 14. I have no frickin clue how to do things. I question things a lot lately. What am I doing wrong? What am I doing right? Here is the scary part -- based on the ages of my other kids -- at some point in the future -- I will have five teenagers at once. I am banking on the return of the Lord by that time ... if I don't bank on that it forces other less loving sounding options ... like packing my bags and moving to Mexico or something.

  11. I think that when they become teenagers all they understand is jibberish. I do not speak jibberish.

    I have tried to have my rules be defined from a very young age--- No dating before 16... yada yada...

    I actually wrote a post on this... it all comes full circle eventually.


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