Teen Challenges: Boundaries and Freedoms


Today I am wrapping up my teen challenges series.  I have addressed lying, attitudes, bad choices, and peer pressure.

Now we tackle boundaries and freedoms.  Although these sound like opposites, they really do intertwine.

First, boundaries have to be established.  You can do this through rules, contracts or whatever creative ideas you may come up with.

Boundaries are in place to protect your teen, which is something you need to explain.  Don’t expect them to get it…they think they are invincible.  But it still needs to be said.

Freedoms come into play when those boundaries start to move.  It doesn’t mean the boundary has been completed lifted, it just means there is some room to make adjustments.

There is nothing worse than having no boundaries.  But at the same time, it’s just as dangerous to have nothing but boundaries.  There must be an opportunity to experience freedom.

At the same time, teens need to understand that freedoms don’t come unless they are earned.  How they are earned depends on the circumstances and your family’s expectations.

It might be based on grades, completion of chores, how well they get along with family, if rules are being followed, etc.  You could even use an ongoing problem (such as having a snotty attitude) as a motivational tool to earn freedoms.

Some of the biggest areas where boundaries need to be in place are in the way of dating, driving, curfews, jobs, friendships and schoolwork.  It helps to establish rules or develop contracts before you tackle potential problems.  This way you are armed and ready.

Rules are great for explaining your expectations.  But contracts are a way to solidify the agreement.

It may be necessary to allow for negotiations to be made.  Make sure your teen has some input into the boundaries and freedoms but emphasize that you make the final ruling.