Loving Enough to Say, “No”

Boundaries Are Healthy

Contrary to what most parents think, teens really do want boundaries. When a teenager isn’t given clear guidelines, he does what seems right in his own eyes.

Boundaries communicate love. They help your teen resist temptation and the negative pressure they feel from their peers. They give them a good reason to avoid sin when confronted with an inappropriate decision.

To be productive, rules need to be founded on the boundaries you establish in your home. They should be attached to a biblical principle.

Boundaries are the parameters in our lives that keep us from danger. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).

Here are a few ways you can communicate love to your teenager even when saying, “No.”

Seek both to Guide and Guard the Heart of Your Teen

Rules without a relationship breeds rebellion. No matter how much your teenager pushes, bends, or breaks the rules, they need to know you love them.

Parents, we show this love when we actively guide them through instruction. “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).

It is critical you spend time with your child on a regular basis. Avoid rehashing past mistakes. Instead, help them consider their choices. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Actively guard them through correction. A teen will never mature if he is not forced to accept the consequences of his actions. Be firm but measured. It is our job to hold them accountable.

Confronting a teen can be tough, especially when a parent is physically exhausted or unfaithful in his own personal walk with God. But your teen needs you to be his authority more than he needs you to be his friend.

Help Teens Understand that Behind Every “No” Is Often a Greater “Yes!”

Your teen will not always understand your reasons for saying, “No.” But as a parent, it is okay to say, “No” just because of your personal preference. After all, you are the parent. It is acceptable to say, “No” to something as a matter of taste and explain this to your teen.

Often parents will need to say, “No” because the timing is not right. Teens love to speed up timelines. They want immediate gratification whether it is dating or driving. It is okay to put the brakes on if you feel your child is not ready.

Perhaps your teen is asking for you to allow something that you would normally permit, but trust has been broken, and you must say, “No.” Remind him of the importance of honesty and integrity. “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once” (Proverbs 28:18).

For a Christian, there are certain issues that are non-negotiable. When saying, “No” because of a matter of truth, it’s critical that you help your child to understand what is at stake, and why you have said, “No”. If it is truly a matter of truth, use Scripture to support your decision.

Help your teens identify the greater “Yes.” Talk to them about the issues they face. Influence them by being a good role model. Help them set goals for their future.

Demonstrate Unfailing Love through the “Ups” and “Downs” of the Teen Years

Saying, “No” is often the most loving thing you can do. Understand there is a big difference between loving to say “no,” and saying “no” because you love. Your teen can often tell the difference. He may question your judgment, but he should never question your love.

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