Are you and your spouse united or divided in your parenting? Consider the following dialogue:
Dad: "You're letting our daughter do anything she wants."
Mom: "You're too strict with her."
Dad: "She needs more discipline and structure."
Mom: "She needs more love and encouragement."
Dad: "She's becoming irresponsible and out of control."
Mom: "She's becoming insecure and afraid."
And you thought kids and teenagers had conflicts! ...
Whenever I (Dr. Townsend) talk about a wife setting boundaries in marriage, someone asks about the biblical idea of submission. What follows is not a full treatise on submission, but some general issues you should keep in mind.
First, both husbands and wives are supposed to practice submission, not just wives. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (see Ephesians 5:21). Submission is always the free choice of one party to another. Wives choose to submit to their husbands, and husbands choose to submit to their wives....
Question: I am experiencing conflict with my in-laws about the way I raise my children. They tend to nit-pick every decision that I make. Do you have any tips for setting boundaries with in-laws?
Answer: I know it's no fun to feel conflict with your in-laws. Here are some ways to address the sensitive issue. Begin with a positive and vulnerable conversation. Simply wait until there is a quiet moment, where there's not a lot going on....
When setting boundaries with someone, it's important to differentiate between what you prefer and what's actually wrong. Before you talk to someone about changing his behavior, figure out if what he is doing is really a "bad" thing or just something you don't like.
I (Dr. Cloud) refer to this distinction as a test I like to call "Would God and the Beverly Hillbillies Agree?" Here's what I mean: Some things are just things you don't like and want someone to change, but that person is not really doing anything wrong. Depending on where you come from, it may be acceptable or not....
Question: What kinds of consequences are appropriate for a 39-year-old daughter who refuses to take responsibility for paying a college loan that her father and I co-signed in good faith?
Answer: First, let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I know that it can feel uncomfortable to be at odds with your adult child.
In this situation, your first decision is to approach your daughter in a vulnerable way and describe how her behavior is impacting you. You could say something like ...