Last Updated on March 23, 2020

I remember when my daughter was a toddler, and the punishment for disobedience was handed down. I would have a child on my hands who was sad and repentant almost immediately. The grounding hurt her a little, but still she loved me madly and accepted the punishment without even a thought of punishing me in the process.

Now that my daughter is a teenager, when the punishment for disobedience is handed down, I have a teen on my hands who is angry and fuming almost immediately. The grounding hurts her a lot, and though I know she still loves me (somewhere within that seething fury), the punishment I give is received and her displeasure with me is vehement and obvious.

Thankfully, as the hours pass and the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to whisper and guide, my daughter’s attitude goes from fury to frustration, tempered with understanding and a quiet resolve that daggum it — my parents love me enough to punish me.

That Holy Spirit-formed knowledge is maddening and magnificent all at once.

Moms, I see around me (all too often) parents who are unwilling to be “unpopular” with their teen, and therefore, a punishment is not given, or a lousy excuse for a punishment is given and fails to have the needed effect on a teen.

For a punishment to really work, it does have to be something that “hurts” the teen, so to speak. A major inconvenience, a loss of much wanted freedom — something that causes a teen to “get” that rules must be followed and expectations must be met. And something that allows God time to do a work in that moldable teen heart.

Barbara Rainey told me a couple of years ago that whenever one of their children were being absorbed into the world, making bad choices, not following the “family rules,” the only way she and Dennis could rein them back in was to ground them for 30 days. She shared that it was amazing how those 30 days grounded from peers and the world’s influence would somehow cause her teens to see with a clear head how they were being lulled into complacency by the world and were driving off into a ditch … and didn’t even realize it.

So, we have chosen to take Barbara’s advice (again), and our teen daughter was recently grounded for 30 days. She was not happy. At all.

Yet as the days began to tick by, my contemplative daughter shared with me, almost daily, what God was teaching her through the grounding. And I promise you there was a part of her that seemed to be almost relieved to have a reprieve from all that is tugging at her young self right now. Don’t get me wrong; she still lamented her punishment and what she missed out on — and she pointed out daily just what she was missing out on. But she was smart enough to recognize that God was at work on her, and she was moldable enough to listen to Him … and her parents.

If we had “caved” and lifted the punishment to make her “happy” (and relieve our own guilt and need to be popular), she would have missed out on a lot of Holy Spirit guidance and God-molding.

I share this with you as an encouragement and admonishment. Are you being lulled into complacency by the world? Are you driving off into the ditch of lax parenting? Be the parent, even when it means you are unpopular!

Your children’s successful future is not dependent upon your popularity; it’s dependent upon her moldability of God’s best for her! (Even if it starts out through clinched teeth!)

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  1. This is so wise. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks- isn't it cool that moms need advice and encouragement from each other and that's exactly what helps us be better moms?! Sharing truly is caring! Big Hug – Tracey

  2. Erin @ It's Gra says:

    Tracey, this was great. Our teens must be torn from the same cloth! I get that frustration, seething and all the other body language that accompanies discipline, too. It is uncomfortable to be unpopular with your kids because their mood shift is felt by everyone in the house. But if we don't we open a can of worms that could be devastating. I'm willing to be unpopular because I love my kids. Period.

    The 30 days of grounding and removing something important sounds great. Recently our daughters grades slipped lower than we expect and she doesn't have television or phone privileges back until her grades are where we know she can get them. It's working!!

    Thanks for all you're advice and insight is such a blessing. Hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Yeah Erin! So happy to know a fellow mom who's willing to be unpopular to do what's best FOR her child! Thank you for your encouraging words and may the Lord bless you and your household! Big Hug- Tracey

  3. Ann Gemmel says:

    Great wise counsel Tracey! Its one of those areas that we must take the long view – vs. the view of what is easier in the short run.

  4. Thank you for this article. I I am dealing with a Catholic high school where the parents allow their children to get away with everything. We are the strict parents – just last night we did not allow her to go to a party where the parents were providing alcohol….she responded with a comment that" you know if I don't go to this party, I likely won't be asked to prom." Unfortunately, I fear she is right – the bits are going to ask the girls they think are fun and loose. I think the Holy Spirit directed me to this website. I was feeling so sad because I know my daughter is hurting at being perceived a good girl and therefore, not popular. it validated that I made the right decision even if right now it is tough for her. Thank you again for being a parent who cares and letting us know we are not alone.

  5. Unpopular Mom says:

    Thank you for this article. Boy do I wish there was a manual for rearing adolescent girls. I unfortunately have the added elements of dealing with my daughter's a distant father and overbearing paternal grandmother, who after listening to my teenager, thinks that her punishments are harsh, i.e. taking away a cell phone, laptop, ipod. It has become very tense, I would say almost toxic right now to the point that a family counselor is being sought and possible legal action taken. We're all going to need some counseling by the time this is all over.

  6. sjjstrawn says:

    why this is wonderful and all, I have just one question. What is grounding. My child is in sports (for health), band for molding the mind, and church. She doesn't do anything else. I don't believe in taking Church activities, sports, or band away from her because there are people counting on her. When you ground her what else do you take away because there isn't anything else.

    1. Hey SJ, thank you for your question and desire to lean in with your teen. In our case, I drove her to and from school, church or anyplace else she “had” to go to keep a commitment, however she never stuck around for “socializing” – was just there to do what she had to do and back home. The being driven part was hard for her, loss of independence. She was allowed to drive herself to and from work. But everything else she was grounded from doing – to pull her away from the “world” and help her refocus. Also, no social media, no phone – except when she drove herself to work (for safety reasons) but she was only allowed to use it to communicate with us. I hope that helps! I just lifted up a prayer for you! Blessings and hugs ~ Tracey

  7. Michelle H. says:

    Thank you so much for this article. We have a very smart & strong willed girl who is 8 and she has been challenging at times!
    We have started to ground her more since spanking isnt working as much or since she is getting over a respiratory virus and on a inhaler spanking makes her more upset so even though she is well it can flair it up. The dtr said she might be developing minor asthma which I have too.
    I have been praying and have been reading Moms life articlea about grounding and we have grounded her before. I really feel this article today has really helped encourage us, and help to know that even though it is hard we need to stick with it and not give up.
    Thank you so much!!