Adolescent Dishonoring: Keys to Conquering this Dangerous Behavior

Lisa Cherry —  January 7, 2013

Adolescent Dishonoring  iceberg 4343398296_fc805e057e

By Lisa Cherry

Dishonor is an iceberg lurking in the ocean of our teens’ emotions.  Ignore it, or try to sail around it, and it’s a certain appointment for shipwreck in adulthood.  Scroll forward a few years, and imagine:

What will happen when a boss says something that rubs your son the wrong way?  Will he roll his eyes and storm off in a huff?

How will your daughter respond to her husband when he wants to shift direction? Will she toss back a sarcastic comment?

Frustration is a big challenge for teens, and learning to control it is a mark of maturity. It can be learned, and it’s a critical skill for adolescents.

We must help our teens get a handle on their emotions before they launch into adulthood and marriage. 

One of the ways rebellion can get a foothold in our teens' hearts is through unchecked dishonor.  Here are some keys to conquering this dangerous behavior.

1. Recognize that dishonoring authorities’ instructions is a developmental temptation in this age group.

2. But also realize that just because it's a temptation, we should not leave them helpless in their sin.   No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Cor. 10:13

3. Set in your own heart a standard of honor. We cannot change those things which we passively allow. Dishonor must be "disallowed."

4. Learn to recognize the many presentations of dishonoring behavior:  rolling eyes, backtalk, complaining, argumentation, storming off, silence, etc.

5. Set aside some time outside the heat of battle to teach your adolescent about this issue. Explain your standard. Use the following scriptures: Exodus 20:12, Colossians 3:20, Hebrews 13:17, 2 Timothy 2:20-21,  Mark 9:35  Proverbs 13:1 Proverbs 21:23, Proverbs 3:34, Philippians 2:14-16   Consider using role playing to try out appropriate responses.

6. Do not have an unrealistic expectation that you will "nip this in the bud" with only one encounter. But don't also make allowances that this should be a multiyear project!

7. After appropriate teaching, explain to your teens the logical consequences of dishonoring behavior. The best strategy I've found is to not allow the dishonoring behavior to work. For example, if you get a dishonoring response to a request to take out the trash in the kitchen, expand the job to taking out the trash throughout the whole house. If the problem is a dishonoring behavior related to a privilege to go somewhere, the answer becomes a “no” to the social engagement.....even if you would have been inclined to say "yes."

8. Point out negative examples you see around you and the disastrous results. Do not assume teens can make these connections.

9. Pray with your teen for the fruit of self-control. Appropriately help them to understand this is a spiritual battle ground. Be on their side.....not the enemy!

10. For each one of my sons’ lives, I have had a pivotal mother/son encounter, something like this: "Son, you are now bigger than me. Stronger than me. And becoming a man. But I am still your leader. I will not permit you to dishonor me. I will not allow you to back talk. We will have a healthy and strong relationship throughout your teen years."

11. For daughters.....I need to recognize that there is something extra volatile about two women in relationship. I have needed a conversation something like this with my girls....."In your teen years I will not allow you to dishonor me. I understand the difficulty of female emotions, and I understand that you can now see my weaknesses in a new way. But you will not cross the line into dishonoring behaviors (which I then name such as eye rolling, sighing etc). We are going to have a strong relationship and work through our problems in a healthy way.”

12. Model honoring behavior yourself. Teens learn by example more than lecture. If someone rises up in maturity, they win the spot of influence!

Image: “Blue Inside” by Piero License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic  via Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Rachel Valentine

    Have these tips helped you?  Are your kids more pleasant to be around than your average teens?  Curious, not snarky :)

    • Lisa Cherry


      asking right questions!  3 of mine are in their 20s now. 6 are either
      preteens or teens. I live this post daily.....and the answers to your
      questions are yes and yes! By God's grace we have seen victory in this
      area. But not without ongoing application of these principles. And not
      without prayer!  We are going to talk more on this in the coming days.
      Thanks for writing.

  • Lynne6

    I have to say that Lisa's methods, if applied faithfully do work.

    been part of their church for ten years and have gotten to know her
    kids.  They are polite and respectful of others. Even the younger ones
    know how to have conversations with adults.  I've met a lot of teens and
    tweens that will simply ignore adults; the Cherry kids don't do this.

    Lisa and her husband Doug have mentored me in parenting, and I I have learned a lot from them.

  • Jen Avellaneda

    Your e-book looks amazing!  And timely in this sex-saturated culture!  Glad you are spreading the word about how to engage vs. shrink back from open, free dialogue with our kids about the real dangers and boundaries needed in today's culture!  So appreciate your link up with UNITE and your link back to our blog hop today!  Have a blessed week! ~ jen

  • Judith

    Thank you for sharing this!! I find that with my teens and adult children, I have to approach the situation in a different way than I did when they were younger. Especially when they are in their late teens or in their 20s and still living at home. I don't want to turn this period of their life and our relationship into something negative. As much as I can I need to model Christ-likeness. That isn't always easy. I need to have a spirit that reflects Christ. It isn't enough to simply say and do the right things, I have to watch what I am thinking because it will come across in my spirit. I might have to do the chores they once did rather than place consequences over them that no longer are effective. My job is done, complete, and I know that when they serve others and will be on their own, I will get back glowing reports that I did a good job in training them. 

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful and thought-provoking post over at WholeHearted Home this past week.