Advice for Family Control for Single Parents

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1999

Dear Annette,

Wow! What a wonderful resource you have provided at your website! I haven't had a chance to read everything yet, so I hope you will bear with me, as I suspect that what I am looking for is available somewhere in your very comprehensive website.

I am looking for info that could help me reestablish control with my 16 year old son. I have been divorced for 2 years. Fortunately, he makes good choices in his life outside our house, but here he is mean and disrespectful and bully's me and the other kids. (He is the oldest with a 2 brothers, 12 and 4 and a sister, 9.) Dad is remarried and lives a thousand miles away and visits once a month. Anyway, whatever reading material you could direct me to would be appreciated. You are awesome!

Dear Single Mom,

I have included a ton of material. You need to read it all and then ask the Lord to help you implement it into your lives. You will not be able to do it all at once. The first thing that is needed is for your son to have a basic understanding of what you expect of him and what he can expect of you. I have included how to make rules and consequences and having a formal contract with your son. Here is a contract that my husband and I had to draft to keep our teenage boys in control in our home. You may use any or all of the contract. The main thing is to make it work for you situation. See...

A Contract with the Family's Youths for Optimal Family Living

Click here -->

First: The rules you make for your children to live by must always be enforced all the time, unless there are real extenuating excuses like a child's illness, the car breaks down, etc. They must always be accompanied by consequences for not keeping those rules. Rules are the front or force that is the wall or boundaries that your children will constantly test or hit when they choose to see if the rules still have consequences. Children need these boundaries to be safe and to help them steer their lives by. You must be consistent in enforcing the rules or your children will run right over you.

Some parents make the mistake that because they now have adult children living in them that they cannot tell the adult children how to act in their home. This is untrue. Remember this is your sanctuary and the rules of the home still stand for all who live there whether it be adult children of aging parents who have moved in.

Making House Rules

  1. Make rules that you will consistently uphold 100%. To make good rules and consequences, do it with the Lord. Your not alone! He gave you the job of parenting. He will provide a way for you to do it right! Pray for help. Talk each item over with Him.
  2. If you already have some rules that God and you agree on then set consequences to go with these rules. Consequences are those sanctions (loss of freedoms) or punishment that will be carried out every time that the rules are broken. Natural consequences are usually the best. Example of a rule and its consequence:

RULE: You are responsible for what your friends do in our home.

CONSEQUENCE: If your friends vandalize our home then:

When a rule making session with God is over, take the jointly decided rules and consequences to the children. Let the children know that you felt the rules were so important that you got God's input on them and the consequences

After the rules and consequences are discussed with the children, post them in a prominent place in the home that the children can see them. Keep a second set for you, in case the children's copy gets destroyed or disappears mysteriously.

It is important to know how to make good decisions such as making house rules and dealing with other problems that come up. See...

How to make Good Decisions

Click here -->

How to Carryout the Consequences

  1. There is no need for yelling! Just matter-of-factly say to the child, "I am sorry you chose to break the rule. Now ____________ will happen (the consequence). Then do it. There is not more reason for screaming. Your not frustrated, wondering what to do, because you already know what to do. If you forget what the consequence is for this infraction just go look at the children's copy that is posted or your own copy.
  2. You may choose to help facilitate the child's ability to get through the consequence, but never do it for him/her. Example: Rule: You cannot go out with friends until your daily work is done. The child has not taken out the garbage and mopped the kitchen floor. Child's friend is at the door asking your child to come out to play. You say to your child, "Billy is at the door and wants you to go biking with him. You haven't had me check your work yet, let's go do that now." You and he go look. Take the book with the list of what has to be done. You can see that some things are done and other things are not. Dwell on the positive and play down the negative. You say, " I can see that the cupboards are cleaned off and so is the table. They look really good. Thank you! The dishes are put away. I know that chore is not one of your favorites. I'm glad you chose to do it early. Congratulations. Well, all you have left then is moping and the garbage out. Look, I know Billy is in a hurry to go so how long will it take you to get the garbage out in the can? About two minutes? Then all you have left is the moping. Look I know a way for you to it well and it doesn't take very long. I'll go get my favorite rag. It always does a good job, while you take the garbage out. Then we will have you out of here in minutes and Billy won't have to wait long either." You have just positively reinforced what the child did well or right and gave him a positive boost into finishing the rest painlessly for both of you. When he does finish praise him for doing is well and quickly. Give him a pat on the back. You both leave with a smile. That is positive facilitation.
  3. Before you levy a consequence take time to check out the whole story. A child's point of view may be wildly fabricated to let you hear what they think you want to hear. Do not let the first story you hear be the only point of view you have to act upon. At least 50% of the time you will be sorry. There is always time to seek out the whole truth. Then you can wisely levy the consequence. The child will not like it but s/he will know that you were fair and that s/he can get be treated fairly in the future, although they may not admit this out loud.
  4. There will be times that you have searched for the truth and there still seems at least two stories. Study it out the best that you can then make a decision. Then tell the children that you will be back in a few minutes that you will take it to the Lord. You should have them do the same. Then come back and discuss the results together.
  5. Giving rewards and consequences is the way the Lord deals with us. It should be the template that we use to deal with our families. See...

    Allowing Rewards and Consequences

    Click here -->


Reducing Family Tension


1. Family scripture reading

2. Attend church together.

3. Family Prayer, morning and night.

4. Family Home Evening

5. Have Family Councils as needed. See the article "Family Council" under the section: Healthy Families.

6. Be consistent in enforcing the rules and the consequences.

7. The children need to have responsibilities around the home, because they are part of the family and owe help to maintain the home for the family. You cannot do all the work. Besides the children make the mess and should take responsibility for cleaning it. Remember we are raising capable responsible adults.

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Second: You have brought children into your home. Remember it is your home. It is your safe haven from the world and its ugliness. Your children are long-term guests, who will eventually move on, making their own homes, rules, and lives elsewhere.

  1. While these children are in your home they are guests and must abide by the rules of the house until such time that they are ready to leave for school or to live on their own. See....

    Getting Our Children Back to God

    Click here -->

  2. The issue of Abuse would make a good family home evening subject. Abuse starts easy and continues to get worse a small step at a time. Remember the scriptures tell us that the Devil cheateth their souls and leads them slowly and carefully down to hell. Seldom do people start out by battering each other in a relationship. It is a careful process of slights, insults, and then battering. The point is that when we see the beginnings of Abuse it has to be stopped immediately before it progresses to its awful ending. Check out the Abuse Continuum below and see where your family is. At Family Home Evening let them tell you where they think they are on the Abuse Continuum. Tell them it must stop. Ask them how you as a family can stop this. Tell them that you will take their suggestions to the Lord to come up with consequence for infractions. Then do it.
  3. Many people think that all business with the Lord has to be done on your knees. Let's face it, we would be on our knees all the time and nothing would get done. Ponder with the Lord your problems, anytime and in any place where you can clear you head from distractions and have a clear undisturbed discussion with him. I have found time to do this while cooking, taking a walk, pulling weeds, and etc.
  4. Many teens get the attitude that you can't make me do anything. Tell them your right I can't. It is your choice. Either do it by the rules or leave. It's their choice. Some teens push further saying that you cannot make them leave. Tell them they are right, but you have friends, family, or the police that can help back you up if need be. Some teen even push further to see if you mean it. Post the police office number by each phone for non-emergency help.

    Remember for instant help with expulsion due to battering, dial 911.

  5. You may have to use one of these numbers. If this happens tell your child that you always love him/her and that s/he is always welcome back at anytime when they want to keep the rules. Ask if they would you to help them pack, where you can send their things, direct phone calls, or if you can drop them off at a friends home. Offer cardboard boxes, tough plastic garbage bags, double bagged paper bags, duffel bags, gym bags or luggage for them to pack. If you can see that this action will be needed in the future, you can go to a second hand store for cheap junk luggage and/or purchase or collect packing boxes from stores or for them to pack in.
  6. Be prepared with boxes of your own to pack up the things your child leaves and put them out in the garage or storage area. S/He must know that s/he is moved out if s/he will not keep the rules. This action is as much for offending child as for the ones that remain.
  7. One of my sons left for four hours and decided to come back. He was greatly surprised to see that his room was totally packed of all his stuff and that siblings were making plans to move in. He could see that we meant business. He was so happy to retrieve his things from the garage and put it away. It was a breath of fresh air.
  8. Your child may leave for a longer time. This same son left again for four months. He had taken his sleeping bag and tent and was staying and various friends homes/yards until he wore out their welcome and/or winter was setting in. Don't worry things will work out for the best. Just keep praying for them and continually letting them know that you love them. Remember to celebrate birthdays and important events with them. Don't cut them out of your life completely.


    Abuse Continuum

Jokes about habits, characteristics, or faults of family members

Ignoring or denying family member's feelings or needs

Withholding affection or approval as punishment

Yelling, shouting, invading family member's personal space

Name-calling, insults

Insulting or ridiculing beliefs, religion. family, race, etc. . .

Repeated insults, labeling, and/or name-calling (e.g. "Stupid" "Jerk" "Crazy" etc. . . )

Repeated humiliation (private an/or public)

Controlling (insisting on his/her own way, taking the right away from others, making all the decisions, taking away other family member's things, bullying etc. . .)

Blaming family member's for your abuse or behavior

Manipulating family member's with lies and contradictions (playing "mind games")

Slamming doors, hitting walls, breaking objects (displays of anger and violence)

Threats of violence or retaliation (either direct or implicit)

Threats of violence to his/her family, children, friends

Puts downs about abilities as a parent, person, worker, etc.

Demanding all family member's attention and resenting others that need attention too. Jealousy!

Throwing objects at family members.

Isolation (scaring or driving away family member's friends and family)

Manipulating others against family member's and/or destroying meaningful possessions

Threats of abuse to family member's and/or pets

Threats to hurt or kill family member's and/or himself

Suicide threats/attempts

Hurting or killing pets


(Adapted from Male Awareness Program (MAP) in Anchorage, AK)

Active Listening

Click here -->

It is our job to raise our children to become capable reasonable adults. See...

Growing Capable Reasonable Adults

Click here -->

To be able to deal with our children appropriately it is important to understand the type of thinking they are engaged in. See...

Understanding Adolescents and Teens

Click here -->

It is also important that we are excessive in trying to give our children everything thinking we are being good parents in doing so. See...

Make Sure You Aren't Making a Delinquent

Click here -->

Last but not least, seek to have the Lord with you throughout the day. Start with an open-ended prayer. Many people open their day with prayer planning the day with God and asking for help through the day. They leave their prayer open-ended so that the prayer lasts the whole day long. They literally share their whole day with the Lord. The scripture in Alma 34: 27 supports their actions. It states: "Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you." Here again you can see the use of silent pray of the heart. This time the Lord suggest that we use silent prayer to speak to Him constantly through the day.

Some people feel that they are imposing on the Lord when they do this, but this is not so. In Alma 34:19-25, it tells to pray unto the Lord about our fields, flocks, houses, household, against the power of your enemies, against the devil, the prospering of our crops, and the increase of our flocks. This shows us that God want to hear about every aspect of our lives and that there is nothing that He does not want to hear about that has to do with our lives. He wants us to be with Him whether it is with silent pray or vocal prayer. We are important to Him, because He is our Eternal Heavenly Father.

Basically what is happening is that you are making a friend of God. You are asking Him for His impute into every aspect of your life. This may take some time to develop, but it is worth the effort. Just keep (thinking) talking to Him like you would a best friend and He will eventually (think) talk right back to you.

Don't just include the Lord for major decisions, but invite His spirit to be with you for enjoyable things. Cook with Him, take walks with Him, look at the shape of clouds together. If you ever needed a faithful companion, one that is always there when you need Him, then love the Lord enough to have Him with you all day long in every activity you do. You will never be sorry you did!

If I can be of further service, please write!

Love and best wishes,

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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