Parenting Teenagers, Part 2: Effective Consequences

Gavel iStock PicAnother best practice we stumbled upon in the teenage years revolved around appropriate punishments. We found the most effective consequences tended to be those that “fit” the offense.

Let me just throw out a scenario. I have a friend whose son decided it would be fun to sneak out with some buddies while at their church’s student camp. The leaders got wind of the plan and sat down with the boys, had a chat, and asked them to reconsider. The boys agreed that they wouldn’t sneak out. However, as soon as the leaders fell asleep, the boys headed out. After a Waffle House meal down the street, they walked out of the restaurant, and guess who was waiting? The student pastor—and he was not happy!

Not only had the boys broken the rules; they had put a big chink in the trust their small group leaders had in them.

Now, the parents of this young man had a decision to make. What was the best way to handle the situation so that maximum learning would take place? How could the heart of the boy be impacted in such a way that he would desire to make better choices, not out of fear, but out of changed thinking. What could contribute to a growing desire to honor God, others, and the future he’d like to have?

Obviously, one set of consequences wouldn’t accomplish all of that, but what consequence for that offense would at least move the needle in that direction? In this case, the decision was made for the young man to take each of his small group leaders to a Saturday morning breakfast, pick up the tab, and begin rebuilding the trust and the relationships.

Taking car keys for a couple weeks, or “grounding” could certainly have been options for punishment, but would have been far less effective. For a 16-year-old boy, giving up a couple of free Saturday mornings, spending some hard-earned minimum-wage money, and humbling himself were far more effective. An added benefit was the one-on-one time when his small group leaders could pour some of their wisdom and influence into his life.

As you’re navigating parenting in the teen years, take time to carefully consider the best consequences for a particular offense. Even if you have to tell your teen that you need some time to think it through before communicating your decision, take the time. Prayerfully ask God to lead you to the consequence that doesn’t just punish, but causes your son or daughter to take a step toward changed thinking and better decision making.

My New Favorite Smoothie

Recently, my friend Chris and I were strolling up and down the aisles of Bread Beckers Warehouse—one of my favorite places for healthy ingredients, fun kitchen gadgets, and great ideas for healthy living. She picked up a recipe card and immediately knew it was FOR ME­—the Smoothie Girl! I made a few tweaks, added a protein powder my trainer had given me to try, and blended up the yumminess.

Whether you like healthy smoothies or not, you’ll LOVE this one. Even Allie, my 18- year-old who steers clear of most of my smoothies, admitted that this one is great!

  • 1 C. almond milk (or your favorite milk)
  • 5 almond milk ice cubes (or regular ice)
  • 1 scoop of your favorite chocolate protein powder (vanilla will work, just add an extra tablespoon of cacao)
  • 2 T. cacao
  • 1 t. maca powder
  • 1 t. lucuma powder
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 2 T. peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
  • 1 date (pit removed—don’t forget that!)
  • 1 t. vanilla

Blend all together and enjoy.

Fav Smoothie Ingred.jpg fav smoothie sandra.jpg






This is great for a post-workout smoothie or meal replacement. Loaded with healthy proteins and fats to fuel those tired muscles. It’s approximately 380 calories depending on your protein powder. If you need to reduce the calories, just eliminate the peanut butter. It’ll still be delicious!

Try it, and let me know what you think.

Best Practices for Parenting Teenagers, Part 1: Constant Conversations

I’m frequently asked questions that revolve around parenting 12–18 year olds, so I’ll throw out a series of what I think could be called Best Practices for Parenting Teenagers. I’m not sure how many there will be, but so far there’s one.

One thing Andy and I discovered while parenting teenagers was the “Constant Conversation” approach. As our kids transitioned into their teenage years, we transitioned our parenting style as well. We replaced several hard and fast rules with constant conversations.

Rather than set bedtimes, there needed to be room for flexibility. Instead of a strict curfew, we discovered the need to vary it based on specific people and places. A predetermined number of “screen-time” hours needed ebb and flow based numerous variables. For girls particularly, clothing choices and appropriate outfits needed to be a constant conversation.

Conversations enrich relationships with our kids. Not only do they allow the parent to communicate direction, they allow the son or daughter to feel heard.

One of the quickest ways to shut down teenagers is to bark out commands without giving them the opportunity to respectfully express an opinion. Funny thing, sometimes in the process of the conversation, we get a few more facts and discover that we were wrong. Funnier thing, sometimes in the process of the conversation, they actually arrive at the decision that we know will ultimately be THE outcome. And they thought it was their idea!

So why is it so hard? Well, simply stated, it just takes more time and energy than establishing mandates and requiring adherence to a list of rules. At least it does initially. Anyone who has parented teenagers knows there WILL be conversations. Sometimes they’re loud ones. Why not plan for conversations and, by inviting them, diffuse the potential angst ahead of time?

Of course, there are times when the parent just has to say no. Or, has to lay down the law and be the bad guy. That’s just the nature of parenting. But, if we can open two-way conversations, even if we end up at the same “lay down the law” destination, we allow our kids to feel heard. We invest in the relationship at a deeper level. And, we pave the way to future friendship.



Getting Fresh!

Peacheswatermarked.jpg.jpgI love summer! I love the slower pace. I love having my kids around more. I love sitting outside for my quiet time in the mornings. And, I love the fresh fruits and vegetables that are at their amazing peak in the summertime.

Having grown up with farming grandparents and gardening parents, I specifically think of some of the South’s finest offerings: cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes, peaches, squash, peaches, okra, peaches, sweet corn, peaches, butter beans, peaches, blueberries, peaches, blackberries… Did I mention peaches? Peaches are loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Some of my fondest memories revolve around my grandmother and me loading up our buckets and heading just outside of town to Tom Sawyer Farm. Until Grandmama hit 93 years old, we picked our own. After that, we let Mr. Tom pick them for us. If you’ve never had freshly picked Georgia peaches, you’re missing a fabulous treat.

Here is my favorite peach recipe (actually, it’s my mom’s):

Gram’s Peach Cobbler

  • 3 C. fresh or frozen peaches (or any favorite summer fruit)
  • 1 C. flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 C. sugar (I use Sucanat)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

Put peaches in 8×8 baking pan. Combine flour and sugar. Beat egg and add to flour/sugar mixture. Using a pastry blender or fork, blend egg in until the mixture is crumbly. Spread crumbly mixture on top of peaches and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes— until golden brown. Serve with a dab of ice cream.

While peaches are my personal favorite summer produce item, there are so many others. Take advantage of all the complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytochemicals and fiber of summer produce. Toss a salad with lots of chopped, fresh veggies. Chop some squash finely so no one can recognize it. They’ll never know! Add a little fruit to your salad for something different. Toss in some crumbled goat, feta or bleu cheese and some toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts. Top with grilled chicken or fish and you’ve got a great meal.

And, if you’re anywhere near middle Georgia, go see my friends Tom and Jean at Tom Sawyer Farm. Tell ‘em I sent you!

Icing on the Cake

Recently, I was having coffee with my sweet friend and mentor, Charlene Stamper. Charlene and Ed are in their retirement years and have been extremely intentional in how they use their extra time. If you spend much time in the Atlanta area, you will undoubtedly run into young couples, here and there, who have been impacted by Charlene and Ed’s choice to be time investors.


From a place of deep humility, Charlene will share with me some of the incredible things she sees God doing in these precious young lives. I love to hear about that and can’t help but ponder the exponential benefit to future generations.

In my brief coffee encounters with Charlene, there is always a rich takeaway. Although she doesn’t necessarily mean to, she invariably says something that God uses to penetrate my heart and propel me to make a change of behavior or thinking.


Lucky for you, I’m about to drop an awesome Charlene-ism on you!

“When our children know the Lord, and walk with Him, anything else is bonus – icing on the cake.”

For me, in this season of having three college kids, this lifted a weight off of my shoulders that I didn’t even realize I was lugging around.

Here are a few questions that tend to nag at my heart:

  • Are my kids in the right schools?
  • Have they chosen the right majors?
  • Are they making wise choices?
  • Are they careful about friends?
  • What if they marry the wrong people?
  • Will they be able to get good jobs and opportunities?
  • Are they taking their vitamins???

While these are certainly valid questions for a mother to ponder and pray over, they are not ones over which to obsess. God loves our children far more than we do. He created their inmost beings. He knit them together in their mother’s wombs. Their frames were not hidden from Him when they were made in the secret place. Every day ordained for them was written in His book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139).

Yeah. I think I can rest in that.

Thank you, Charlene!

(And, thank you @candipshelton for the awesome cupcake pic!)