37: Boundaries for a Troubled Teen

Occasionally a teen will become so rebellious that the parents will send the teen away to a troubled teen home which is somewhat of a boot camp for teens. The teens there are introduced to a very structured and disciplined environment and are typically separated from their parents for at least a year. I think it would be better if parents could bring some of the same support and structure into their homes, but sometimes things just get really desperate.

When the teen seems to have made sufficient progress, then he or she is sent home, but only after both the teen and the parents agree to abiding by and enforcing a certain code of conduct. An example of such a contract is given below. (This has been slightly modified from an actual contract someone gave me a copy of, but I tried not to alter the overall flavor of it. Thanks to Stepin’ Stone Farm for permission to use and modify this.)

I thought it might interest you to see what kinds of things could be expected of a teen that has struggled to such a severe degree. I’m sure each contract is modified to deal with each teen’s particular abilities and struggles but these standards all seem pretty basic to me. They are not extreme; they represent the bare bones basic standards of conduct. When I first read this, the questions I wondered were, “Why would a parent ever let loose of any of these standards in the first place?” “Why should you have to go to such extreme measures just to regain a level of basic acceptable conduct?” Parents, don’t let go of your kids too early!

It seems that many parents loosen up on standards far too early, and even some of the most basic standards. As we observe the continuing negative impact of parents letting their standards down, we should take note not to make the same mistake.

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. NIV

A Sample Contract

Weekly church attendance is required.
Weekly youth group attendance AND participation is required.

No unapproved absences will be allowed.
A 3.0 GPA must be maintained each semester. No Ds or below are allowed.
Teen needs to be involved in one extracurricular activity.
Any negative feedback from teachers will result in the loss of privileges.

Teen must get a job in retail, child care, food service, babysitting, or in another approved field.
Working in the mall or at a place that serves alcohol will not be allowed.
Work shifts must end by 9:00 on school nights.
No more than 20 hours per week will be allowed during school year.
Half of earnings should go into long term saving and can only be spent with parental approval.

The privilege of borrowing the car must be earned.
The car can only be driven to work, school, and youth group.

All money earned will be put in a joint account with one of the parents.
Teen must purchase all of own clothing, shoes, jewelry, entertainment, gas, perms, and hair coloring.
Parents will provide for basic necessary items like: school supplies, toothpaste, shampoo, razors, and haircuts.
Allowance will be set at $20 a week if chores are completed

Clothing must be modest by parents’ standards.
Dressing mostly in black is not acceptable.
No advertising for alcohol, or dark bands will be allowed.

No new tattoos will be allowed.
Only natural hair colors will be allowed.
No body piercing will be allowed except pierced ears (one each side only).

Christian or instrumental music is preferred.
No depressing, negative or obscene music will be permitted.

Movies and TV
Each movie or TV show must be pre-approved.
No R rated movies will be allowed at all.

Books and magazines
Each book and magazine must be approved by a parent.

Friends must not be dropouts and may not attend a school for troubled kids.
Friends can not be more than two years older.
No contact at all with past friends who have been a bad influence. (Names should be listed out.)
Overnighters are allowed, but only if parents know the friend, have talked to the other parents, plans have been approved, and accountability for whereabouts is established.

No dating is allowed for three months after leaving troubled teen home.
Each date must meet parents and must be approved.
The curfew must be honored.

No cell phone will be allowed until that privilege is earned.
Calls may not exceed ten minutes.
The cell phone should be kept in the parents bedroom at nighttime.

No chat rooms are allowed.
The web can be used for homework as needed.
Instant messaging and e-mailing is allowed for a maximum of 20 minutes per day.
An internet filter and accountability software most be installed and used.

Bedroom and bathroom should be picked up daily.
Clean bedroom (vacuum and dust) and bathroom (toilets, shower, etc) weekly.
Must do own laundry.
Assist in weekly cleaning chores including cleaning the family room and dining room.
Mow weekly and shovel as needed.

Only church, work, and school activities will be allowed on school nights.
The curfew is 9:30 unless special permission is granted before leaving the house.
The weekend curfew may be adjusted by the parents based on the activity.

In bed by 10:00 on school nights and by 11:00 on the weekends. Teen may read with a small book light at that time.

There will be loss of privileges for yelling, talking back, or being disrespectful.
Either parent or teen may request a 30 minute cool of time before working through a conflict.

Teen must eat breakfast and dinner with the family when home during those meals.

No drugs or alcohol are allowed. Drug testing will be performed on occasion.
Drug test kits are available at the local drugstore.

Possible consequences:
Grounded from:
Going out
Cell phone
All phone usage
Contact with certain friends
Loss of allowance
Extra chores

Use of car
Parents may purchase gas or new clothes

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