Grounded for Life, Part 1

Did you ever get grounded as a teenager?  Or have some “privilege”  taken away?  Perhaps phone, or TV, or Nintendo privileges?  Or the ultimate discipline trump card – taking away the car privileges!  If you were like me you would stew, bristle, and complain (sometimes vocally), but usually – deep down inside – we all knew we had it coming to us.  There is often a very clear and stated reason for grounding or revocation of spec.ial privileges.  My parents used to make it clear that things like these (having access to the phone or car) were privileges and not rights

I lost my bike privileges once after my Mom picked me up on an unlit country road way after dark.  I had stayed hours too long at my girlfriend’s and was biking the 9 miles back in the dark without a headlight.  I remember that night clearly – my Mom pulled up, popped the trunk for my bike, and said absolutely nothing the entire car ride home.  I knew I was in for it.  I tried to make a case for it being a moonlit night, but the evidence was not in my favor.  I lost the bike privileges (and I think car and visiting the gf) for quite some time.  I had it coming to me and I knew.  Eventually I got those privileges back and I learned some important life lessons, but does the phrase “I was soooo grounded” mean anything to anyone.

I’ve been privvy to a different more troubling teen angst story recently.  One where a step-parent regularly grounds a teen for no stated reason.   It’s just “Go to your room and stay there until I say you can come out!”  Night after night, week after week.  It’s like Harry Potter at the Dursley’s all year round.  Oh there’s protests and shouts of “What did I do?”  But these are only met with stony silence, or “Because, I’m the parent and I said so.”  No reason is ever given for the grounding, nor any clear conditions for being ungrounded.  Crazy, right?  This sounds like where discipline crosses over into punishment and possibly even abuse.

It has come to the point where the teen is effectively “grounded for life.”  The nearest thing to an explanation for this has been “when you respect me I will give you some freedom” to which the response is “I will respect you when I have some freedom.”  I think legally the teen could leave home now, but the step-parent has made the situation such that the teen is 100% dependent on them financially, etc.   I don’t know if the term entrapment is correct, but besides school, the teen cannot leave.  There doesn’t seem to be any relative who can intervene or wants to.  From my understanding legal action has been attempted with no success.

What do you think?  Is there any hope for this teen and step-parent?  Is the relationship permanently wounded?  Is there anything that can be done to make things better?

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One Response

  1. I’ve seen this many times in Ignite (high school ministry at PCC in Glen Ellyn). It’s a sad situation, but honestly, there’s not much you can do but tell the kid how much God loves them, how there’s a father in heaven who loves them more than anyone else, and will never let him/her down, and at the very least, when they are 18 they can finally be free…

    But it is a very sad situation. Prayer is about all you can do.

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