Creating a Family Contract with Teens
Our family decided that we needed to start going to family therapy. Communication and respect is something that has been a constant struggle since my daughter started high school, so it was time to get outside help. We found a fantastic therapist from a referral, and we had our second session yesterday. During the meeting, we discussed the contract that I wrote after reading this great book called “Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love” by Scott P. Sells. It had great examples of writing the contract and including consequences and rewards.
After yesterday’s session, the therapist agreed that a contract is a great idea and that having both negative and positive reinforcements is the way to go. However, the contract should have been written by all three of us, and not just me. I did write the contract, and I talked to both Ceb and Isa, but I saw my mistake in not having them part of the process from the beginning. Therefore, we all agreed that we need to have a family meeting to create a new contract that we are all comfortable with.
We plan to do it today, so I am hoping that we can come with a reasonable and solid contract that the three of us are comfortable with.
We sat down, and I asked them what they wanted to see in the contract. We made sure that we had:
- Negative Consequences
- Positive Consequences
Negative consequences that we came up with had to do with losing technology and time with friends on the weekends. You have to know your teens’ currency. For my daughter, it’s her phone. My son’s is his gaming PC. I also know that my son doesn’t really care much about going out, but my daughter does. I made sure to get their input on what should be the disciplinary action if they do not do what they need to do in school, at home, and the family dynamic.
For positive consequences, it was rewarding them with their currency. This could be an hour more during the weekend to hang out with friends. Also, cash if they consistently did what they needed to do.
After we spent two hours really thinking about the contract, we put it into use. We are not 100% following it, but we are working together to get there.
Does your family have a contract? How has it worked?