Shaping Your Teen’s Character Part 3: The Blessings of Boundaries

Proverbs 4:23 states, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Children need to learn how to internalize the boundaries that are being provided by loving parents through sound discipline practices. Boundaries build self-control, responsibility, freedom and love. As parents teach and implement boundaries with their teens, they will usually have three main roles.1 The Guardian provides protection and preservation. The Manager makes sure things get done, goals are reached, and demands and expectations are met. The Resourcer is the bridge to the outside world of resources that sustains and enhances life. Each role has the opportunity to be a blessing if we can incorporate the teaching point element as well.

The Guardian Role: Provide the teen with a safe environment for learning and gaining wisdom. As parents set limits on freedom, the teen internalizes the limits as wisdom and slowly begins to be able to take care of himself.

Teaching Point: Too little freedom to gain experiences and the teen forever remains stuck in an incapable and childlike mindset. But too much freedom and the teen is in danger of hurting himself.

The Manager Role: See that things get done. Since most teens lack self-discipline, parents need to model and shape discipline into their teen’s life. Managers provide this type of discipline by managing resources, teaching, enforcing consequences, correcting, chastising, maintaining order, and building skills.

Teaching Point: Setting limits and requiring the teen to take ownership (embracing the problem as his own) and responsibility (taking care of what he has embraced) involves a clear understanding of boundaries.

The Resourcer Role: As children enter the teen years, they need to learn how to receive and use responsibly what is given to them, while gradually taking over the role of meeting their own resource needs.

Teaching Point: If parents give without boundaries, teens learn to feel entitled and become self-centered and demanding, thus producing an ungrateful character trait. If parents hold resources too tightly, teens give up and do not develop the hope of reaching goals that bring gratifying results and satisfaction.


  1. Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend, Boundaries with Kids (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998).

To view the entire resource, Shaping Your Teen’s Character, please click here.