It is no secret teenagers face powerful temptations. Parents want to make sure that consequences are in place to help protect their children. It is good to put deterrents in place for behavior that is unacceptable and sinful. But, for your teenager, still it comes down to that moment of decision; is the consequence enough to make a difference?
For example, Kevin, a young teenage boy has an opportunity to be alone with Tiffany, a girl with a reputation for being sexually active. If he thinks that he might get caught and his parents will find out, or that he might get a sexually-transmitted disease, he might decide not to be with her. However, suppose she entices him into thinking that no one will find out (see Proverbs 7) and that a little fun never hurt anyone. Then, the fear of the consequence fades against the power of the temptation.
Kevin’s problem is that he is being motivated by perceived consequences rather than how he can love God. Selfishly deciding not to be with Tiffany because of negative consequences will ultimately lead to his undoing just as much as if he did decide to be with her. Fear of consequences does not have the power to guard our hearts. Deciding to do the right action for selfish motives will only act as precursor to becoming a person who is interested in pleasing himself.
Are consequences necessary? Absolutely!
But they are not enough to overcome the allure of sin. The only real protection that you and your children have is a deep love for God. Do they love God more than they love themselves, more than the anticipation of immediate pleasure?
The love of God and his word planted deeply in the heart is only protection that can be fully trusted. When young Joseph was confronted with willing and eager temptress, he had the means and the opportunity to sin, but not the motivation. His love of God and his honor protected hm.
Do you model this love for God for your family? Parent, are you motivated by fear of bad consequences more than your love for God? God knows the answer and so do your teenagers.