Prev Next
Grounded Teenager

Stages of Grief vis-à-vis Grounding the Teenager

By Chris Jordan

One of my teenage sons is grounded.  Possibly for the rest of his natural born life, which might end up being quite short.  Ooops, I think that was me slipping back into the anger stage there for a moment.

I have discovered that the stages mean completely different things to parents and teenagers, and that moving through the stages occurs at different speeds.

I. Upon getting caught

Teenager: Anger

I can’t believe I got caught.  I never thought my parents would find out that I (insert here the appropriate offense, i.e. skipped school, failed a class, crashed the car, burned the house down…).  It is all their fault for butting into my business.

Parents: Denial

Oh no, he didn’t.  He really didn’t do that.  Not my child! It must have been one of his friends.  They made him do it.  I knew they were a bad influence.

II. Everyone quickly moves on to Stage Two.

Teenager: Denial

This can’t be happening.  I’m not really grounded from everything.  My parents are just exaggerating.   Really?  Are they actually going to make me stay home?  I didn’t even do anything that bad.  They’ll forget all about it soon.

Parents: Anger

How can my teenager be so stupid!  I want to grab him and shake him.  Shake some sense into him.  Or better yet, military school.  I want to walk around yelling all day long, that is how angry I am.  In fact, I think I will do just that!


III.  Characterized by lots of unproductive yelling, eye rolling and stomping

Teenager: Anger

Oh my GOD, they are making me stay home.It’s no fair!
It’s all their fault for grounding me!  That’s the problem.  My friends have done worse things and their parents haven’t grounded them.  What am I supposed to do?  Stay in the house all day every day?  I have the worst parents ever.  I am going to stomp around all day.  Slam things.  And if my siblings even look at me I am going to yell at them.   Aaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!  My younger siblings always have iCarly on tv.  I hate iCarly.

Parents: Still Angry

Are you kidding me?  You are angry at us for grounding you?  You know who you should be angry at?  Yourself, that’s who!  Unbelievable!  Who is this child?


IV. The stage that feels like it will never end


Teenager: Bargaining

If you just let me go out with my friends tonight I promise I’ll never do it again.  Can’t I please just have back my phone?  I’ll stay grounded from everything else for a month more if you just let me have back my phone. Two months?  Can I just do some chores around here instead?

Parents: Swing back and forth between Anger and Bargaining and Depression like a person with rapid cycling manic depression:

Depression: I am the worst parent ever. Only kids with bad  parents get in trouble.

Anger: That boy had better stop asking not to be grounded.  What part of No does he not understand?  He obviously does not feel the least bit remorseful.   Where is the website for military school?

Bargaining: Dear Lord I will do anything if You give me the strength to not beat this teenager.

Depression: Military school is so expensive.

Deeper Depression: Those kids on iCarly never get in trouble!  And they don’t even have parents.
V. Characterized by a lack of yelling and a resolution of anger


Teenager: Depression
I’m just going to stay in my room all day.  Only getting up to eat.  There’s no reason to shower.  Is there even a world outside this house anymore?  I will lay in bed and play sad songs on my guitar.  I’m just going to ignore my siblings.  Am I really sitting here on the couch watching iCarly?  Is this what my life has become?

Parents: Acceptance

Okay, my child’s behavior is not always a direct reflection of me and my parenting skills. Kids sometimes do stupid things for no reason.  And actually I do kind of like him.


VI.  A Return to Somewhat Normal


Teenager: Acceptance

I might as well just learn to like sitting inside the house, watching tv with my 6 yr old brother.  Huh,what do you know.  iCarly is kind of funny.

Wait, Mom?   Are you leaving the house? Where are you going?  CVS? Can I go with you?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.


icon icon
chat bubble icon


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Anthony from CharismaticKid

Hey Alphamom! Very funny and TRUE stuff! I teach parents that getting angry about things your child has done only breaks the trust. It’s my opinion that it’s not the consequences that kids fear when doing something they know is wrong, but rather the anger and disappointment from their loved ones. There’s another reason why anger fricks things up. Showing anger is sign of weakness in a parent. Someone that does not know how to confidently guide kids in the right direction. When kids see a parent getting angry, upset, yelling, whatever, it makes it easier for them to go… Read more »


You’re my favorite.


I agree with Katie.

I am not there y

Ann from St. Peter MN
Ann from St. Peter MN

I have grounded my kids, but always wondered about the irony of forcing a surly, angry, bored teen to stay around his home and family for days at a time. When my neighbor’s boys were teens, I would often have one or the other knock on my backdoor. It was always “Can I hang out here for awhile? I got grounded out of the house again”. BRILLIANT! Of course, they were only grounded “out” for a few hours, and were not allowed car keys (this was probably before every kid had a cell phone, too). That gave both the kid… Read more »


This is the part where parents adapt to the idea of their little cherub some day moving away from home. Without these incidents we’d never want to let go of them.

I’m glad you got to the stage where you remember you kind of like your miscreant son. In only about twenty short years you’ll look back on this time with a much more relaxed view and even be able to laugh at it. Not now. Twenty years from now. Okay, thirty.


Our teen, who is grounded right now (*all* summer, major misdemeanors – evil parents, right?) is testing us to our limits.  Your reply has made me laugh and cry in equal measure.  Roll on 20-30 years hence where we can laugh fondly at the memories (but not too fast, I already have wrinkles and I’m yet to see 40…)  We *know* there’s light and laughter at the end of this tunnel, but – oh boy – is it hard and dark right now.  Thanks for the reassurance and perspective of your comment right in this moment, prob more appreciated than… Read more »