Parenting Modern Teens (& Kids!)

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Why We Don't Pay For Our Teens' Cavity Fillings*

If our teen daughters get a cavity, we don’t pay for the filling. They pay. This is not a joke. 

When you are the daughter of a Family Coach, there are bound to be some unique parenting approaches going on…this is one of ours.

We understand this is not the norm. We understand that most parents feel it’s their responsibility to pay for cavity fillings. We do not.

Here’s why:

Like many of us, our daughters love candy, sweets, and sugary foods.

I love ice cream and I am a big fan of the ol’ Sour Patch Kids.

When our daughters were children and then tweens, we strictly controlled their diets and when they had sweets. We rarely provide desserts or sweets in our home, and when we did, we would control the amount they could have. We sometimes told them to brush their teeth.

In other words, when it came to sweets, diet, and oral health, we use/used some command and control parenting approaches. (You can learn more about why you should NOT use these with teenagers in my NEW, free parenting class.) 

My wife Danielle and I greatly value diet, health and oral health, and as parents, we agreed this was a value worth teaching, and a battle worth fighting with our young children. 

When our daughters became/become teenagers, we understood this parenting approach needed to change.

Teenagers don’t like feeling controlled. Monitored. Reminded. 

If a teen feels controlled, he/she is likely to complain, whine, argue, rebel, lie, hide or be straight up defiant to a parent’s face. I see this all of the time in my coaching work with teens. 

We did not want that with our daughters.

We want the teen years to be filled with love and harmony, closeness and intimacy, obedience and Win/Wins.

We want our teen daughters to feel empowered, supported, and understand they have power to make choices on their own. We can't control them, and if we try....the relationship breaks down.

We understand that when our daughters feel honored and empowered by us, they are more willing to live in a manner we want them to…in all areas of life. 

In other words, Danielle and I did not want sweets and sugar to come in the middle of us being close with our daughter – it’s not worth it.

Our teen daughters liked hearing the news that we would not be controlling their sweet/sugar intake. They felt trusted and empowered. We felt a little sacred. 

What Happened

Our teen daughters sometimes eat/buy more candy and sweets than Danielle and I are comfortable with. They sometimes don’t brush their teeth two times a day.

We made it clear that if they choose to eat lots of sweets and don't brush 2x a day, we would not be paying for cavity fillings*.

Danielle and I understand that we don’t need to enable or support our daughters' choices if we don’t believe in them.

Whether it be choices with candy and ice cream, or choices with screens and games or choices with grades and studying, parents have so much power and influence over their children and do not need to use command and control parenting to use their power for good.

So, when our girls became teenagers, we tell/told them that if they get a cavity, they will need to pay for their own filling. 

Our oldest daughter has a job, so she'll use that money. If a daughter doesn't have the funds, she may need to use birthday or Christmas money to pay for it.

She may need to sell some of their personal items to pay for the $200-$300 bill. Danielle and I can easily afford to pay this bill, but we feel it’s in our daughters’ best interest to pay this bill themselves. 

Paying for your own cavity filling is a natural consequence for eating too many sweets and not caring for your oral health.

We feel this parenting approach is a great example of a teen reaping what he/she has sown. We also feel this approach will help our daughters learn the value (both health value and financial value) of practicing good oral care.

As I teach in my free parenting class, my wife Danielle and my daughters ALL AGREE this is an example of a Win/Win family dynamic. They are on board.

If you want help becoming a Win/Win parent or creating a Win/Win home, please contact me for coaching or take my parenting courses.

My daughters win because – they feel empowered and free to live as they choose. She gets to buy and eat any candy she chooses, and she is enjoying her freedom as a young woman!

My wife and I win because – we can trust that we have done the best we can to teach our girls about healthy diet and healthy oral choices. We trust they are learning. Whether they “learn the hard way” or the “easy way”  - that is up to them!

We all win because  - we don’t argue, fight or have conflict over this issue. Our home is filled with love, Win/Wins and teamwork.

The boundary has been set: You are in charge. If you get a cavity, you will be responsible.

My teen daughters have never gotten a cavity.


 Stay Strong. Be close. Teach Wisdom.

*This parenting approach may not be best for your family or your child's personal health profile.

 By Sean Donohue

Family Coach and Founder

We Coach Parents How to Make Parenting Teens Easier and More Enjoyable