He who does not punish his son when he needs it hates him, but he who loves him will punish him when he needs it. Proverbs 13:24
Why do you make parenting rules in your house?
The obvious answer is to protect your children–from harm, from making poor decisions. Rules are good; they are necessary, but parents often put too much stock in them, thinking that if they set down some really good rules, that their kids will stay out of trouble and that rules are the answer to raising good people.
But here’s something I know after 30 years of parenting: rules don’t work. Rules just for the sake of rules, rules standing all by themselves don’t work. They may get your child home by curfew and make your child get their homework done, but rules don’t touch the heart of your child.
I think it’s interesting to note that this verse says that parents who love their children will discipline them when they need it. It says first that parents must LOVE their children. Parents must connect with their child’s heart, and then the discipline that they give and the rules that they establish will be made out of love.
If your goal is to raise kids who are strong, courageous, and faithful to God, rules are not the answer. They are only part of the answer. The other half of the equation is your relationship with your children.
Here’s the formula to remember: Rules – Relationship = Rebellion.
As one of my favorite preachers, Judah Smith, says, “Rules are meant to lead us to relationship, not to replace relationship.”
I’m afraid that some parents are really good about laying down rules, but not so good at building a strong relationship with their children. That takes time, vulnerability, honesty, time, silliness, time, laughter, and more time.
I saw this in our three kids, who are now 24, 27, and 30. They loved us and respected us and hated to disappoint us. So that when they did break the rules–and they did because they weren’t perfect!–they felt they had let us down and it really bothered them.They may have broken rules here and there, but because we had a strong relationship, it never led to full-blown rebellion.
By all means, lay down rules in your house, but be sure that they are backed up with tons of relationship building. Your child is more likely to obey those rules if they respect you and have a strong relationship with you.
If you feel stuck in your parenting, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a life coach for parents and I’d love to help!