We are human. And that’s why it’s so easy to fall into ditches. We have knee-jerk reactions (I’ve had them o’ plenty) to something and end up way on the other side, perhaps just as wrong.
I’ve seen many wonderful parenting articles lately. Some are quite fuzzy, wonderfully written and well-intentioned. But I fear there’s a ditch-trend going on: fear of rules.
The common line goes, “parenting isn’t about rules, but relationship.”
And let me shout it loud and clear: EVERYTHING ABOUT PARENTING IS BASED ON A RELATIONSHIP.
Because parenting is ultimately discipleship. And discipleship is a walking alongside and nothing is more “relationshipy” than that.
But it’s a mistake if we become afraid of rules.
The fear is breeding rebellion in our children, or legalism, or of raising hypocrites who will grow up and reject the faith.
And those things are all possibilities, especially in the absence of relationship or the wrong application of rules.
Lately it seems parenting advice is so child-focused that we can easily lose sight of our job to train and correct and disciple. Parents fear their children will not be confident enough so they lavish them with praise and affirmation, afraid of damaging their spirits. The thing is, in a normal home, our children are doing just fine. Their egos are in no danger. They need our love, which includes affirmation and admonition.
We have to go to Scripture for our parenting wisdom. And the Bible is about rules AND relationship. Rules, as in boundaries, admonition and principles that are good for us and keep our feet from slipping, all wrapped up in the tender relationship akin to a Shepherd over his flock.
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction…Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.”
All throughout Scripture, we are commanded to “obey.” Children are too. Obey what? There must be rules and that shouldn’t scare us. It should delight us to gently help our children learn the importance of obeying and cherishing rules by those who are in charge of their well-being. Learning to obey parents who have the best interest in mind for their children translates into cheerful obedience to a Heavenly Father.
Avoid the ditches; rules are good and necessary when bound up in the tender relationship of a loving parent.