Most kids who go off the deep end, into a season or rebellion, do so for one reason. They see the rules and restrictions that authorities place on them as personal attacks rather than loving means of protection…
and THAT is the problem of the authorities in their lives, not the kids.
Another way I often say it is this: Rules without relationship, creates rebellion.
Rules are not a bad thing. Because human beings are fallen creatures, we need rules to show us right and wrong, and to govern and guide the direction of our countries and organizations. I strongly advocate that families develop their own set of household rules, the non-negotiable expectations that everyone in the family is expected to buy into, for the sake of representing Jesus well.
But when it comes to household rules that a family has, there’s a key component that makes them much more effective and helpful to everyone in the home.
What is that key component? Relationship.
In Proverbs 23:26, we find this intriguing phrase:
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”
There is a heart-connection that is supposed to exist between parents and children. As the verse implies, our children are to be willing to give their hearts to us. But parents, that’s not something that happens
by default. The way you nurture and build the relationship you have with your children has everything to do with it.
If you lay down the law to your kids, but are distant or removed in terms of relationship, you are writing your very own prescription for disaster. In time, and not much of it, your kids will resent your rules rather than embrace them. That’s because there is no sense in which you’ve communicated a loving, concerned, “interested-in-them attitude” that demonstrates that the rules you’re laying down are more than just rules.
I’ve seen rebellion for this reason take place in the heart of a three year old, a twelve year old, and even a thirty year old. It happens because the kind of relationship you establish with your children is
based ONLY on authority. You’re nothing more than a figurehead, and as a result, they will begin to buck your rules in favor of their own opinion of what is right and wrong.
So how do you prevent such a terrible outcome?
First, you start young. From the time your children are born, don’t let a day go by without you showing concern for them, asking questions about the things churning around inside of them, and giving them an
understanding that you place rules and boundaries into their lives for their protection… because you love them so much!
Second, make the relationship you have with your kids the kind that shows them that you are truly interested in the, that you genuinely care for them as people. It’s not about “I’m the parent, you have to do what I say.” It’s about, “I care for you more than anyone else in the whole world, and I want to know and understand you. I like you. I’m eager to know you.” You do that by having caring conversations with them, showing genuine interest in them and the things that are happening in their lives. Resist the temptation to sidestep or sluff off their “childish” interests because you’re busy with more important things. Know this: Almost NOTHING is more important than building the right kind of relationship with your kids. Third, keep at it, day after day after day. Don’t let the busy-ness and stress of life cause you to focus on less important things than the health of the relationships within your own home. Too many parents wake up one day to find that their teenage daughter or son has long been distant from them, and that the road to
recovering their heart is going to be a painful and rocky one. Avoid that parents, please.
Keep up on the relationships you have with your children, day after day.