In light of my post yesterday about the relationship between myself and my girls as they grow, at church Pastor Brad spoke straight to my concerns. Now before you run and hit the back button, don't worry. I'm not going to regurgitate his sermon. But there were a couple points he made about parenting that I thought were spot on. So fabulous in fact I wish I had thought of them myself. But alas I can take no credit.
But I do want to share.
1. Rules without Relationship = Rebellion. How many times have we seen this played out? The hard core parents, loads of do's and don'ts, the rebellious teenager sick and tired of being told what to do without given any reason as to why... how many of us appreciate that? I'd bet very few. So it stands to reason that our kids wouldn't either. When a parent doesn't invest in their child beyond telling them what they can and can't do, it's easy to see how the child comes to the conclusion that the only solution is to act out. Why should they listen to their parents? Their parents don't listen to them.
2. Relationship without Rules = Recklessness. We live in a day and age where so often parents, in an effort to avoid the above, instead strive to be the BFF. The problem with this is that if the parent isn't driving the boat, the kid is going to take the wheel. And there's a reason that the elders look after the young. Parents have the experience, the wisdom, and often have made the mistakes that can help lead their children down a better path. But without rules, there is no path to follow. Kids cannot be left to make their own decisions, not until after they've been given time to mature and grow, with rules.
3. Relationship + Rules = Respect. When there's proper balance between having an intimate relationship with your child and having rules in place to protect, guide and mold your child then what often results is respect. Not only respect of a child for his/her parents. But also respect of the parents for their child. Respect for their individuality, respect for their season of growth. And overall there is a respect of both parties for this whole process of growing up kids.
I liked the final comparison Pastor Brad made in the end of his sermon. He said that we should strive to parent our children as Christ parents us. In thinking about that I have found a great deal of clarity. And I'm not really worried now about what to do when my girls get older. Christ has given us guidelines to live by but has also backed it up with the ultimate relationship. Living for Him by merely following the rules is dry and stale. Likewise, resting only on my relationship with Him without any growth on my part is shallow and selfish. But when put together, they result in the richest life anyone can hope for. And in that I find a wonderful example of a loving parent.
I'm not so naive to think that things will all be smooth sailing. But I do think that walking into these coming years with an understanding of the balance we'd like to achieve in our home will help tremendously. Praying hard doesn't hurt either. ;-)
My friends, what do you think of the points above? Agree? Disagree? Do you see some of your own childhood/teenhood reflected in some of the examples? What constitutes a balanced parent/child relationship in your mind?