Rules – Relationship = Rebellion

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Teachable Moment
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My mother is a very wise old woman and one of the many great sayings she has passed on to me over the years is “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” To be truthful, I never really thought much about the meaning of that statement until recent days, but as my husband and I desperately strive to find the balance in cultivating good relationships with our children while also disciplining them effectively it has taken on a new depth.

In the Scriptures we are given lots of commands regarding God’s desire and plan for our lives. Some people see these commands as protection and a source of life, but most people see them as outdated and restrictive. So what makes the difference between the two perspectives? Relationship. People who have a relationship with Jesus Christ do not see the Bible as simply a collection of irrelevant, oppressive rules, but as a love letter from their Father. It’s a narrative that reveals the very nature of God and His design for a most beloved creation. However, for those who do not know the author, they simply discard whatever words do not suit them and live a life of rebellion against the God of the universe as though He doesn’t even exist. Rules without relationship equals rebellion.

This same principle can be applied to us as parents. When we are all about the rules in order to manage the chaos of life and not much about cultivating relationships that can withstand the chaos, then we lose the heart of our kids. This is something I fear more than death itself. If I make my kids behave the way I want them to, but never get to their heart what have I gained? However, as much as this question haunts me, the fact remains that it is much easier to enforce a rule than it is to spend time engaging the heart of my children. Thus is the battle between what I should do and what the weakness of my flesh wants to do. It is a battle that often leaves me feeling hopeless, inadequate and exhausted. However, I would like to share an example from my past that always reminds me of how important it is to keep fighting and I hope it will encourage all my fellow parents out there to not give up either.

Once upon a time when I was somewhere around 15 years old I wanted to do something really stupid. I had been homeschooled all of my life and had just started working at McDonald’s. I was young, innocent and fresh meat to a crew full of teenage boys hopped up on hormones. It was these teenage boys who invited me to go on a road trip with them and a group of friends to Galveston for the weekend. I wanted go so badly! I was high on all the attention I was getting from a bunch of cute boys and felt this was a good time to spread my wings and fly. So I asked my dad if I could go. Instead of simply saying no, my dad took me out for ice cream at an old Dairy Queen Restaurant to discuss the matter. After we got our frozen treats we sat down and he patiently listened to me divulge all the reasons why I felt it was reasonable for him to let me go on the road trip. Looking back, that must have been absolutely painful for him to listen to but listen he did. After I had made my air tight case for going to Galveston with a group of teenage boys that were practically total strangers, my Dad very respectfully laid out all of the reasons why he felt it was not a good idea for me to go. Of course, in all of my 15 year old maturity, I disagreed with him. We went back and forth for a bit until my dad finally said to me “Angela, I know you cannot see my perspective and you think I am being ridiculous but I am asking you to trust me. I have taken care of you your whole life and I am asking you to trust that I am looking out for you even when you can’t see exactly where I am coming from.” He wasn’t angry with me and even though he had every right to appeal to his authority as my father, he appealed to his relationship with me instead and I have never forgotten that.

Needless to say, I didn’t go to the beach that weekend and now that I have two daughters of my own, I look back on this story and thank God for my Dad’s steadfast protection. The relationship that he built with me allowed me to trust him as a person even when his rules didn’t make sense to my young mind. This is what drives me to keep fighting for my relationship with my kids; so that when push comes to shove and obeying the rules can mean the difference between life and destruction, they know who I am as a person and they know that I am always looking out for their ultimate good. This is how it is with God and this is how I as a parent demonstrate the reality of God to my kids. So no matter how much I fail, I will keep walking in the direction of relationship, because in the end nothing matters more than God becoming real to the little souls that He has entrusted me with.

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Comments
  1. Hannah Allen says:

    Jake and I are learning so much through observing your parenting. Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom…I am sure the Lord will use it to help prepare us as well =)

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