Can we change that to…..
These questions are often asked of us parents when we fail to give children the reason for our decisions and instruction.
While there it is true that our children should learn to obey us and trust that we have their best in mind (but again, that comes through lots of talking and letting them see that we have their best interest in mind!), we have determined four key ingredients that cause teens to rebel—Reishes’ Recipe for Rebellion.
Certainly each of the four of these “ingredients” is a reason to talk to our kids….including the first ingredient in the recipe—Rules Without Reasons.
Rules Without Reasons
Explaining reasons for our rules is an important time to talk to our kids! We have believed in giving our children the reasons for our requests and rules (as long as the children are not demanding them), mostly due to embracing Kevin Leman’s* writings, which we discovered early in our parenting. However, we did not realize the importance of our rules and requests being logical and understandable to our kids until after we began debate. Through our experience with teaching our children public speaking and debate (and through judging hundreds of competitions), we learned that not only should we give our children the reasons for our rules if possible, but that those reasons should be logical, scriptural, and understandable.
In other words, it is not enough to tell our kids yes or no and then add “because I told you so.” This goes back to the Proactive Parenting techniques that we have introduced earlier in this blog. One way to prevent problems before they begin is to explain the reasons behind your rules and requests to your children.
Many authoritarian parents do not believe that they should have to do this. After all, we are the parents and they are the children. While you would be hard pressed to find parents who require obedience and respect much more than my husband and I do, we do not buy into the “I am the parent, so the child should do it” mindset—without explanation and teaching concerning the rules we make.
Why? For a number of reasons:
1. That is not how God deals with us! His Word is a gold mine of reasons and explanations to us of why He wants us to do what He wants us to do. He is tender, long suffering, and patient with us. He does demand our obedience, but He does not say that it is “because I told you so.” Rather He says that it is “to help us grow in our faith,” “to keep weaker brethren from stumbling,” “to show that we love Him,” “to be a light to the world,” and on and on. One explanation after another; multiple cause and effect scenarios are presented.
2. It does not help our children “own” the lifestyle choices and rules we are making. You cannot own something of which you do not understand. When we tell our children to live this way or that because we are the parents and we demand it, we are not helping them to develop their own belief system in the future. In essence, we are not giving them learning hooks on which to hook old information, new information, and future information—to utilize when they need to make decisions for themselves.
3. It is aggravating for the child. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” We as adults know how exasperating it is to work for someone who makes demands but does not give explanations. Our children often feel the same way with us. The Bible makes it clear that we have the potential to give our children life-giving truths (Proverbs tells us over and over to teach our kids God’s ways) or demanding, “aggravating” commands (without explanations).
So take the time to TALK…to give the reasons—especially when you are implementing a new rule, schedule, approach, or lifestyle choice for your family.
Explain it to the children thoroughly—and give them opportunities to respond (see next post!). Because avoiding the Rules Without Reasons is important enough to talk about it.
Learn more about the Recipe for Rebellion with our parenting packet here.
Recipe for Rebellion
Rules Without Reasons
Rules Without Response
Rules Without Repetition
Rules Without Relationship
Learn more about the Recipe for Rebellion with Donna’s Wondering Wednesday podcast episode here.
* Leman, Kevin. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1987.