Recipe for Rebellion
Rules Without Reasons
Rules Without Response
Rules Without Repetition
Rules Without Relationship
INGREDIENT #3: RULES WITHOUT REPETITION
The third ingredient in the Recipe for Rebellion is Rules Without Repetition. This ingredient deals with inconsistency in applying rules. (It would more aptly be called Rules Without Consistency, but then it wouldn’t fit as well into our Recipe!)
This ingredient points to the times our children comment, “Last time you let me.” It means that when a rule is a rule, it remains the rule (unless it is truly, permanently changed, and then the change is enforced on a consistent basis—not a different rule or take on a rule each time).
This ingredient harms our relationship with our children for many reasons:
1. Inconsistency Hinders Many Areas Inconsistency will hinder a Christian in every area of his life.
Our testimonies, relationships, interactions with others, decisions, morals–everything in our lives–must have some semblance of consistency in order to be accepted by others. A young lady recently told one of my daughters that her parents are so inconsistent that she simply doesn’t know what they want. One minute, she is allowed to date. Then when she begins dating someone they do not like, she is not permitted to go anywhere in a car with a boy.
Inconsistency in rules will “provoke our children to wrath” almost quicker than anything else. The guidelines we have for our family’s lifestyle must have consistency in order for children to follow them. Our schedules need consistency, or our children will never heed them–since they will change on a whim anyway.
Our interactions with other believers must be built on consistency, too. People are watching us all the time. They judge the Christian faith by our lifestyle and consistency in living for God.
2. Inconsistency Creates a Poor Testimony
Everyday we Christians hear people comment that they would never go to church because of the hypocrites. This is a long time problem that will likely never be solved since there will always be hypocrites—and non-believers looking for hypocrites– in the church. Our inconsistent Christian living creates a poor testimony.
With our children, it is even worse. Our inconsistency in parenting causes confusion, anger, and bitterness. Just like the girl told my daughter: “One day it is this rule, and the next day it is something different.”
Our children will not respect our rules if they are not consistently followed–or if the reason for a rule is not consistent in developing other rules (i.e. “one day I can date, the next day I can’t be in a boy’s car even with others there”).
It should be noted here that we do not believe that consistency in making and following rules means that you cannot change rules. You may decide to change a rule: through God revealing something to you; through a friend pointing out a blind spot; through discussion with your spouse; or even through the appeal process. Consistency does not mean that you never change anything. However, when a rule is changed, your children need to know it is so, and you need to be sure to be consistent in applying the “new” rule.
Three ingredients down and one more to go. We have found that when we diligently avoid the ingredients in the Recipe for Rebellion in our interactions with our teens, we have peace, joy, relationship, and harmony. When we “mix” in these ingredients, we have just what we set out to “cook up” (consciously or not)—rebellion, or at the very least, disagreement, with our rules and lifestyle expectations of them.
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