Recipe for Rebellion
Rules Without Reasons
Rules Without Response
Rules Without Repetition
Rules Without Relationship
Through many trial and error situations in parenting our first couple of kids as they entered the teen years, we have determined four key ingredients that cause teens to rebel—Reishes’ Recipe for Rebellion. I will share these ingredients, one at a time this week and into next week, as PP 3*6*5 focuses on raising teens in a Christian home this week—and the pitfalls to avoid.
Ingredient #1: RULES WITHOUT REASONS
As indicated in various posts of this Positive Parenting 3*6*5 blog, 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 Preventive 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. (See http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/positive-parenting-365/day-fifty-four-create-learning-hooks-for-your-children-by-explaining-expectation/323633071871 )
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).
That is the first ingredient in the Recipe for Rebellion—Rules Without Reasons. It is removed from our “ingredient” list for parenting quite simply—and can be replaced with explanations, teaching, and instructions that will stay with our children a lifetime.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the second ingredient—Rules Without Response. You will be surprised how harmful this ingredient is—and how you can allow your children to discuss rules with you and win their love and respect in the process.
* Leman, Kevin. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1987.
Note: The Recipe for Rebellion and other teen information this week is being excerpted, in part, from our parenting book The Well-Trained Heart, available at our store.