Do you have RULES or GUIDELINES in your home?
We have BOTH!
I guess with ages 4-21 we have every stage of parenting possible! I think because we are a large family you can see the distinct need for both. We have children in our home who need to know the 'dos and don'ts' of life.
The rules of:
- You can...
- You can't...
- You can...
- You can't....
Our teens however, need GUIDELINES! (Not that there are not times for rules...because they need us to still give rules when they are struggling with the guidelines!)
Guidelines tend to promote thought and encourages them to think and asks them to understand the 'why and why not'. It gives them room to make decisions, learn to make choices, and gives them space to mess up.
- If they make too many unwise choices then we will help set a rule.
- As they make wise choices we will remove the rule and go back to a guideline.
The parenting job is to find balance between guidelines and rules!
Too many GUIDELINES and there's no direction, while too many RULES makes robots.
We have to help form direction without making robots!
Rules are easier to create as a parent while guidelines require us to be engaged and walk with our older kids. It requires getting into the mess of life. It will be late night discussions, sometimes angry and confused teens as they discover how to find balance in their life. It will mean parents on their knees questioning whether this is time for a rule. But if our goal is to raise children to become wise adults...we CANNOT skip this step of teaching by guidelines.
Example: It's much like the toddler stage as they learn to walk. (If we raise a toddler where we always hold them while they learn to walk, never letting them stumble or fall...how will they ever learn to find their balance and walk on their own?)
Raising a robot (setting all the rules) is easier because that means we don't have to watch them get hurt. We can keep them from pain...or can we? We can set a rule and go on with life...but does it help our teens go on with life?
If our goal is to raise children who grow up into teens that learn the consequences of right and wrong behavior, and who become adults making wise decisions...then we must let them walk and make mistakes. While they make those mistakes we are there to stand them back up and set them back on the path to try again!