Rules and Relationships
Relationships with children and youth are so important because the majority of our learning takes place in the context of relationships. Consider the lessons you learned as a child. Where did the most important ones come from?
Mine came from my relationships with my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather, and even my father who had passed away. As I learned about his life—the things he did and the things that were important to him—I incorporated those values into my life.
The following are from a handout about rules and relationships:
1. Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.
I had a client whose mother had fairly strict rules for him. They were not excessive, but on the rigid side. His mother lectured him about everything, speaking “at” him, not “with” him. He used to sneak out as a teenager and had some problems—drinking and drugs. When he went to college, he continued to sneak out of his bedroom window to go with friends. He could have used the door, but didn’t. He continued to act as if his mother were still there, even though she wasn’t.
His mother’s rules were not unwarranted. Other youth have the same rules and obey them with no problem. The thing missing was the relationship with her.
2. Relationships without rules lead to chaos.
Friends down the street had a large family. The parents loved their children so very much. They thought their kids were so adorable, they couldn’t do anything wrong. Both parents were good morally honest people and fine members of society, and the children adopted many of their ways. But since there was no discipline in the family, the kids were allowed to do whatever they wanted.
One evening the parents had a date night to a movie and when they came home, the children had “egged” the house. The little boys had smashed two dozen eggs on the walls and furniture. The father cleaned the mess up, grateful the boys had a good time.
3. Relationships with rules lead to maturity.
Talk with your children and listen to them. If there is a problem, share it with them and together brain storm solutions. As parents, share with your children what your values are and all of you decide together how to solve the difficulty and what the consequences will be. Come back often to revisit the dilemma and see how your plan is working. Modify it if necessary.
I’d love to hear the ways your family solves problems. Share with us your successes and difficulties.
· Rule/relationships byBrent Barlow