Generation Cedar

We are human. And that’s why it’s so easy to fall into ditches. We have knee-jerk reactions (I’ve had them o’ plenty) to something and end up way on the other side, perhaps just as wrong.

I’ve seen many wonderful parenting articles lately. Some are quite fuzzy, wonderfully written and well-intentioned. But I fear there’s a ditch-trend going on: fear of rules.

The common line goes, “parenting isn’t about rules, but relationship.”


Because parenting is ultimately discipleship. And discipleship is a walking alongside and nothing is more “relationshipy” than that.

But it’s a mistake if we become afraid of rules.

The fear is breeding rebellion in our children, or legalism, or of raising hypocrites who will grow up and reject the faith.

And those things are all possibilities, especially in the absence of relationship or the wrong application of rules.

Lately it seems parenting advice is so child-focused that we can easily lose sight of our job to train and correct and disciple. Parents fear their children will not be confident enough so they lavish them with praise and affirmation, afraid of damaging their spirits. The thing is, in a normal home, our children are doing just fine. Their egos are in no danger. They need our love, which includes affirmation and admonition.

We have to go to Scripture for our parenting wisdom. And the Bible is about rules AND relationship. Rules, as in boundaries, admonition and principles that are good for us and keep our feet from slipping, all wrapped up in the tender relationship akin to a Shepherd over his flock.

“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction…Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.”

All throughout Scripture, we are commanded to “obey.” Children are too. Obey what? There must be rules and that shouldn’t scare us. It should delight us to gently help our children learn the importance of obeying and cherishing rules by those who are in charge of their well-being. Learning to obey parents who have the best interest in mind for their children translates into cheerful obedience to a Heavenly Father.

Avoid the ditches; rules are good and necessary when bound up in the tender relationship of a loving parent.

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5 Responses

  1. So true. The rules God gives for us are for our benefit, and likewise the rules for our children. Even though my children are still young, I’ve already been trying to teach them the difference between a sin and “just” a rule. I think this is very important. I have seen people grow up with so many rules but not really understanding why it is wrong (and therefore it it really is wrong), it becomes more tradition.

  2. Thank you, Kelly for this. I have been reading a parenting book and was feeling some guilt about all the rules we have set for our kids…but I DO teach them they are there for a reason. For example, ‘honour your father & mother’ and the promise is ‘it will go well with you’. Sometimes when my kids disobey they immediately SEE that it is NOT going well with them because they specifically disobeyed. I think it’s so important to point that out either right away or later you can reflect on it with them too. Hopefully in the future some of that will stick and they will remember ‘do I want things to go well or not’…’the bad choice will not make things go well’.
    Of course it’s very important to use grace and to continue to build relationship, not break relationship over a list of rules. Rules still need to be there to teach our kids boundaries and self-control. Thanks for your encouragement in this area. It’s somewhat of a fine line some days!

  3. Agreed! One thing that we did is back up a rule with a Scripture verse.

    Make sure we are sharing, because the Bible says, “And do not forget to do good and share with others.” Heb 13:16

    Now that our daughter is 13, I find that as she comes to me with the problem, she already knows the answer because the base of her rules is Scripture. She needs me to talk thru it and sometimes guide her, but a firm foundation is established in Godly rules that follow Scripture.

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