Going Deeper than the Rules- 3 “Self-Check” Parenting Tips to Make Sure You Always Focus on Relationship

Rules were created to provide boundaries in relationships and in society. Rules allow us to keep  a strict guideline of how things should be done and what should be avoided. Rules are good and help us protect the important people and things in our life.

But what happens when we give priority to the rules over the people that those rules protect?

The answer is simple. Relationships are broken.

We don’t mean to break the relationships. In fact, our motivation stems from protecting our children and making sure they do the “right” thing and make the “right” choices. However, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal of connecting at a heart level with our children, for the sake of protecting the “fences” that guard them.

I’ve found there are 3 “self-checks” that have helped me put my children ABOVE the rules, so our relationship can grow stronger each step of the way. Here they are:

  1. SELF CHECK for Fear– Parenting can generate fear around something tragic happening to our children and losing their heart or even losing their life. When I feel like putting my children above the rules, I self-check for fear and often find that fear generates anger and control. When anger is present, our minds think irrationally and can lean towards controlling those rules by making them tighter to protect those we love, but out of fear. If you find fear is present, relinquish it and trust God to fully take care of your children in all circumstances. Once you’ve done that, it will be easier to think rationally to keep relationship first.
  2. SELF CHECK for Pride– When a rule is broken, we can often get upset because we think, “how dare she break my rule, AFTER I told her not to do that. She should know better.” The feeling of disrespect from child to parent arises and we assume the child broke the rule on purpose and OUTRIGHT disregarded our authority. The next step is usually anger, and as you guessed it, we think irrationally. Hence, we tighten up and get stricter all because of pride and ego issues. When I’m tempted to put the rules above my children, I often do a self-check for pride and see if my ego has been hurt. More often than not, when my ego has been hurt, it’s a sure sign that pride was the culprit to keep me from thriving in my relationship with my child.
  3. SELF CHECK for Distrust– I was not the most honest child growing up (gulp!). When I started having children, I was often reminded of my own mischief when the children misbehaved. With every bad attitude or intent, I saw myself reflected in their behavior and often doubted their motivation when they explained WHY they had broken the rules. I took me a while to realize I didn’t trust them, because I didn’t trust myself and therefore, I created tighter rules, which I thought were going to keep them from making the same mistakes I made. The reality is that when we don’t trust ourselves, our relationship with our children will be fragmented and will often be the cause of tighter rules. I had to forgive myself for many of the bad choices I made. It was only after having done so, that I was able to build a relationship of trust where the rules were less important. I encourage you to self-check for distrust either in yourself, your parents (the way you were brought up) or even God. Distrust has to do with you. Take responsibility for building it back up and restoring an attitude of trust in your life.

Overall, parenting is about relationships and we must always seek to make it a priority. Even as sound as rules can be, they are only there to serve as boundaries, but never to keep us from engaging in healthy communication, unconditional love and encouragement.