No Christian parent would say they care more about rules than relationship. But they unintentionally send that message when they do these 6 things…
1. Rely on a behavior modification approach to discipline. If you constantly say, “Do this and I’ll give you what you want” or “If you don’t obey, here’s the punishment you can expect” you are relying on behavior modification. It’s not totally wrong; it’s just incomplete as a parenting philosophy because it ignores the heart. Kids trained in this method begin to ask “What’s in it for me?” Kids grow selfish.
2. Mechanically hand down a punishment without considering its effect on a child’s heart. By doing so you indicate the rule is more important than the relationship. At the National Center for Biblical Parenting we call this a justice mentality – making sure the punishment fits the crime. But that only deals with the behavior and not the heart.
3. Discipline differently in public than in private. Parents feel pressure to get their kids to behave in public. Don’t allow what other people think to make you more strict in public than you would be in private. This is the wrong reason to discipline, and it puts more focus on outward obedience than on inner character.
4. Discipline because you don’t want to be disturbed. There are legitimate times that kids should respect us and not bother us with questions or foolish behavior, like when we are on the phone. However, discipline is what we sign up for when we have kids. Be careful not to value your agenda more than your child. messages
5. Spend more time and attention on the rules of behavior than on the building of relationship. Take care not to emphasize good behavior rather over relationship, or external motivation over internal. When you discipline, make sure you explain how your rules express your values. messages
6. And finally, we show that we value rules over relationship when we use Scripture exclusively to reinforce rules rather than express the big redemption story of the Bible. It’s tempting for Christian parents to quote every Bible verse that supports our rules. That’s fine, but make sure your kids also learn the big story of the Bible, that God wants relationship with us even though we break His rules.
When we build a strong relationship, our kids are more likely to follow our rules when they leave home.messages
Satan seeks to deceive parents, and his oldest lie is that God cares more about rules than about relationship. Build your relationship with your child and strive to keep it strong.
Are you sending the wrong message?
By James D. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Husband to Gail
Father of three
Grandfather of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Family Pastor at Anderson Mill Baptist Church
Presenter for The National Center For Biblical Parenting
Author of Parenting Unchained
Host of the radio show, Parenting Unchained, at www.LOTOradio.com
You can now also listen to Jim’s radio show on KSLR in San Antonio, Texas!
Click HERE for a link to Jim’s book, Parenting Unchained.