Rules without relationship breed rebellion

Rules without relationship breed rebellion


That phrase has stuck with me for a long time, especially in how I relate to my kids. In my experience, maintaining this mindset is key to transforming the relationship any parent has with their kids. And through the journey of applying that to my own parenting, I have definitely seen change in how I connect with mine.


Before, when one of the kids would misbehave, I would be all about discipline.  “You’re going to behave and obey and if you don’t I’m going to punish you. Now go to your room!” That has been my natural response as a parent, and I would guess many other parents lean the same direction. But since grasping this concept of relationship before rules, things have changed.  Instead of focusing on discipline and rules, my attention has shifted toward a different word. Train


I like the idea of training my kids how to live over forcing them to behave because it implies relationship and rules. A friend used to say it all the time, “Rules without relationship breed rebellion.” I got to the point that I knew when he was going to say it, but I didn’t mind because he was reminding me of an important truth. It’s the classic grace and truth debate. Too much grace, and you spoil the relationship. Too much truth, and you crush it. But a balance, with relationship leading the way, can bring transformation.


So a new equation emerges…relationship with rules brings rapport. Rapport is that undeniable influence we have all experienced with someone we trust and respect, and every parent/child relationship should have it and far too few do. Which leads me to a new way to approach parenting rooted in biblical principles. “Train up your child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV) Training for anything requires a process of hard work and focus, success and failure, and everything in between. 


Last year, my girlfriend and I trained over a period of four or five months to run a half marathon. She had been through the training process before and was able to help me prepare for such a daunting task. The process of training was tough! I had to work up to running 13.1 miles gradually, increasing my distance a little bit each week. I had to start eating the right foods to fuel my body. And I had to learn how to prepare my mind to withstand the physical pain and mental exhaustion I would encounter. Having her there to train me how to do these things was key. She trained with me, and our relationship grew closer because we were working toward a common goal.


And that is the same role we play as parents. Since we have encountered many of the same problems and issues our kids will, we must equip them to be able to handle life in the best way possible. But we must do this WITH them. Rules without relationship is like saying “do as I say, not as I do.” Relationship with rules changes the paradigm completely and invites our kids to do as we do because we’ve been down this road before. We enter into a conversation with them and do life together so that we can work toward the common goal of training our sons and daughters to be men and women of both character and faith.


If you’re interested in applying this to how you parent, please feel free to contact me. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have definitely learned through lots of trial and error.


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