A Life With No Rules?
We live with a “free spirit” in our country, almost a rebellious attitude that says, “I will make up my own rules as I go”. In many cases that rebel mentality has been idolized and admired. Its flash looks impressive for that “wow” moment, but it doesn’t help in the long haul. For example, one of the biggest hurdles in a gifted football or basketball player is for them to not “Hotdog” their way through the game. Because of their talent they have difficulties being disciplined within the game plan. I understand that you can get bogged down in the plan and sometimes you need a leader to help break out. But for the most part that mentality undermines the cohesiveness of the team and limits the growth of the player. You have to break him from this if the team is going to grow. You do this by giving him rules and boundaries.
We all need rules, rules in what we eat, what we watch, where we go and what we say. There are rules of ethics in how we treat one another. These rules position us. If you can learn to discipline yourself within the boundaries of the game of life, then not only you but everyone around you will benefit from your contribution. How rules affect our children I have been thinking a lot about the importance of setting rules within our families. What is expected? Most kids live by the trip wire method. They didn’t know the wire was there until it blew up on them. Rules for kids should not be made on the spot. It undermines our credibility and suggests that rules aren’t real but rather something we use to manipulate others. Discuss in advance with your kids what is appropriate and inappropriate. Discuss logical consequences for each behavior. Explain to your kids that rules are not a bad thing. Do that by comparing their situation to a ball game with no rules, or a board game or a card game with no rules. When we play a game, the first thing that we establish is the rules. It helps us live life better. Finding security in rules I have found that all of us and especially our children gain great security in knowing there are boundaries and rules. Although they stomp and pout, they actually take comfort in knowing that they are not in charge. Why is that important? Because being in charge is too much responsibility for a child. Subconsciously they panic and throw greater tantrums trying to find their boundaries. Many of our strong willed children are actually insecure. They need security and they find it in the word, “no”. When their parents refuse to give them boundaries they spin out of control. The responsibility of being in charge is too much for them. Their screaming is actually saying, “Will someone take control because I am afraid”. For that child, their security is in their boundaries. Our Role as Parents As parents we are like referees with our kids. Referees give direction for players; they blow the whistle and on occasion administer consequences for the breech of rules. They are never seen screaming at the players. They simply blow the whistle. They never ridicule the players from the sidelines. They run alongside them on the field and are keenly involved in the play. Are you running on the field with your kids? Are you keenly involved in their play? Do you observe their moves in non intrusive ways? Another thing about referees, they all stand by the decision once it is made. They are consistent. We unfortunately change our minds on discipline and don’t follow through on the rules. That is confusing to your children. It almost always produces insecurity. I encourage you to call the shots as you see them. Stick to and follow through on your decisions. Believe it or not, your child will gain great comfort in that kind of security. When it comes to referees, they always respect and back up the call that was made. If referees disagreed in front of players, chaos would break out. One final word of caution, rules before relationship can result in rebellion. The fact is you are a great parent. Take your place in the role as a parent and enjoy the game.
Dr. Jerry Edmon