It’s not rules that I abhor, it’s rules that make no sense and have little to no purpose or value for the people that are supposed to be following them. You may have just lost all respect for me. Sorry. But I’ll live. Some rules are just plain dumb. What’s funny is that all of the dumb rules are there because someone actually did something that created a need to spell out that rule. Here’s an example. I remember when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We read anything and everything we could get our hands on. We even read all of the generic literature you get from the doctor’s office. I will never forget this one pamphlet. It was the Do’s and Don’t’s for when you wife goes into labor. This was actually listed: don’t have sex after your water breaks. Seriously? That wouldn’t have been written if someone hadn’t tried it.
But I digress. I’ve just never had a great appreciation for rules that make no sense. This has definitely affected my parenting. My wife and I have very few “rules” for our kids. As our kids grow and mature (i.e. self-sustaining) things we call rules diminish proportionately. (From my point of view, assuming the child has the capacity to comprehend and reason to that level, if I have to make a rule then either myself as the parent has failed to teach or my child has failed to learn).
Instead, we try to be intentional about teaching values. When we talk about values, what we’re to are the foundational principles that guide how we live. Values cover and lead us in all areas of our lives. They are rooted in our identity as followers of Jesus. I am totally convicted that if I can truly embed Kingdom of God values into my children then I will have done my job as a Dad.
By leading and loving through values we feel like it does a few different things for our kids:
- The more I read the New Testament, especially the teachings of Jesus, the more I come to believe that he taught values more than rules. I know that in some ways this is semantics. But there are some differences. When Paul talks about the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians ch. 5, he’s talking about values, not rules.
- It forces them to learn to think independently and critically. Life is full of gray areas and judgment calls. It takes practice and wisdom to navigate this. If we just gave our kids a list of rules to follow then they wouldn’t be forced to think through the “why’s.” We want them to get as much practice as possible with this when they are young and the consequences of their decisions are less severe.
- Bottom line, you can’t have a rule for everything. But you can have values that covers everything. I would much rather my kids follow Jesus’ values instead of my rules.
Well, you’ve read this far. So while I still have your attention I’ll share the values that we try to lead and love with in our family. Hopefully this will bless you in some small way.
- Love God, your family, everyone else and then yourself.
- Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. This includes you.
- Be honest and do the right thing. No matter what it costs.
- Do your best and let that be enough.
- Defend and take care of people who can’t do it for themselves.
- Focus on what’s most important.
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