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June 24, 2014
Use Rules to Teach Values
Every family has rules. As children grow older the rules change but the underlying values stay the same. For example, the three-year-old who isn’t permitted out of the house without supervision, may be allowed to play in the front or back yard when he is five. The ten-year-old may be required to check in if leaving the neighborhood, and the teenager must report in at certain times. Because the child is growing older, the boundaries are expanded. The rules change but the underlying values of safety and accountability remain the same.
Some parents focus too much on the rules without explaining the values behind them. This becomes especially difficult for teens who are in that God-given stage of questioning. They are developing their own value system and evaluating whether they want to embrace the same values as their parents. For this reason, many teens challenge the rules they’ve grown up with. If they don’t understand the underlying values, they miss some very important lessons.
Parents who have used family rules to teach values provide their growing child with an ability to translate the restrictions of life into principles for living. The child who learns the value of guarding what types of movies she watches because parents set a rule of no PG-13 rated movies when she’s ten-years-old, will grow up with a greater ability to withstand the temptation of watching an unwholesome movie that may look attractive in the previews. That doesn’t guarantee that she will always make the right choice but she has been equipped with a deeper understanding of the values behind the rules. The child learns the ability to live within limits and that going outside of a particular boundary has consequences.
Take time to evaluate the values behind the rules in your family and then look for opportunities to explain them to your children. You’ll help your kids grow in wisdom about life. Proverbs 1:8-9 is just one of the many passages that explain the importance of communicating wisdom to children.
This parenting tip comes from our teaching on developing the conscience in children. You can learn more in the audio series, Everyday Parents Can Raise Extraordinary Kids. The recordings are available on CD or MP3. Make this summer a growing experience for everyone in the family.