“I’m really worried,” said one little boy to a friend. “Dad slaves away at his job so I’ll never want for anything, so I’ll be able to go the university if I want to. Mom works hard every day washing and ironing, cleaning up after me, taking care of me when I get sick. They spend every day of their lives working just on my behalf and I’m worried.” His friend asked, “What have you got to worry about?” He replied, “I’m afraid they might try to escape!” So let’s be honest. Did you ever daydream of escaping from the role of being a parent? Did you ever as a mom at least think about crying out those words from the old commercial of my childhood, “Calgon…take me away!?”
Parenting isn’t easy and, like growing old, it’s not for wimps either. Does it get easier the older the kids get? A college sophomore who had spent most of the school year in one kind of trouble or another, received the following postcard from his parents who were vacationing in Greece: “Dear Son, we are now standing high on a cliff from which the ancient Spartan women once hurled their defective children to the rocks below. Wish you were here. Love, Mom and Dad.”
The first rule of effective parenting comes from author and speaker, Josh McDowell who says, “Rules without Relationships lead to Rebellion.” This is where many parental mistakes are made as parents tend to gravitate toward one extreme or the other. Some parents are more dictatorial and surround their kids with hundreds of rules providing an overly strict environment that borders or even enters the realm of legalism. Other parents have as their greatest fear that their kids won’t like them. These parents tend to have few rules and the ones they do have become negotiable if their children resist enough.
The key to parenting is balance. Yes, we must have rules. That is without question. But on the other hand, these rules must be coupled with the building of a relationship with our kids. To move away from balance is to move toward rebellion.
Perhaps this is best seen in the life of a young lady named Lynette Fromme. Does that name ring a bell? Maybe if I used her nickname, “Squeaky,” it would help jog your memory. In 1976, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme exploded on to the front page of every newspaper in America. She had pushed her way through a crowd and had tried to kill President Gerald Ford. She was just 17 years old at the time and was a very proud follower of the notorious serial killer, Charles Manson. Reporters wanted to know why a sweet, Seventeen-year old teenage girl would give her life to such an evil person as Charles Manson. Her explanation is haunting. She said in an interview that she made a choice early in her teenager years that whoever loved her first could have her life.
One study revealed that the percentage of American teenagers who say they want to be like their parents was just 39%. That is a haunting statistic. Rules without relationships lead to rebellion. To help us find this balance, we will be taking a look over many of these upcoming blog postings at 10 principles of effective parenting.