The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Family

April 3, 2006

4-2 Apparently So parenting column by Craig Harris

I have mentioned before that rules without relationship lead to rebellion. I think this wisdom is important because this is why a lot of parents fail to keep communication open in the all-important teen years.

It’s not easy to rear children. It’s difficult. But if your children see you as their warden whose purpose is to squash their enjoyment of life, they are going to do everything possible to get around you and your rules. Yes, I know our job is to protect them and sometimes being the warden is the only way, but the trick is to be perceived by them as a loving encourager, not a heartless prison guard.

And that leads us to the relationship part. I know in my own life, I never wanted to disappoint my parents. That’s the key in a nutshell. I may have disappointed them from time to time, but I didn’t want to and made an honest effort not to. That fact may have saved my fool neck. Do your children cherish their friendship with you? Is it strong enough to affect their behavior?

From your teenagers’ point of view, the relationship must come first, then the rules. Why should they want to please you if all they hear from you are sermons, words of discouragement and lectures?

Why would they want to please you if they barely speak to you and never see you take the time to become part of their lives? Why would they want to please you if they perceive that you want little to do with them? When you have an afternoon off, does any of that time go to them? When is the last time you had a good laugh together? When is the last time you went on a trip or played a game together? When is the last time you went to a restaurant or movie together just for the fun of it? Do you put down the paper or magazine when they come in the room? Have you ever turned off the TV because you sensed they needed your attention? These are clues to building a relationship.

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