The other day, in a book I was reading, a phrase stood out to me. It said: Make good rules, and stick to them. This got me thinking: what makes a good rule?
Last week, in a teachable moment, I was able to sit down with my daughter and talk to her about why we have certain requirements for her behaviour. I talked to her about the standard we use for making our rules. I asked her: When you make a decision on how to behave, what should you use to decide? A) What I feel like doing? B) What everyone around me is doing? C) What God’s word says I should do?
When we make God’s word the standard for how we conduct our lives, and the character that we require from our children, it doesn’t leave room for negotiation. When I ask my daughter to address other adults with a term of respect, instead of calling them by their first name, it is because God’s word says to treat older women as mothers, and older men as fathers (1 Tim 5:1-2).
When I address disrespectful behaviour towards someone else, I do it because the Bible teaches that we should show proper respect to everyone (1 Peter 2:17). When there is an issue of unkindness, I turn to where the Bible tells us to be kind (Eph 4:32).
I know that if the rules I make as a parent are just based upon something I was taught, or my personal opinion, they won’t stand up to scrutiny. I know if my requirements for my personal behaviour, and that of my children, are based up the word of God, I can defend them.
I can have confidence knowing that my standard for parenting is based on what God says. My standard won’t change if society decides something is acceptable or not acceptable. My standard won’t change if the people around me take on a certain behaviour. Any time I have a question about whether or not something is right, I have a reference point that is unchanging. Whenever my daughter wants to know the reason for the standard that we set in our family, I have an answer – what does the Bible say?
I want to give my daughter a firm foundation for her life, and that foundation comes from the truths set out in the Word of God. I want her to grow up seeing that these truths are the standard for my own life, not just something I am requiring of her. I pray that the truth found in Jesus will keep her rooted and grounded in this ever-changing world, and draw her closer to the One who is the sure foundation for our times (Isaiah 3:6)!