Rules versus Relationship

I think I would’ve been a good judge.  Maybe even a Supreme Court justice.  I am one of those who believes in rules and truly attempts to follow even the slightest suggestion.

And as you would expect, I know all about creating and maintaining rules for my family.
No, you can’t eat that right now.
No, you can’t play on the computer right now.
No, your friends can’t come over this evening.
No, you can’t buy that toy.

I hate to admit this, and please don’t judge, but when my eldest was younger, I had a lot of rules for her that I drilled with her as you would math facts.  One of them was that I believed that it was important for her to answer me if I called for her, even if she was in another room.  I would call to her and expect her to answer, “Coming!”  If she didn’t answer – even if she obeyed and came to me when I called – I’d send her back down the hallway and try it again.  We repeated that drill, along with way too many others, during her young years.  She was the best rehearsed 2 year old on the block!

However, being a rules keeper often means missing the relational aspect of things.  At the stage of being a new mommy, I was very concerned with doing it right, and sometimes lost focus on creating the right conditions conducive for a great relationship.

I had a change of philosophy after being able to watch a friend of mine manage her 6 children.  I watched her lovingly shift between enforcing a rule and embracing the relationship.  I watched her let things slide (gasp!) for the good of connecting deeply with her kids.  She was committed to obedience, but was more committed to establishing a connection with her little ones.

So what have I done to create relationship?  The question really should be more specific:  What have I done to create relationship today?  This hour?  This minute?  Because relationship is built through the little things that happen on a daily basis.  It is the moments of full-attention listening.  It is the stories read over and over again.  It is the one-on-one time dedicated to connecting.  It is the thoroughly studying of your kids’ personality styles and learning styles.  It is investing in their interests and dreams.

Opportunity is an excellent launching pad for relationship.  ‎Kids always want to try something, and we are often tempted to tell them “no.”  But relationship is fostered when we find an acceptable way for them to try it.

In a series I published earlier on romance, I give several suggestions on how to create better relationship with your family.  I linked to the first post, but there are 5 posts in all.  If you are interested and have time, you can look them up to get more ideas.

Rules are fine.  They bring order and structure.  They are easy to understand, and typically easy to attain.  Relationship, however, is what makes someone want to obey your rules.  Strive for relationship.


Filed under Family and faith, Parenting

2 responses to “Rules versus Relationship

  1. Leslie

    I have just learned this concept of valuing the relationship over the rules in the last 6 weeks. It has made a real difference in my relationship with a difficult child I care for. Thanks for putting it into words, Lori. I can remember clearer in your words.

  2. a.

    Mama you are so wise. I can’t wait to be a mom and try to figure this out. I’m so thankful to have you… who has gone before me and can share such wisdom and love! xox

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