Broken Rules, Broken Relationships

Posted on June 26, 2014 · Posted in Communication, Teenagers

Biblical grace is the strongest possible deterrent to sin. For parents this means if rules become more important than your relationship with your teenager you lose the opportunity to display grace. In other words, a broken rule must not result in a broken relationship! 

In my life, the times that I have been most appreciative of God’s grace are the times when I have been most aware of my sin.  Is this true for your teenager? When you address their sin are you most interested in showing grace or reminding them of how wrong they are? 

“Why have you, once again, not finished your homework, or cleaned your room, or not cut the grass? You know we have a rule, no computer unless your work is done.”

“I don’t know Dad. I will get to it but I had some other things to do.”

“Other things to do?!? What you need to do is obey the rules. That’s what you need to do. God didn’t put you in charge of this house. Put your iPad down and get to what your are supposed to be doing.”

“No! you can’t make me. Why are you always on me? You take breaks all the time. Why can’t I? Why don’t you care about me?”

It is not hard to see where this conversation is headed.

This is what often happens when parents intersect their teenagers lives based on performance rather than relationship. There are things to be done and rules to follow. Failure  means the rules are not being followed.  So what is stressed is broken rules, which then often results in broken relationships.

God is interested in you intersecting your children’s lives at the point of relationship on at least 2 levels. 

First, there is your relationship with God. Are conscious of the grace of God displayed in your life? Are you humbled that God does not treat you as your sins deserve? Are you profoundly challenged by the privilege you have to present the mercy of God and his ways to your children? Are you asking for God’s wisdom and grace as you interact with your teenagers, particularly when they are struggling? How are you and your spouse getting along?

Secondly, there is your relationship with your teenagers. How are they doing? Are they up or down?  How are they doing with the other relationships in their lives? Is there tension with others in the family? How is school going for them? Have they had any recent major disappointments?  Are they open and comfortable talking with you? 

Sensitivity to God in these two areas will help keep a good balance in your relationship with your teenagers. Rules exercised in the context of a good relationship will be a blessing. 

Don’t let broken rules destroy your relationship with your teenager.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.