Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk explains that in an environment where there are lots of rules there is a lack of love. I have contemplated this over and over again in recent months. At first I resisted it, I used to be a rules based person. 10 years ago, even 6 years ago maybe even 8 months ago I would have denied this statement fiercely reasoning that I have rules in my home as a result of love.
Then something happened. Something that rocked my world in a way I never thought possible. The specific details of this event will be shared one day but in the meantime, as a mom, I will warn you - do not take these few things for granted:
Due to this core rocking event and walking through the process of unpacking all that happened mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically I have a new outlook on rules vs. reason. You see, I previously parented out of fear. Fear I now realize is the opposite of love. Out of fear I had rules upon rules upon rules about TV shows, music, friends, boyfriends, sleepovers, texting, the internet, clothes - you name it I probably had a rule or expectation to go along with it and a list of reasons to justify my rules. If my precious daughter slipped up on one of these rules I quickly forced her back in to compliance with lectures, desperation, restrictions and removing electronic devices. I was fearful she would end up like I was as a young girl, fearful of being rejected by our friends, fearful of "losing her".
Thankfully this story is turning out to be one of restoration, love, freedom, connection and real relationship with my now adult daughter. Her younger sisters are reaping the reward of this new found wisdom and love. My eldest and I have a brand new relationship too. I am so thankful she has chosen to stay connected to her family, to rebuild and restore and have long lasting relationship with all of us.
Back to Rules vs. Reason - you can see where I am headed here. Does this mean no boundaries, a free for all in the home, on the internet, with boys, clothes, TV, music, movies and friends? No, but for our family this does mean guided behavior with boundaries, very different than rules. Talking, listening and helping my girls make their own decisions and then experience the consequences of those decisions while in the safety of our home. Learning to make good choices not just do what they are told or expected to do.
I am definitely a reason over rules parent now. Did I not really love my daughter when I had all my rules in place? I don't believe that at all. I love her and have always loved her but the environment I created due to my fearful parenting was not one of love, safety, freedom and acceptance. I was blinded by fear and missed some important opportunities to help my girl when she was struggling. As her story unfolded, pride and fear disappeared and the love I have for all my girls overflowed in humility and tenderness. I now know, fearless love is a fierce love and living in fear is very fragile.
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