Josh McDowell said it well–“rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” Although I completely agree with that formula, we need to add an additional formula as well: “relationships without rules leads to running wild.” Parents must provide relationships and rules, love and limits, truth and grace. Parents as family shepherds will guide their children toward maturity. Guiding your child toward maturity involves leading by example and discipline. Family shepherds model the values and limits they want their children to internalize. Of course, children will respond more readily to those parents who have a strong, loving relationship with them. Children also imitate those adults they view as competent and powerful. Family shepherds will combine all this. They set a consistent example of love that guides their children toward maturity through warm, responsive parenting.
Family shepherds also use discipline to guide their children toward maturity. Discipline involves teaching… teaching the values of mature, healthy living. Discipline begins early in life and focuses on four important lessons:
1.How to behave. Successful parenting discourages negative behavior and teaches positive behavior. Family shepherds help point out how children should behave. Rather than simply saying, “Stop that” or “Don’t do that” family shepherds say, “Stop that and do this instead.” They point out the negative behavior while describing the positive behavior they want to see instead.
2.The impact of behavior on others. Family shepherds help their children learn how their behavior impacts those around them. If your child’s loud behavior bothers others in the restaurant, let them know. If their bossy behavior makes their sister upset, make sure your child knows. Don’t do this in a harsh, demeaning way. Lovingly point out how others respond to their behavior. Gently point out if their behavior made their sister cry or others in the restaurant feel uncomfortable. This allows them to develop empathy and actually see the nonverbal cues other people present to them about their behavior. Of course, family shepherds also point out when their children’s behavior has a positive effect on others and themselves. They let their child know when their behavior makes their sister smile and when other restaurant customers admire their behavior.
3.The pain of misbehavior. Guidance through discipline also means allowing children to suffer hardships, struggle with decisions, and experience the pain of natural consequences. Unfortunately, family shepherds hurt right along with their children. Parents hate to see their children struggle. When they see their child in pain, they feel the pain too. Some parents, in an effort to protect their child from pain and to limit their own pain, prematurely save their child from some consequence. This interferes with their growth and maturity. So, even though it’s hard at times, let ’em suffer now and again…it’s good for us all.
4.The benefits of good behavior. Parents discuss the long-term consequences of behavior as well as the short term consequences, the benefits as well as the detriments of behavior. Family shepherds will help their children learn how behavior impacts reputation, opportunity, personal esteem, contentment, and achievement.