Previously, I wrote about the importance of consistency in our parenting and the need for firm boundaries. But, sometimes life happens!
Rules are important, but relationships are crucial. Rules build the framework for relationships. No yelling is a rule, but it provides boundaries for good communication. Bedtime at 8:30 p.m. is a rule, but cuddling at 10:00 p.m. because of a nightmare is grace. Curfew at midnight is a rule, but rescuing a stranded teen with a gas can at 1:00 a.m. and then going out to an all-night pancake house to share your curfew problems from when you were a teenager is relationship.
Rules, boundaries, and consistency are critical for young children. But as they grow, grace can be an even more effective learning tool. But to be successful, grace should only be applied when your child is mature enough to understand the concept and has been consistently accepting the established boundaries. It must also be used sparingly.
In our home, my children hated to be put on restriction, which meant they lost all electrical privileges. Items that used electricity, including curling irons, cell phones, computers, and even light switches, were “restricted” for a determined length of time. It was a strong motivator for the kids to change their attitudes or correct their behaviors. Usually, in three hours or less I would show them “grace” and commute their restriction. But it didn’t take long for the kids to abuse our “grace.” One day, after one of my children was put on restriction, I overheard him bragging about how he could get off his restriction early and in time for an activity that evening. That was the day that we instituted the 24-hour mandatory restriction sentence, without possibility of early parole (or grace). Kids are smart!
Vicki and her husband Terry are the parents of eight children and were named Colorado Parents of the Year and Family of the Year, 2001. Vicki is the author of two books, many articles, former talk show host, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. To get your parenting questions answered, write to Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.