Our greatest regrets could be avoided. As parents, we are in the unique position to help our children avoid theirs. By teaching them to set up boundaries, we are teaching our children where danger lies and how to navigate away from it.
“Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later (Proverbs 22:3, GNT).” One of our roles as parents is to help our kids become thinking, sensible people. We set up rumble strips for our kids to help them navigate life without the regrets of foolish mistakes.
Let me be clear, this is not legalism. This is not a list of rules declaring your child is unworthy when or if they cross the line. Instead of creating inflexible rules, create rumble strips that identify danger. Provide your child with knowledge of natural consequences. Be honest about what lies beyond the rumble strip.
Show them danger
Don’t shelter your kids. Have real, age-appropriate, conversations with your children. Let them know what lies behind specific decisions. Children are curious. When we refuse to answer questions, they will seek out the answer for themselves.
Create an environment in your home where you discuss hard topics. Encourage questions. If you are unclear if your child is ready for the answer, ask them. When my children come to me with hard questions I tell them, “I will always tell you the truth, but this truth is going to change how you see the world. Are you ready?” I then step back and give them the silence they need to process. Sometimes they change their mind, smile and run off to play. Other times, their need to know wins.
Give them grace
Our children will make mistakes along the way. When this happens, we have the opportunity to model unconditional love. A child should never feel as though they can not measure up to expectations. Instead, they should feel safe and secure that no matter what happens you love them. You, their parent, are the first glimpse they have at seeing what a loving God looks like.
When the rumble strips you set in place are crossed, your child needs your arms to run to. Natural consequences will teach them to not venture that way again. It is difficult to watch our children walk through the consequences of poor decisions. But, it is not our place to snatch them out or condemn them when they do. It is our place to help carry the burden, but not for them. We are to love them regardless.
For parents, kids, and teens
Parenting is hard. Let us help you carry some of the responsibility. We have community groups for parents of all ages. Our kids’ ministry meets every Sunday and offers children a fun, safe place to learn about Jesus. Velocity is our middle school and high school youth group that meets on Wednesday nights. We encourage the kids to bring their hard questions and then tackle them together.