Rules Without Relationships
By Barrington Brennen
Dear Sir: What is more important, having rules or building relationships?
Dear Reader: Having rules without relationships is trouble. Rules without
relationships cause rebellion. Rules without relationships breed chaos. This is
true in the home, the school, the work place, in politics, and the community.
- Todayís youth are hungry for loving relationships. This is why the gang
culture is so successful. The painful truth is that gangs provide a sense of
family, care, and support for children and youth who are eager for a listening
ear and understanding from their parents or significant others in their lives.
Often children join gangs when rules are stressed more than relationships. Or
there are too many rules and very little love. Research shows us that children
of very, very strict parents are
more likely to become troublesome youth and/or
engage in pre-marital sex than children of moderately strict parents. I like
how author Grant East states it: "Attempting to enforce rules with todayís
at-risk student with whom you have no relationship leads to disaster."
Too many parents are more comfortable creating rules and boundaries than
intimately connecting with their children. Too many teachers are just dispensing
information instead of blending the information with sensitive caring and
nurture. Too many police officers are more concerned about enforcing the law and
showing their power rather than reaching out to those in trouble.
- THE CHALLENGE
- The great challenge is how we do develop relationships with angry teenagers
who have no interest in cultivating caring relationships with others. How can
we reach young people who are belligerent and vitriolic in the home, the
street, and the classroom? How can parents help their defiant teenager behave
honorably? How can teachers turn a violent, peer-pressure-driven classroom into
a haven of learning? The painful truth is that it is very difficult, and
sometimes it even seems impossible. Why is it difficult? It is difficult
because many of these troubled students are from homes whose parents are
themselves rebellious. In a real sense, rebellious parents produce rebellious
children, not the other way around. Show me a rebellious, disrespectful,
belligerent, angry child or teenager, and you will find an angry, cantankerous,
troublesome parent. This is not to say that good parents cannot have bad
children. But they are few to mention. Another reason is that too often parents
do not know how to love, they only know how to make rules.
- WHAT COMES FIRST
- This brings me to a crucial point. What then should come first: Rules or
relationships? Perhaps we should ask that question to a mother and father of a
new born baby. It is no doubt that during the first few hours and weeks of
their childís life itís all about loving, giving, sharing, and nurturing.
Rules are far from their mind. Unfortunately, in many homes, when these tender
bundles of joy turn into the troublesome two and three with their nasty,
noisome behavior, the loving diminishes and rule making increases. As rules
proliferate , love is squeezed out of the picture. Many parents are not aware
of this because their focus is on control and not nurture. The child is not
aware of the missing element either until he or she reaches an age of
discernment, then it is often too late. Building relationships is more
important than creating rules. Yes, we do need rules, but they are ineffective
without understanding. As stated earlier in this article, having rules without
relationship is big trouble. Could it be this is why we have so much violence
in our country today? Could this be why we have so much pain and misery in our
classrooms? We are busy passing laws, making amendments, and formulating
administrative strategies. We must be reminded that no strategy, law, or
amendment without connectedness brings pain instead of success. Is it too late
to make a difference in our homes, classrooms, or communities? Next week I will
continue by answering these questions. We will examine ways in which we can
work together to help bring healing in our homes and communities.
Send your questions or comments to Barrington H. Brennen,
or call 1-1-242-327 1980, or snail mail: P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas
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