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Rules Without Relationships Part 1

By Barrington Brennen, 2014


Question: Dear Sir: What is more important, having rules or building relationships?

Answer: 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 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.
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, question@soencouragement.org  or call 1-1-242-327 1980, or snail mail: P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas

 First   Part 1    Part  2   Part  3  Rule Part 4





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