Do Children Want Rules?
“NO MATTER how superficially mature a child appears to be,” says Dr. Harry Mendelsohn, director of family therapy at New York’s Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, “he is still a child.” And rules will still be needed. He explains: “A parent has to take charge. A family is not a democracy, although input from each child should be encouraged. But ultimately all decisions must rest with the parents. Rules should be made, they should be explicit and repeated over and over again. Children shouldn’t have the responsibility for making their own rules.”—New York Daily News, September 13, 1981.
“Children are great con artists,” says a youth center administrator. “They deny they want rules, but if you break down the con, you find otherwise. The bedrock is that they think reasonable rules are a sign of love.”
Do children agree? From a set of “Rules for Parents by Boys in a Reform School,” here are some of the things they are saying:
“Bug us a little. Be strict and consistent in dishing out discipline. Show us who’s boss. It gives us a feeling of security to know we’ve got some strong support.
“Light a candle; show us the way. Tell us God is not dead, sleeping, or on vacation. We need to believe in something bigger and stronger than ourselves.
“If you catch us lying, stealing or being cruel, let us know why what we did was wrong. When we need punishment, dish it out, but let us know you still love us.
“Call our bluff. Don’t be wishy-washy and don’t be intimidated by our threats to drop out of school or leave home. Stand firm. Kids don’t really want everything they ask for.”
All of this is well expressed in a brief statement by the wisest of all parents, the greatest of child-welfare administrators, Jehovah God. In his inspired Word, the Bible, it is said: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) The Creator understands not only what children want but also what parents need. Whether you are a youth or a parent, give attention to the helpful points in the following two articles.