Saturday, March 13, 2010

day seventy-three: understand the recipe for rebellion—an example to put it all together

                                                  Recipe for Rebellion

                                        Rules Without Reasons
                                        Rules Without Response
                                        Rules Without Repetition
                                       Rules Without Relationship

So how does this Recipe for Rebellion play out in our homes? What do these ingredients look like in action? I will give you an example of how we have applied this "recipe" in making a rule in our home and the result of those applications today. From this, as well as other times we followed the "Recipe for Rebellion," we have determined that some of our rules were not biblical, were man-made, were illogical, or were inconsistent. The rule in this example is not a bad rule in itself. The reasons it was a bad rule for us are because we made it based on isolated Scripture verses (not considering other similar verses); we were inconsistent in applying it; we were hypocritical; we didn't allow the children to respond to it; etc.

If you have this rule in your home, we are not suggesting you drop it. We are suggesting that when you have rules in your home, you give logical reasons for them, if possible. And that your rules, whatever they may be, do not contain the four ingredients in the "Recipe for Rebellion."


One rule I made over a dozen years ago involved music. As an older teen, Joshua got a cd collection of Disney movie songs. Upon closer examination of it, I discovered that Elton John had written and performed many of the songs. Now I knew from my teen years that Elton John had lived an immoral life, and to my knowledge (obviously, I did not have first hand info on this), was not a Christian. I forbade Joshua from listening to this (we even had him get rid of it entirely) because it had such a blatantly non-Christian (from my teen years anyway) artist singing some of the songs. The problems with this rule were the inconsistencies (Rules Without Repetition), not letting him talk to us about it (Rules Without Response), and lack of relationship (Rules Without Relationship):

1. The verses that I found for my rule were applied incorrectly. I had a book about why contemporary music and rock music were wrong--and it listed reasons with Bible verses like some of the following:

a. Contemporary music is addictive, with the verse "My son, incline thine ear to my teaching"
b. Contemporary music has a bad beat, with the verse "Flee from evil"
c. Contemporary music causes rebellion. with the verse "Heed my instruction, my son."

The verses simply did not match the reasons!

a. If my "he's not a Christian" rule was to work, we would have to eliminate anything not done by a Christian.
b. Thus, we would not use practically any Christian literature course as nearly all of them study the "greats" in literature, Christian and secular (and we read a wide genre and list of secular authors in our homeschool).

3. My kids did point out number two above to me, and I said that they might be non-Christians, but Elton John was known for his ungodly lifestyle (during my youth; I am unaware of his lifestyle at this time).

a. Of course, this logic could not stand up because many artists and classical composers (who were okay to listen to according to our rules) lived ungodly lives.
b. Many of these composers are ones whom we had been advised in our curriculum to listen to because they were classical composers--and classical music was more accepted than contemporary music in many circles.

Now, if we had other reasons for these rules, or if we just felt the rule was right, but we were not sure why, and we told our children that--that is another story.

But instead we had the following ingredients from the Recipe for Rebellion:

1. Poorly applied Scripture (Rules Without Reasons)

2. We had illogical thinking in that he was more of a "non-Christian" than other non-Christian artists and authors (Rules Without Logical Reasons)

3. We had no consistency in our rule--reading non-Christian authors (Rules Without Repetition)

4. We did not listen to our kids when they tried to discuss it (Rules Without Response)

5. We built walls between Joshua and us due to those ingredients (adding the ingredient of Rules Without Relationship)

Again, there are many families we know and respect who do not allow any music in their homes besides classical and sacred music, and they have rules that their children accept and understand concerning this guideline. It is not the guideline/rule itself that made this not work for our family. It was that we did not have logical reasons, consistency, and openness about the rule that made it a problem. In short, we made a rule using all of the ingredients in our Recipe for Rebellion.

But, as my daughter always says, “It’s all good.” Truly, I don’t want to leave you with this negative recipe. Join us tomorrow as we switch from this unhealthy recipe—and instead learn how to create closeness and harmony with our children by following the “Ingredients for Intimacy.”
2. We watched movies written by non-Christians, read books written by non-Christians, viewed art created by non-Christians, and much more.

day seventy-two: understand the recipe for rebellion—ingredient iv: rules without relationship

                                    Recipe for Rebellion

                                   Rules Without Reasons
                                   Rules Without Response
                                   Rules Without Repetition
                                   Rules Without Relationship


Rules Without Relationship is the final ingredient—and probably the most critical of all of the ingredients to avoid. (Of course, without relationship, we as parents have no desire or motivation to try to explain rules, listen to their appeals, or remain consistent in our parenting.) Relationship must be in place in order to keep our children from rebelling against us.

Love covers a multitude of parenting problems. However, I will note that we can chisel away the relationship we do have with any of the previous three ingredients in our rule making. Even if we have a strong relationship in place with our children and have secured their hearts, we can cause them to take back pieces of their hearts little by little when we do not have logical rules, do not listen to them, and do not have consistency.

Likewise, an incredibly strong relationship can cause our children to accept our decisions even if we do have some of the other three undesirable ingredients. If our children know that we are trying to do what is in their best interest, and that we would not simply make rules to throw our weight around, they will more easily accept those times when our rule making is less than logical or consistent.

I look back on the time when our three oldest children began entering their teen years, and it seems a miracle that we were able to keep them so close. I know that there were some key experiences during that time that held us together, in spite of our tendency to not always think when making rules and guidelines. The most significant thing that kept our children true to us during that time was love.

More than anything else, love ruled our home. We might have had some wacko rules, many of which had no logical basis. We might have taken away a lot of things from them that other kids got to do or have (and continue to do so). But we always loved unselfishly. We loved them enough to do whatever it took to stay close to them.

Paul's declaration about ruling with love is what made those years successful in spite of not knowing what we were doing! In Philemon 1: 8-9, Paul told the people that he could have forced them to do what he wanted them to do (which is how some parents handle things), but instead he wanted to love them into doing what he asked: "…although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love" (NKJV).

When we appeal to our children on the basis of love--even if we do not have it all figured out ourselves yet--their response is completely different than if we appeal to them with unlimited, tyrannical authority.

Friday, March 12, 2010

day seventy-one: understand the recipe for rebellion—ingredient iii: rules without repetition

                                   Recipe for Rebellion

                                 Rules Without Reasons
                                 Rules Without Response
                                 Rules Without Repetition
                                 Rules Without Relationship


The third ingredient in the Recipe for Rebellion is Rules Without Repetition. This ingredient deals with inconsistency in applying rules. (It would more aptly be called Rules Without Consistency, but then it wouldn’t fit as well into our Recipe!)

This ingredient points to the times our children comment, "Last time you let me." It means that when a rule is a rule, it remains the rule (unless it is truly, permanently changed, and then the change is enforced on a consistent basis—not a different rule or take on a rule each time).

This ingredient harms our relationship with our children for many reasons:

1. Inconsistency Hinders Many Areas Inconsistency will hinder a Christian in every area of his life.

Our testimonies, relationships, interactions with others, decisions, morals--everything in our lives--must have some semblance of consistency in order to be accepted by others. A young lady recently told one of my daughters that her parents are so inconsistent that she simply doesn't know what they want. One minute, she is allowed to date. Then when she begins dating someone they do not like, she is not permitted to go anywhere in a car with a boy.

Inconsistency in rules will "provoke our children to wrath” almost quicker than anything else. The guidelines we have for our family's lifestyle must have consistency in order for children to follow them. Our schedules need consistency, or our children will never heed them--since they will change on a whim anyway.

Our interactions with other believers must be built on consistency, too. People are watching us all the time. They judge the Christian faith by our lifestyle and consistency in living for God.

2. Inconsistency Creates a Poor Testimony

Everyday we Christians hear people comment that they would never go to church because of the hypocrites. This is a long time problem that will likely never be solved since there will always be hypocrites—and non-believers looking for hypocrites-- in the church. Our inconsistent Christian living creates a poor testimony.

With our children, it is even worse. Our inconsistency in parenting causes confusion, anger, and bitterness. Just like the girl told my daughter: "One day it is this rule, and the next day it is something different."

Our children will not respect our rules if they are not consistently followed--or if the reason for a rule is not consistent in developing other rules (i.e. “one day I can date, the next day I can't be in a boy's car even with others there”).

It should be noted here that we do not believe that consistency in making and following rules means that you cannot change rules. You may decide to change a rule: through God revealing something to you; through a friend pointing out a blind spot; through discussion with your spouse; or even through the appeal process. Consistency does not mean that you never change anything. However, when a rule is changed, your children need to know it is so, and you need to be sure to be consistent in applying the "new" rule.

Three ingredients down and one more to go. We have found that when we diligently avoid the ingredients in the Recipe for Rebellion in our interactions with our teens, we have peace, joy, relationship, and harmony. When we “mix” in these ingredients, we have just what we set out to "cook up" (consciously or not)—rebellion, or at the very least, disagreement, with our rules and lifestyle expectations of them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

day seventy: understand the recipe for rebellion—ingredient ii: rules without response—the godly appeal*

                          Recipe for Rebellion

                         Rules Without Reasons
                         Rules Without Response
                         Rules Without Repetition
                         Rules Without Relationship


The godly appeal, as mentioned yesterday, is a non-argumentative, non-confrontational way for our children to express their disagreement with our rules for them. It opens doors of communication that would literally be slammed in our children’s faces if we just tell them to “do what I say; I don’t want to hear about it.” It gives our teens more of a sense of control in their lives—and provides multiple teaching opportunities for us (which our teens can, in turn, apply to other situations in their lives).

In the godly appeal, if a child does not agree with something, he asks respectfully if he may appeal. We had our children use those exact words: “May I appeal?” At that time, the parent gives one of three answers: yes, no, or later. The child then must accept that answer (not argue, beg, etc.). If the answer is yes, the appeal is heard and considered by the parents. Sometimes this is in front of other siblings. Many times it is not, depending on the subject being appealed, who it applies to, and the intensity of the child's appeal.

If the answer is no, the matter is dropped, though it may be brought up later, when more information is gathered or when the time is more appropriate (i.e. not in the heat of an argument or not when parents are unable to deal with it right then, etc.).

If the answer is later, the child may bring it up at another, more convenient, time. (Sometimes we even told our children that they may appeal tomorrow or next week when we are not traveling or not in the middle of a big project, etc.)

There are some guidelines that make the godly appeal successful:

1. If the appeal is disrespectful or done in anger, it is turned down immediately.

2. If the appeal is a series of whines and complaints, rather than a truly godly appeal, it is turned down.

3. If a child begins disagreeing a lot or constantly trying to appeal, the appeal process is terminated for a period of time until that person learns to accept Mom and Dad's rules more often than not. (More about kids being characterized by cooperation “more often than not” later.)

4. If the appeal process becomes an argument, it is ended.

5. If the person appealing is turned down, but later has more information ("new evidence"), he may re-appeal that topic.

6. The appeal is truly listened to and thought through by Mom and Dad. Do not pretend to listen to appeals, but not regard your children’s pleas. This is another “Recipe for Rebellion” in itself. (Kids know if the appeal process is just a formality and you are not truly listening to them.)

7. The person appealing is not constantly interrupted by Mom and Dad with justifications. The child should not be patronized during an appeal, but carefully listened to and respected.

8. Once the answer to the appeal is given, the matter must be dropped for the time being. Granted, it might need re-visited, but to continue the appeal once an answer is given is arguing, not appealing.

9. Parents must agree on the answer to the appeal at the time. Later, behind closed doors, discussion between Mom and Dad may need to take place, but in front of the child, a united front is imperative.

The appeal process is a privilege for mature children. It should not be used by children who complain and grumble all of the time. It should not be used as a "formal means" of arguing. (The words, “May I appeal,” should not be substituted for the child's normal means of disagreeing as an attempt to begin "discussion and arguments.") A child should have godly character and be characterized by ("known by") submission and obedience in order to utilize this relational tool. It is an avenue by which children and teens who readily accept the family's rules may disagree respectfully and be heard.

When discussing these concepts recently with our grown son Joshua (married; twenty-seven), it was interesting to us to note that he said that he did not mind our rules—even if he disagreed with them. According to him, the reason he did what we wanted him to do (outside of love—see “Rules Without Relationship” in a couple of days) during any of our less-than-rational-rule-time is because no matter what rule we made, what standard we expected, or what behavior we demanded, we always listened to him.

According to him, even if we did not change the rule or expected result, we still let him talk and let him disagree with us (via the appeal process). He noted that it didn't matter if we followed his suggestions, just the fact that we were listening to him made all the difference in the world. According to him, we did not give him freedom to do as he pleased when he disagreed with something, but we did give him intellectual freedom--the freedom to think and to question us. That alone makes the appeal process in our home so important to us.

Note: Information for this post was excerpted from The Well-Trained Heart and was gleaned from the following original source: “How to Make an Appeal.” Oak Brook, Illinois: IBLP, 1990. Printed Booklet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

day sixty-nine: understand the recipe for rebellion—ingredient ii: rules without response--introduction

                              Recipe for Rebellion

                            Rules Without Reasons
                            Rules Without Response
                            Rules Without Repetition
                            Rules Without Relationship


The second ingredient in the Recipe for Rebellion is that of rules without responses--developing rules without allowing our children to question those rules—without allowing them to respond to our instruction. This is a common ingredient in rules-oriented families. We often do not listen to our children if they disagree with something or question something. Even those who are not opposed to telling children the why’s of rules (Ingredient #1) are sometimes not comfortable with letting children ask us about our rules.

The problems with Ingredient # 1: Rules Without Reasons are also found in Ingredient #2: Rules Without Response (plus one other “biggie”):

1. “No-Response-Allowed” Is Aggravating!

There are many problems with this ingredient, of course, not the least of which involves the verse in the Bible that tells fathers not to aggravate their children: "Fathers, don’t aggravate your children, if you do they will become discouraged and quit trying" Colossians 3:21 (NLT). It is aggravating not to be listened to! Think about how annoying it is for you with work or relatives when you are not allowed to voice your opinion. Your children feel the same way--only perhaps even more helpless because they are, well, children.

2. “No-Response-Allowed” Handicaps Our Children in Their Future Decision Making

Additionally, not allowing our children to respond to our rules and choices for them causes them to be unable to make decisions for themselves later in life. They need to know the process a Christian goes through to determine how to live and act. If we consistently tell them that this is the way it is, and they just need to buck up and do it, they will not learn how to make wise decisions for themselves and their own families some day.

3. “No-Response-Allowed” Is Not How God Treats Us!

If we truly want to follow a Christian protocol in parenting, we will want to try to parent our children like God parents us. God listens to us! Think of how painfully honest David was in the Psalms—“God, why are you doing this to me! Why don't you listen to me? Why do you let my enemies overtake me? Oh, I want to follow your way, but it is so hard. Okay, God, I will trust in you, not in chariots and horses.” God allows us to respond to what he is doing in our lives!

Or how about Abraham: Will you destroy the city if there are some godly people still there? He not only responded to God's edict, but he gave God suggestions on how to change it. And God listened!

4. “No-Response-Allowed” Causes Our Children to Argue With Us

Besides the three above difficulties with Ingredient #1 and Ingredient #2, “No-Response-Allowed” has the added problem of arguments and fighting that result when children try to discuss rules with us and we do not listen. This is where a communication technique that we have used with our children comes in handy: the godly appeal.

Most parents, when presented with the concept of letting their children respond to them, are not altogether wrong in their opposition. Their children might already be responding--and Mom and Dad do not like it!

Parents usually do not like it because they have not allowed (or taught) proper responses from their children early on, so their sons and daughters have resorted to arguing, bickering, and begging. That is not the type of response we are recommending in this appeal advice.

If you want to begin eliminating this “No-Response-Allowed” ingredient from your rule-making and standard-implementing, we recommend that you utilize the godly appeal process.*

In a nutshell, it is based on models in Scripture in which godly appeals were made and recognized. This approach still works in our families today—and we have utilized it in our home for fifteen years with more success than failure!

*The antidote for “No-Response-Allowed” ingredient will be introduced more fully in tomorrow’s post—How to Implement the Godly Appeal. Please join us—and invite your friends!

Monday, March 8, 2010

day sixty-eight: avoid the recipe for rebellion—ingredient i: rules without reason

                              Recipe for Rebellion
                     Rules Without Reasons
                     Rules Without Response
                     Rules Without Repetition
                     Rules Without Relationship

Through many trial and error situations in parenting our first couple of kids as they entered the teen years, we have determined four key ingredients that cause teens to rebel—Reishes’ Recipe for Rebellion. I will share these ingredients, one at a time this week and into next week, as PP 3*6*5 focuses on raising teens in a Christian home this week—and the pitfalls to avoid.


As indicated in various posts of this Positive Parenting 3*6*5 blog, we have believed in giving our children the reasons for our requests and rules (as long as the children are not demanding them), mostly due to embracing Kevin Leman's* writings, which we discovered early in our parenting. However, we did not realize the importance of our rules and requests being logical and understandable to our kids until after we began debate. Through our experience with teaching our children public speaking and debate (and through judging hundreds of competitions), we learned that not only should we give our children the reasons for our rules if possible, but that those reasons should be logical, scriptural, and understandable.

In other words, it is not enough to tell our kids yes or no and then add “because I told you so.” This goes back to the Preventive Parenting techniques that we have introduced earlier in this blog. One way to prevent problems before they begin is to explain the reasons behind your rules and requests to your children.

Many authoritarian parents do not believe that they should have to do this. After all, we are the parents and they are the children. While you would be hard pressed to find parents who require obedience and respect much more than my husband and I do, we do not buy into the “I am the parent, so the child should do it” mindset—without explanation and teaching concerning the rules we make.

Why? For a number of reasons:

1. That is not how God deals with us! His Word is a gold mine of reasons and explanations to us of why He wants us to do what He wants us to do. He is tender, long suffering, and patient with us. He does demand our obedience, but He does not say that it is “because I told you so.” Rather He says that it is “to help us grow in our faith,” “to keep weaker brethren from stumbling,” “to show that we love Him,” “to be a light to the world,” and on and on. One explanation after another; multiple cause and effect scenarios are presented.

2. It does not help our children “own” the lifestyle choices and rules we are making. You cannot own something of which you do not understand. When we tell our children to live this way or that because we are the parents and we demand it, we are not helping them to develop their own belief system in the future. In essence, we are not giving them learning hooks on which to hook old information, new information, and future information—to utilize when they need to make decisions for themselves. (See!/notes/positive-parenting-365/day-fifty-four-create-learning-hooks-for-your-children-by-explaining-expectation/323633071871 )

3. It is aggravating for the child. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” We as adults know how exasperating it is to work for someone who makes demands but does not give explanations. Our children often feel the same way with us. The Bible makes it clear that we have the potential to give our children life-giving truths (Proverbs tells us over and over to teach our kids God’s ways) or demanding, “aggravating” commands (without explanations).

That is the first ingredient in the Recipe for Rebellion—Rules Without Reasons. It is removed from our “ingredient” list for parenting quite simply—and can be replaced with explanations, teaching, and instructions that will stay with our children a lifetime.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second ingredient—Rules Without Response. You will be surprised how harmful this ingredient is—and how you can allow your children to discuss rules with you and win their love and respect in the process.

* Leman, Kevin. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1987.

Note: The Recipe for Rebellion and other teen information this week is being excerpted, in part, from our parenting book The Well-Trained Heart, available from

Sunday, March 7, 2010

day sixty-seven: “prepare” for parenting

"Nothing could have prepared me for parenting...."

Long, fussy nights. Evenings walking the floor trying to solve the problem, then finally making room for the “angelic being” at the foot of my bed. Afternoons filled with needs that I could humanly never meet…..anxiety, fussiness, tear-filled moments, overwhelming joy, laughter.

Nights with two, three, four, or five of them all needing Mom and Dad at the same time….all gathered in our room, some half asleep, others needing consoled or comforted. Nights in which Ray would finally drift off to sleep by midnight, only to wake up at four to take off for work and find the needy one still in our bed.

Yes, it’s very true….nothing could have prepared me for parenting………….…….teens and young adults. (Long ellipses intended!)

If you began reading the above paragraph thinking I was describing parenting babies, I tricked you!  I can remember when I had six children twelve and under (ten years ago!), and I thought parenting babies and toddlers was so challenging. I was tired, overwhelmed, and overworked. I thought it would be so much easier in a dozen years. Ha!

Recently we had a wave of “overwhelming parenting days” with our teens and young adults. Nothing too big, nothing too out of the ordinary…just six “kids” twelve through twenty-two needing their parents all at the same time. Prior to the last few years, I had no idea that parenting teens and young adults took so much emotional energy AND so much time.

Ray spent one evening with J and Lisa, giving them advice. I was with the two oldest girls that same evening, going over the camp they hosted for young ladies, followed by getting Cami off to serve at Joni and Friends and phone calls with updates and prayer needs a couple of times a day.

We met with Kayla and some missionaries and a missions director (two different meetings)—along with some long, heart-felt talks with just the three of us and dinner out.

Jonathan needed help getting his “responsibility” level up to his “ability” level. (I’m sure you can figure that out for yourself!)

Kara went away to debate camp and didn’t have Mom or big sisters there to encourage her every hour—and I ended up talking on the phone with her two to five times a day and emailing her at least twenty times a day!

It was a tiring week. Every hour of each evening the phone seemed to ring or we were tied up with one of the older children---or both.

At the end of the week, Ray and I fell into bed and discussed how challenging our parenting is right now---how many needs there are and how inadequate we feel to meet them---and I said, “You know what? These kids are consuming our lives!”

We looked at each other and broke out into laughter as we both said, “No duh---that’s what they’re supposed to do!”

It was good to laugh about it. For only two days later, I was in a heap of tears over it again, feeling like I was making mistakes, worrying about different things, and generally overwhelmed---much like I used to feel twelve years ago---only worse—I’m older and, well, hormonal!

Twelve years ago, we put them in their beds if they threw food from the high chair. Twelve years ago, they couldn’t have their ice cream if they didn’t eat their vegetables. Twelve years ago, we overloaded the newborn with colic drops and took turns walking the floor---but it didn’t seem as “life-long” or “life-shaping” as today’s parenting issues are.

I used to cry because I was tired. Now I lie awake—and make myself more tired---worrying and praying over our teens and young adults. I used to think I was a bad parent if my kids had bad behavior. Now I think I’m a bad parent if I don’t “look into the future” and see their needs before they arise. I used to worry that they didn’t do enough math, now I worry that they aren’t doing enough praying!

Then I get thankful….thankful that I’m crying because I miss my fourteen year old so much while she’s at debate camp that I’m considering driving the four hours to pick her up and bring her home to Mama. Thankful that my seventeen year old’s greatest need this week is trying to witness to an unsaved fellow counselor at the deaf children’s camp—and keeping the teenage boys from trying to “go with her.” (I’m not sure where they want to go with her!) Thankful that my nineteen year old isn’t into drugs….but is so into Jesus, she can’t decide when, where, and how to get on the field and bring the lost to Him. Thankful that our married son is such a diligent worker and so sensitive about things that he wants to talk to Ray for hours. Thankful that we have the issues we do have…instead of other issues that are way too heavy for me.

So….here Ray and I go again…doing what we always do when things are rough…regrouping, laughing, holding each other, praying, talking through everything, misunderstanding each other (then making up!), spending huge amounts of time talking to our kids. Sure, parenting at any age is tough, but as I said before, nothing could have prepared me to parent……………..….teens and young adults!

This week I will be doing a week-long series about teens, entitled “Reishes’ Recipe for Rebellion”—and what ingredients we want to be sure to NOT include in the parenting of our teens. I pray that you will be blessed and helped by it as much as we have from the teachings we have received that led up to our developing it.

Note: This article was reprinted in part from one of our 2005 newsletters.