I’ve often proclaimed that I am a rule follower. I like rules. They work for my inner cautious child who craves order.
“Grey areas” make me uncomfortable and delay my decision making ability. I tend to endlessly ponder the “what ifs” and “if not, then what?” Then, I question the post-decision, wondering “what if” and “if I had, then what?” (I know-it’s exhausting.)
Unfortunately for me, life is not black and white, and rules get questioned. Lines are blurred.
I have had to accept that rules really do conflict and often change – especially in the teen years. I held on long and tight to my nice, neat set of do’s and don’ts for myself and my children. As it usually goes with me, God has stretched me like Elastigirl, introducing circumstances and life happenings that force me to break my secure stance.
No longer is life as simple as it was years ago when the famous “time and a place rule” pretty much covered everything. You parents know it well: “The library is not the place to run around the tables and raise your voice, but at the playground? It is time to yell and have fun!” When the kids were younger, the rules were “say please and thank you” “stay in a line” “put things back where you found them”….easy peasy.
When children are little the same rules usually apply to everyone.
As the children have grown older, the rules occasionally change. While nearly every boundary set is rock solid for all three of my children, there have been few occasions when what is right for one child is not appropriate for the others’ personality. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would EVER treat a circumstance differently for one child or changed a rule, I would have dismissed you as crazy. Now, I laugh at my old rigid self who knew little of what was ahead.
I teach my teen daughter who now drives to “be aware of your surroundings” “remember where you parked your car” “never answer anyone in a parking lot on your way to the car”. Yet, if she ignored a friendly greeting in that same parking lot in broad daylight five years ago, I’d be the first to ask her why she didn’t respond to the person.
Until a few years ago, I believed my kids should befriend and be nice to all, especially to their classmates who appeared separated from everyone else. That was until my son attempted to befriend a seemingly distant classmate one day who then promptly asked my son if he would like to get high together. In laughter my son said to me afterward, “How about we just be nice, but not always befriend?” There ensued a lengthy talk about being wise, discerning, still helping, showing love, remaining friendly but not close friends…these teen years require endless conversations…
In contemporary society, even a few federal laws are not God’s rules. We must explain that to our children. And, some laws have been broken, bringing greater good to mankind.
Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela come to mind…
I still love absolutes. They give me the security my spirit often needs. But this is real life and kids change, situations change, and I must adapt. Not conform to this world, but definitely be more flexible.