Being a parent means you’ll be doing battle, even with the most easy-going of children. But even if it’s not a full-out battle of wills, how do you decide when and where to make a stand? How do you decide when to say “No” and when to let it go?
Your 8 year old wants a cell phone. Your 10 year old wants a Facebook account. Your 12 year old wants to dye his hair green.
None of these things are wrong in themselves, so how do you draw the line? It can be really difficult to figure out where the line should even be.
I’ve always used these four criteria to help me decide when and where to draw the line: Is it sinful, immoral, unethical or unwise?
1. Is it sinful?
Is it right or wrong? Is it what the Bible calls sin? The Bible doesn’t say anything about Facebook accounts or dying your hair or cell phones. So far, so good.
But if my child has started shoplifting? I can stop right there. The Bible does call stealing sin, so I know I need to do something immediately.
2. Is it immoral?
In these cases, not so far. But something like your teen wanting to go to a parent-free party could quite easily fall into this category.
3. Is it unethical?
Ethics can be different from profession to profession, so I define this in terms of whether the action is legal, honest or the way I would want to be treated. If my 10 year old is asking for a Facebook account when the Terms of Service require you to be at least 13, I am right in saying no. Green hair on the other hand? Not unethical at all.
4. Is it unwise?
Is it a good idea at the time and stage of your child’s life? Is it a good choice for your child’s personality? Is it healthy? Will it help your child grow, develop and learn, or will it be detrimental to your child?
If any of these questions are answered with a “yes” that means I need to say “no” to my child. But if the activity passes the test, there’s a much better chance that I can back off and stand down. And being able to say “yes” to my kids is a great thing!
How do you find your way through those “gray” parenting decisions when the answer isn’t obvious? How do you know when to stand your ground with your children?