The Pharisees in the Bible were trying to discredit Jesus by asking him to pick his favorite of the ten commandments. Of course, He knew what they were up to, so he flipped it into a Teachable Moment. In Matthew 22: 35-40, He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: Love your neighbor as you love yourself."
I call this the Codependent's Commandment. It's about balancing self-care with other-care. When we care about others, our children, to the exclusion of caring about ourselves, we set up conditional love. In essence, I'm going to do this for you, but you owe me. We don't say that, but it's implied. When your child doesn't pick up the message, you both are left with anger, bitterness, and distance in the relationship. Not a fun time.
Throw some self-care into the mix and you can offer unconditional, or agape, love. I have tended to my needs, so life is pretty good. I'm doing this for you because I can. Have a nice day. No condition, no anger, no resentment. A win-win. You are then able to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
People confuse self-interest, selfish, and self-care. The first two are activity based. I have the time and opportunity to do this and it's fun. See you later. That's self-interest. I'm going to do this even if it bothers you. Get out of my way. That's selfish. I'm at low ebb and I need to fill me up, so I can be at my best and be there for you. How can we make this happen? That's self-care.
Lead in your life and in your family by example. Can you balance self-care with other-care? What a teachable moment. Make time for self-care.
I've talked to many a teen who tells me they "are in jail," or "My parents have me on lock-down." The Correctional Model of Restriction that most parents use includes being given time on restriction for bad behavior. Often even well-intentioned parents are too general, too vague both in the crime and the punishment. "You're grounded until your grades come up." What grades? Up from where? For how long? The next grading period? Christmas? Teens are left with "working the system," sneaking out, hoping parents will forget about the punishment.
The Relational Model of Restriction is a step-down process that helps your teen work toward less restriction. After identifying the rule infraction, impose Judgement. No cell phone use for a month because you lied about where you were and stayed out past curfew. As your teen demonstrates regret, with apology, and shows remorse while tending to chores and responsibilities for a week, you reward his effort. "You're getting it, son. I'm proud of you. I'm showing you compassion. Your restriction is reduced to 3 weeks." As he continues his respect, responsibility, and initiative for another week, you again reward his effort. "I think you've got it. Lesson learned. Good job. I'm showing your Mercy. Here's your cell phone back." This step-down process reinforces your authority with the wording of Judgement, Compassion, and Mercy. It also gives your teen opportunity to earn cell phone privileges back sooner with positive response to the discipline. Any mis-step and full restriction is returned. As he learns his lesson and consistently improves his behavior, he is truly FREE and out of jail.