Did you know? There are consequences to actions. If I speed while driving, I might get a ticket because I’ve broken a law. As a Christian parent, Proverbs 22:6 tells me to “train my children up in the ways of the Lord, so that, when they grow old, they will not depart from Him.” Just like getting a ticket on the highway, my child needs to know that his actions have consequences. Do good and good things happen. Do bad and bad things happen. We are charged with training up our children in the ways of the Lord.
All parents use restriction as a matter of consequence when your child strays from your expectations. But what kind of restriction? You want your child to conform to your expectations and follow the rules, but at what cost? The Old Testament talks about sparing the rod and spoiling the child. This is a power-based restriction and the foundation of the correctional model. “Three F’s! Joey, what’s the matter with you? You’re grounded until those grades come up. Go to your room and don’t come out except to eat and use the bathroom. Get those grades up, Boy!”
The correctional model is like going to jail. While well-intended, it breeds better criminals. Kids think about how mean you are, how to get around the restrictions, and hope that with time you will forget all about the punishment.
The relational model holds your child accountable, but also encourages his participation in getting back on the right track. “Three F’s! Wow! This isn’t like you, Joey. I’m very disappointed. We need a plan to help you work on getting those grades back up.
In Scripture, God showed the Israelites Judgement when they messed up. They went through hard times. When they got the memo and started abiding by God’s laws again, God showed them compassion and their favored status was restored. When Jesus Christ came to redeem all who accept Him as Lord and Savior, God showed mercy.
This progression from judgement to compassion to mercy is the heart of the relational model of restriction. Give your child a time frame of restriction, but then lessen it as he shows progress toward the goal. This is your compassion. If he reaches the goal before the restriction is up, give him mercy and restore his privileges.
The correctional model of restriction is about power. The relational model of restriction is about creating teachable moments in your relationship with your child. Are your restrictions about power or relationship? Create teachable moments with your restrictions and help your child grow emotionally and spiritually.