Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't Focus on the Fence

An author, whose book I'm reading right now, told a story about how his parents had forbidden him from going to a local pool hall as a child. But they had never explained to him why. So, he grew up with this "fence" built without really knowing why his parents had put it up. As far as he knew, playing pool was sinful. So when he grew up and saw godly men playing pool, he was confused and thought they were sinning too. He had never really been taught by his parents about their concern for the people who were at the pool hall and how they might have influenced their son. The author offers this advice to parents, which I'd like to share with you:

"I think my parents' pool hall fence was appropriate. But there is a lesson in my experience for all parents: Don't focus on the fence. If you erect a fence for your children--for example, in regard to certain movies or television programs--be sure to focus on the real issues, not the fence. Take time to explain and re-explain the reason for the fence.

"If you decide, as my parents did, that you don't want your children going to the local pool hall, explain why. Distinguish between playing the game itself--which has neither negative nor positive moral value--and the atmosphere you are trying to protect them from."
-Jerry Bridges in
Transforming Grace (page 124)

So, establish boundaries for your children. But as best as you can, teach them why you've set up those fences. They might not agree, but at least they'll understand what's behind the rule and not fall into legalism about that issue (whether it's movies, music, friends, clothes, etc.). Get to the heart of it.

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