The root cause for excessive child rearing problems is a wrong belief regarding the proper balance between love and limits. What is the right balance between love and limits?
Conscientious parents who provide positive structure and protective limits do so out of love. Caring parents set well prepared boundaries to their child. Without boundaries, children are floundering. Giving love without limits is not positive parenting; neither is giving limits without love.
Permissive parents say: “All that my child needs is love. Imposing limits and structure will only produce a bitter heart – then I will lose the love of my child.” Allowing the child not to have any boundaries in order to gain the love of the child can mean it is all about the parent (to be loved) and not what is best for the child. Some parents wants to be the best friend of their child, while a good relationship with your child is essential, you are still the “parent” and have to set boundaries/limits.
Powerful parents say: “All that my child needs is strict limits and structure. Allowing independence will encourage self-will and rebellion – then I will lose control of my child.”
The balanced parent says: “Even if our relationship is strained, I will be consistent and balanced in exhibiting love, enforcing limits, and teaching my child the character of God through the way I live my life.” The Bible is clear about this in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” It is because you love your child that you set balanced boundaries.
Somebody asked: “My nineteen-year-old son is a college sophomore and wants to do things that I feel are wrong for him. Do I have the right to say no?” If your son is earning his own living, buying his own food, paying his own rent, fueling his own car, and providing his own schooling, then he has earned the right to make his own decisions. However, if your son is not living autonomously, then he has not earned the “right” to make autonomous decisions. In that case, he needs to respect your right to make decisions on his behalf. If he says, “That’s not fair,” simply explain that whoever assumes the responsibility has the authority. At any time should he want to shift all the responsibility to his shoulders, he will then have the right to make his own decisions. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1)