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Do Strict Parents Make Sneaky Kids?

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I went to high school with a kid who had super strict parents. His curfew was 9 p.m., so he’d sneak out. He wasn’t allowed to listen to pop music, so he stashed his CDs in his sock drawer. His 10-year-old brother even hid his toys under his pillow at night.

As a kid, I just felt like his parents were unfair. Now, as I make rules for my kids, I wonder if I’m driving them to rebel. Do strict parents really make sneaky kids? These 3 clues will lead you to the answer.

Clue #1: Ask yourself this question.

I frequent axis.org, a site that works to guide parents through the current culture. They asked a question that addresses the bigger picture about strict parents: Are you raising a sin concealer or a sin confessor?

Rules don’t make kids sneaky any more than laws make citizens commit crimes. What does make your kids sneaky is when they cannot talk to you because you won’t listen, don’t try to empathize, and won’t acknowledge their points of view. They think they have to be sneaky because coming to you is pointless or will just make you pull the reins tighter.

Clue #2: Examine perception versus reality.

Even though you think you’re open-minded, your child might still say, “There’s no use talking to my parents. They never do what I want and they always tell me I’ll understand when I’m older.” As parents, we need to go out of our way not only to tell our kids they can talk to us about anything but also to make ourselves available when they do want to talk. That means slowing down, being home when our kids are home, and putting our phones away. And when our kids do share a mistake or some drama with us, our reaction is key. If we blow up, we might never get the opportunity again.

If you’re not sure where you stand, there’s no harm in asking your son or daughter, “Do you think you can tell me everything?” “What keeps you from talking to me about things?” That could be the start of a conversation that changes your relationship.

Clue #3: Reflect on your rules.

Rules should be a reflection of our love for our kids, not just a way to exercise authority. If your kids have no time for fun, don’t experience natural consequences because you’ve got them on too short a leash, and you don’t let them make any choices, it might be time to loosen up. This is especially true if you find your once-honest child lying frequently.

How do you talk to your kids about why you’ve made certain rules?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

Do you feel like you can talk to me about anything? Why or why not?

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