“Children and Fences”

This Weeks Meditation: “Children and Fences”
Read: Proverbs 4

Larry Burkett once told the story about a kindergarten that sat right on a corner by a busy highway. Although the school had a nice yard in which the children could play, at recess they would huddle right up against the building. The cars whizzing by frightened them.

One day some workers came and put a steel fence around the school yard. From that point on, the children used the entire playground. The fence did not limit their freedom; it actually expanded it. Burkett went on to say, “Children need fences, for they feel more secure having the discipline of clear boundaries.”

Proverbs 4 is a great chapter about wisdom. But if you look a little closer you will notice that several times it begins a verse by saying, “Listen, my son.” This wisdom is good for all ages, but it is very powerful when you imagine a father or a mother saying these words to their child. Many times children will argue with parents that they need more freedom to do what they want to do, when actually most studies show that children do want boundaries in their lives.

Just like the children at the kindergarten they feel more freedom when they know where the wall is and what is right and wrong in life. The Bible instructs parents to erect these walls with love and concern for your child, not a heavy handed approach. In Ephesians 6:4 Paul says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Parenting is hard, and tough decisions must often be made, but by balancing love and compassion with fences and boundaries our children will feel loved, protected, and safe to venture out on their own in a hostile world. Most importantly we must teach them and show them the ways of Jesus with our lives.

When our children see Jesus as the center of our world, they will know that his life gives us the perfect example to follow. Proverbs 4:11 says, “I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.”

Make it personal: Find ways to show your children that the boundaries you set are not because you are trying to restrict them; they are because you love them and care for them and want God’s best for them. As parents we know that, but do we tell our children that?

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church