Some people love making rules. The more rules the better, they think. I mean, haven’t we heard the adage, “Discipline is freedom?” Only in total discipline, in not making minute by minute decisions can you experience complete freedom, right?
Weeelll…. sort of.
If you’re the kind of person who does well with firm boundaries and enjoys having people depend on you, yes. The majority people fall into this group.
However, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like unnecessary rules, the idea of discipline being freedom will start to feel like a prison of your own making.
Consider something simple: reading a book. What if I asked you why we insist we finish one?
Well, well, because you finish what you start! you would reply.
And therein lies the rub.
Who made that rule?
I have written before about teaching children to quit. I think it’s important, if only for the reason that they ask themselves why.
Why, oh why, as adults, do we think it’s a failure to quit reading a book? It’s a book. Choosing to stop reading it because it’s become boring is not a test of your morality or your worth.
As I homeschool, I am painfully aware of rules. I am responsible for making good rules for my children to follow. But just as I make them, I begin to realize, I have to know when and if to break them. Sometimes, my daughter quips up about something I said years ago that inadvertently got turned into a law.
And I have to remind her that there are only ten commandments.
Don’t Finish What You Start
I understand the appeal of creating rules for oneself. I do it, too. It’s like a game you play with yourself. A budget is a rule, for example, that carries a lot of freedom with itself. A template to follow for homeschooling, a schedule is another one.
But if we’re not careful, this rule-making can get addictive. Like a bloated government – which we are as parents within a family, sorry to break it to you – we never relinquish control or power.
The more insidious side of it is when that power comes back to bite us in the behind. Exhibit one: finish what you start. Finish that book, that curriculum, that task, that program, that garden, that (insert whatever you feel guilty about quitting) long after its worth is diminished, its value lost.
You don’t need to, you know. You can stop at any time. Without guilt. Things outlive their worth. That’s how we distinguish what’s valuable and what’s merely nice.
You have finite time. Don’t waste it fulfilling unnecessary rules.