How To Think Through Household “Laws”

Thom DickFeatured, ParentingLeave a Comment

Have you ever listened to yourself parenting your kids and wondered how you came to have more laws than Moses? Household rules are essential and yet household rules are potentially deadly. No kid wants to live in a home dominated by suffocating laws. One of the keys to finding balance in our homes is to understand that rules come in different categories.

Moses really did write many laws for Israel, 613 to be exact. However, those laws actually fell into different categories and are not nearly as arbitrary as one might assume reading through Leviticus. There were “Civil Laws” which included things like hygiene that were to keep the people of Israel healthy. These laws included where one should dig a “latrine” for example (Deuteronomy 23:12).  They also explained what to do if mildew set in or someone developed a potentially contagious skin disease. (I’m not even going to bother with references.)

Then there were Ceremonial Laws and Moral Laws as well as a specific category called “Separation Laws.” Separation Laws were very important as God established Israel as a unique fledgling nation. There’s a lot of confusion about these laws in the Church today because not all are still in effect. Ceremonial and Separation Laws have all been canceled, as well as some Civil Laws, but all Moral Laws are still in force today. (Southland has an entire paper explaining The Law. If you’re interested, just click here.) I remember when Pastor Kris taught a message series on The Law when I understood the categories of laws, I understood the rationale for the laws, and I understood their relevance to my life.

Did you know that your kids are likely often confused about household rules as well?

Even in our homes, there are different categories of rules! There are rules that are universal rules that would apply to every household, household specific rules and then rules as unique and different as your children are from one another. This won’t make all the rules fair to your kids, but it might help them begin to understand them.

Some excellent rules that should apply throughout every home might be “We admit when we have made a mistake” and “We forgive.” Those two would be “laws” that should apply to every single home. “In this home, we love and respect one another” is another rule that should apply in every household, the world over, no matter what! But these rules are general, they don’t tell you how to love and respect, they just say you should. Every home could have a different expression of loving and accepting. For example, in our home, we call Mom by her name – “Mom.” We don’t refer to Mom as “her” or “she.” Mom has a name and it is one of honour and we respect it. We also have chores that are like Civil Laws, that would apply in our home but not necessarily in another.

And then, we have what should really be known as “Separation Rules” within our homes. We want our house to be a place that is different from other homes, certainly different from those without Jesus, but maybe even different from some with Jesus. For example, a couple of weeks ago I saw that my friend, Sherwood had struck up a media contract with his kids, which he posted to Facebook. One of the items that was in the contract read, “We forsake addictive, village-type games and technology that fragments us.” That is something unique to their home. It makes a lot of sense, I might even adopt it, but that isn’t a cardinal rule that would necessarily be in every home.

Different kids require different rules as well! If you have a child who struggles with anger, there may be different guidelines for video games that wouldn’t apply to those who don’t. If I could suggest one thing, it is to be able to explain to our kids the rationale behind our rules. That won’t make it easier when the neighbour’s kids stay up until 11 PM every single night when your kids go to bed at 8, but at least it won’t be arbitrary! And it’s not that we have to launch in a grand explanation about the reason for every rule in our home, but as parents, we should at least understand the reasons behind our rules.

We need to make sure our rules, the Household Laws, actually make sense and that we don’t make them so numerous that our kids can’t breathe. Remember, when the Nation of Israel was in love with God, the big rules were almost unnecessary. Likewise in a home where love is the ultimate rule, many of the lesser rules become unnecessary. It is entirely counter-productive to try to control your kids with rules. Rules are necessary, but unless they help you and your kids love, they are probably a waste of energy.

And just as a point of note: Every household also needs hygiene laws… every. single. home.

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About the Author
Thom Dick

Thom Dick

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Thom is an Associate Pastor at Southland Church in Steinbach, Manitoba and has worked with children and youth for 17 years. He and his wife, Tara, have 5 kids; 4 boys, and a daughter. The kids are spread across 20 years too, so that gives him plenty of experimental material to write about! They have also welcomed 27 foster children into their home over the past number of years. He's on Instagram as @thomaswdick.

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