How to help your child view your house rules as ’empowerment’

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Cyber Tuesday on TheFish1039.9FM: Joanna and Jodie return July 16, 2013

Photo: AlohaMamma (FLickr)

Children need parents to be engaged, on and off line, in ways that support good decisions, and help them stand corrected when they mess up.

In this regard, liberating boundaries are directly related to training your child to maintain personal security and not get caught into tangled webs of bullying and exploitation by others (commercial or perverse).

Oppressive rules, on the other hand, are rooted in fear in that they are simply an attempt to control the individual. An example would be monitoring your child’s on-line activity for the purpose of correcting your child at every turn and questioning every comment and conversation. By the same token, ignoring your child’s on-line activity leaves him vulnerable to the lies and untruth in the network, feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety and fear.

Make your rules liberating

Make a list of the house rules you would like to have in place for your child that would make you feel better and less stressed. Include curfew, chores, homework, and use of texting and social media. What would they be? Don’t edit them. Just write it down and be honest. Then review the house rules and identify the benefit to the child. If you cannot honestly name the benefit to the child, then admit it is for your convenience, or to make you feel better. Most kids will appreciate your honesty and respect the rule as a way to please you.

When there are a few, high impact rules  designed to help children be in charge of their lives and function in the home as responsible family members, they will be more likely to embrace them as a way of living well.

Why there must be a “clean slate rule”

It is important to have a “clean slate rule” in your home so that once a consequence has been administered your child gets to try again with the hope and expectation of getting it right, and growing from the experience. It is important to not bring up past offenses because you want your child to be focused on the conduct that will keep them safe and secure.

In this regard, cyber-powered children more than ever need to know they are already forgiven, and that consequences for poor decisions can be endured as they stand corrected. Course correction on the part of a child sometimes involves falling into risky traps (pedophiles, sexting, bullying, drugs and alcohol) because the technology is so seductive. And it will be tempting to keep such risky situations secret out of shame, and there is no redemption or course correction with secrets; only suffering. Many children wind up with adult issues.

If there is a pattern of repeat offenses, then you may need to reevaluate the consequences. Perhaps they are not meaningful for your child, or perhaps there is something more going on with your child than meets the eye.

Examine the “offense” from the standpoint of learning more about your child, rather than out of fear, frustration or anger. Keep in mind that children want to be valued. They want your affection and admiration. Negative behavior has roots that need to be understood and addressed with the expectation that your child wants to break free from whatever stronghold keeps her in a negative pattern.

Always, keep the context of rules and consequences clearly framed around the expectation that your child is a magnificent blessing from the Lord. Because our identity is defined by what we believe, and the world tries to convince us we are less than who God made us to be. So our faith in who God is and His promises to bring our children back to their own border (hearts and minds) is instrumental.

Thus says the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, That your children shall come back to their own border. Jeremiah 31:16-17

Check out parent education on creating a family culture that empowers children as liberated individuals and trustworthy citizens: Fresh Start – Family Culture Builder for Household Executives.



Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays. Her next book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media will be released in the fall 2013.


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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.