Beautiful Nate

Author Dennis Mansfield discusses how he and his wife adjusted their parenting style to be more intentional and less child-centered.

beautiful nate book cover


Rules Without Relationship

Josh McDowell, international youth speaker and member of Campus Crusade for Christ, said it best years ago: “Rules without relationship equal rebellion.” His words ring truer with each decade that passes.

Christians who implement fear-based parenting tend to believe a lie: they believe that because their child is obeying their commands, he or she is getting better and better. But such parents— and I was one of them—are merely fooling themselves. Could it be that you are fooling yourself? Your child may be sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside, fist clenched and screaming with all he or she has: “Why won’t you listen to me?” Fearbased parents within the Christian evangelical community seldom really listen.

Even so, the importance of rules cannot be overstated. They are important; everywhere from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the U.S. military services to business and finance, rules allow us to live in order and in community.

Though relationships within the larger forms of culture, such as in the military, may not demand intimacy, there is a clear sense Fear-Based Parenting 57 of positional authority among and between the involved individuals, such as when a sergeant salutes a captain, or a captain salutes a brigadier general.


Time after time, culture after culture, rules have helped us achieve more as a civilization because we implement them in our most common denominator: the family. As the family is ordered, so goes society. In a family environment, intimacy is key. Positional authority may hold a certain amount of importance for children as they face their parents, but the deeper things of life involve the loving relationship between a child who knows he or she is loved and parents who love them. Mutual, loving, and caring relationships foster the administration and implementation of necessary rules.

The natural void that occurs as a result of rules without relationship is something akin to the emptiness of the Law alone. The Old Testament’s clear construction of the Law showed that man understood what was being asked of him. There was no misunderstanding
of what was being asked and what was being provided as potential solutions. God’s chosen people saw the need for the Ten Commandments and ultimately understood the need for the 613 additional laws that followed. But many of the people lacked relationship with God, and thus their obedience left much to be desired.

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