Arbitrary Rules: Absolute Risk

Arbitrary Rules: Absolute Risk

Growing up, most of us were told by the adults in our lives that punishing us was necessary to teach us about consequences. However, arbitrary rules and punishments for the sake of teaching us model unrealistic circumstances and inauthenticity. This damaged our relationship with our parents most of all – the very foundational relationship so crucial for at a young age. When we do this to our relationship with our children the positive influence that we are meant to have in their lives is deeply affected, often times destroyed. Ulterior motives through arbitrary limits and rules are not honest or emotionally healthy and our children know it.

It is completely unnecessary to create arbitrary limits and artificial consequences and wield power over our children to teach them that there are consequences in the world. In fact, doing so will create such confusion and frustration within them that they are at a great disadvantage in life through built up resentment towards the adults who are supposed to love them but are instead being cruel and unjust all for the sake of teaching a lesson that they would learn naturally, simply through living life by our side. There are real-life limits natural consequences all around us. Our children experience them with us and through our experiences. It is unnecessary and damaging to create them artificially in the home when time spent controlling children could be time connecting with them.

Through discussion and modeling, our children have the benefit of a rock solid foundation of love, support and trust with us as parents. This is what is severely lacking in the authoritarian paradigm of parenting and this puts children raised this way at a great disadvantage in life. Loving parents never need to be mean to their children to “prepare them for the real world.” When living in partnership, children learn authentically without cruelty and hypocrisy as the backdrop of their upbringing.


  1. Yes, it seems to me that just living as a human being shows the existence of natural consequences of our actions — if we slip, gravity brings us down to earth, and if we don’t eat, we get hungry, and so on. I think one of the dangers of imposing an additional system of rules and punishments is that kids will continue to follow those rules for the rest of their adult lives even when the parents who benefited from them are no longer around. One example would be a rule like “don’t ask personal questions” or “don’t talk to strangers” — I found myself trying to obey those childhood rules even as an adult because they were all I knew, and I had to discard them to get the kind of connections I wanted with people.

  2. What a beautiful and true thought.
    Made anther little video for you based on the article:
    Title is:
    FOCUS – 030 – Dayna Martin: Arbitrary Rules = Absolute Risk
    How you like it.
    Wish you a great and sunshine filled day.
    The Academy of Language Therapy & Life Coaching

  3. The rules do not need to be mean, dishonest or driven by ulterior motives. We might negotiate a rule “we turn off electricity at 9 pm”. This could protect natural sleep. If the kid is ok with the rule, some bickering about enforcement is ok. Bickering is natural and it is real life too. An adult might be just a bit more consistent with the rule.

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