I was talking with a friend this afternoon about the product of legalism in parenting. I have seen overly strict parents, who have their child's absolute best at heart, often inadvertently send their child into wild rebellion. I knew a family with seven children who were all raised without television, without radio, never allowed to go to the "show", the girls weren't allowed to wear make-up, nobody was allowed to date, they couldn't so much as take a step without a measuring stick determining whether or not the length of their stride was appropriate. These kids had clean faces, and clean hands, but their hearts longed for contamination. All seven of them got out of their parents home and have no interest whatsoever for the things of the Lord, who in their experience would restrict their intake of oxygen.
I have also seen parents whose desire was to turn their children's hearts to celibacy and purity- and instead gave their children an aversion to the opposite sex, eventually giving in to a preference for their own gender.
The enemy is watching us. If he can't use our shortcomings as individuals to contaminate our children, he will attempt to use what we intend for good and pervert it. I have not reached the end of my parenting years, and don't claim to know everything, but on the most basic level, I trust that the God who brought my heart out of a very dysfunctional childhood, to having a heart that seeks Him and strives to please Him in all that I do to lead my children as well. I don't have to make a "rule" about every little thing. I can show love and grace just as the Father has shown me.