Love in a Seatbelt: Why Sometimes Tighter Fits Better

Is it loving or unloving to put limits on your children, yourself, or others? Do we encroach on individual rights when we say, “No”?

My eyes must have widened when a mother with young children mentioned, “According to a parenting book, we shouldn’t tell our children ‘No.’ They hear it enough in the world, and you want your home to be a happy place.”

Some of you may remember First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no,” campaign to stop the illicit use of drugs. When that failed perhaps the pendulum swung to “never say no.”

Years later, government agencies now keep parents from knowing about their children’s health and conduct at school. Guarding a child’s privacy matters more to them than protecting the child. Yet that same government makes us wear seatbelts. Don’t our eternal souls and general health deserve the same care?

Our Heavenly Father Sets Loving Limits with Us

Trends change with the culture. How do we know what’s best?

We follow our heavenly Father’s example and script given in Scripture (Ps. 119:105). The Father tells His beloved children “No” to lots of things. Look at Jesus’s words.

“But Jesus said to him, … ‘No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, “Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother’”” (Mark 10:18-19 NASB).

Only God is good, and He shows that saying “No” demonstrates real care. To say, “Do whatever you feel like,” is not loving. We all need limits and guidance to protect us from self-destructive leanings.

“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.

 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child’” (Hebrews 12:5-6 NLT).

The Security of Loving Limits

Regarding the security limits bring, years ago Dr. James Dobson shared an interesting finding. At recess, children at schools without a fenced-in area clung near the building. When a fence was added, the children spread out and enjoyed the whole school yard.

When my friend Linda Goldfarb teaches parents about setting limits, she asks a volunteer to come to the front of the room. She tells the parent to follow the voice that will call her to the back of the room. Then she turns out the light. In the pitch-black darkness, the parent soon admits defeat.

Linda turns on the light and leads the parent to the wall. “Put your hand on the wall and follow it.” She turns out the light again, and the designated speaker calls to the parent. This time, by following the wall the parent safely moves through the darkness to the back of the room.

Both adults and children find solace in guidelines, structure, and boundaries. We won’t stumble in a dark world when we adhere to God’s steadfast limits. And when the world crashes in, like a good seatbelt, God’s boundaries provide unwavering protection.

Both adults and children find solace in guidelines, structure, and boundaries. We won’t stumble in a dark world when we adhere to God’s steadfast limits. #bigGod, #wisdom Share on X

Little Strength, Big God

Little Strength, Big God is an interactive Bible study guide for Christian living. Let the men and women in Hebrews 11 inspire and lead you. To learn more about Little Strength, Big God go to

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  1. Connie O'Neil

    Good advice!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Connie, I’m so glad biblical truths work in every generation!

  2. Ann J Musico

    I’ve heard people say children should never hear no but that is just not common sense. We all need limits all our lives. God knew this because He made us. He always knows best.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Ann, it certainly isn’t common sense. Common sense seems to be lacking all ’round these days!

  3. Nancy E. Head

    We only find a world of hurt when we try to throw off all restrictions. They aren’t there to keep us from being happy. They’re they because He loves us and wants the best for us and ours. Thanks, Debbie, for sharing this message. God bless!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Thank you, Nancy!

  4. Jeanne Takenaka

    Having some limits in place in a life offers so much more freedom in the way they offer guidance. I’ve heard the example you shared about children on the playground. It’s so true. When we know the boundaries we live within, we live with confidence.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      I agree, Jeanne. They guide and provide a sense of security. Thanks for adding your thoughts!

  5. J.D. Wininger

    Restraint, for me, is an act of love. If my adopted parents had not loved me, they would not have put guidelines, borders, and restrictions in place that ultimately benefitted me. Sometimes protecting someone from themselves requires loving restraint. I’m so glad God gives us the guidelines to follows and gave us His Son to show us how to do exactly that. God’s blessings sweet friend.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      J.D., the bits you’ve shared about your adoptive parents reveal their wisdom and kindness. I’m sure they are/were very pleased with the fruit of their labor—the person you’ve become. And you are so right. It takes energy to set and maintain loving limits.

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    Saying no is loving to me. I think our society would be better if more people (and parents) learned that setting boundaries and rules is loving and not limiting. Thanks for this message Debbie.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      I agree, Yvonne. Thanks so much!

  7. Annie Yorty

    Very wise words, Debbie. Thank you!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Thank you, Annie.

  8. Paula Short

    Debbie, what a poignant message here, such wise words to take in here. This thought rings so true>>”when the world crashes in, like a good seatbelt, God’s boundaries provide unwavering protection.” May I tuck this in my heart and think of this often.
    Visiting today from Joanne’s

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Thank you, Paula. There is security in continuing to live within the limits God has established for us.

  9. Barbara Latta

    God’s love does give us boundaries. This is for our protection just like we put restrictions on our own children. When we realize His loving hand keeps us sheltered we can rest in the assurance that we are safe and secure.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Yes! Thanks, Barbara.

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