Eureka! Authority Now Makes Sense.

authorityPeople, please don’t laugh. In all my 8 years of parenting, I always, ALWAYS have questioned, “What right do I have to tell my kids what to do? They’re people just like me. We’re equals.”

I know the easy answer is: Kids left unattended will act like they’ve been handed a venti mocha frap and bitten by a rabid dog.

But I struggle with the deeper reason. Seriously, who am I to boss another human?

Monday, I met with a veteran mom whose kids show the proof of wise and balanced parenting. At one point, their family was active in the ultra conservative ATI circle (think Duggars), but then turned their backs on it, as they saw the damage that the excessive standards were causing in their children’s hearts. It was not long, however, that they realized they could not turn their backs on teaching children to display character that was responsible and respectful. So, with her confidence in the need for teaching basic virtues, I began a search for a way to do just that.

I can across We Choose Virtues today, and after placing my order, found this blog post about authority. “Oh great,” I thought. “I could use a little help figuring out how to keep my eldest from being so bossy.” And while it did help with that issue, it also connected the authority dots for me.

Suddenly, it all made sense. I had no idea how to lead because I did not understand authority, where it comes from or how to handle it.

Growing up, I was taught (through its misuse) that authority was bossing people around for personal reasons and yelling at them (or beating on them) when they didn’t do what you wanted them to. It was this kind of authority that demanded ridiculous standards of “holiness” – wear only homemade clothing, watch no TV, date no guy, talk not to the other gender, cut they hair no shorter than shoulder length, etc. It was this kind of authority that demanded I serve my mother in whatever way she demanded.

I grew to resent it. I obeyed on the outside, but hated it on the inside. I vowed to never treat my kids in such a way.

But when motherhood arrived, I had no idea how to use authority, only an idea of how not to, so my parenting has lacked a presence of authority altogether. Of course, this leads to me being frustrated in my children’s disobedience and disrespect and other childish behaviors I’ve left unaddressed. And sad to say, sometimes that frustration leads to yelling.

On the Virtues Blog, she points out that authority belongs to God and is on temporary loan to us as parents. She then talks about how to temporarily give authority to your kids. I thought through the steps she listed as if it were God giving me temporary authority over my kids (because He has) and it all began to make sense.

I “boss” my kids because God temporarily handed me authority over these kidlets until they reach the maturity to make life’s decisions without a go-between. This authority is only given to me for His representation.

And this authority is limited to their good – to teaching my children to be mature, responsible, loving adults. It is not a cover all. It is not for choosing their life path. It is not for deciding their beliefs. It’s not for my personal gain, and it’s not to use for manipulation.

Ultimately, those under my charge answer to Him. But I also answer to Him… for the way I lead, and also for the way that I follow Him. Because I cannot lead if I cannot follow.

I think I get it now. I think I can do this authority thing. (Or at least try my darnest.)

 

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