Authoritarian versus Passive Parenting
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a Mother. Perhaps being raised in a dysfunctional home created a longing to do it differently.
I rebelled at the authoritarian parenting my Father practiced. The passive parenting my Mother displayed created a deep insecurity about my significance.
As a child, I had many needs that were never met. I needed to feel loved. I needed to feel secure. I needed to know I mattered.
This writing does not originate from a perfect parent but flows from a heart that was shattered and abused as a child. This message springs from the little girl of yesteryear who wondered why no one rescued her.
The brutality of her Father loomed as it squeezed every ounce of security from her world. The detachment of her Mother led to feelings of worthlessness.
When I became pregnant with my first child my cup overflowed with joy. God, my Father, entrusted me with a little life. I was humbled! I was also desperate to understand what good parenting looked like.
As a new mother, I begged God for wisdom to raise children who felt loved and secure. My deepest desire was to love them as Jesus loved. I longed to create a trust in my child’s heart.
What Happens in your House when a Child Disobeys?
A parent is a child’s first example of authority. As a parent, we paint a picture of authority. Our child will carry that picture through life.
Growing up in a house filled with unpredictable emotions, I fell victim to acts of unharnessed authority.
I learned through observation that parents hold full reign to exploit or responsibly utilize their power.
What happens in your house when a child disobeys?
“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” Proverbs 29:23
A pride filled parent reacts to disobedience with indignation, anger and sometimes rage. The parent who reigns in his emotions (lowly in spirit) exhibits true humility (power under control) and wisdom.
A parent’s challenge is to use our authority to teach with a heart that loves unconditionally. Every encounter with our child is an opportunity to impart value, create security, and plant hope in their heart. This requires wisdom only God is able to give.
As a parent, we hold the power to instruct and point a child in the right direction or to throw our child’s world into chaos.
We have a choice, we hold that power.
How Do You Respond to Bad Behavior?
To illustrate parental authority, allow me to introduce the following scenario.
Suppose you and your family are enjoying a night with friends. As you get ready to leave, you tell your child to put his shoes on and get out to the car. In response, your child calls you stupid. Everybody in the room hears. Do you respond with your child’s best interest in mind? Or do you react out of embarrassment?
Your child humiliated you in front of your friends, right? Do you, in turn, respond like a child? Do you grab his small arm, tower over him and scream in his little face with intimidating words like, “How dare you! Don’t you ever talk to me like that again, who do you think you are? You’re nothing but a smart mouth kid! Shut your mouth and go to the car!” As you shame and intimidate him do you know that your immature behavior does not impress your friends? Do you know that your words cut your child deeper than a knife?
What effect will bullying and humiliation have on your child? Will your words lead your child to respect you? Will your harsh reaction create a desire to submit to authority? Do you suppose your rant will bring a good result?
Look down the road. What kind of seeds are you planting in your child’s heart?
We, as parents are caretakers. A responsible steward will nurture, pull weeds, feed and invest in the healthy growth of a child's life.
What benefit comes from a parent’s unbridled authority? A parent who doesn’t consider what is best for his child misses the mark. The parent who neglects his garden will produce disrespect for authority, resentment, distrust, anger, discouragement, depression, revenge, even hatred.
Let’s take this same scenario and play it out as a responsible, loving parent. Remember you are the adult. As the child's caretaker, it is essential to respond responsibly. Initially, you will be tempted to react. I mean, how dare your child disrespect you in front of your friends. But instead, you keep your emotions in check and send up a prayer for self-control.
Wisdom says allowing your child to defy you leads to nothing good. As the guardian of your child’s life, you lead your charge away from the eyes of the crowd. "Excuse me folks, but Jonney and I need to talk."
You have a conversation, “Son, you defied me and called me a name when I told you to pick up your toys. This behavior is unacceptable and it demands a consequence. As your parent, I cannot allow you to disrespect me."
You take a moment to silently pray your emotions will not impede this teachable moment. When your child dares to look into your eyes, he reads concern, disappointment but mostly love.
You continue, “What were you thinking when you challenged me?” The child may say, I was mad or I didn’t like what you said. You respond,
“Did defying me get you the results you wanted? What good did it do to call me stupid?”
Pause, wait for him to process the question.
“Son, this behavior will have stiff consequences.”
You determine what is stiff for that child.
There must always be a consequence for bad behavior or the behavior will not cease.
As a wise parent, you have taken a disturbing moment and used it to help the child think about his behavior and experience the consequences. You contribute to shaping his character.
Do you Abuse your Authority as a Parent?
If you have a tendency to abuse authority go to God, ask him to help you see your child through his eyes. Your child is God’s creation. Your anger will hurt not help your child.
Children are eager to soak up your attention, direction, and even discipline if it is bathed in love. If you cannot control your reactions, if you rage before you think, seek help before it is too late to reverse the damaging results of unbridled anger.
A Parenting Prayer
Dear Father, we need you. You are the supreme example of parenting. You gave up your only son so we might be saved from the wrath we deserved. You love us unconditionally. Your patience is boundless and your mercy unfathomable. Help us to love our children as you love us.
Reckless Love Of God
As a parent I am currently operating as
© 2018 Susan Ream