Yesterday we asked the question, “Does your voice have more weight in your child’s life than any other voice?” At the heart of this question is really the issue of authority. If there is going to be peace and order in any home, parents have to have authority.
Now, we’re not talking about a militant, harsh, controlling kind of authority.
The dictionary defines authority as “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience”
When it comes to families, what we mean is the children’s willingness to recognize and submit to the family rules and to the parents’ wisdom, decisions and advice.
At the core, having authority means that your voice has weight.
We believe this is foundational to everything else. The parents’ voice has to be stronger and clearer and more important than any other voice in the lives of kids!
This is not about controlling your kids. It’s grooming them to willingly recognize and respect authority throughout their life, and it’s about cultivating in them a teachable spirit, so that as they grow, they will willingly seek out and heed wise counsel — beginning with yours.
And it all starts with a strong relationship.
Rules without relationship breeds rebellion
Above ALL else, our kids need to know that we love the snot out of them! In fact, we adore them. We always have their back, and we always have their best interest at heart. Not our best interest for them. Remember, our kids are not an extension of ourselves. They are their own unique individuals. They have to believe that we recognize and respect their individuality and that we want what’s best based on who they are and who they will become.
Conversation is King
DAILY conversation is KEY to having authority! We don’t mean a once a week check-in. We’re talking a free flowing line of communication about what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling on a daily basis.
So, if your boy has a crush on a girl, you shouldn’t hear about it from someone else or on Instagram. The goal is to be the FIRST person your boy tells.
Once you develop intimacy, your children will automatically begin to come to you first with issues. Trust is born out of intimacy and out of a history of successful conversations. If they feel like you’re their constant critic, you won’t have intimacy.
What Does Intimacy Look Like?
Intimacy is honest. If we are not honest with them, eventually, they will smell it, and they will no longer come to us to find truth. They’ll turn to their friends or to the Internet.
Intimacy is transparent and vulnerable. Transparency opens the door to authenticity. When our kids know that we are authentic people who make mistakes and can own our mistakes, they begin to realize that they don’t have to be perfect; they just need to be responsible.
Talk openly about everything, no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable it may be, even with the opposite sex child. TALK ABOUT IT! They have to know that they can come to you with anything. Because if they can’t come to you, they will go to their friends, and soon their friends’ opinions will begin to carry more weight than yours.
Intimacy is invested. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say, no matter how immaterial, boring or far fetched it seems. The second they get a whiff of, “she’s not listening to me” or “she doesn’t care about this,” they will begin to look elsewhere for someone who WILL listen and be vested in them.
Moms and dads of younger kids: if you want your voice to have more weight when they’re older, their voice has to have more weight in your life now. Where are you placing your attention? On them or on the phone? On the TV? On the computer? On your work? On your ministry? On your social life?
Intimacy takes time. We’ve all heard the big quantity vs. quality question. It’s not either/or, it’s both. We need to spend a large quantity of quality time with our kids — time that is FUN for us and for them. If you hate make-believe play, then don’t try to play Barbies or have a tea party. Find stuff you like to do, and do that instead. Ride bikes, do craft projects, cook, read, play board games. If you’re having fun, they will feel it, and if you’re not, they’ll feel that too.
Building a strong and intimate relationship with our kids is the first step toward having real authority in their lives.
Come back tomorrow. We’re going to talk about The Three C’s of Authority.