What Undermines Authority?

We’re wrapping up this week’s conversation about authority in the home with a look at what undermines authority.

Yesterday we gave you a nuts-and-bolts look at what creates authority in the home. We call it The three C’s of Authority. Today, let’s take a look at three things that can undermine a parent’s authority.

Hypocrisy

The old “Do as I say, don’t do as I do” approach really doesn’t work on this generation. Perhaps more than ever before, today’s kids have a highly sensitive truth radar. They are looking for authenticity like never before, and when they spot a phony, they lose respect.

When we model the very things we’re asking of our kids, we maintain our position of authority in their eyes.

Contempt

I once heard someone say that one harsh scowl can inflict a lot of emotional pain. We have to be so careful with our tone and facial expressions and body language. If we communicate any hint of disgust or contempt toward our kids, we inflict a soul wound. And when children experience a soul wound, they begin to believe lies about their parents (i.e. “Mom doesn’t love me. I’ll never be good enough for her.”) and lies about themselves (i.e. “I’m not worthy of love and respect.”).

Not only does our contempt wound our kids, overtime it undermines our authority, especially when they begin to think, “I don’t have to listen to her. She doesn’t care about me.”

Injustice

Kids tend to see the world in black and white and because of it, they have an extra low tolerance for injustice — or what they perceive as injustice.

Jody and I often tell our kids not to expect fairness. Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 shows us that the whole concept of fairness is not a biblical one.

I have six kids when there are couples out there desperate for just one. That’s not fair. Some people are born into wealth and others into poverty. That’s not fair. Some families lose multiple members to an early grave, while others have people living into their 100s. That’s not fair.

We live in a fallen, sinful world, and because of it, life isn’t fair. But it can be just.

Our kids are looking for justice, but when they find the opposite, they lose trust in the people who were supposed to give it.

Rules

One way to minimize a sense of injustice in your home is to have clearly defined expectations. The more clear you can be, the less wronged the child will feel.

Start by writing family rules. Rules should be

  • Short — so kids can remember them
  • Simple — so kids can understand them
  • Solid — so kids can count on them

Definitions

Clear cut definitions also help keep everyone on the same page, and give the kids a sense of justice.

Here are some of our favorites:

Obedience

Willful Disobedience – Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. We’re not talking about a mistake here. Willful disobedience is a deliberate choice to disobey without regard for consequence.

Honor v. Respect — We’ll tackle this one next week

Tattling vs. Telling — This is another one we’re going to cover next week.

The Appeal

The Appeal is a way to give our kids a voice without being disobedient or disrespectful, and it’s a great tool for helping kids feel a sense of justice in their home. We’ll tell you more about it next week.

Routines

Like definitions, routines create the kind of structure that brings peace and builds trust in kids, and trust is ESSENTIAL to authority.

Click here for more information on powerful routines. Next week, we’ll also share some practical tools for correction routines. For an effective bedtime routine that you can use with even the most stubborn sleepers, click here.

In the meantime, have a beautiful Sunday! And we’ll be back on Monday.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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