Chapter Review – “Voice of Authority”
Concerning authority John Rosemond takes a very balanced and practical approach to a sticky topic, obedience, and he says plainly:
“Be not deceived children show respect for parents by obeying them. Parents show respect for children by expecting them to obey.”
The object of parental authority, of course, is not to take control of a child’s life. The eventual aim is to enable him or her to live independently of ours but they will develop the skill to do that only if parents gently but firmly limit their choices long enough for them to develop a sense and taste for good habits.
But, you must remember that, first and foremost, children are human beings and humans are by nature:
- Rebellious and
The Bible actually teaches that all of us have a “sin” nature.
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Not some of us. Not the worst of us and not just those who reach a certain age.
Even our children, as precious, sweet and cute as they are, have a sin nature so when it comes to authority they will resist. Some quietly, some loudly but all definitely.
Probably one of the most common ways they resist is by asking “why” when we make rules or give instruction.
Disclaimer: Asking “why” isn’t always motivated by rebellion. It is natural for children to want to learn and they certainly have a lot to learn but it would be presumptuous to assume that every “why” expresses only a sincere desire to learn the subtleties of life.
John says he has a two part rule governing how he responds to “why” questions:
One: Until a child is mature enough to understand a certain explanation, no amount of words will successfully convey that understanding.
In that case, it is in the child’s best interest for the parent to say “Because I said so” or words to that same effect.
Part Two: When a child is old enough to understand the explanation, he’s old enough to figure it out on his own.”
Part two of John’s answer actually touches on a truth that is often overlooked:
Wisdom is much easier to “see” than it is to apply.
Anyone can see that a well thought-out budget is the best way to protect yourself financially but the constant stream of bankrupted lives is proof that simple wisdom is easily trumped by materialistic desires.
But, aside from that, the truth is children don’t like to obey authority and adults don’t exercise it very well because both are rebellious and flawed. One needs to be under authority and the other needs to exercise it and neither are comfortable with that.
Both tend to get a bit emotional. Children feel repressed when authority figures curb their actions. Adults waste emotional energy feeling guilty for asserting their authority. Adults know they should do something but are uncertain about what to do and feel as if they are forcing the issue in some cases.
That is one reason John says the problem with obedience has less to do with the children and more to do with parents.
Parents who don’t want their child to “feel” bad are in trouble. The “right thing” to do in any given situation is not always the thing that “feels good.”
That is why parents must learn the art of exercising authority. Obedience is to be commanded not wished for. Therefore, a good understanding of “Command Authority” is needed. [Read more…]