Mar 272014 3 Responses

Parenting and Authority: Who Has the Final Say?

Parenting can be divided into three major stages:

The first stage is what most often comes to mind regarding parenting—the oversight of a minor. Morally, legally, and practically, the parent has direct oversight of the child. (See: One Thing We Must Teach Our Kids)

The last stage is a friendship with the adult the parent helped produce. It’s a radically different stage which often has the same amount of worry as the first, but without any of the control and sometimes very little of the influence of the first stage.

Between the two is a difficult and often unclear transitionary period in which the child is becoming an adult (although not always acting like one) and the parent is losing influence and control even as the stakes of the child’s decisions increases at an exponential rate.

What often makes the transitionary period so difficult is we are unsure of who should have the final say. It’s obvious in the first stage—the parent always gets the final say. It should be obvious (although some people struggle with this) that the child turned adult gets the final say in their own lives. (See: How to Parent an Adult Child Who Is Making Bad Decisions)

Yet in between the two stages a struggle takes place. Most parents know they need to begin to release control of their children. And every child wants control (often far sooner than they deserve it). So who has the final say?

While the transitionary period of parenting will never be easy, there is a simple concept which can make it easier.

Parenting is a form of leadership. As a CEO runs a company, a parent is charged with oversight of their child until the child is old enough to oversee himself. Yet the parent is never the ultimate authority. Even in the earliest of years when the parent is making every decision for the child, the parent should be submitting themselves to God. (See: How Parents Influence Their Children)

If, from the beginning, the parents are submitting themselves to God, then when the child reaches the transitionary period, several things will happen:

1. The child will have seen submission modeled. We cannot do something we haven’t seen. By modeling submission, a parent empowers their child to submit. (See: Why You Should Never Yell at a Tee-Ball Umpire)

2. The child will understand their responsibility to submit to God. They may or may not submit, but if a parent submits to God, the child will know the Biblical principle of submission.

3. The parent will see their child’s rebellion as something against God and not against the parent. One of the biggest problems of parenting, especially parenting teenagers, is the child’s rebellion is taken personally by the parent. We allow their behavior to define us. When we have a proper view of submission, we realize their behavior is between them and God.

Parenting is a gift from God. It comes with great responsibility. Yet parents should never consider themselves as having the final say. From the moment the child is born until he/she is a fully operating adult, parents should understand they have a responsibility before God but that God ultimately has the final say.

For more, see:

One Thing Every Parent Must Understand

How Parents Focus on the Wrong Things

3 Responses to Parenting and Authority: Who Has the Final Say?
  1. […] No one has the ability to provoke discouragement within children like their parents. (See: Parenting... kevinathompson.com/discourage-children
  2. […] Parenting and Authority: Who Has the Final Say […]... kevinathompson.com/parents
  3. […] While I’m sure there is a long list of things I say often, there are three specific sentences ... kevinathompson.com/favorite-parental-statements

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