On Authority....

We've been working on the concept of "parental authority" with our children recently...both our own authority and that of other parents over their own children.  Night before last  we had yet another discussion about the fact that I, as their mom, owe *no one* an explanation for any decisions I may make regarding them...except their daddy and God.   As "the Mom", I had gotten too lax recently in allowing them (one in particular) to ask for explanations of certain decisions I made, whether it was a decision about our daily schedule/chores, consequences for misbehavior, or why we couldn't go somewhere they wanted to go.   We had also encountered some situations recently in which my children didn't agree with decisions their friends' parents made about certain things (usually when it affected something they wanted to do with said friend. :))

It's one of those things that we've taught in various ways since they were tiny, but that we sometimes have to refocus and "teach in a different direction", and/or just plain old have a "refresher course" on because we've been lax.

God gave parents the responsibility for their children.  Period.  He provides people in our lives to give wise counsel at times, but ultimately, *we* are responsible to God for the raising of these children into the adults He wants them to be.  No one else has that responsibility for our children...not extended family members, not teachers, not babysitters, not their friends...no one.    Our children may have very valuable relationships with those other people, but we have ultimate responsibility for, and thus ultimate authority over, our children.  And this has been one of those weeks when we have needed to remind them of that...:)  "Because Mom (or Dad) said so" is all the explanation they need.  Now...sometimes (maybe even often) we may *choose* to give them more explanation than that, but not because we *owe* that to them or because they *demand* it.  But it is crucial that they learn to obey without question, whether they understand or not, trusting that Mom and Dad love them and have the goal of doing what is ultimately *best* for them (even if it isn't making them happy right now! :))

Now...Mom and Dad aren't perfect.  And sometimes, no matter how hard they try to do what is right and best, they'll make mistakes.  BUT...the key here is...they are accountable to God for those mistakes.  We take that accountability seriously.  And God will (and does!) deal with us when we are not being the parents we should be.  But unless there is a sin issue that needs to be dealt with in the manner of Matthew 18, that accountability doesn't extend to anyone else.  We don't answer to our children (or to others who may not agree with our decisions) for our parenting choices.

As our children get older, we are trying to reinforce that that concept doesn't just apply to our family, but to all families.  God has given all parents the responsibility for and authority over their own children, and they are accountable to Him, not us, for their decisions in that area.  Unless they are in obvious sin (which would need to be dealt with in accordance to Matthew 18), we should support parents in their authority over their own children...parental authority should never be undermined just because a parent is making choices we wouldn't make or that we don't understand.  We are working to teach our children that they should never "bad-mouth" someone else's parents (even if they have just grounded them before a much-anticipated play-date :)).

We are also working to teach them that keeping secrets from parents is not okay, period.  Wise teaching that has stuck with me for years...we should teach our children that ANY time ANYONE tells them to keep a secret from their parents, their IMMEDIATE response should be to IMMEDIATELY (if not sooner!:)) go tell their parents.  The ONLY exception to this is birthday and holiday presents.  Surprises are okay in those circumstances, otherwise, secrets from parents are NEVER okay.

Authority is a tough concept for adults to deal with...in practice, at least, if not in theory.  It can be a tough concept to teach children, as well.  As humans, we don't naturally submit to authority easily. :)  But we persevere in working to teach it to our children, realizing that grasping the "absolute authority" of their parents in their lives as children is a precursor to accepting the "absolute authority" of God in their lives as they get older.  (And it sure helps in dealing with earthly authorities as well!)

Our children are making progress.  It's one of those things where they "know" it in their heads, but living it out can be rough.  It's hard not to question Mom and Dad when their decisions seem to make no sense sometimes.  But they're learning.  And someday, hopefully, it won't be quite as hard for them to accept that there are things about God's ways we may never fully understand...but just like with Mom and Dad, we have to trust that God knows what's best for us and He is working for our good, whether it makes sense to us at the time or not.  The wonderful difference is...Mom and Dad will occasionally make mistakes, no matter how hard they try not to, but God's ways are ALWAYS perfect!

(Now...if some of the adults in our life would learn these lessons, too...life would be much simpler! :))


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