“Time to go to bed,” the mom says. “No, I still want to play!” answers the child as he walks away. The mom just lets out a sigh and goes back to her book.
I don’t know how parents have evolved in the last decades, but one thing I’ve observed is that children these days react so much differently to their parents. Children seem to be more assertive to their parents and parents less assertive to their children. Parents don’t seem to have the same confidence in putting their foot down, compared to parents of my generation. They are scared to impose a routine, establish boundaries or implement consequences. I am not saying that they don’t care and are neglectful. I mean, it is good that children are heard and considered but it’s just that they have become more tolerant and easily manipulated by their children. Thus, resulting to children disrespecting their parents and a lot of misbehaviour .
There are several reasons why parents don’t assert their authority over their children. Some are very busy with work so when they get home, they avoid any kind of serious confrontation and would rather just have an easy, fun time with their kids. Others are scared that asserting their authority would lead to their kids hating them and not wanting to be with them. There are some who had bad experiences growing up with extremely authoritative parents. Others are plainly ignorant, unaware of the real responsibilities of parenting.
When parents don’t assert their authority, they are actually handing over the control to their children, a kind of control which they are too young to handle. Children learn that obedience is an option, not a must. They don’t do as they are told, and expect their parents to do what they want. Tantrums, whining, shouting… these are the ways children assert themselves because parents haven’t asserted their authority. While parents beg and bribe just to make their kids finish their meal or go to sleep.
The problem with this is children don’t have the wisdom and maturity yet to take over their own lives. They need someone wiser and mature to tell them what to do. Your 7-yr old doesn’t understand how important it is for him to get 8 hours of sleep at night, but you do. I think that’s why God designed babies to be born to parents, and not to just randomly sprout here and there. Parents are there to provide for the needs of their children, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. Children need our guidance, not our indulgence. We need to be able to tell them “No” when something is not good for them and they need to be able to accept that. We need to train them to respect our authority now so that they will know how to respect other authorities in their lives like their teachers, employers, government, and ultimately God.
Moms (and dads who are reading this), our children need our authority right now. Not in a tyrannical way but in a loving way, that considers what is best for the child. Yes they could be smarter than us, but we are still wiser, given our years of experience. Let us learn to assert ourselves. They might not appreciate it now but they will thank us for it later.