Authority and Influence

This morning as i was driving to work, i stumbled upon a Parenting Podcast and decided to listen to it. The speaker was a minister named Paul. He has two teenage boys and he talked about discipline and instilling better communication with our children. Among all the insightful things that he shared, one illustration stayed with me. Based on his explanation, i have drawn the image below.
The purple rectangular box represents your discipline style. The numbers below represents your child's age from 1 to 18. The blue line starting from the bottom-right corner going up represents your level of influence over your child. While the line that starts from the upper-right hand side going down represents your level of authority over your child. Now with those information on hand, look at the diagram again. What does that tell you?
As our children get older, there is an autonomy that naturally grows within them.  That means that they would start to make their own decisions more and more, and depend on us less and less. It is very important to understand that the effectiveness of our parenting style should also be shifting as our child grows older.  When they are young, we can still use our authority over them to get them to listen.  But as they mature, we must gradually shift to molding them through our influence. So referring to the chart, my daughter at four years old is still largely dependent on my authority over her. For my son, who is already seven, is now at a stage when he wants to exercise a certain level of autonomy and make his own decisions. While I can still effectively teach him through my authority, I must also understand that he is now at a stage where my influence is also just as important. The problem with parents who do not understand this shift in parenting style is that they continue to impose their authority over their teenage children which causes the child to rebel against them.
So our question now is how do we build our influence over our children? The key here is to instill good communication while they are young. Face to face time is very important for young children. This can happen over meals or while you are playing toys with them. Just talk to them and have them build a habit of sharing their lives with you.  Dens and I are still working on getting more FaceToFace Time with the kids these days so it's still a work-in-progress.  We do this by playing a game before we go to sleep. Each one of us gets to ask a general question such as 'What is your favorite animal?' or 'What is your favorite family activity?' then we go around guessing each others' answers. That way we learn more about each other in a fun way. Notice how i say we "learn about each other" and not that we "learn more about our children"? As much as we want to know more about the kids through communication, it is also very important that we share about ourselves and allow them to get to know us, their parents, too. It builds trust and openness that will hopefully translate to better communication during their teenage years.
Another way to make yourself an effective influencer is, of course, through modelling. I have spoken about how effective this method is in a previous post (Click here to read about it). And honestly, this should be the easiest parenting tool for us. We just become the kind of people we want our children to be and that's it. Easier said that done, I know. But we cannot expect them to do things we cannot do ourselves. Similar to putting on oxygen masks in an airplane emergency, we need to help ourselves first before we can effectively help our children.
How old is your child now? Is authority still an effective parenting tool? Or should you already start gravitating towards influence? Think about it. Maybe it's time to reconsider our parenting style. At the end of the day, we should always seek God's guidance when setting controls for authority in our home. And when it comes to being a good role model to our kids, let us all be the hero that we already are in our children's eyes. And let us become the person that they would like to be when they grow up.
Psalm 19:7 "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple"


Post a Comment

  © Theme Designed by Fancy Girl Designs 2011 for Breakfast with Tiffany

Back to TOP