A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

God Talk: Authority

It is a familiar scenario... You mean well... mentally, you know that shouting isn't pretty. You start by asking in your gentlest, most motherly voice. There is no reaction, no movement. You try again. You are firm but gentle in your tone of voice. That doesn't work either. Then you raise it up a notch. But you may as well be speaking to a brick wall. By the fourth or fifth time, you utter words with barely concealed fury. And before you know it, you're shouting, yelling PG rated invectives... Hyperboles roll off your tongue.
"You never listen to what I say!"
"Why do you always have to be so stubborn?"
"Can't you do just what you're told evah..."
"Can't you just do what you're told the first time!"

A combination of rhetorical questions and angry rhetorts and you're sunk. Deep down you know your credibility is shot to pieces. All the stuff you learnt from Triple P and the latest bestselling parenting self-help book has come to naught. Establishing and exercising parental authority is only something that works for other people. It's just too hard. Those books, programmes etc just don't get how difficult my child is.

So we blow it... again and again...

I often think about this when I'm reading the gospel accounts of Jesus particularly where he does the mindblowing stuff like healing the sick, commanding demons to leave suffering souls and telling the weather to calm down. It's all very impressive but the thing that impresses me most is how he kind of does it with words. All he has to say to the demon or the sick individual or the storm is "come out" or "get up" or "peace be still" and they do exactly as he says, the first time that he says it. Talk about authority. There's no need for bribery, pleading, nagging and threats. They do it because he says so. Wouldn't you like to have that kind of power of your kids?

Well, I'm not the Son of God so that's not going to happen anytime soon. But I have been given stewardship over my children until they reach adulthood so I need to keep at it. I also know that I am a deeply flawed human being who "has issues" that can get in the way of effective parenting. In and of myself, I don't have authority to make demands but for my children to learn true authority I need to take them to Jesus... God in human flesh. As Jesus submitted to the Father's will on the cross, we can learn to do the same when we begin to submit to his authority over our lives.

I guess what I'm saying here is that we should look at our authority as parents as fundamentally a spiritual issue. Through Adam and Eve, we are all rebels at heart and our instinct is to do our own thng. I think we forget that when we parent. I know I do. I keep expecting my children to do what I say when I say it the first time I say it. But really, what I should be doing is saying to them as well as all the other behaviour modification stuff is that I love them and I want the best for them and this is why I am getting them to do this and that and the other thing. AND that God has allowed Mummy and Daddy a short time to look after them so that when they become adults they will know what to do with their lives.

I'm not great at this sort of thing, to be honest. Yelling seems to be a lot more effective some days... But yelling is short-term and the sobering truth is that parenting (I heard a wise man once say) is about raising adults.


  1. Well written Lilian! I have that same problem with children not doing as I say until my voice reaches fever pictch. Not all the time, but often enough. Parenting is the hardest thing ever.


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