By Ron Halbrook
When God ordained the home, he ordained the husband and wife relationship, and the authority of parents over children. This arrangement is based on the true meaning of love and is designed by God to bless the husband, the wife, and child, and all humanity.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged (Col. 3:18-21).
Parents need to hold fast in asserting the authority God has given them for the good of the child.
God did not ordain children to rule the household nor command parents to obey their children. Children do not have the “right” to defy their parents, nor do parents have the right to ignore it when they do. Asserting parental authority does not require abuse but does require appropriate discipline. Liberal-minded psychologists are wrong and the Bible is right:
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. 13:24).
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying (Prov. 19:18).
Foolishness is bound in the heart of child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him (Prov. 22:15).
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die (Prov. 23:13).
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Prov. 29:15).
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul (Prov. 29:17).
When children disobey and defy their parents, parents need to hold fast by teaching their children that suchconduct has very unpleasant consequences.
When parents fail to exercise the proper leadership over their children, they sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. By giving in to a child’s stubborn demands, a parent curses both himself and his child. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11). Each time the child gets his way in defiance of parental authority, he will encroach more and more upon that authority.
The child who is allowed to pursue such a course eventually becomes a curse not only to himself and his parents but also to everyone around him. The church suffers from the example of young people who rebel against both God and man. Society at large suffers from the effects of such conduct. A young person who persists in this path will ultimately destroy himself. “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Prov. 30:17).
Parents who hold fast in exercising their God given authority are a blessing to the home, the church, and the nation. Deep in their souls, young people yearn for the leadership which only their parents can give. Proper leadership is shown by having Bible reading and prayer in the home, and by being faithful participants in the work and worship of the local church. Leadership is shown by parents making themselves available to their children, spending time with them, and being interested in their children’s activities. Parents show leadership by insisting that their children prepare their lessons not only for school but also for Bible classes. Parents can show leadership by opening their homes to their children and their children’s friends for social and recreational activities of the right kind.
Parents need to hold fast in exerting the power of leadership with reference to moral standards and decisions in the home. Parents need to say “no” to hard drugs, alcohol, fornication, abortion, pornography, profanity, temper tantrums, gambling (including the lottery and raffle tickets), immodest dress, dancing (including the prom!), and all forms of disrespectful language and con-duct. Say “no” and mean it! Say “no” and back it up with consequences! Parents and not children should decide on appropriate TV programs, yes, even if the child has a TV in his own room. The parent and not the child should have the final say on what kind of music is listened to. Parents and not children should have the final say on standards of modest dress, and nothing should be allowed above the knees when standing or sitting. Parents and not young people should set the curfew for nighttime activities.
Where possible and appropriate we should be flexible in matters of judgment, but the parent and not the child is to have the final say. We should discuss and explain our standards and decisions when possible, but train our children to respect us even when they do not fully under-stand all the whys and wherefores of our decisions. We should be patient, but also firm. We may certainly yield to our children’s preferences in certain matters, and even change our minds on such matters, but there can be no negotiations where principles of right and wrong are involved.
Asserting this kind of leadership and authority is easier said than done, but it must be done no matter how hard it gets. Someone named Patsy Lovell told about a conflictwith her daughter over whether she would be allowed to buy a miniskirt. Her daughter insisted on having one but the mother said “no.” The daughter protested several times and in several ways, but Mrs. Lovell held fast and said “no.” Later the daughter apologized and said, “I was scared that you were going to let we win!” Reading this article is a reminder that young people need and want loving leader-ship (Patsy G. Lovell, “Hold Fast,” Focus on the Family, Oct. 1993, p.14).
When I taught high school, I required a certain class to bring parental permission slips for a field trip. One young man who had a gruff, macho, independent air said that there was no need for him to get one. “My parents don’t care where I go, when I leave, or when I get back,” he said with a sad look. That was twenty years ago but I have never forgotten it. In spite of his independent air, he was crying out for loving leadership.
Parents, let us hold fast to God and to the role he has given us as parents! If we are lost from God, we can come to him through Christ by faith, repentance, and baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). If we have done that and fallen away, we can return by repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22). If we will hold fast to God, he will hold fast to us, and he will help us to.
Patsy G. Lovell
When our second daughter, Kathleen, was 13, she was as lively as any young teenager could be. One night, she excitedly asked permission to buy a leather miniskirt, one like all the other girls in her class were wearing.
As she described the benefits, I could tell she was expecting a negative response. Nonetheless, she acted surprised when I said no.
Kathleen then launched into great detail about how she would he the only one in the class without a leather miniskirt. I reminded her that my answer was no and explained my reasons.
“Well, I think you’re wrong!” she retorted.
“Wrong or right, I’ve made the decision. The answer is no.”
Kathleen stomped off, but quickly turned on her heels. “I just want to explain why this is so important to me.”
“If I don’t have this miniskirt, I’ll be left out, and all my friends won’t like me.”
“The answer is no, I quietly repeated.
She puffed up like a balloon and played her final card. “I thought you loved me,” she wailed.
“I do. But the answer is still no.”
With that, she “whumped” a noise made only by an angry junior high kid trying to get her way. She ran upstairs and slammed her bedroom door.
Even though I had won the battle, I felt I was losing the war. I went to the living room and sat down. My husband was working late; I was the only parent “on duty.” Then one of those unexplainable things happened: An inner voice said to me,
It dawned on me that Kathleen and I were not locked in a battle over a miniskirt but rather a battle of wills. A mother versus her 13-year-old daughter. Hold fast meant I needed to prevail even though I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking or my stomach from churning.
The whumping noise from Kathleen’s bedroom started once more, and sure enough, she appeared on the stairwell. This time, she was breathing fire.
“I thought you taught us that we have rights!” she screamed. “You do have rights. The answer is still no.
She wound up again, but I cut her off. “Kathleen, I have made my decision. I will not change my mind, and if you say anotherword about this, you will be severely punished. Now go to bed!”
She still had a few words left, but she held them in check. She loped off to bed, still seething.
I sat on the couch, shaking and upset. None of the children had ever pushed me so far. I leafed through a book, too wound up to go to bed. Just when I thought our skirmishes were over, the sound of whumping came again. Kathleen came down the stairs.
“Well,” she announced, “I’m just going to tell you one more time ‘
I met her at the bottom step, planted my hands on my hips and looked her in the eyes. “Do not answer,” I said. “Do not say yes or no. Do not say anything. Do not say ‘Yes, ma’am’ or ‘No, ma’am.’ Turn around and go to bed. And do not make a single sound!”
She slowly turned and trudged upstairs without a word. I dropped onto the couch, thoroughly exhausted.
For several minutes I stared into space and wondered what my blood pressure count was. Then I heard her door open. Kathleen, her nose and eyes red from crying, walked down the stairs in pajamas. Curlers were in her hair. She held out her hands to me.
“Oh, Mom, I’m sorry.
We hugged as she said through her tears, “I was so scared!” “Scared of what?”
“I was scared that you were going to let me win!” she sniffed.
You were scared that I was going to let you win? I was perplexed for a moment. Then I realized that my daughter had wanted me to win!
I had held fast, and she was convinced I had done what a mother needed to do. Her simple words gave me the reassurance I needed.
Children love their parents, but they cannot handle being equal with them. Deep down, they do not see themselves as grown up. In fact, they will if they can get away with it, bring a parent down to their level, so that all the family seems like a group of kids.
Deep down, teens know they need guidance and leadership. Parents, it’s up to us to give it to them.
Remember: Hold fast!
(Patsy Lovell is a middle school teacher in Hazel Green, Ala; reprint from Focus on the Family, October 1993, p.14; Focus On the Family is a non-profit organization at P.O. Box 35500, Colorado Spring, CO 80935-3550; headed by Dr. James C. Dobson, a Presbyterian and a psychologist.)
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 6, p. 19-21
March 17, 1994