My firstborn, ten-year-old son seems to spend his whole life in an effort to dress himself in the robes of a parent.
I often hear tidbits like:
“Now, Christian, we need to clean for Papa. Would you like to come home to a messy house?”
“Abigail, if you don’t eat your dinner, you won’t get dessert.”
“C’mon everybody, I’ve got three activities planned for you.”
“Mama, you need to be a good example to us.” Ack!
After half a week of constant posturing to maintain—and sometimes regain—my God-given authority, I’m tired and wondering how to handle a whole summer with my firstborn underfoot. Well, I may not have the answer, but here are some ideas I’ve come up with as I work through this dilemma.
First, I need to remember my dear boy is just trying to help. I know his “leadership” exudes from a sincere desire to create a more effective home and to guide us all into better behavior. I’m grateful he has this desire, and I want to encourage it. But I must be careful to help him see the difference between helping and usurping authority.
Second, I can thank God for the opportunity to teach my son about God’s order. When my boy acts like he has more authority than me, his parent, he’s not only striving against our family balance, he’s telling God he knows better. “This mom you gave me isn’t doing a good job, so I’m going to do it for her. I’ll take it from here, God.” It’s so important for him to understand that if he honors his earthly authority, he will more readily rest under the Lord’s authority. Handing the reins to his not-so-smart mom (in his mind), is a big struggle for my dear son. But it’s a fight we must win—by God’s grace, of course!
How do I cement a deep respect for authority in my son? Prayer and love.
Which brings me to the third point. I’m beginning to realize that part of the problem could possibly be my attitude—maybe just a little. You see, I too kick against authority. I have a certain way I want my day to go. I want my house to look nice and tidy. I want my children to say “please” and “thank you” and I want everything in my realm to make me look like a got-it-together mama.
I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t always happen. And when it doesn’t, like my boy, I sometimes get frustrated and try to force my will. Fruits go flying out the window—fruits of the Spirit that is—as I make excuses for my less-than-encouraging thoughts, words, and actions.
To simmer down I must remember that I’m not the one in control. We have a saying in our house. “You’re not the king.” I’m not the king. God is. And when I bow my knee to him in prayer and the Word, peace comes—as well as the ability to handle the dents and bruises to my vision.
The same is true for my boy. When he starts thinking he’s the king, the answer isn’t a big ol’ lecture. It’s not to “put him in his place,” or undermine his ideas. It’s to send him to his Savior in the Word and prayer. And as he sits at Christ’s feet, he will grow into the boy who respects authority—both his parents and others.