3 Characteristics of Healthy Parental Authority

I was recently talking with a mom whose goal is to be a healthy authority figure. We started exploring the idea of authority and what it means to her as a parent. During our coaching session, I realized that although authority is a common word in our society, the definition is not very clear for most.

There are so many types of authority and for that reason it could be confusing across the board to have a healthy definition of authority.

Think about it…

If we are referring to governmental authority, it might look one way. Whereas police authority might look another way. And in neither one of these examples would the definition of authority be completely appropriate for parenting, because the strategies in each of these examples simply will not work in building a strong relationship with our children. In an ideal world, all these figures of authority should live by the same principles, but the needs and values of our society do not allow for such. As a result, we have the above as examples, along with the memories of our parental authority figures, who may or may not have done a good job at providing a clear definition of healthy parental authority.

Therefore, it should be our duty and responsibility to explore this topic further, without assuming we know what it is or assuming we are doing a good job.

There are 3 important characteristics every parent should consider in regards to their authority:

  1. Healthy parental authority is a privilege. Our authority is given to us by God and it is not meant to be taken for granted nor to be abused by creating a “my way or the highway” type of relationship. If we are conscientious of how often parents and overall authorities abuse this power AND THE RESULTS AND CONSEQUENCES this has caused in children and in our society, you will be more cautious when exercising this privilege. Understand that just because you have this authority, it doesn’t mean your children will automatically respect you. You have to earn the right from them to want to listen to you out of love and not just because you hold a place of authority over their life. When a child has a healthy parental authority, the child willingly listens and embraces the relationship he/she has with the parent or authority figure. We can’t fool kids. If we are abusing our power or minimizing our responsibility, they will either tell us or they will act out.
  2. Healthy parental authority means loving our children unconditionally. One of our primary roles as authority figures is to create a safe space for our children to be themselves so they can know they are accepted. Parents often control or manipulate situations, often out of fear. When fear is present, it is a clear sign we are loving our children conditionally and have limiting beliefs around our relationship. It could be easy to think we are controlling our children to get good grades because we love them, but in love there is freedom and the greatest love is to empower the other individual to manage himself accordingly. The perfect example of this is God. God is the perfect authority figure in my life- although it wasn’t always this way. Initially, I saw God as an authority figure who would punish me for every bad action I had and who would make sure I paid for it every time. Today, I model my parenting authority after my new experience with God. He’s very open with me and loves me unconditionally. To balance the freedom He offers, God provides healthy boundaries and natural consequences for us to thrive in, with zero control… and in all that, He is not scared of our behavior. His main role is to love us unconditionally.
  3. Healthy parental authority leads the family with a strong vision. Please consider the CEO of a growing company as a good example of a healthy parental authority. Even though he/she is at the “top” of the company, he/she is not a control freak in the way of micromanaging all the employees. If he/she were, he/she would not be able to get his/her own job done. Rather, this CEO’s main role is to be the visionary, the leader, the one to empower those they are overseeing. As a parent, you should be that visionary. Encourage your children and give them a vision of what you see for your family. Allow your children to grow and develop as leaders, always coaching, training and mentoring them to new experiences.

Here is a video where I share more about my thoughts on what a healthy parental authority figure is:

Youtube Link: Healthy Parental Authority

Question: Who are the authority figures in your life and how do you view authority? What other traits do you think are in a healthy parental authority?

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