Whatever happened to parental authority?
The reason I ask that question is because of what I sometimes see when I am at the grocery store: A mother asking her small child if he or she eats this or that.
I want to scream, “What are you doing? You’re the parent. You’re in charge. Children don’t get to choose what they eat.”
I understand not wanting to buy something that your child won’t eat and getting into a food fight when you get home. But I also know that children don’t always know what’s best for them, so it’s up to parents to make wise decisions for their well-being.
That’s not just concerning what they eat, but also in other areas of their lives, such as what kind of entertainment they watch or listen to, what they wear, where they go and what they do. This starts when they’re young (toddlers) and continues when they’re teenagers, right on up until they leave the nest.
Of course, children can (and should) have some input, especially when they’re old enough to understand the consequences of their choices, but the decision ultimately resides with the parents.
When our daughter was growing up, we used to tell her, “This (our household) is a dictatorship, not a democracy.” In other words, we were the ones who dictated and set the agenda how she was going to be raised, not her.
It wasn’t an authoritarian dictatorship. We listened – sometimes (wink, wink) — to her reasons for why and how she wanted to do some things, but we had the final say in most instances.
Unfortunately, these days, many parents have abdicated their parental roles and it’s the children who make the decisions regarding their lives even though many, dare I say most, are not mature enough to do so.
The result is now we have outsiders (governing authorities) trying to tell parents what and how to do what they believe is in the best interest of their children. This interference has led to laws about children’s rights and given rise to children filing lawsuits against their parents.
All of this I believe has led to one of the most egregious sins of our times: disobedience to parents. That’s not surprising when you consider the Apostle Paul twice included this among the worst sins imaginable.
Romans 1:28-30 — And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 — But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Why is disobedience to parents such a big deal? Well, if children will not obey the authority in the home – parents – then they most likely won’t obey the authority outside the home. And ultimately, they will not obey the Sovereign God of the universe.
After all, He is the one who gave the following instruction.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3
The very next verse speaks of the parents’ responsibility.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
If parents shirk this responsibility, allow their children to be disrespectful and let them do whatever they want, then I believe it gives rise to all the other ungodly things Paul listed.
That’s why parental authority matters.