“Don’t exasperate your children.” Eph 6:4 TM
Parenting children between puberty and young adulthood draws on every ounce of grace and wisdom you can muster. Your effort to train them, and their drive for independence, is a tug of war that frustrates you both. The outcome depends largely on which of three classic parenting styles you follow. Though parents with each style want the best for their kids, some styles work well and some don’t. Let’s examine each. The authoritarian style. Some parents announce, “I make the rules and you follow them! Don’t question me, obey me.” Compliance at all times, respect for authority, traditional values and hard work are demanded. “There is only one opinion here—mine. All other opinions are considered mutiny!” Authoritarians don’t tolerate losing face, don’t apologize or admit fault. They are blame-oriented, legalistic, judgmental, shaming, and belittling; expecting, yet exposing the worst in their kids. By coming down hard on them they provoke confrontations, then punish them harshly and unreasonably. Often they use Scripture to bolster their position. Let’s look at the pluses of this style: the rules are clear; it establishes chain of command; it speeds up the child’s response; it’s effective with very young and insecure kids, and can be useful in crisis times. Now let’s look at the minuses: it inhibits a child’s healthy individuation process; it retards mature communication; it promotes social dependence and incompetence; it discourages decision-making and initiative-taking skills; it elevates social anxiety and depression; it increases the likelihood of your child being intimidated and bullied, etc. Authoritarians may maintain military-style discipline, but they seldom rear happy, healthy, creative kids!
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