“Because I said so!”
It is likely that if you have a parent, have been a parent, or are currently parenting, you have witnessed or used this phrase. When faced with the clash of wills between parent and child, a parent can get to the point of frustration and simply make a demand rather than having a discussion. Most of us would say it would be easier to have kids that comply and listen, the first time, when we ask anything of them. It is tempting to think compliance is the goal, but is that really what we want for our children? Or would you mention traits like: belief, ability to discern right from wrong, boldness, humility, dedication, consistency, and strength, among other leadership traits? Temporarily, it seems easier to have compliant children. Instead,
We need to have the foresight to understand that every challenging situation we encounter is an opportunity to shape our children’s character.
We want our kids to grow up to be powerful, to have the ability to manage their life and choices in honoring and respectful ways. If this is our desire, the environment we create in our home is the training ground for this to happen. We want them to feel the freedom to be individuals, yet still willingly submit to the needs of others and the family atmosphere. As parents, we can set the tone by demonstrating the things we want for them to learn. We do this by creating intentional teaching moments when faced with everyday challenges.
With this goal in mind, here are three ways to develop powerful kids:
1. Give opportunities for them to feel seen and heard
In the midst of daily activities, it is important to create space for your kids to know they have a voice. They may feel a range of emotions, but often it is easy to not take the time to ask about them because it is necessary to get things accomplished. Taking the time to regularly check in to see what is going on in their life and heart will form strong bonds of connection, making the next challenge much easier to face. If something does go wrong, allowing our kids to let us know how they felt, in respectful ways, creates powerful opportunities for them to develop their communication and voice.
If we believe that respectful confrontation creates powerful people, our kids must feel free to experience and initiate this.
2. Give them freedom to choose
Sometimes we think the best way for kids to learn is to tell them what to do. But the truth is our kids need to learn how to have to an opinion, and be given the chance to share that. It is best to give them this chance in the context of the safe environment we create for them. When we demonstrate our willingness to make room for their desires, we are teaching them how to have mutually beneficial and powerful relationships in which two people get to have a voice and freedom to choose. Giving them a chance to pick the family dinner, or what music to listen to in the car, are a couple small examples of valuing your child’s opinions and allowing them to choose. Relationships should never be about one person having dominance and the other not having a voice or freedom. We will also find that when we give our kids options, they will be much more likely to consider the needs of the family or listen and obey instructions when they are asked to do so.
3. Demonstrate healthy authority
As parents, only we know when our kids need more freedom and when they may need to be asked to comply. As we learn this balance, it is important to teach them that authority is a part of life. There has been a lot of misunderstanding of the words authority and submission. It has come to mean that one person is dominant and the other is submissive, instead of submission being first demonstrated by the one in authority.
Submission is not synonymous with demanding dominance over another person.
Jesus is our greatest example of this healthy authority. In Matthew, we read about what healthy authority looks like from Jesus’ perspective.
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
There are many times we will need to ask our children to listen to our instructions and obey. If we are in the habit of regularly demonstrating healthy authority, our kids should grow in loving obedience as they learn to give and take in healthy relationship. It may not mean they never question authority. In fact, we should welcome their challenge, knowing it is developing in them the skills necessary to become a thriving adult. Teaching them respectful disagreement is key.
As you begin to implement these practices, you will face challenges. It is never easy to balance the needs and desires of many powerful people living in one home. The goal is not to always have agreement, but to take the time to work through disagreement.
When we do this, we are allowing each person involved to contribute to the conversation and relationship in meaningful ways. In doing so, we will give our kids the best chance at learning the skill of being a powerful person.
PS) What questions do you have about implementing these practices in your parenting?
PSS) Right now we are running a Christmas special on the Life Academy, 25% off, if you give it as a gift. Know someone that is looking to take that next step of being powerful in their Parenting? This would be a perfect gift for them!