By Peggy Ployhar

My last article on parental integrity started a mini-series within the larger series of articles I am writing on parenting anger. The reason I have embedded this mini-series within my articles about parenting anger is that children will often close their hearts towards parents who have habitually lashed out at them in anger. Thus, restoration of that parent-child bond becomes essential to the process of healing and moving forward in both your parenting and homeschooling efforts.

A Flipped Perspective
Authority’s orientation from a human perspective is upside down when compared with God’s viewpoint on this issue. After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus said the following about authority:

“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’ feet. For I gave you an example that you should do as I did to you.” (John 13: 13 – 15)

From God’s point of view, authority comes from the bottom up, not the top down. It is asserted through humble service, not a dictating decree.

An Example of Authority
Consider this example: Say you were starting a new job where you had the ability to pick one of the two managers you could work for, and who would ultimately give authority over your working environment. Here is how Manager A and Manager B say they operate their departments:

Manager A likes everything to be done her way. She has all the processes in place, and that is good because she has spent a lot of time making sure those processes are the most efficient way to do the job. As an employee working for her, Manager A just asks that you follow the procedures, get your work done, and work the system she has developed to the utmost of your capability. She knows her tried and true ways are the best at getting things done and is glad to have you fill one of the roles on her well-oiled team.

Manager B loves to see people work together, so much so he is willing to roll up his sleeves and help when needed. Manager B also has put together some well thought out procedures, but he also knows he can’t think of every scenario where people and processes can be most efficient. Because of this, he desires to get the input from his team members on ways the processes can be improved and built into better and more efficient procedures for getting the job done. He knows each employee can contribute to the working environment, and he welcomes your input as a member of his close-knit team.

Which Would You Choose?
Looking at those two examples, which manager would you give the most authority to by taking the job under his/her command? If you are like most people, you would say Manager B because he leads through humble service, not as a dictator like Manager A.

Unfortunately, angry parents are often stuck in a similar dictating mode like Manager A when it comes to dealing with their children. And, even though they don’t desire to handle interactions with their kids in this manner, sometimes old habits are hard to break. Instead of trying to break an old habit, I found creating a new habit to fill its place was much more effective. Thus, began my servanthood authority turnaround strategy.

A Turnaround Strategy

I created a servant strategy with each of my children by focusing on an activity each boy cared deeply about. For my oldest, that activity was Lego building which I personally found quite enjoyable. But with my second child, playing superheroes and dressing up in costumes was a bit more of a stretch. But, these activities were not about my enjoyment, they had a greater purpose – to connect with my children and show them I was willing to get down on their level to understand them better.

Over time my children started to realize I wanted to interact with them more like Manager B from the example above. When we were spending time playing together, we were also deepening our relationship. These relational bridges developed as we played together strengthened my boys’ abilities in releasing authority of their lives to me. This transition did not happen because I demanded it, but rather because over time each one started to understand I really grasped who they were. Our time interacting helped me to get to the root of what they liked and how they thought, and thus they realized I really did have their best interest in mind when making the decisions I needed to make in parenting and teaching them.

It is never too late to start a turnaround strategy with your child. Be purposeful in building relational bridges by getting involved in what your child is interested in, no matter how much of a stretch that is for you. You will never regret invested time and energy to reconnect with your child.

Check-up and Check-in
When we pick up this mini-series next time, I will be focusing on the topics of love and acceptance and how each of these relational elements will be the glue to hold the integrity and authority you have been working on reorienting in relation to your child.

Until then, make sure to go back through each of the articles in this series (see the list below) and do a quick check-up on how things are going at each phase. Also, make sure to tune into some of our upcoming SPED Homeschool Conversation broadcasts that focus on various topics that will help you teach to the specific needs of your student.

Parenting Anger Series Articles:
Why We Should Be Talking About Parenting Anger 
Parenting Anger Demystified
The Parenting Anger Escape Door
Shifting Parenting Anger from Controlling Mode to Training Mode
How-To Effectively Instill Godly Character in Children Using Parenting Anger 
Integrity: Step 1 in Cultivating a Child’s Heart for Instruction
Humble Authority: Step 2 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction
Unconditional Acceptance:  Step 3 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction   
Forgiveness & Mercy: Step 4 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction
Honor: Step 5 in Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction  
Time Management: Step 6 In Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Instruction

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