Rebellion is the result of conflicting authority. When authority can’t provide a united front, it is very dangerous. There are several things you can do to provide a unified front before your kids.
1. Discuss rules and discipline together. Come to a full agreement on all aspects of it–before you implement them.
2. Never, never, never, never argue in front of your children. If you have a disagreement, discuss it when the kids are asleep, or when they’re not around. All growing up, I never one time heard my parents argue with each other. I can’t tell you how secure and happy my brother and I were growing up. Don’t argue in front of your children.
3. Don’t contradict each other in front of the children. This may not result in an argument, but it could be just as destructive. If your kids see that there is a side to take, they’ll always side with the one that seems in his best interest.
4. Make sure that the parent who did the disciplining is the one to show mercy. If you are always stepping in to show mercy, the child will grow to resent the other parent. Mercy should always come from the disciplining parent. Always.
5. Always be consistent yourself. Hypocrisy with your kids is just another form of conflicting authority. Your words and your actions ought to match. If you tell your kids that smoking is wrong, then don’t smoke yourself!
6. Make sure that your children know that you ALWAYS back up your spouse. I have a policy with my kids. If they come to me, or to my wife, and try to get a reduced sentence, or hoping to play parent against parent, I always make the consequences stricter. It’s interesting how fast my children learned not to do that.
7. Make sure your kids know the rules and consequences ahead of time. Don’t spring it on them after they have done wrong. They will not think that is fair. That will cause rebellion too, and it is another type of conflicting authority.
8. Back up other authority as well. If it be a babysitter, a coach, a teacher, a principle, or a police officer, always back up the authority. There are a few exceptions to this rule which I will discuss shortly. But as a general rule, it is a good one.
WHAT ABOUT IF THE AUTHORITY IS WRONG?
This is where you must show a tremendous amount of good judgment and wisdom. Messing up here, even when authority is wrong, could still create the seeds of rebellion in a child.
Look, I’d rather a child be punished too severely and see a united front than to witness conflicting authority. The other side is true too. I would rather see punishment that doesn’t go far enough than to see conflicting authority.
That said-there are some things you can do when authority is wrong.
Address the other authority privately.
If a teacher is wrong in some action against your child, go to the teacher privately and discuss it with them. If you can come to an agreement, it ought to be the teacher that goes to your kid and admits the wrong.
For anyone, when authority apologizes, it actually helps to establish that authority more firmly. To be able to apologize when you are wrong gives you more credence and weight to your authority.
Establish A Chain Of Command!
This is how the army solves the authority conflict issue. Now in the home, before the children, the parents ought to be perfectly united. However, we recognize that not all authority is equal. A parent ought to have a higher level of authority over a child than say a school principal.
If the principal demands something that is automatically in conflict with the parental authority, the parental authority ought to win out. This chain of command ought to be made known to your children.
For example, a major has higher authority than a lieutenant. If both give a private an order, which order does he obey? The major’s of course. You always default to the higher authority. Teach this concept to your children.
So if there is a conflict of authority, you simply point out that, in this case, the higher authority is always right. This will help your children to be yielded to authority instead of picking and choosing, or playing one against the other.
But, try your best not to have to contradict that authority. The less you have to do that, the better.
To learn more, or to get the Author’s book, Fitly Spoken, a book on developing communication and social skills for relationships, visit: www.fitlyspoken.org