"So, if you ever feel angry or upset with someone, remember, it is your rules that are upsetting you; not their behaviour." Antony Robbins
Some parents wield authority by shouting, threatening and whacking their children. Some others use tact, persuasion and encouragement. The problem is that parents get stuck in these 'formats", when they should be stuck in loving their children - which
means doing what the situation demands, for the good of the children. Because one 'format' uses harsh methods and the other uses gentle methods, does not make the first wrong and the second right. Like Situational Managers, in the Professional context, who adapt to situations and direct, coach, support and delegate team mates, mature parents should become Situational Parents. There are times when a stern warning or a sharp whack become necessary, especially when children are wilful and rebellious. At such times, to try 'persuasion' is not prudent. There are other times when a hug and whispered persuasion are appropriate. At such times to shout a threat is 'unparentlike'. The sooner parents adopt the flexi-situational style, the better for them and their children.
Authority comes from above, as Jesus Christ pointed out to Pilate, the Roman Governor, when he stood before the Roman. Parents receive their authority from God,
and must use it with humility and prudence. "He is my son; I can do what I want with him", is a false statement. "Your children are not your children; they are sons and daughters of life's longing for itself", is how Khalil Gibran puts it. Life is God's gift(post 3), and if children are 'life's longing for itself', they are God's way of
continuing the chain of life.
So 'discretion' is the channel, authority should choose. "Sunny, it is 6 O'clock and time for your home work", is how mummy calls her 9 year old to the study table. He pleads: "Mummy, please give me 5 minutes to finish the game I am playing. I am almost done". Now, mummy has two options to demonstrate her control over the situation. "No excuses. Get to your study table now", is one way. "Okay, my son, 5
minutes is fine. Enjoy your game and get to work in 5 minutes. I know you will keep your promise", is another option.
Which should mummy choose? The mother who believes in enforcing her authority will choose option one. The discreet mother, who believes that small concessions do not break rules, but only show that exceptions are permissible, will choose option two.
The same mother will make no compromise when the child lies or cheats, because that is when no compromises should be made. Not because she wants to demonstrate her authority, but because she loves her child and will not let stain besmirch his character.
Statements like: "Do it because I told you to do it", "No questions; just do it",
"A rule is a rule; no discussion", "Watch it; the next time you do it I will be very angry", and similar statements better be avoided, because they point to an autocratic mindset and not a loving attitude.
The important thing for parents to do, is to examine the rules they have framed(or,are they acting on whims?), and check on their flexibility, as long as the code is not violated. Shouldn't Rule Books be enough? Why should Judges preside in Court? Because circumstances have to be evaluated and Rules seen in perspective.
Mature parents see it that way. The ones who put off maturing, take impulsive decisions, fuelled by anger, because their rules are broken. Authority is a double-edged sword. It can wound the adversary; it can also hurt the one who wields it. How to wield authority is a studied art; like swordsmanship.