Do your children say things like:

Posted on · Posted in Communication, Wisdom

“I’m really glad Dad spoke to me about that; I really needed his help.”

“Mom, thanks for caring enough to keep me out of trouble.”

The purpose of biblical authority is encourage and build up ( 2 Corinthians 13:10).  But sometimes our children are last ones to recognize this. Here are three principles to help make the exercise your authority a blessing to your children.

First: Listen well so that you can speak well.

Commit yourself to be a skilled, aggressive listener. Your goal is to be able to repeat the words you hear back to your children in such a way that they can affirm that you really do understand them. You don’t always have to agree, but you must always understand. This attentiveness shows respect for your children and honor for your Lord. It also indicates that you view your authority as an opportunity to be a servant. Answering quickly, without fully understanding the intentions of your children shows a lack of love and respect. Proverbs 18:13 and Ephesians 4:29 teach that you must listen well in order to speak things that will benefit your children.

“Wow, mom, I had no idea you really understood me.”

Second: when you do speak, use language that is pleasant and gracious. Harsh, frustrated tones and sarcastic answers do not build relationships.

Your goal is to make God’s wisdom attractive.  Sharp language indicates that you are pushing you own agenda rather than God’s.  Pleasant language, even when firm, is needed for growth. Irritation often reveals self-righteousness. A soft, understanding answer spoken with pleasant words will help avert upsets and promote instruction that will actually bless your children (Proverbs 15:1 & 16:21)

Third: beware of anger. Anger and authority should seldom be seen together.

Anger is not the tool of a builder. Anger shouts that you, the parent, have been offended. Rather, the focus must be on God.  The problems and struggles your children are having have more to do with God than with you. Your goal is to use your authority to point your children to Christ. Your anger does not make God important, it places the emphasis on  you. Don’t excuse your anger because you think your children deserve it. Anger will drive those close to you far from you (See James 1:19&20).

“It really means a lot that you were not angry even though I messed up.”

These three principles will help make your authority a blessing that your children will love and depend upon.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.