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Friendly Authority

Friendly Authority

Joey & Carla Link
May 27, 2020
In the 70’s the TV Show “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” was very popular and formative for many Dad’s parenting philosophy. The theme song of the show set the stage for how a new generation of adults that were rebellious towards authority needed to be friends with their kids instead of an authority figure over them.
(Sung by a Dad)
People, let me tell you ’bout my best friend
He’s a warm-hearted person who’ll love me to the end
People let me tell you ’bout my best friend
He’s a one-boy, cuddly toy
My up, my down, my pride and joy
People, let me tell you ’bout him, he’s so much fun
Whether we’re talkin’ man to man
Or whether we’re talkin’ son to son
‘Cuz he’s my best friend
We don’t agree that parents need to be stern, harsh figures of authority over their children either. The ultimate goal of parenting is to be friends with your kids. Being friends with your kids is not the starting point of your parenting or the mid-point. It is the end-point of parenting.
So are we saying you can’t be friends with your kids? Well, to be friends means to be peers, and peers never have authority over one another. We want you to be friendly with your kids, but you cannot and should not be their peers. When your kids think you are their friends, they will pick and choose when they want to obey you.
When your kids are young and need training, you will flip flop between being friendly with your kids all the while holding to a standard of right and wrong. Being friendly and loving with your toddlers and preschoolers is needed and necessary, but so is teaching them what authority looks like.
Police demonstrate this by going out of their way to be friendly to kids when they see them. But if police are called for an infraction, they are the authority and will deal with the kids involved. A police officer will smile and wave to kids riding their bikes in a parking lot or on the side of a street. But if the kids are riding and swerving in the middle of the street, the police will pull the children aside to instruct and warn them not to do that again. If they catch them again, there will not be another warning, they will be taken to their parents expecting them to deal with them. Police try to show kids they can be trusted, but they also show them they will get no mercy if they break a law. This is a picture of what parenting young children looks like.
Today many parents try to talk their kids into obedience instead of being the much-needed authority their kids need. When the parents know their child is deliberately not following their instructions it is time for the parents to use their God given authority to reinforce right and wrong so the child will grow up knowing what they are.
Paul said it this way:
“I am writing this to you now in the hope that I won’t need to scold and punish when I come;
for I want to use the Lord’s authority that he has given me,
not to punish you but to make you strong.”
2 Corinthians 13:10 (LB)
Paul is making the point parents agree with – they want their children to pay attention to their teaching now so the time will come where their training and teaching will no longer be needed.
Every parent wants to have fun with their kids, and they should. But without a common foundation of what is right and what is wrong, fun and fellowship evaporates into kids becoming the authority while frustrated parents are still trying to be their best friend. The real joy of parenting is when like-minded teens or adult children want to be together and look forward to enjoying each other’s company.
None of us will ever forget the year, when finding all our kids spring breaks were on the same week, the 5 of us, our collegiate son and his 2 teenage sisters, spent 7 days together traveling from Iowa to San Francisco and back. We drove all night each way and stayed in a hotel on the wharf. We walked up and down the hilly city streets, rode cable cars, ate at local diners and flew kites on a windy beach under the Golden Gate bridge. We had the time of our lives.
I (Joey) recently had emergency open heart surgery. All of my kids were in my hospital room within 24 hours of hearing I was in the ER, having come from Chicago, Nashville and Dallas. Their support and encouragement was a huge blessing to Carla and I. It was their turn to come and minister to us. We wonder what that would have looked like if we hadn’t learned while they were growing up what “friendly authority” looks like and if we hadn’t held to that standard through thick and thin.
May God Bless You as you figure out what that looks like in your own family.
Friendly authority is only successful if both parents are working off the same page.

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