How To Appropriately Question Authority
We want to raise critically thinking leaders and not blind followers. A skill that’s necessary to teach our children is how and when to appropriately question authority. First thing we need to instill in our children is to always take things back to God’s word. He is the ultimate authority. So there may be a time where a teacher, youth leader, grandparent or even parent says something that is not correct. We need to give our children the skills to ask a question about it appropriately. This begins at home. There will be a time where our children may not understand or will disagree with a rule. We need to teach them that it is ok to ask questions about it. It is all about the how. Arguing is not appropriate so what it? Politely, coming to the adult and asking, “can we talk about this?” is one way to do it. Our children need to know that their opinion matters but it may not change the rule. There will be times when a parent is in the wrong and we need encourage our children if they bring this up appropriately. Discussion about things is great but arguing is not. Teach your children how to question appropriately and respectfully.
For more on this topic listen to today’s podcast.
Having Fun Within The Boundaries of Respect
One of the things that is amazing about setting up proper respect for authority in your home from early on, is it allows for more fun within the family. There must be a clear line set up but once those boundaries are in place, fun can happen with out the fear of it getting out of control or disrespectful. We have used this metaphor before but if you think of a sports field or court there is always a line drawn that is out of bounds. Everyone knows it the ref, teams playing, and the spectators. So it is very clear when the ball or player crosses that line and is out of bounds. The same thing happens in our homes. We can have fun with in the lines of respect because they are clear-cut, what is permissible and what is not. When someone steps over the line then a warning or consequence is given. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the fun needs to stop if the child heeds the warning. For example our family game nights always got very silly and fun, but this could happen because we knew where the line was. Make sure to have clearly set up boundaries that have been discussed to allow for family fun!
For more on this listen to today’s podcast.
Starting At Home
The home is the practice arena for everything external. Children first need to be taught to respect their parents. Things like voice tone, proper response, and facial expressions are areas we can work on with in the home even from a young age. From toddlerhood on they can practices as they begin to exert themselves. They can be taught to look at someone while they are speaking; this is also helpful to ensure that they are listening. They can also be taught to respond to questions that another adult asks. This includes being polite to others, a please and thank you can go along way. This also includes teaching them words of respect like, Mr./Ms. or Sir and Ma’am.
As children get older decide the things in your house that will not be tolerated because they communicate disrespect. These can build on the things like voice tone and facial expressions. Things like talking back or yelling back, and temper tantrums, which in older kids and teens look like stomping and slamming things or doors.
This is another place that we as adults can set the example. Make sure that we are communicating respect not only to our spouse but to our children as well, in how we speak to them and about them.
Listen to today’s podcast for more on this topic.
Why Is It So Difficult To Teach This?
It is not natural for anyone to automatically fall under someone else’s authority. We are self-focused and think we know it best. (How well I know this, as my youngest is 2 .) Respect for authority is not cultural either, we seem to have made a game out of insulting authority figures. The media consistently pokes fun, constantly questions, and sometime outright disrespects those in authority. While we want to raise our children to be critical thinkers, there needs to be a line of respect for a position. Respect isn’t role modeled in our culture either. Look at way some of the parents berate coaches and refs at children’s sports games. It has gotten so bad that some of the fights between coaches and parents have made news.
We need to look at ourselves and make sure that our children are seeing us role model respect. Do we question their teachers or other school staff in front of our children? What do they hear us say about our pastor, our boss, even police officers? Another influence in our child’s life is music, TV and movies. What are we allowing our child to watch or listen too? Many of the shows and movies present adults and authority figures in general as silly or ignorant, and the children are the heroes of the story. We need to make sure that the music and things they watch are respectful to others, especially those in authority.
Listen to today’s podcast for more on this topic.
Why It’s Important To Teach This
There are many reasons why we need to make it a priority to instill a respect for authority in our children. These reasons range from it makes my child enjoyable for other adults to be around, to it opens doors for them both educationally and for employment. One of the big reasons to instill respect is because it is a Biblical principle. It is so important to God that it has even made His top ten list, or the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12 states, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Paul then reminds us again in Ephesians 6:1-4 which states, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’”
Again this is such an important concept to God that He includes a promise with the commandment. This is a command for children but it is our job as adults to teach them how to respect.
Be sure to check back this week as we continue to tackle this topic and as always listen to today’s podcast for more.