How can we balance affection and authority?
One helpful principle is to think about parenting as both affection and authority. That’s the way God treats us. He is both the ultimate authority, and he is our loving Heavenly Father.
Similarly, we want to show our children affection. We want there to be joy in the house. We want them to know that they are loved, and there is grace.
And at the same time, we can also have boundaries. We can have consequences. In fact, there have been some psychological studies that have come out that have found that children do best when there’s high affection and high authority, or boundaries, as well.
Both Affection and Authority
Affection and authority are not fighting each other. We can easily both let our children know that we love them, and we care about them. They’re our joy, and we’re going to discipline them. We’re going to have rules. We’re going to hold them accountable. That God says that children are to obey us. And because of that, we have to have some consequences when they don’t.
We will become friends around 20 or 25, but we don’t need to be friends with a five-year-old or a seven-year-old.
Ultimately, we are in the position—and I use that word deliberately—of authority as a parent, and our authority is delegated from God, and it’s for their good.
And in today’s world, we don’t like authority. We think authority’s bad, but authority that functions well is good. Hebrews 12 talks about how God, who is our Father, is our authority as well. We need to carry that out as an authority, not because it’s our idea or we’re on some power trip, but because this is God’s command to us.
And in fact, Ephesians 6 tells us it will go well for them as they learn, as our children learn,
to obey and honor authority. So it’s not about us. It’s about what God says, and it will turn out well for them.
And then yes, I can tell you, you will be friends at 25.
God’s given you an eternal soul. What higher privilege? God has not just given you a baby. They’re going to live forever. And so you want to do all that you can so that your children and your grandchildren will love and follow Jesus Christ.
You want to say, as far as I know, I was faithful. I wasn’t perfect. There are no perfect parents. There’s no way to be perfect but a thousand ways to be a good parent. And as far as I know, I was faithful in holding out the Gospel.