Thursday, April 28, 2011

Backing authority in your child's life

One of the most important things a parent can do for their child is to back their child's authority. I'm primarily thinking of the Christian school setting for this post. Obviously, God designed parents to be the primary human authority over their own children, but if a parent chooses to place their child in a Christian school, the parent is essentially entrusting some of that authority to the teacher, at least for the hours the child is at school. I think as parents, our initial, normal reaction is to want to defend our child. There can be a time and a place for that, if we do it the right way. And granted, teachers are human and make mistakes just like everyone else.

If there really is a situation where you feel your child has been unfairly treated by a teacher or some other authority figure, the best thing you can do for your child is to NEVER let your child see that you disagree with the decision made by the teacher. Letting your child see that you disagree - or worse, that you are angry and resentful towards the teacher - does great damage to a child. In fact, it breeds rebellion in the heart of a child. and it is extremely difficult to undo that kind of damage in your child's heart. Instead, go to that teacher privately to speak with them. But the key here is to wait until you have had time to calm down. Don't go talk with that teacher when you are so mad and upset that you cannot even see straight. No good is going to come of that, and you will probably end up saying much that you regret.
Also, realize that many, many times there was just a big misunderstanding. Get to the bottom of the situation before you jump to conclusions, even if the conclusions seem logical. Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. And it's important to realize that children sometimes get the story wrong. It's hard as a parent to not immediately take your child's side. It is possible - and highly likely - that a child will put some sort of a spin on the story to make himself appear more innocent than he really was in the matter. Am I saying that you should consider that your child sometimes does not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?!  (Not my child, you say to yourself. My child would never lie to me!) Yes, it is entirely possible that your child just told you a bold-faced lie to get out of being in trouble. I'm not suggesting that you should become overly suspicious of anything your child ever says. Absolutely not! But what I am saying, is that you need to get to the bottom of the situation, and do not "take up the cause" for your child before you even know whether the child was in the wrong or not. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment in how you should proceed with problems between the teacher and your child.

I've heard the story of a teacher who told all of her students' parents on the first day of school - "If you promise not to believe everything your child says happened at school, I promise not to believe everything your child says happened at home." I like this humorous saying, because it really does go both ways. Teachers and parents both need to work together at solving little problems that come up. If they both gave each other the benefit of the doubt before getting angry, we would have a lot fewer problems in the classroom.


Our Continuing Journey said...

I liked this post. I agree that we must back authority. I once read that if we tear down authority, we actually tear down our own authority. That child will think that since we dont respect the authority of _______ neither should they.

Thank you and God Bless
Adam and Samantha

Laurie said...

Adam and Samantha, thank you for your comment here, as well! Very well put, what you said about how we tear down our own authority if we tear down the authority in our child's life.