You have a child or children? You're in charge. Will your children challenge your authority? You bet. In fact one of my universal truths in Teachable Moments is that Children Will Always Test the Limits. They test them to be sure that they are there. Children are fearful and anxious when they are in charge. Their brains have not yet developed the capacity for abstract thinking, so making abstract decisions are terrifying for them. Unconsciously, they will run wild, break things, and disobey specifically to force you to take charge of them. That's how anxious having authority is for them.
How do you get your parental authority? Of course, you acquire it with the birth of your child. By definition, the parent is in charge. This kind of authority is based on power, dominance, and fear. "Because I said so, young man." "I am your father. Do what I say." Your child will respond to you when you act with this "acquired authority," but at what cost? You have an obedient child, but no relationship. This kind of teen can't wait to move out when they graduate. This youngster accepts sleepover invitations from their friends who have "cool" parents. Do you want obedience at the cost of relationship, or do you want to engage your child with relationship?
With earned authority, you make effort to understand your child's feelings and needs. You focus on relationship and make decisions based on the needs, feelings, and greater good of the family. You join your child in the endless discovery of your surroundings. You know his likes, dislikes, and the meaning behind his words. You set boundaries and give consequences based on what the child is developmentally ready for and how he interacts with his world. You use your empathy and active listening to help him grow in understanding of his feelings.
Our God is loving, understanding, and compassionate. He showed us mercy by sending His Son to offer salvation. We are charged to raise our kids with that same love and compassion. Is your parental authority acquired only, or is it earned as well. The choice is yours.