When our kids first come into our lives, our influence does not hinge upon our relationship to them. We have a size and a position advantage. The reason we have great influence in the early lives of our children has nothing to do with the quality of the relationship with them. It has everything to do with our size and position—I can pick them up and I can put them somewhere; I can buckle them in and strap them down. I can make them stay in their room; I can lock the door; I can make them eat that food.
I have the size and the position advantage, I am bigger and I am “Dad!” The problem is that eventually that goes away…size and position go away early in the parenting relationship.
Therefore, we have to quickly switch while we still have the size and positional advantage to influencing through relationship. If not the temptation will be to try to continue to influence them through power and size and position long after it is effective. Also, if you continue to try to parent from that vantage point when you no longer have the leverage of size or positional authority you will erode what is most important, which is your relationship with your child.
The temptation for parents is they will try to push the size and position long after it is effective. They no longer say, “Son, I am bigger,” now they say, “Son, you want the car keys? You want to graduate? Not while living under my roof, you won’t!” They are subtly saying that while they may no longer be bigger physically, they still parent out of their fleeting power.
This unintentionally erodes the relationship and the tragedy is it is when our kids need our influence the most that we have the least amount of relational authority because we did not make the transition. Do you know when your children need your influence the most? When they chose who to date, or how far is too far, or where to live or who they are going to marry, or how to raise their kids, or what to major in college.
By the time our kids start making those decisions, size and position are irrelevant. At this stage it is all about the health and the depth of the relationship. And if we have not done the hard work of relationally investing into our children we lose what is most important in these critical times, we lose relational influence.
We live in a culture where we are so busy or maybe you grew up in a home where you weren’t nurtured; and while you know this isn’t right, you grade yourself on what type of experiences you give your kids, that they have food on the table and a roof over their heads; you grade yourself on how big your college fund is, but the day will come when you will trade all that positional power for real relationship with them.
Where there is no relationship there will be no influence, and your temptation will be to go back to size and position ,but not only will it not work, it will only further erode your relationship with your kids.
Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline & instruction of the Lord.
[Live] not by the way of people-pleasers but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
- Are you parenting out of power and control or out of relational influence? How can you start to invest into your child’s life in order to earn relational influence?
- Who is a leader you listen to? How have they “earned” your attention? How can you earn the right to be heard by your spouse, children, coworkers?
- When was a time you were willing to be a God-pleaser instead of people-pleaser?
^excerpt from Andy Stanley’s Parental Guidance Necessary