Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents maintain their parental authority. Many of today’s children and teenagers are usurping the rights and authority of parents, and their mothers and fathers are assisting them in doing so. There is an important reason why Heavenly Father put fathers at the head of the family and mothers as the heart of the home. They are to work together in unity to lead their families in righteousness. Fathers and mothers are given the responsibility to love, teach and care for their children, not to develop a friendship with them.
Recently I came across some information about this subject in my personal scripture study. I was reading Isaiah’s words that were quoted by Nephi in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I believe that Isaiah was speaking of the people in his day, but I feel that he was also describing our day.
4 And I will give children unto them to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor; the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.
12 And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.
Clearly, Isaiah was saying that children were ruling – or exerting power - over their parents and probably other people. We all know parents who allow their children to make the rules and decisions for the family – everything from what they eat for dinner to when they will go to bed. I have a grandchild who was allowed to usurp the power of their parents soon after birth. We were together for dinner one evening when the mother said, “We are leaving because ____ wants to go home.” I questioned her at the time, “Are you allowing an infant to make the decisions for your family?” but did not get a reply. The family left, but the pattern continued. Years later, the parents are still trying to wrest their authority away from the child. It is a power struggle that did not have to happen.
The above scripture verses remained in my mind for several days after I read them. Then I came across an article titled “Fighting Over The Judgment Seat” by Nicholeen Peck. She “is an author and public speaker who has been teaching parenting principles around the world since 1999. She is the founder of Teaching Self-Government. She is a mother of four and previous foster parent of many difficult and troubled teens.” She has been teaching parenting self-government skills for 19 years.
Peck starts her article by comparing parents to righteous kings, queens, judges, and priests who sat in judgment seats throughout history. All of these “authorities” – including parents – were upheld in their judgment seats until they became unrighteous. Then it became “popular to try to take over the judgment seat by telling those in authority what and what not to do.” She reminds us that “corrupt or power-hungry” people have always tried to usurp the power of their leaders. History and the Old Testament are full of such instances. Peck moves from kings and judges to parents when she states the following.
A righteous parent, king or judge desires in their heart to follow the ways of God. In homes around the world, judgment seats are being taken over by children who aren’t concerned with the ways of God but with the ways of the world….
Why are children taking over their homes and parents? First, children are disconnected from home and family because they are too connected to social norms, peers and digital devices. Second, families are falling away from righteousness. When parents embrace their own ideas as ultimate truth, children follow suit and think their ideas are also the ultimate truth. This naturally leads to family conflict. Only when a family follows God’s ways will they be unified in purpose and action. Third, parents are second-guessing their authority.
The world has filled parents’ heads with plans to empower, inflate, entertain and be competitive with their children. Parents aren’t told to correct their children. In fact, when parenting gets rough, most parents just back off…. Parents have given up their parental authority, which is the same as giving up their judgement seat.
Without a righteous leader in the judgement seat, the people or family will perish….
Peck continues with the example of Napoleon and the French Revolution. Napoleon was a “strong-willed child” who was “dutifully controlled by his mother.” He was taught “to value obedience” and was aware that she had great influence on him. Her influence was such that he noticed its absence in later years. “When Napoleon `said that the great want of France was mothers, he meant, in other words, that the French people needed the education of homes, presided over by good, virtuous, intelligent women.’” (Character by Samuel Smiles). Peck continues her article as follows.
The first French Revolution showed what happen when children are neglected by their mothers. Samuel Smiles said of the time, “Morals, religion, virtue were swamped by sensualism. The character of women had become depraved. Conjugal fidelity was disregarded, maternity was held in reproach; family and home were alike corrupted. France was motherless; the children broke loose; and the revolution burst forth, `amidst the yells and fierce violence of women.” (Character by Samuel Smiles)
Peck states that the above “description of the French Revolution is ominously familiar with modern times” and asks where the parents are. She says that the world is in need of mothers and fathers, but the discussion is about mothers. When mothers fail to fill their responsibility, society makes mothers to take their place.
Society has manufactured mothers, thereby negating the need for natural nurturing. In 1838, author Lydia H. Sigourney wrote that there were mothers and “heathen mothers.” These “heathen mothers” were influences that tried to control the minds and hearts of children. She questioned why “heathen mothers” were more dutiful in their mothering tasks than real mothers. The “heathen mothers” were always there for the child, taught, corrected, led and seemed to never tire. Why, Sigourney wondered, would a mother allow other influences to script the hearts of her children?
That is a very good question: Why do mothers and fathers allow other people to gain the hearts of their children. Children and teenagers all over the world are in need of mothers and fathers who accept their parental authority and responsibilities – to be judges to fill the judgement seats of the home. Peck states, “We must preserve and protect the role of parents in order to save the children.”
We live in a world at war. There are the “wars and rumors of wars” that take place between nations and even political parties. There are also wars in our homes between parents and children who desire to usurp parental authority. The way to win the war in our own home is to preserve and protect parental authority and to raise our children in righteousness. By doing so, we can strengthen our own home and family as well as our community and nation.