The role of leadership, no matter the context, and the challenges it poses has been the topic of considerable debate for many across the years. The leadership role of parents in their family situation is likewise more difficult than it appears to be. The degree of difficulty depends somewhat on the style of leadership we choose to use and our reason for choosing that particular style.
If we choose to use an autocratic style, where we totally dominate and use the benefit of our adulthood to impose our will on our children, then, we will be in for a power struggle and will have to use threats, fear and punishment to achieve what we want. Unfortunately, our children will probably feel unsafe, unloved and untrusting of us. Our very strict rules and suffocating structures will cause our children to yearn for freedom, to be rid of us and our heavy-handed style of parenting.
If we choose the opposite extreme and choose to use a permissive style and choose to be physically or emotionally absent, don’t set limits, be afraid to say “no” and never hold our children accountable, then, we will reign over chaos. Our children will think they have the right to do anything they like and, because they don’t respect us, they won’t respect other forms of authority. Unfortunately, our children will probably be perplexed by life, lack motivation to achieve because they have never known structure in their lives, and will find themselves easy prey for people who do not have their best interests at heart; they too, will live in fear and feel unloved.
If we choose to be in the middle of these two styles, we will be choosing an authoritative-democratic style. This style is based on respect, love and trust, where positive communication and cooperation are enjoyed on a daily basis. Our children will probably feel safe, loved and accepted yet free to be who they are. If we are pro-active and foresee problems before they can fully emerge, if we can welcome opinions and offer choices while not guaranteeing that our children will always get what they want, then, our children will be confident, able to think for themselves and able to make decisions that have a positive outcome. If our leadership has a confidence about it, it will inspire our children to take up the leadership role in their own lives.
Our leadership style is of vital importance to our children because, for better or worse, parenting styles tend to repeat from one generation to the next. The good news is that everyone has the capacity to develop good parenting skills and to be aware not to repeat patterns that expose children to negative and destructive experiences. Our children will feel loved and secure, if the way we go about living our lives and engaging with our children is in a positive, friendly yet firm manner.
Our children will sense a comfortable and uplifting atmosphere and environment that allows them to be relaxed and optimistic about life. Our children might even agree with the comment,
“Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t even hear
what you are saying.”
Jesus, our leader, with the guidance of the Spirit within us, may we bring a spirit of joy, generosity and enthusiasm to the leadership role we have as parents. May our children learn about you by the way we lead our lives.