Who Is the Parent? Who Is the Child?
A PSYCHOLOGIST in California, U.S.A., laments the degree to which parental authority has been eroded in recent years. “In my office,” she writes, “I have witnessed countless discussions between parents and children that were conducted as if between two adults, not a child and a parent. Negotiations worthy of our largest corporations have been carried out about everything from bedtime to allowance to household responsibilities. At times it has been hard to know who is the parent and who is the child.”
The Bible provides balanced counsel for parents. It warns them about the danger of being so strict that they irritate their child, perhaps making the child depressed and downhearted. (Colossians 3:21) But it also cautions parents against the other extreme—being overly permissive, abdicating their authority. Proverbs 29:15 states: “A boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” Another Bible proverb says: “If one is pampering one’s servant from youth on, in his later life he will even become a thankless one.” (Proverbs 29:21) Although this scripture refers to a servant, the principle fittingly applies to children as well.
Parents who deprive their children of needed guidance and discipline ultimately pay a heavy price—a household that is out of control. How much better it is to apply the Bible’s counsel! True, doing so requires effort, but it can bring lifelong benefits. The Bible says: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”—Proverbs 22:6.