father coloring with two sons

Maintaining Parental Authority

Raising children is perhaps the most challenging experience we can undertake as adults.  There is no formula or technique that will work with every child and we often spend time trying to figure out what works with our specific child.  While each child is different and each child has different needs, wants and desires, each child benefits from structure and security.  All children want to know that the adults around them, especially their parents, are making sure that they are in a safe and nurturing place.  One of the most important things we can do to provide that structured, secure and stable place for our children is to maintain our parental authority.

It is important for children to know who is in charge of the family.  But what about the parent who has faced challenges in maintaining authority?  What about the parent who allowed his/her children to live with someone else? Or, what about the parent who has struggled with maintaining control within the household?  As a parent, it is important to regain and maintain trust and respect as the head of the household.

Embrace Your Role as a Parent

The role of the parent is not just to set rules and hand out punishments.  The role of the parent is to provide a structured, safe and stable place for children to grow.  Take the steps necessary to make sure you have a clear understanding of what your family values are and then put the family rules in place that will help support those family values.  Sit down with your children and talk about the rules for the family.  If you are struggling with this, there are different ways you can get advice. The internet has many sites for parenting advice and ideas and most communities have parenting resource centers.  You might take a nurturing parenting class where you can learn different ways to work with your children and get ideas for setting your family values.

Be Consistent

When you have a clear idea of what your family values are and you have your family rules in place, stick to them.  Even when you are not feeling well or your child didn’t have a good day at school, stick to your family values and follow the rules. Be clear about your expectations and set limits.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Children do best when they are given a clear set of rules by which they can go about living their daily lives.  Being firm does not mean that you can’t listen to their feedback.  Kids are smart and adults are not always right.  Sometimes, kids can come up with solutions to disagreements that can make everyone happy.  Just be sure that you follow through with your decisions and with the things you say you will do.

Be Ready for Challenges

Finally, while regaining your parental authority, be ready for a few bumps along the road.  Children of every age will test you and test your authority.  Know that this is normal and it happens in every family at one point or another.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re feeling challenged:

  • Stay calm, collected and in control.  Things will get better.
  • When consequences to actions are established, stand firm.
  • Give the child the opportunity to follow your rules.
  • Use discipline that fits the misbehavior.
  • Know your next step when your children do not follow your directions.

Always remember, your children need a structured, secure and stable home.  You are doing the right thing by taking back your parental authority.

What are some tactics you have used to maintain parental authority?

Valerie Woods, a mother of three, is a graduate student at Mount Mary University studying Community Counseling.  Woods teaches community classes through Mental Health America including Anger Management, Nurturing Parenting and Women’s Empowerment.  Learn more about Mental Health America by visiting www.mhawisconsin.org.

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