Richard B. Miller, PhD, the Director of the School of Family Life at BYU said taught about the hierarchy, power and control which exist in a family and why these aspects are so important. In some ways, the way power should be allocated in a family seems obvious, such as, “Parents are the leaders in the family,” however, I believe in today’s world, this may be easier said than done. Parents seem to be too controlling, or too lax. They are either trying to enforce rules too harshly and applying consequences which are too severe, or they let their children run their lives because they are afraid to say ‘no’ or indulge their children’s every whim. In each situation, parents are not only doing their children a huge disservice by raising them in such a way they will not become highly functioning adults, but they are also undermining themselves as the executive committee of the family.
To avoid these problems, there is a better way. The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.” When I think about teaching a child in love, yelling and punishing does not come to mind, I picture softer language, more understanding, and concern. Just as well, I imagine action being taken. Teaching isn’t something that is done passively, it requires paying close attention to what children need. In addition to teaching in love and righteousness, we are told to teach them to abide by laws, both God’s laws and the laws of the land. If we are to teach this, surely we are expected to set an example by enforcing laws on the family level.
For parents to teach these things successfully, they must show their children a united front.
My husband and I come from very different families. There are 8 children in my family, and he only has one sister. I had a regimented schedule every day, and he was a latchkey kid. It didn’t occur to us at the time of our first child’s birth that these differences along with the different ways we were parented may cause some upheaval, but it hit us soon enough. Some of our children’s behaviors didn’t bother me at all, but enraged him, and vice versa. And once the children figured this out, they played us against each other, and they won. To remain united, parents must have a united purpose, and that purpose must include a deep love for each other, and for the children.