I remember where I was sitting in her kitchen, the day I heard my mother-in-law say, “Matthew Darlin’, run downstairs and get me__________.” The big pantry was down there. I don’t remember what she needed him to get, but I remember that she told him to get it. And he did.
He wasn’t even a little kid but a grown man.
“Can a mom do that?” I thought. Can she just look at her kid and tell him to go do something?
Not ask –tell?
I tucked that thought away. Later, when I became a mom, I dusted off the idea and brought it out for consideration.
Authority was the issue. If you become a policeman or a school principal or a drill sergeant, your very position puts you in a place of respect. Your title puts authority in your hands.
But a mom?
I realized that there is authority in the home, and what happens is that if the mom doesn’t claim it then the kids will. Somebody’s going to be in charge. Somebody’s going to be calling the shots.
So I decided that I was the adult and would rightfully lay claim to my authority. I would tell my kids what to do and expect them to do it.
Felt weird, I have to tell you. But I would get a picture in my mind of Matt’s momma (a beautiful woman whom we adore), and, to quote Lady Macbeth, would “screw my courage to the sticking place.” Then I would say, “Jayme, come unload the dishwasher, please.”
I confess that after I gave my child a command, I would hold my breath, to see if the sky would fall or something awful happen. Sometimes young eyes would roll, but I tried hard to stick to my guns.
(Can I ask you a question? Why does it seem to take courage to speak to our children with authority? So weird. When did it happen in our culture that the kids became the masters and we the underlings?)
You probably want the rest of the story. So here you have it –I now have two beautiful adult children who are respectful to me. They do not hate my guts for acting with authority over them. Quite the opposite is true.
So I want to speak permission for you to be the adult. BE THE MOM. Certainly that role needs to be carried out with thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, and grace. But there is an authority to lay hold of as a mom, and speaking authoritatively to your kids will help bring order to your home. Try it. (See? Authoritative.)
A question to get you thinking about this: Who had the authority in your home when you were growing up, and how do you think that experience has affected the way you parent now?
With love from Montana,