No matter what our experience or expertise, it is wrong to undermine the authority of other parents. We do this blatently and we do this subtly. Any way you slice it, it’s wrong.
Blatant ways are most obvious, of course. These are the times we deride the decisions of other parents by saying so out loud in front of our kids – or theirs. This is one way we undermine the authority of parents.
It is unfair and confusing to kids. Plus, it’s wrong. For example, I’ve heard other parents say things such as:
- “That’s a stupid rule.”
- “Why would any parent do a thing like that?”
- “No child should have to live by that rule!”
- “I don’t care what time your mom said she wants you in bed. Here, you can stay up as late as you want.”
- “Here, have some gum. I know your dad doesn’t want you to chew gum in church, so just don’t let him see you.”
When we make statements like these, we are putting ourselves above the other child’s parents. Their rules might be different from ours and we might really think their rules are unreasonable and stupid, but their kids should never hear it from us. No doubt those parents look with disdain at some of our rules. Do we want them to ridicule us in front of our offspring?
Subtle undermining is perhaps even more harmful. The other parent usually doen’t know it’s happening and can’t talk to his kids about it.
- Slipping a child a forbidden cookie when his parents aren’t looking is wrong.
- Shading the truth about something that happened because we don’t think someone else’s child needs to be disciplined for it. This is as wrong as outright lying even if we are trying to make sure that mom or dad won’t be upset with their child.
- Allowing a child to watch a movie or play a video game at your home that would not be permitted at his.
- Purchasing items of clothing, games, or other things because we think a child should be allowed to have them.
- Feigning innocence about the feelings of parents is wrong. If we know all along the parents would have said “no”, then it’s not okay and there is no reason to pretend we had no idea they would be opposed.
Standing for Truth
It is never wrong to make statements about things that are biblically in error, but this ought to be done privately and not in front of the children. It is wrong to undermine the authority of parents to raise their children by their standards unless what they are doing is against God’s Word. When parents feel that we are in their corner, they will be more ready to listen to concerns we have. Trying to get a message to parents through their children is wrong. In undermining the authority of parents, we are actually undermining the authority of God.