Before I became a parent I made a lot of plans, the first one being my “birth plan.” The idea was introduced to us in our birthing class. We were instructed to create an outline for our ideal experience. Who would we have in the birthing room? Would we use an epidural or go all natural? What kind of atmosphere did we want to create?
For those of you who don’t have kids, let me spare you the effort of creating one. It’s a waste of time. No one can really plan the birth of a child. If you choose to go through with this ridiculous attempt to control your life , it will be the first in a long line of misplaced expectations. It might also tempt you to adopt the parenting style of being a dictator verses being a leader.
When kids are little it’s easy to fall into the role of a dictator. Our primary concern when they are infants and toddlers is keeping them safe, fed, and clothed. It becomes second nature to bark direct orders like some grizzled sergeant:
Don’t eat that! Come here! Don’t lick that! For heaven’s sake put some pants on! Stop picking your nose! Don’t hit your sister!
When the little years have come and gone most parents find it difficult to stop doling out commands. The transition is bumpy to say the least. But if we want to raise adults who love God, love themselves, and love others we must choose to lead with humility—not dictate with hubris.
We’re Dictators When…
We order our kids around like pieces on a chess board.
We have unrealistic expectations.
We try to maintain control at all costs.
We offer harsh criticism.
We fail to listen.
We make decisions based in fear.
We assume the worst.
We elevate appearances over the condition of the heart.
We worship hierarchy.
We’re judgmental and selfish.
We leave little room for growth and change.
We create an environment of dependence.
We’re Leaders When…
We’re serving with humility.
We’re teaching respect, not blind obedience.
We’re offering grace.
We value character over performance.
We’re in it for the long haul, not immediate gratification.
We ask good questions.
We listen with understanding.
We know and value our kids’ strengths.
We work as a team.
We develop trust.
We provide clear boundaries while maintaining flexibility considering the individual.
We trust God with the outcome.
We discipline with a focus on growth not punishment.
We foster community and character.
Not one of us is the perfect parent. We do however have the opportunity to be intentional about being strong servant leaders. If we are more concerned with our reputations than the hearts of our kids, we’re losing the battle. If we are consistent and clear with love and humility, we’re leading.Let’s empower our kids to follow our lead, as we follow Christ. Click To Tweet
Are you a dictator or a leader in parenting? What’s one way you can move towards leadership today? Comment below.