Being an Authoritative Parent in the New Year

By Danny Huerta, MSW, LCSW, LSSW
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Mother and Daughter enjoying New Years
Authoritative parenting values the relationship with their son or daughter while valuing the development of their child. The New Year is a great time to focus on implementing this parenting style in your life.

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” – Thomas Kempis.

January is a month of new beginnings: New lists, new exercise routines, new commitments, new goals, new intentions, new jobs, and new resolutions with the intention of personal improvement. At this time last year, people were talking about how 2020 was going to be their “2020 vision” year filled with endless potential. Some were looking into different parenting styles, such as authoritative parenting, and planning how to be a better parent in the new year. However, just after the year started, a pandemic began, turning the various plans that people had put in place upside down. As New Years’ 2021 draws closer and 2020 winds to a close, we wonder, “What is in store for 2021?”

What is in store for you as a parent? Is your New Years’ Resolution every year to become a better parent than you were in the previous year? Notice that I didn’t say “perfect parent.” Striving for perfection would rob your family of love and the opportunity to grow together. It is impossible to be a perfect parent, but very possible to grow and be transformed in the process. God created different sunrises each morning as beautiful reminders of the different opportunities each day brings 365 times a year. What is God inviting you into this new year?

Preparing Your Mind for the New Year

As we prepare to enter the new year, first and foremost, we must remember that we serve our heavenly Father and have received grace through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our lives and interactions. He also reminds us in 1 Peter 1:13 to prepare our minds for action, and for battle. 

There is truly a spiritual battle pressing into our homes, and it begins in our minds. Remember that you and your children are emotional beings that can be thrown off by stress, tiredness, emotions, perceptions, interpretations, and unexpected moments. It’s helpful to have a solid parenting plan in place for your parenting to keep you focused and going strong. Before you ever pick a parenting style to use, preparing your mind is essential.

What do you need to do to prepare your mind for what you’re being invited into as a parent in New Years’ 2021?

Prayer

This lines up your mind with God’s will.  It is a way to unite believers’ minds together as well.  Prayer is a powerful spiritual weapon with an ongoing open invitation to connect with God at any time. Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that he will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on HIM.  Prayer can bring peace to our souls in the midst of chaos.

Spending Time in God’s Word

Colossians 3:16 tells us to let God’s word richly dwell in us. This means having God’s world living inside of us.  I love the word “dwell” in this context because it implies the action of living somewhere. What would it look like for God’s word to richly dwell in you.  

Resting

Resting is about pressing the “reset” button of the mind, and it begins with the commitment to be renewed to love well. 

Self-Reflection

This is about respect. The word “spect” in the word respect means to see, and “re” means back.  So, to look inward helps foster respect and love through important self-awareness. We all have blind spots, but these blind spots can be reduced through the discipline of taking time to be aware of what is going on inside of us and what it’s like to be with us. 

Also, leading your children toward a thriving faith not only helps keep your mind focused on Christ but focuses their minds on Him as well. To do this requires a relationship, ongoing intentional conversations, and guiding your children each step of the way. 

The Authoritative Parenting Style

In the 1960s, Diana Baumrind developed what we know today as parenting styles. The four predominant styles include:

  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Authoritative parenting
  • Permissive parenting
  • Neglectful parenting

Parenting styles have provided a simple yet profound distinction that parents can use for self-evaluation, planning, and growth. Research repeatedly tells us that of these different styles, the authoritative parenting style is the most effective for parents and most beneficial for children’s development. 

Researchers have discovered that the authoritative parenting style can lead to fewer behavioral, mental, social, and emotional issues in children. This parenting style can also lead to spiritual, academic and relational improvements for kids. So, what is authoritative parenting?

Authoritative parenting involves high levels of warmth, responsiveness, and sensitivity mixed with parents’ boundaries and limits.

In other words, the parent values the relationship with their son or daughter while valuing the development and guidance of their child. 

7 Traits of Effective Parenting

The seven traits of effective parenting provide a practical starting point and template for you to begin building an authoritative parenting style in the new year. The seven traits are based on biblical principles, including clear instructions in Deuteronomy 6, which describe a moment-by-moment invitation to teach and guide our children through God’s love and direction.

The 7 Traits of Effective Parenting can be found here. We have provided a free assessment for you to discover areas of strength and areas of improvement. A wide range of content will help you grow in these areas as you give the most amazing gift to your family this new year — yourself. 

The Trait of Adaptability

This past year has indeed been full of opportunities to grow in adaptability as a parent. We have had to adapt to working and schooling at home, financial challenges and uncertainties, and employment changes, to name a few. The list of ways we have had to be adaptable could go on and on. 

Adaptability in parenting means that you can tolerate your negative thoughts and emotions to respond to what is needed at the moment effectively. It is about having a flexible mind that does not become rigid through the influence of emotions. A flexible mind can see other people’s emotions and make room for a hopeful and optimistic perspective. A great question that comes from an adaptable mind is: “Is there another way to look at this?”

Adaptability can lead to amazing things for families, including:

  • Fewer behavioral, emotional, and mental issues
  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Less family conflict and
  • Better family relationships.

Take some time to read Ephesians 3:14-21 as a prayer for spiritual strength in yourself and your family. If possible, read these verses out loud as a family throughout the coming year. You can also have your kids write these verses out on posterboard or canvas as a reminder throughout the new year.

Navigate family life with grace and love!

Daniel P. Huerta, Focus on the Family's Vice President of Parenting, presents a collection of seven powerful character traits designed to help parents grow and thrive while raising Godly children.

3 Things to Focus on in the New Year

This new year, here are three areas worth focusing on as you step into what 2021 has in store. 

1. You

What do you need to do in the new year to grow? Are there resolutions you need to make or things that you need to let go of? Think of yourself from a different perspective: what is it like to be your spouse? Your son? Your daughter? 

Make a list that is about you and how you are growing as a parent. Take inventory of where you are doing well and where you need to observe growth. Also, take a look at areas where you may need to create more boundaries, either on yourself or with your kids, in the coming year. Then give the list to another person or to a trusted group of people who can encourage you along the way. Remember, it’s never too late to grow. New Years’ is a great time to reset with hope and anticipation for great moments, days, relationships, and memories in 2021. 

Rest and Recharge

It is also critical for you to take time to rest and recharge. In many ways, we are like rechargeable batteries; we can power through for a time but frequently need to recharge ourselves. The best way to do that is by leaning into God. Jesus invites us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew:11:28-30). 

Reflect on the great reminder that Paul shares in Colossians 1:29 as he’s working hard in ministry. He says, “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.” Are you tapping into the amazing energy that God has for you? How can you tap into that energy today? Here are a few ways to plug into God’s recharging and restoration. 

 What other ways can you think of to rest and recharge by leaning into God? 

2. Your Children

Take time to look at what your children need to learn spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially. Be intentional about your involvement in what they are interested in and what they enjoy. Help them learn to look for what God is inviting them into within His kingdom. Your children desire your relationship and need your wisdom and direction as they learn to step into God’s invitations. Authoritative parenting is a strong combination of applying both warmth and guidance in parenting.

Make sure you seek biblical wisdom and true humility as a foundation for your parenting style. Model respect, love, and gratitude as you interact with those around you. Your children will learn a lot from watching how you handle relationships.

Take some time to reflect on Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:15-23. Imagine your kids knowing this truth and hope in their hearts. Read these verses together throughout the year to help instill these thoughts in the heart of your family. 

3. Your Family

Spend time with your family. Just like money, time is about spending. The only difference is that you cannot make more time. It is essential to prioritize and carve out time for the most valuable and important things in our lives. Take the time to connect and develop memories that you want to remember as a family. If there is brokenness in your family, be intentional in taking time to see what you can repair. Be a relationship builder in the new year, 2021, through grace and forgiveness

Read and discuss Philippians 2:1-18 as it applies to your family. Reflect and discuss Philippians 2:4 specifically. What an opportunity for our families to learn to become contributors rather than consumers. Be sure to review the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting as they create a road map for raising our children to be contributors in God’s kingdom.

Authoritative Parenting: A Game-Winning Strategy

As New Years’ 2021 comes into view, start with a game-winning parenting plan this coming year. Adopting an authoritative parenting style will help you create relationships with your children while still focusing on their development. 

© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. 

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
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