In a cyber-powered world it is easy to believe we can “Google” everything we need to know. This power to access information is very seductive, especially for young folks as discussed in a recent Birmingham Science City survey about where kids go for answers, and it isn’t parents and teachers.
But we don’t require a study to know this. Do we?
The bigger question is: how do we respond as parents?
Yes indeed. The Internet has been a game changer for kids and parents. We are being conditioned differently for authority.
And by “authority” I mean command and control over the individual.
In previous generations, authority was inherent in structure expressed in roles and titles such as parent, teacher, officer and president. It was just assumed. The norm was compliance with structural authority. Decision making in this model of authority is concentrated, much like American football where the quarterback calls the plays and is advised by coaches.
Today, however, children are conditioned for relational Authority. In this relational model of Authority, every individual is expected to think like the quarterback and be accountable for their own actions. This model resembles the decision-making model for international soccer teams wherein whomever has the ball must think like the quarterback.
So how do we parent a generation of “smarty pants” in peril who think they don’t require guidance, wisdom or insight?
Relational Authority: The Good Shepherd
The liberating discipline of God’s love is the Authority model (Aa) that enables us to keep order and peace at home, and more importantly raise cyber-secure citizens who are “thinking like the quarterback.”
This model of Authority was demonstrated by Jesus who inspired the creation of the American republic which acknowledges the sovereignty of God over the individual who grants individuals intelligent life and free will. And just as the people of the American republic give up limited powers to government for preserving the interest of individual liberty and greater good, so too must we as heads of households address the question: how much power are we and our children going surrender to the Internet and cyber-powered tools.
It is challenging because in the network culture there is hype about concepts like “freedom” and “no limits” which can also be dangerous for the individual.
Make no mistake.
A “free-for-all”, “no limits” world generates a bully culture which attacks the individual. The trending of current events reflects this fact as more children are demonstrating behavior and mental health disorders, committing suicide, violence and bullying, and addictions to drugs, video games and sex.
Anxiety is high because we are out of alignment. We are aiming at the wrong things, and every wrong thing is hyped. Yet it is possible to instill order and peace amidst the noise and chaos of the crowd in the network.
Most certainly this is nature of the world into which God made himself into flesh so that he could be the example.
And so Jesus made possible the relational model of Authority which I call “The Good Shepherd Parent Model.”
- Meet people where they are, age appropriate, no matter how uncomfortable
- Express truth with mercy, and without judging (leave it in God’s hands)
- Offer to lead to higher ground.
In the first decade, boundary setting through rules that involve setting and consistently enforcing strident boundaries between right and wrong. And the second decade is where we “inspect what we expect” giving children room to exercise their own inherent authority (Aa), and experiences good and bad consequences for their actions.
It is the state of your heart and mind that makes the difference (Aa).
The key is to make house rules that allow individuals to bond around the authentic boundaries that respect the individual and protect the greater good. And it must be authentic. Children know when you are faking it.
For more about genuine Authority (Aa) and parenting go to The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture – A Parent’s Voice in the Cyber Wilderness
God bless America, for this liberty is ours to keep or surrender one heart and mind, one family, one neighborhood and community at a time.
Peace on earth and Good Will to men.