- To base the family on equality, it is important to understand what authority is. The word ‘authority’ has several meanings, and is often confused with the word ‘power’ because we use both when talking about trying to control someone or something. Power and authority are also associated with having the right to impose conditions or make rules; and the right to dish out punishments for disobedience or non-cooperation. (Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness, Ch 2)
- Anyone who has responsibilities needs enough authority to carry out those responsibilities. Parents have many responsibilities and few privileges.
- There are two kinds of authority. I call one ‘dominant authority’ and the other ‘legitimate authority.’ Dominant authority maintains order through the use of punishment. Legitimate authority maintains order through the power of persuasion and negotiation; this is the authority of peace-keepers seeking cooperation and collaboration.
- Dominant authority is imposed and ultimately relies on fear to gain obedience. Legitimate authority is freely given out of trust and respect for the person and/or respect for the need for rules.
- Dominant authority is attempting to have power over others. Legitimate authority is having power with others to get a job done.
- Every member of a family has responsibilities and often needs the cooperation of others to meet those responsibilities.
- Although people have different levels of responsibilities, meeting their responsibilities may be equally important to each person’s sense of well-being, as well as to the overall harmony within the family.
- Every member of the family is entitled to equal respect and consideration, regardless of what level of responsibilities they have.
Most parent/child relationship problems stem from some form of resistance to authority. In many families, power struggles commonly develop from this resistance. The following are some thoughts expressed in cold, point form but are much warmer when put into practice.
Bob Myers owned and operated an electronics sales and service business before gaining a degree in sociology and further training in relationship counselling, conflict resolution and mediation. He worked in that field for more than thirty years, mainly with teenagers and their families. For 16 years he was the director of a non-government residential facility for teenagers. He is the author of three books on parenting as well as :