FAITH NEWS SERVICE – “You’re not the boss of me!” Are children naturally rebellious? Many a weary parent or caregiver has certainly thought so, and Christian parents in particular may attribute a child’s disobedient behavior to their sinful nature.
But as Dr. Gwen Dewar observes, “Studies confirm that kids aren’t inclined to mindless, unreasoning rebellion . . . [but] when they think that an authority figure is overreaching—meddling in their personal affairs—kids are more likely to resist.”*
Nonetheless, parents need to “equip children to meet the demands of reality,” and healthy limits are necessary to that end. According to Dr, John Townsend of Focus on the Family, “Research shows that children who experience a household of clear and appropriate boundaries, delivered with love and warmth, are much better equipped to meet the demands of reality over their lifespan.”**
Establishing appropriate boundaries and behaviors for children in an authoritative rather than authoritarian manner increases their sense of security and of self.
Finding a way to show children that rules and boundaries are meant for their well-being, not their control, can be challenging though. In Being the Boss, author Vicky Wedel presents a humorous cautionary tale of child rebellion gone awry. Kids will relate to the child-narrator’s insistence on being able to stay up late, neglect their chores, and stuff themselves with sweets—but when a dream enables the narrator to live the “bossy” life, kids will understand that stepping into their parents’ shoes isn’t all fun and games.
Wedel’s story isn’t meant to be one of rigid reproof though. Instead, she depicts ways in which respect for rules and authority can lead to closeness with family, creativity, and even fun. Whether at home, school, church, or out and about, children can enjoy growing in faith and maturity as they come alongside the adults in their lives as humble—and happy—helpers.
“We can trust God’s plan is good,” Wedel says, “and He teaches us much through different authority figures.” Being the Boss helps kids and their caregivers come together to recognize that the “bosses” in their life provide rules out of love—especially the best one of all, Jesus.