October 2011 - Vol. 53

Father Knows Best
by Michael Shaughnessy

Sometimes the abandonment of authority happens subtly. Dad hardly noticed that he shared his authority with the script writers of CBS television by allowing his children to watch Father Knows Best

Soon they were watching All in the Family with its message that Dad, like Archie Bunker, clearly did not know best. Dad heard something idiotic and might have voiced his disagreement with the script, but the kids heard, "Parents aren't with it. Why even listen to them?" Television brought another authority into the house, shaping the children's world view, and dad and mom allowed it.

Farewell Norman Rockwell
Today's family might be captured in this scene from a recent episode of Modern Family. Mom is serving dinner to the family at table where each person is on a device. She says, "O.K. That's it! Everybody, gadgets down, now! Families are supposed to talk." The daughter says, "Mom's insane," and they all return to their screens. Cue the canned laughter. The lesson is clear – parents should not control the use of gadgets. 

A modern family of four may sit together in the living room, yet be in four different realities. Dad is watching sports on his computer, mom is checking her flickr photos on her iPad. Their daughter is sending her 197th text of the day on her phone and their son is playing Super Mario on his Xbox with a boy living in Hong Kong.

An iPad, smart-phone, television, mp3 player, Gameboy, or Kindle can hold the modern family captive in an odd sort of unity as each periodically interrupts the others with the latest, funniest, most awesome, or coolest picture, video, joke or news, before they all go back to what they were doing:
sucking giga bytes of digital data into their cozy family cocoon.

Sharing Your Shaping
Children's lives are now regularly being shaped, not by the parents, but by whoever is at the other end of their children's gadgets. In the modern world you probably can't get rid of all the gadgets, but it is still the parents' responsibility to "authorize" their use, knowing that they are giving away authority every time they buy a new gadget.

Parents should know the power they are giving into the hands of others before they give it. It is hard to take back.

[Michael Shaughnessy is an elder in The Servants of the Word and the Director of Kairos in North America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.]  

Authority Under Fire 

Children, obey your parents in the
Lord for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Why does God command this? God
doesn't command us to sleep or
eat. He doesn't need to.

Commandments are intended to
address our sinful state so we will
not do what is wrong: lie, slander
steal, commit adultery or disobey.

God orders children to obey their
parents because parents teach
children to obey God and his truth.
It is hard for children to obey their
parents if parents don't expect it.

This week's news story about a
Toronto couple raising a genderneutral
child makes a point. “What
we noticed is that parents make so
many choices for their children. It’s
obnoxious.” So say parents who
are making a huge, and foolish
choice for their child.

Parental abuse or abandonment of
their authority is part of their sinful
condition. That's obnoxious!

Fathers, do not provoke your
children to anger, but bring them
up in the discipline and instruction
of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4.


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