“We have a problem in our home,” the young father began. “Our four-year-old daughter is running the house. What can we do?”
His words were clear, simple, and honest. This dear man was obviously at the end of his rope, and the knot he was clinging to was fraying. A 4-year old child had usurped his authority.
The honesty of that father must be appreciated and applauded. After having addressed thousands of parents and answered numerous questions in seminars, workshops, and via email, we can attest to the fact that role reversal between parent and child is a common problem.
“I am the parent. You are the child.” I (Kendra) said those two sentences more than once, typically to our strong-willed child. Who was I trying to convince? Probably both of us, myself and my child. Actually, it was more of a reminder—a reminder I needed when there had been a mysterious role reversal. “I am the parent.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Of course I’m the parent. Obviously I’m the parent. I’m older.I’m wiser. I pay the bills. I make the decisions. I’m the one who is in charge. Well, um, maybe not all the time. In fact, my recollection is that the two sentences quoted above were uttered because I had momentarily abdicated the throne and was no longer in charge (or at least things were moving in that direction).
Your child is neither capable of nor called to be in control. Nevertheless, he or she may have been born with that desire. So what is the answer?
The first step is simple and was modeled by the young father: Admit there is a problem in need of a solution. Too many parents fail to take that first step. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:32
What is the truth in your household?
Is your child the one in charge?