In a two-parent family, the father should be the disciplinarian and the mother the nurturer. That is God’s ideal. When a couple divorces, the single mother (often) is forced to assume both roles, which makes it extremely difficult for her. The non-custodial father sometimes does not want to resume this role, reasoning, “I spend so little time with my child anyway…I surely don’t want to discipline him/her all the time.” Add stepparents to the mix and a child’s natural resentment of his/her intrusiveness in his/her life, and we can certainly understand why a child is having a hard time responding to discipline. We are a society where children are, in many cases, empowered and in control.

One thing lacking in many families is a proper “fear of the Lord. Parents need to give heed to the God of the Old Testament as well as the New. The Old Testament contains spiritual laws of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping that God put into motion thousands of years ago…and those laws are eternal, and timeless. When we follow them, He promises blessings. When we do not follow them, we reap sorrow. That is the Law…and the Law is eternal Truth. Instead, many Christians have opted for their interpretation of the New Testament God: Jesus meek and mild, and have chosen the role of caretakers who cannot do anything harsh to their child because they may hate them! You are not your child’s buddy: you are your child’s parent!

Families are crumbling because parents have abdicated their roles as the authority figures and have instead attempted to become their child’s buddies. Trying to be both will never, never work. Children must have a healthy fear of their parent. In Psalm 111:10: “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” A healthy fear is when we recognize who is in authority over us, and this wisdom moves us to respect and obey that authority.

My late husband, Paul Anderson, I believe, truly inspired the “fear of the Lord” in our boys. His presence was awe-inspiring, with his booming voice, his authoritative demeanor, his strong yet gentle spirit that made everyone around him feel safe and secure. How beautifully, for the thirty-three years he helmed the Paul Anderson Youth Home, did the boys respond to him. In contrast, I cannot help but observe the families of the boys who come to us…for the most part they lack the strong father figure who depicts the “authority of God” within the family. Because so many fathers have forsaken this God-given role, our children are growing up not only in a fatherless world, but in a world guided by women whose very nurturing nature is contrary to the role He designated for the “family head.”

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