Do you have any advice concerning parental strictness in general?

There are lots of differences in what can be construed as strictness.  In the case of abuse or neglect, the best advice is to get professional help and please do so immediately. 

But overall, I get a lot of students who will share something along the lines of "my parents think they know what's best for me and so they make me (or don't let me) do certain things even though I think it's better". 

Some general advice for that:

  1. The practice of submission is valuable in itself. Doing something other than what you think is right (so long as it doesn't harm you or violate the Gospel) because you trust someone else is the very definition of humility. We can criticize our parents because "they think they know best" but that criticism can equally apply to us as children.  Even if we ARE right, sometimes submitting is something that we learn to do because in life, there will always be times when we must submit even if we disagree. And unless you're perfect, there's a chance you may be wrong. In fact, this is one of the ways that we practice submitting to God is by submitting to our parents. 
  2. Submit as an act of love and trust, not subservience. Submitting is often seen as somehow a losing of the will or self-determination.  But it doesn't have to be.  If I CHOOSE to submit then I can also choose the attitude with which I submit.  For me to WANT to do something personally, but choose to do it differently for the sake of someone else can be enslavement or it can be love.  I don't refuse to sleep with other women because I am enslaved to my wedding vows. I choose to avoid sex with other people because it is my act of love towards my wife.  Your parents may force you to an action, but you can choose the attitude. This is why God equates loving Him with submitting to Him. With God we can trust that He ALWAYS knows better.  With our parents we know that isn't always true, but our act of submission can still give that assumption. 
  3. You don't have to bear it forever.  This is a bit of practical advice that I know isn't super helpful in the moment, but it's true. Not only in the eternal sense, but if you're in high school then this won't last forever. It won't even last that long.  A few years to bear under the authority of your parents. Especially as Christians we trust that God leaves us in places not to just wait, but because He is working something out in our lives. Take time to learn what can be learned and check your own growth. And in the ways that you think your parents are not good:
  4. Acknowledge that we are all sinners. You are. Your parents are.  We all are.  A part of this must also be acknowledging that we all WISH our parents were perfect. But they aren't.  In that, the act of submitting when we think we KNOW that our parents are wrong is an act of GRACE towards them. 
  5. Try to understand before being understood. This is also an act of humility.  While it should be the parents who take this step first, sin means that things don't always go the way the should.  But it's important to try to understand WHO our parents really are, WHY they are the way they are, and what that means.  "My parents just want me to be financially stable". Ok, but why is that such a big idol for them?  Once we can understand the other side it makes it easier to find commonality. 
  6. Find the common goal first, then debate the differences on how. My parents tell me to study right when I get home but I need to relax first. Ok, but before debating which is the BEST way, first establish what is the GOAL. We both want me to succeed.  We both want me to as happy and secure as possible. The important thing here is to realize that we are on the same team.  Teammates will fight, but not to lord over each other, but to help achieve a common purpose. Especially if your family is Christian, then we can find the common goal of the Gospel first and work out from there. 
  7. Submit first, then ask why if you can. As a child, our call is to submit first. So often the act or attitude of disobedience is really what is causing the fight. So the child is trying to have a debate over what is right.  The parent just hears rebellion.  The way to get around that is to submit first and then ask why. "Yes dad, I will do what you said. But to help me do it best, can you explain to me your reasoning behind it and what you expect it will accomplish?"
  8. Appreciate the good. Our parents are sinners. But they are also the reflection of God. To keep our hearts in the right place, take time to appreciate the good.  Even better, do it openly.  In the middle of the discussion (or before it starts) take time to say "Mom, before we talk about this issue I want to thank you for bearing me in your for 9 months and going through excruciating pain to deliver me and nursing me for years and cleaning my poop and helping me when I am sick and giving me rides and always feeding me and buying me clothes and praying for me.  Now let's talk about my homework habits."
  9. Take advantage of shared learning experiences. Whether it be sermons, seminars, podcasts, tv shows, documentaries, movies, music, radio, etc. One of the reasons why parents are strict with their children in because of cultural differences.  The best way to cross those barriers is to share in common culture together. These events also help your parents to see you in a different light and vice versa.  My life was rocked the first time I saw my dad disco dancing to Mamma Mia. 
  10. Figure these things out or else you'll be the same kind of parent or just bad the other way. Notice that all this advice really works the same way for parents as it does for kids.  Don't let your mind convince you that "I'll be a better parent because I was hurt by this". You will probably either do the exact same thing or swing to the opposite unhealthy extreme.  Take time to figure out HOW your parents became the way that they are. Examine them and examine yourself and find the Holy Spirit's healing in your life. 

Hope these help you as a child and one day as a parent. 


Jason ChaoComment