A few years back, I heard Dr. Wilder talking about sharing power. I think I already knew the principle without knowing the words to describe it and it was helpful to hear what he had to say about it. He writes extensively about power in his book The Red Dragon Cast Down. He says that children notice in their family who has the power, how it is used, and what the results are of having power. They notice that the one with power does not suffer (feel pain). This is usually Dad. If power is not shared properly, children learn to believe, If I have power, I will not have pain. This creates a desire to have power in order to control and get their way, to overpower others in order to feel powerful. The result is a controlling, manipulative person filled with fear and anger. (pp. 169, 176)
Dr. Wilder continues, “Providing your children with power and teaching them how to use it well, is a major form of Satan-proofing your children. Powerful children can do hard things. Building powerful love bonds is how we build powerful children.” (p. 168) We parents can use three very good questions to evaluate our use of power and what we are communicating to our children about power: “What kind of power did our dad have? What got him to use it? And what induced him to share his power?” Parents must share their power lovingly. (RDCD p. 133, 134)
So comes the obvious question—how do parents share their power? Dr. Wilder gives a few suggestions: Help your children achieve their goals. Teach them to think wisely, to solve problems on their own and to plan things. Give them some power (choices) over their environment—their room, appropriate choices, their personal style. Help them learn to live with limitations. Make love bonds and not fear bonds. The strength of love bonds not only builds strength to do hard things, love bonds affect how people hear the Gospel. They are more likely to want to know Jesus when they see that our love for the Lord is greater than our fear. (RDCD pp. 172, 155)
It seems to me that we also share power with our children when we stay relational and act like ourselves when upset. Angry power is not blasted onto the child. And again when we do fail, we share power by being vulnerable to ask their forgiveness.
Another way we send a strong message about sharing power is when we can allow the children to speak the truth in love to us when needed. I had such an opportunity with my oldest son, Jim, when he was about eleven years old.
Around this time, Jim (11) and I both were learning to walk in the Spirit and have an intimate relationship with Jesus. I wanted Jesus to change me in any way He wanted to. And I had my list ready. At the top of my list was–Stop yelling at my kids. So one day I sat down with Jim and we made a pact. We would help each other stop losing our tempers. If he heard me yell, he would scratch the top of his head. If I heard him yell, I would scratch the top of my head. No one else had to know what was going on. We would remind each another.
I want to tell you, it did not take very long before I stopped yelling and growling at my kids. It was wonderful! It was great! It was easy, because I had an instant, non-condemning reminder. The blessing from sharing power with my son was mostly mine, though he benefited as well.