Too much authority leads to totalitarianism. Insufficient authority leads to social chaos. This is just as true for families as it is for nations.

As you approach your child’s teen years, you can transition from relying on the power of your authority to tapping into the power of your relational influence. This is the one great middle-years transition every parent must take.

As your preteen approaches adolescence, the need for your parental rule should decline in direct proportion to his increased rate of moral self-rule.

From “You Will” to “Will You?”

During the middle years, you should be moving away from leadership by parental decree and toward leadership by life principle.

It should be your goal to come to the place where you can lead your child only through your influence. Say this: “By the time my child reaches adolescence, I will have exchanged rule-centered leadership for principle-centered leadership.”

The Authority Exchange

Remember, you’re installing everything in your child you can so they can make more moral decisions independently. It is your task during these years to transition away from authoritarian teacher to encouraging coach. The exchange must be complete – not in the process – by the time the teen years begin.

Source: On Becoming Pre-Teen Wise by Gary Ezzo

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