One of the most misused and misunderstood words in the English language these days is the term “Democracy”. Few people understand it and fewer people know how it is most wisely applied. For example, you may be surprised to know that the United States government is not a pure “democracy”. Our Found Fathers, in their Scripture-inspired wisdom, recognized that a pure democracy holds the potential for mob rule and thus structured our government to be a Constitutional Republic found on democratic principles. The distinctive difference is that in a Constitutional Republic, the “people” elect representatives who have a responsibility to establish frameworks, set priorities, gather information and make decisions. In a democracy, everyone has an equal voice without regard to the experience, character, maturity, intellect, wisdom or any other factor usually required for one to become a leader or even a person of substance. Even in a Constitutional Republic or many other forms of democracy, if a nation’s populace isn’t mature, moral and educated, they run the danger of electing leadership unqualified or ill-suited for public office. The Gaza Strip, several African nations, Venezuela and multiple other nations would be evidence of that. (This reality does not bode real well for our own nation either.)
The American Experiment has proven the wisdom of putting leaderhsip in place that is empowered to act in our best interests, but yet remains accountable to the citizenry.
If this has indeed worked so well in government, my question is, “Why have so many people abaonded the practice in that most intimate and sacred institution — the family?” You don’t have to look or listen long to see that millions of American family have bought into the drivel that a home schould be run like a pure democracy with each member of the family, from dad to preschooler, getting a voice and a vote. The results has been chaos and bedlam and the consequences are often dangerous.
I did not grow up in a democratic home — I would say that we could best be described as a benevolent dicatorship. Mother leaned toward the benevolent side of that term. Dad? Well, let’s just say that he had the spiritual gift of dictatorial decision-making. When dad spoke, he did so with authority and confidence and seldom waited for a consensus. Thankfully, mom and dad were so close, that she often softened his rough edges and communicated his decisions with grace and compassion. (I guess you could say that she was his “press secretary”.) Either way, it worked. We didn’t always like the edicts emanating from my father’s throne, but, then again, we never expected to have a voice in the process — so we simply obeyed.
He truly was a tyrant. We didn’t get to choose whether or not we ate our green beans. He said, “No green beans; no dessert” and that was the law. So we gagged them down and washed away the taste with strawberry shortcake. We weren’t allowed to negotiate our curfews. Arguing and badgering would only results in an EARLIER curfew. Cleaning our rooms or mowing the grass was not optional and subject to appeal to our union representative. Our dictator just informed us that part of being a family meant sharing in family responsibilities.
Lest I make my dad out to be too much of a tyrant, let me say that he balanced his autocratic style with plenty of expressive love and affection, a close relationship with our mother and a strong Christian commitment to Scripture and the local church. As a result, while we weren’t the perfect family, it truly was a mostly peaceful and orderly home and all three of us who grew up in it are now married to our original spouses, raising kids, attending church and committed to our form of undemocratic rule in our homes.
Kids NEED parents. Parents should not shirk from their responsibility to provide standards and correction and guidance and discipline. Your children have enough “friends” and “buddies” so don’t be too concerned if you’re not “one of the gang”. Don’t worry if your poll numbers are down from time to time. You aren’t running for re-election. It’s more important to be respected than popular and sometimes you must choose being loved later to being liked today. Weak parents produce confused kids who often lack a moral compass. The parent who makes his or her decision subject to popular vote or who vacillates in the fact of whining and fit-pitching, does their kids a tremendous disservices and invites disorder and disobedience.
Parents need to grow backbones and lead their children as much we they love them. They may not always appreciate it no, but one day, the wil most certainly rise up and call you blessed!