Fortunately, the Catholic Church teaches that God intends authority to be a force for goodness rather than a method of control and suppression. That is the definition that this segment will break open.
American culture tends to look at authority with a skeptical eye. Those who don’t have authority appear envious of those who do have it, and those who do have authority are considered destined to abuse those without.
God is the source of all goodness. The sole purpose of His authority is our good. Thus, God’s authority forms us in goodness. When we obey God and submit to His authority, we accept the gift of His goodness and love. Our obedience makes us better persons.
Likewise, God intends human authority to result in the formation of goodness. In the case of parenting, God desires that moms and dads help their children attain what is truly good for them, especially when they are too ignorant or too weak to choose the authentic good on their own initiative.
It is for this reason that the Catholic Church calls parents the primary educators of their children. This title states the fact that parents are the first people from whom children learn about true goodness. Because of the intimate nature of the family, parents are constantly teaching their children, even when they are not aware of doing so. They teach and form their children in what is best for them long before they enter school or begin to be influenced by friends. Parents are the most important influences on their children’s lives because their authority is greater than that of any other person.
Some parents are afraid of using authority with their children because they are afraid of stifling their children’s freedom or of appearing abusive. This may be true if authority is based on power and control. However, parental authority should reflect God’s authority which is based on goodness. Just as we need God’s authority to direct us, children need the authority of their parents. Without parental guidance, children will struggle to achieve true goodness in their lives.
any other person.”
Many benefits result from parental authority that is aligned to God’s will. First, children who live in homes where goodness is expected perceive their parents as being reasonable and fair. This means that the children are more likely to comply with requests. Secondly, children who feel goodness and love through high responsiveness are more likely to freely choose to follow their parent’s expectations. Thus, they achieve greater self-discipline and control. Finally, children raised in just and charitable homes learn how to balance individual rights with the common good. Thus, they are more respectful and community – minded.
Social science lends scientific evidence to the Catholic definition of authority. Through secular research, four common parenting styles have been identified. These four styles reflect all the possible combinations of two important elements of authority; responsiveness and demandedness. Of the four combinations, only one has been shown to lead to goodness.
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