Sunday, April 08, 2007

Authority - Different Fatherhood Strategies

The other day I linked up with a friend in my community to take our children to a local gaming arcade. Afterward we got some food and got a chance to catch up on everything that is going on in our lives.

Of course the discussion about our wives and our children was a key element of this discussion. When we got to the discussion about our children things got interesting. He has one son and I do. In his view he wanted to teach his son to "Question Authority". The reverse of this position - from my understanding of his words - is to sheepishly do what ever you are told and not consider how it maps against what you actually believe to be the "right thing".

This philosophy is very different than the guiding principles that I operate upon. I work to have my son "take authority" from me. This concept was received within my by the words of a local preacher. With this concept there is an assumption that the authority figure is properly yolked and that in communicating his authority to those he has been charged to care for they too will be brought up to one day assume the mantle.

As I compared the two operating principles - "Questioning Authority" and "Taking Authority" I began to evaluate the possibilities of outcomes that result. Of the two I would have to say that I was raised in a "Taking Authority" mode. My father was the strong leader of the house though my mother was the day to day manager that corrected us. There was a respectful fear of my father among his five boys. (Even though my oldest brother warranted fear because the consequence of not doing what he told us to do was to get beat up).

The mantle of authority was further sealed when during my teen aged years my father "got saved" within the Christian Church. He "got himself right" and thus we could find few obvious exceptions to have us question his credibility to lead.

I know that my friend has a tenuous relationship with his own father. He let me in on a past series of conflicts between him and his father that got to the point of verbal confrontation.

I have never had an enraged verbal conflict with my father. Even in my adult years as we have disagreements about real world events such as politics, religion, and racism - I am able to use my own life's experience to argue my point and lay out examples that are adequate enough for us to "agree to disagree". He is more inclined to place many of the world's events into religious/biblical terms per his understanding. I am more likely to order my views into the basic understanding of human psychology.

We did reach agreement on the issue of repairing the Black family and all of its components. He told me about his interaction with many of the troubled kids on the streets of Philadelphia via a faith based program that he is participating in. He called it the 'Regeneration of the Black Male'. As we discussed his concept it sounded very similar to the term that I had been using in my debates elsewhere - the "Transformation" of Black people from our current state to that which we aspire to be. In his term - 'regeneration' the important concept is that the current individual change form and then the children that he/she produces will also receive the benefit of this new guidance. The dictionary definition of the term is: "verb - form or produce anew".

When I told him about my concept of "transformation" it was clear that, for the most part, we were talking about the same thing but using different terms to describe it. He would be more inclined to produce a more church centered solution where the church is the distributor of moral guidance - which is credible. I would be more inclined to produce a more culturally based solution where the community and its leaders are engaged at producing the end by managing the human resources that come under their fold.

At the end of the day the presence of AUTHORITY is the common theme in both of these strategies. In practical purposes we need both community and religious leaders to be congruent in the same strategy with each of them playing their respective parts. They both must project themselves as being worthy of taking such a mantle - not superhuman and without sin but certainly willing to deal with major infractions without obfuscation.

In my view this is a more sound and comprehensive strategy to my friends "Questioning Authority" strategy. I don't believe that this prepares an individual enough for when HE is the "authority figure" that must manage the outcomes of those who he will later become responsible for.

Time will tell who had the more effective strategy.

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