The authoritarian family structure occurs in more than families. Whatever we get we tend to give, and if we get fire and brimstone, guess what we give out if we’re not careful to stop the rot at ourselves?
If we don’t care for ourselves amid a torrent of abuse, we won’t care for those who are relying on us to show them the way.
The classic authoritarian family structure involves father not treating mother well, mother not treating older son or daughter well, and older son or daughter not treating their younger siblings well. Finally, the family pet gets mistreated because the youngest human in the family has nobody else to take out their frustrations on.
Damage begets damage, anger begets anger, and abuse begets abuse. Unless we say, “No, it ends here, with me; I shall absorb this and do better for those who need ME to be leader.”
You know the old saying: excrement runs downhill much like anything resembling liquid does with gravity.
This is why self-care is critically important. We need ways of receiving rejuvenation, replenishment, and revitalisation—especially in a world that seems bent on hurting us one way or the other.
Unless we resolve that the crap stops with us it won’t, and we as we receive it, we too will cover others depending on us in it—whether by intention or inadvertently.
We must make a resolve to care for ourselves—and not just our physical and mental needs, but our emotional and spiritual wellbeing too—if we would be determined to absorb the barbarism that comes our way, and turn that vitriol into something beautifully fragrant.
If we never make a resolve to commit to doing a whole lot better than we receive we will be no better. I was abused as an apprentice—for three years. I swore that as a tradesman I would protect apprentices. It was the reason I became a registered safety practitioner. It was what compelled me to enter ministry. I made the commitment early that nobody should suffer what I suffered as a 16-19-year-old.
If we love those who look to us for leadership and example enough, we will care for ourselves to such an extent that we won’t ever harm them. We will care for them in such a way as to give them the right of reply—the direct path to us apologising promptly for not caring well enough. We will judge our own success by how much grace and patience we give.
And in such ways, we may prove trustworthy.
It’s the only thing that matters; how we stewarded the trust that was given to us. The major trust we’re given is the lives of people within our sphere of influence.