The Bible does not say we go from authority to friendship with children, but I think we can infer this. Let’s also unpack this.
The Bible says.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
If a man has not left his father and mother, how can he be one with his wife? Surely, the couple must be free if they are to be one. So, sometime before this point, friendship must be the thing with no more authority involved.
Practically, we can see how this progresses.
We must be total slaves to our children as infants, and they are slaves to us. Gradually, we command less of their behavior, and they need less of our control. As the process moves on, they also need less of our guidance as they have gained mastery.
Notably, as they grow older, we can be better friends with our children where we mutually help each other.
Authority to Friendship with Children is a Process
We love children and give then what they need to thrive and no more. so the process moves along.
I told my very responsible 12 year old oldest child that I sensed she did not need my help or guidance to get to bed any more. I asked her if she wanted to be free on this issue. She said she would prefer if I still kept watch over her on this issue, and I conferred. Gradually, even this fell away.
Another child of mine had a very messy sleep schedule that I felt needed a lot of help. But I saw at age 15, that he wanted to manage this himself. He did it badly, but he needed to find his own way, I agreed and mostly let him be.
It made sense actually. At college, he had to manage his own sleep. Surely, before he left our house, he needed to try and fail his own way to find a way that worked for him.
So, we need to feel and find each area in which we need to let our children free and also be free of managing them.
When they have children of their own, they will be brand new at this. They need to find their own way. We cannot say that we have more experience, and they should listen to us. It is hard enough for the young couple to find oneness without another voice forcing its way in.
Children will come back and ask for advice and comfort throughout life if we give up on authority and just listen and see what they need from us. They always need our support and understanding.