Kids Need To Learn To Obey Their Parents

Okay, I know better than to post something about parenting, so I why am I doing this? After all, I’m opening myself up to people misinterpreting my comments to mean that I think that my kids are perfect, or that I am a better parent than others, or that I’m an angry an old man, or simply that people will be offended because they disagree.

None of those things are even close to being true. (Well, I might be an angry old man, but I hope I’m not.) I have four kids. I know from experience that parenting is hard. I’ve often said that it is the most difficult yet most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done. As the saying goes, “I used to have 4 theories on parenting and no kids. Now I have 4 kids and no theories.”

And yet I think that a lot of parents need (and want) help in thinking through what to expect from their young children. I know that when Christine and I started having kids we sought out help from other parents. We didn’t so much ask for advice from those who had young kids like us. Instead we asked advice of parents of older children that we were impressed with. They were, to a person, quick to confess their own inadequacies and failures, and yet pointed us in helpful directions. It’s in that spirit that I offer some quick thoughts on the need of children to obey their parents.

If you aren’t open to different views on parenting, if you aren’t open to having your views challenged, then please do both of us a favor and don’t read this. Stop back by the blog tomorrow when Charles will help get you ready for this Sunday’s worship service.

Quick Thoughts On Kids Needing To Learn To Obey Their Parents 

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

1. The Bible commands children to obey their parents. When parents act like they are helpless in training their child to obey, I think that they are out of step with Scripture.

2. The command to children to obey their parents comes with a blessing: “that it may go well with you…” As parents we need to help our kids obey us, not because it makes our life easier (although it really, really does) but primarily because it’s good for them! We serve our kids when we teach them to obey us.

3. By learning to obey their parents children are preparing their heart to obey the Lord. Submitting to the parental authority that God has placed a child under is like training wheels that will one day help them submit to God’s authority.

4. Obeying parents teaches kids self-control, one of the most valuable virtues. A child with self-control is a joy to be around, can sit still in class or in church, is invited to friends’ houses, is easy to find a babysitter for, can be taken out in public without the constant fear of a meltdown. A child that lacks self-control is the victim of their whims, desires, and emotions. And so is their parent. No one thinks that’s the good life.

5. Teaching kids to obey is hard work. I get that. In the moment it’s (almost) always easier to give in to the child’s wishes. Being a parent is physically and emotionally tiring. No one ever said it’s easy.

6. Kids younger than 1 can be taught to not touch things, not to scream, not to throw food on the floor. It takes time, effort, and consistency, but it can be done.

7. The time to teach kids to obey is at home not in the grocery store or in the restaurant.

Example: When our kids were young they would run away if they saw something they wanted to explore. How do you go to the mall or a park or the grocery store if your kid runs off? So we would practice obedience at home. When we’d say our kid’s name, we’d teach them to stop and look at us in the eyes. Then if we told them, “Come here,” they were to walk all the way to where we were. They weren’t to ask “Why?,” or dawdle, or say, “In a minute,” or come part of the way. They were to obey their parents and come to us. Once we practiced and were reasonably sure they understood, there were consequences for disobeying. It didn’t take that long for them to realize that Ephesians 6:1–3 is true, and life goes much better if they obey their parents. Then they were ready for the mall or the grocery store. We could even allow them to play in the front yard of our house on Chapel Hill because we had confidence they’d listen to us and not run into the street.

8. When children don’t learn to obey their parents it’s not mainly the kid’s fault. It’s mainly the parent’s fault.

9. Teaching kids to obey means teaching them to do what you asked the first time you asked without whining or complaining. Does anyone ever hit this goal, much less hit it all the time? NO! But without a clear goal and expectation there is nothing to aim for. This means that obedience isn’t after “counting to 3” or even doing something with a bad attitude.

10. Obedience is not perfection. No parent is perfect and no child will be perfect. In fact when kids disobey it can lead to a great conversation about Jesus the only one who always obeyed his Father and who died to pay the penalty for our disobedience. But if parents don’t require obedience then these kind of gospel conversations aren’t as likely to happen.

Grace. Grace. Grace. I’m so glad that my kids’ future, character, and relationship with God isn’t ultimately dependent on me but on God. I’m so thankful for all the grace God has shown us in our failure as parents. I’m so aware that there’s not just one way to raise kids, and that parenting can’t be reduced to a formula that guarantees success.

Last word: God uses my parenting failures to humble me, keep me dependent on him, and make me see that the blessings in my life aren’t because of anything to do with me but all because of his undeserved kindness toward me.

3 Comments

  1. Sarah said:

    Amen

  2. Michelle said:

    Love this. Very well said!

  3. Sarah Gilliam said:

    I agree wholeheartedly! Especially with the point of finding friends whose kids behavior you admire.

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