My wife and I are tired. Every time our children ignore and disobey us, we get angry and exacerbated. My three children collectively defy my wife at least 10 times on a typical day. Some say, “what we tolerate, we promote.” If this is true, we are doing a lot of promoting.
One of the first verses our children memorized is Ephesians 6:1. Each time we disciplined our children for disobeying, we would reference this verse as the rule they had broken.
Recently, John Piper wrote two blog posts on parenting. In both his articles, he exhorts parents to require obedience from your children. Inspired by his second article published earlier today, I am recommitting myself to require obedience from my children.
In his first article, John Piper identified 9 observations to encourage parents to require obedience from their children. I’d like to highlight three of them.
Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1)
Children need to obey their parents. Parents, likewise, need to require obedience from their children.
It is our duty and responsibility to teach our children to obey. Our children must learn that they are blessed when they obey. Ignoring this parental responsibility is deadly.
Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.
Many things that my wife and I ask of our children seem inconsequential. Cleaning up after them is easier than fighting with them to clean up themselves.
I ask my child to eat that last piece of broccoli. My child refuses. The last piece of broccoli is overcooked and small. I decide it’s easier that I eat it, and so I do.
My two sons share a room. To rest in the afternoon, our children require at least 1 hour of quiet time. While my younger son is napping, my older son refuses to comply with his quiet time. I relent because if my older son throw a tantrum when I discipline him, my younger son will wake up.
Requiring obedience takes energy. It is easier to allow my children to disobey in small ways. By engaging in this sinful tolerance, I am training my child that obedience is optional. This cannot happen.
Requiring obedience is not the same as requiring perfection.
“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
Not every disobedience needs to be punished. We want to show our children that God is patient and slow to anger. Our God is just, but He is also merciful. Part of the art of parenting is knowing when to note, reprove and pass over disobedience without punishment.
I want to remind my children that without Christ, they are incapable of perfectly obeying. With Christ, they have a new capacity to obey, but they still need daily mercy and forgiveness from their Heavenly Father.
This second article highlights ten additional Biblical truths on the obedience of children. I want to discuss three that to me were most impactful.
Parents are to instruct their children in the basic skills of cultural life, the truths about God and His way of salvation, and the path of wisdom in this world.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
My role as a father is more than just enforcing rules. God calls me to teach my children. I need to teach them basic life skills. They need to know how to share, how to work with people, and how to live a productive life.
I need to teach my children the truths about God and His work of salvation. I want to give them every opportunity to hear the gospel message and allow the Holy Spirit to complete God’s work of salvation in them.
I want to take every opportunity to instill life wisdom that comes from God so they can live wisely and prudently. Requiring obedience in my children is only one small part of being a parent.
Parents are to discipline disobedient children with proportionate and loving measures of punishment.
“Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Rarely do I discipline my children in anger. Disciplining too harshly, though, is a concern.
My oldest son is very sensitive. When he disobeys, a simple glance of disapproval can break him down in sorrow. A gentle rebuke is often sufficient, and a harsh punishment can depress him for the rest of the day.
My two younger children are stronger. My younger son is unaffected from my facial expression of displeasure. My daughter is worse. Frequently, she shows no remorse even after I discipline her.
I want to teach my children consistently that disobedience is not tolerated. But there is always the lurking danger of being too harsh and forcing an intended result.
Faithful Parenting Takes Sacrifice
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.’” (Isaiah 1:2)
Passive parenting is easy. Faithful parenting is hard.
It demands sacrifice, and it does not guarantee success. God’s parenting is perfect, yet even His children rebelled against Him.
These two articles show me that faithful parenting requires patience and endurance, dependent prayer, and great sacrifice. The rewards, however, are worth the price.
Influenced by John Piper’s two articles, I am making several resolutions today.
- Resolved to not tolerate my children’s disobedience in the inconsequential things.
- Resolved to show mercy and forgiveness as God gives and not expect perfection.
- Resolved to teach my children faithfully what they need to be successful in this life and the life to come.
- Resolved to sacrifice and take the difficult route to be a faithful parent.