Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. - Ephesians 6:1
As a Christian parent, one of our heart’s greatest desires is for our children to follow and obey the Lord. One important way we, as mothers, must encourage this is by teaching our children to obey us.
This is a big deal. In today’s society, children often rule the home. Their feelings and moods are allowed to determine a family’s schedule and priorities. You see this play out on the national scene as children are heralded as social heroes and the source of positive change for an entire nation. This should not be.
God has put certain relationships in place to teach us humility and submission. You see this clearly in Ephesians chapters 5 & 6. Paul has been exhorting the Church on how to live and now begins to teach on specific relationships. Wives and husbands, children and parents, and servants and masters. These are all relationships that include humble submission and loving authority.
Children are called to obey and honor their parents. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother” Eph. 6:1-2. Paul is echoing Exodus 20:12 here where honoring your parents is proclaimed as one of the ten commandments. The only commandment that also includes a promise: “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Eph. 6:3. This adds even more weight to the matter.
Why does God care so much about the obedience of our children? Why would he care that when we tell our children to do the dishes, they do them? Because it is a representation of their obedience to the Lord himself. It is essential training for a heart that will willingly submit to God and what he calls them to do later in life. The only way anyone can come to God is in full submission and humility.
If we allow our children to be rebellious and disobey our commands, we are training them in reverse. We are teaching them that it is okay to disregard authority, okay to give in to what their flesh wants. We are teaching them God will let them slide just like their parents do. You are teaching them a lie. You are teaching them SIN.
Teach your children to obey, always. Do away with warnings for bad behavior, do away with extra chances so they can elude the consequences. Be patient, set reasonable expectations and give clear consequences beforehand (just like God has for us). I know this is no easy task. Godly parenting is hard work - and it should be! Think what we are preparing them for - godly living in the midst of darkness - spiritual war!
Also important: teach them to respect the authority of your husband. Allow them to fear the “wrath of Dad” when they do something wrong. This is a healthy fear. Knowing that Dad possesses authority to hand out judgement and deal the punishment. The father is their representative of God himself (mothers too but not nearly in the same significance). Support him in this difficult, vital role. He will not always carry it out perfectly (he really isn’t God) but stand by him.
All this must be done saturated in love. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4. Remember the grace and mercy lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father. We must also display these attributes often to our children. We do not discipline for the sake of power control, we discipline because we love our children so much and desire them to fear the Lord. Love your children well by teaching them obedience.