A good question for our families living in this culture. Child-centered, self-exalting, self-esteem focused. My comfort, my feelings, my stuff. How do we parent biblically in the midst of that? The answer is always to look to the Bible for direction and perspective. Biblical principles succeed….always.
So let’s talk about authority. Scripture gives us the right flow chart: Husband – wife – children. So husbands and wives, parents, let’s focus on children. Ephesians 6:1 – “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” What does this look like?
Tedd Tripp’s definition of obedience is very good but quite wordy. In our family we translate that to: “Obedience is doing what you’re told instantly, joyfully and completely.” Here’s the chart we have up in our house 24/7:
Instantly – delayed obedience is not obedience. Consider what your child is saying when they delay to obey, “I’ll do it when I want to do it.”
Joyfully -obeying with a grumbling spirit and attitude of complaint is not obedience. Your son or daughter is saying, “I’ll do it, but I’m not happy with it. Why do I have to obey you?”
Completely – obeying partially is not obedience. “I’ll do it the way I want to do it, if I do it at all.”
Train your children to know what obedience looks like by instructing them with words, role playing right and wrong obedience, reading and discussing the biblical passages about obedience, sharing stories – yours, others or fictional ones of those who obeyed/disobeyed. The Bible is full of examples of both and the consequences of those decisions.
Why is it important that we teach our children to live under our authority and live under the authority of scripture? Simply, they will not willingly choose to obey God if they have not learned to obey you. Obeying authorities in their lives, of which there will be many, will be a struggle for the child who has been trained to get what he wants, when he wants it and how he wants it.
It’s never too late to talk about obedience. It’s never too late to instruct in obedience. You’re never too old to grow in obedience. Examine your own heart, aong with us this week. How are you doing at obeying the Lord – instantly, cheerfully and completely?
Classy questions: When does the child’s obligation to obey the parent end? When they move out, get married, reach an age or level of maturity?
The Bible doesn’t give a specific age that obedience to parent’s should end. Culturally, we try to put ages on it: 18 years old, 21 years old. But, obviously, not all children are “mature” and ready to live on their own when they reach those ages. As our children grow older our direct authority over them should lessen as their maturity increases. We begin to take on the role of advisers to our children as they advance through the teen and young adult years and they take on more and more responsibility for their choices and actions. When a young man leaves home to set up his own home he becomes the head of that home. We don’t have authority over him any longer. When a young lady marries and submits herself to her husband’s authority she no longer is under her father’s authority. For those that leave home, yet aren’t married the lines are grayer and fuzzier. Gender plays a part as well. Young ladies typically will need protection from their fathers even when they are not living at home and would be wise to seek his advice and blessing on decisions they have to make. Young men, likewise, would be wise to seek their parent’s advice and blessing as well although protection is not as big a factor.