“Children, obey your parents,” is a verse oft quoted by parents. Of course it is! What parent doesn’t dream of the peaceful home full of obedient children? We all do! But as we’re in dreamland focusing on the kid’s responsibility, we overlook the requirement for us in that verse: we have to give our children something to obey.
I have spoken to far too many parents who’ve told me their greatest responsibility is to allow their children to explore and experience their world. Setting limits would restrict that exploration.
Pretty sure you want to set a limit on your little one’s exploration of the outlet. Or the stove. Or the street.
We are supposed to set limits for them. We are supposed to teach and train them. We are supposed to tell them when something is dangerous and protect them from hurting themselves. All of this requires us to give direction and then to expect obedience from our little ones.
When parents balk at this, I remind them that I didn’t dream this up - I’m not out to be the kiddo killjoy. This responsibility comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We are to be loving and responsible so as not to provoke them to anger, but clearly we are to discipline them.
In our culture the word, “discipline” has gotten a bad rap. But look at the definition: Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. When you boil it down, discipline simply means to train. And because Scripture tells kids to obey means parents have been given the responsibility to train them in this obedience.
I love what my friend Katie had to say about this: “When we ever get to a place of what seems like anarchy, I remind my kids that GOD has given me authority over them!” Katie gets it; she has been placed in authority over her kids. It’s up to her to quash the anarchy. (And knowing her like I do, I have no doubt she does it with a great sense of humor.)
Be encouraged, moms and dads! God gave you your children and put you in authority over them. When we remember that we are the ones responsible to teach and train our babies, we can move forward in confidence. Don't be afraid to exercise your authority. Your kids need you to be the boss.
In the coming posts, I’ll be talking about what loving discipline and training looks like. Here’s a sneak peek: It looks a lot like a downhill skier training before the snow even falls.