Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. – Ephesians 6:1
God calls upon children to obey their parents. Let’s teach our children obedience as part of his good and loving plan, helping them to understand and embrace the great blessings that will come their way as they submit to authority.
When our children were young, we often told them, “You must learn to obey Mommy and Daddy now, so that when you are bigger, you will learn to obey God.” As parents, we are the first God-given authority in our children’s lives. When children learn to respect and honor their parents, they are also learning to respect and honor the ultimate authority: God.
We also taught our children, “When you obey Mommy and Daddy, it makes God happy!” Paul puts it this way:
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. – Colossians 3:20
When our children obey their parents, it pleases God!
Children need to begin learning obedience when they are very young. Little ones need to learn the meaning of “no” and “wait.” Don’t be afraid to give clear directions. Young children may not yet understand the reasons for your rules, but that’s okay. You as the parent know how to keep your children safe. You as the parent know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. You as the parent know how your children should treat their friends, their family, and authority figures in their lives.
If we allow a spirit of defiance to grow in children’s hearts, it can be difficult to win their hearts as they get older. But if children begin to embrace obedience as toddlers and preschoolers, they will be far more likely to be humble and respectful as they grow older and face more difficult decisions. We want to help our children not just with their behavior, but also with their attitude: an attitude of humility, not pride; a spirit of listening, not defiance.
Our parenting methods must mature along with our children. As children get older, it helps them to understand the heart and reasons behind our standards and choices. We may make some of our decisions and rules for biblical reasons; other reasons may be more practical. As children get older, it’s helpful to have more in-depth family conversations about topics like why we have limits for technology usage, why we prioritize church over extracurricular activities, or why we are careful about the kinds of movies and shows we watch. These conversations help children to embrace the heart behind family decisions.
God calls upon us as fathers to be firm and strong in raising our children, but he wants us to do so without being cruel and harsh. Let us parent our children consistently and firmly, but also with sensitivity, love, consideration for their feelings, and generous forgiveness. As we teach our children, let’s remind them that obedience isn’t just right—it’s the best path to the best life! Paul wrote,
“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. ” – Ephesians 6:2
If children learn to honor their parents, God gives them a wonderful promise: Their life will go well. Life goes better for children who learn obedience and respect at home, and that’s a promise worth claiming!
*Come on over to our YouTube channel for more on this topic in the Sittin’ With Sam series, episode 27! Shared from Sam Laing’s Warrior for the Lord.