The Case for Cultivating Obedience in Your Children

The Case for Cultivating Obedience in Your Children

This excerpt is from Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch.

Maybe it’s just our house, but sometimes it’s easier to ignore disobedience. We let our kids act out, blame their behavior on being tired, and look the other way. Sometimes.

But once we decide the consequence (in most cases I second guess myself), we do more harm than good if we back down. Obedience isn’t easy, but we make parenting even harder when we don’t follow through.

Parenting is one of the most difficult things on the planet, right up there next to marriage. That’s why this verse in Ephesians is so important and challenging. Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right.

“Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” Ephesians 6:1-3, MSG

We are all born into disobedience, and sin causes us to focus on ourselves. So asking kids to obey is an unnatural directive.

I warned my firstborn when she was a two-year-old to stay away from the stove because it was hot, and she looked me in the eye and replied defiantly, “No!” And then she marched over and touched the stove.

Obedience is a learned behavior that places our authority over our kids. Without this authority, there is recklessness. I didn’t have to say, “I told you so”; instead I stuck her burned little finger in ice.

Some lessons are learned the hard way. God calls us as parents to teach our kids to obey us. Obedience is expected, not suggested. Before our kids learn to submit to God, they submit to us.

In my early parenting years, I made the mistake of expecting immediate obedience all the time, which, when it didn’t happen, only left both me and my child frustrated and discouraged.

To be honest, as an adult I don’t always obey God the first time He expects me to. And yet, as author Sally Clarkson says, that doesn’t keep God from extending His grace to us each and every time.

I have made so many mistakes over the years . . . and still [God] is there loving me, instructing me, showing me His compassion and gently leading me daily to better understand His holy and righteous standard for me.

Tips for Parents

Cleaning house is hard work. Cleaning our temple—our hearts and attitudes—is even harder. At this point, you might be feeling overwhelmed (hopefully inspired, too). Start small. Pick one area that you can start “cleaning.” Is it too much media time? A general lack of obedience when you ask your children to do something? We clean house one room at a time and the same goes for getting our family back on track.

Be consistent. Typical kids are just waiting for you to ease up or forget. Be faithful to the decision to lead your family well.

The most powerful thing we can do is pray. When you give your burdens to God and ask Him for wisdom, He is faithful to supply it.

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Grateful Kids