Articles - Parenting

What is obedience?

Obedience is essential to family life, without which your efforts to train your child's heart will be thwarted. The Bible is very clear that children need to honour their parents. Children honour their parents by obedience.

Obedience does not mean to yield from the fear of repeated threats, bribes or manipulation of a child through the loss of parental love.

Obedience should be immediate, complete, without challenge or complaint and from a heart that wants to do what is right. The prophet Samuel made it clear that God puts a premium on obedience.

Paul tells children to 'obey your parents' but follows it up with 'Fathers do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart'. Obedience is not cold, calloused or arbitrary.

Expecting obedience will frustrate a child by its very nature so we need to train children and guard against unnecessarily exasperating them in the process.
Exasperating a child is expecting them to do what they cannot do, frustrating a child is expecting them to do what they do not want to do. There is a huge difference.

Parents can train their children to be unresponsive to instruction by threatening and repeating, bribing and negotiating in conflict.

Threatening/repeating parent:
This parent first coaxes, then threatens, then bargains, then pretends to punish and then punishes a little if anything. This type of parenting can be responsible for luring the child into sin by causing the child to think that he will get away with anything. Children can get confused as the parent reacts and punishes arbitrarily. This leads to insecurity in the life of the child.

Bribing parent:
These parents barter with their children in the hope of gaining obedience. They use bribes, threats or even scare tactics to control their children rather than train them in godliness. Children can learn to obey because there is something in it for them. Do it once and they will bargain with you for a larger bribe each time. "What will you give me if I am good in the shop today?"

Negotiating in conflict:
Some parents insist on complete obedience before a conflict but are willing to negotiate the line once in the heat of battle. This also leads to insecurity and a disrespect of the parent and their rules.

We must train a child to the standard of first time obedience. If a child will obey before you count to three then they can obey when you first ask them to. When parents require the standard, the child alone determines when he will be punished. Consistency in God's moral standard makes obedience objective, since the parent will not react arbitrarily.

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