I remember the time, fairly early on in our parenting journey, when we had seven children and were living in Centralia. The church we attended had a gym and it was quite common after church to find most of our kids in the gym playing. One Sunday, like so many others, we walked in and gave a quick whistle and said, “Pritchard kids, it’s time to go.Please come!” With that, they all stopped, picked up their belongings and joined us at the door. Now I’m not going to say that it always went that smoothly, but it certainly wasn’t an unusual occurrence either. Next, someone from the church stopped us and asked, “How did you do that?” We were honestly confused, “Do what?” They said, “Get your kids to come when you called them.”
We realize that some hear that story and think, “What’s the big deal?” Of course we know from experience that some hear it and long to be able to be more effective parents. But we also know that some people take issue with expecting children to simply obey because we said so. There is a fear that somehow we might stifle the child’s initiative or creativity. And of course there is the real danger, which we certainly were guilty of, to view our kids as trophies… “Aren’t they so well behaved!?”
Which brings us to the question of the day, “Is it OK to expect our kids to obey?” We believe that not only is it ok, but God expects our children to obey us. While the onus is on them to obey their parents, it certainly stands to reason that in those early years while our kid’s character is being formed, we have a responsibility to instill in them a heart of obedience.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “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 6:1-3
Parents, in today’s episode we offer the first three of Six Coaching Points for training your kids to be obedient to you. Certainly from the bible’s perspective the answer to our big question is, “Yes”, but there is much more as to why we should train our children to obey. It isn’t a stretch to say, almost everything else we do with them builds on a foundation of obedience. A child that is obedient is so much more able to be discipled or taught. We have seen first hand the benefits in athletics, or music or chores of our children’s ability to be coachable. Our kids attend public school and a high school with over 80% of the population receiving free and reduced lunch. Building on a foundation of obedience has allowed our children to thrive even in a less than perfect learning environment. Today we have five college graduates and one currently at the United States Military Academy. So needless to say we are big believers in the importance of teaching our children from an early age to be obedient.
But we are also the first to acknowledge that harsh and overbearing parenting in an authoritarian atmosphere can easily lead to rebellion and bitterness in the heart of a child. The very next verse in Ephesians says this:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
So while we recognize the importance of obedience in our children, we also value the need to teach and train our kids in a loving and nurturing manner staying in the tension of truth and grace.
Over the next two episodes we are going to share six coaching points for teaching our children to obey. In Episode 018 we cover the first three points:
- Everything builds on obedience
- We train our children to respond to a calm gentle voice (we both have flunked this one quite a few times!)
- Whatever you were going to do the sixth time to get them to obey… do it the first time. If we ever expect our kids to obey us the first time, then we must parent with that expectation.
Here are some links from todays episode:
Our new eBook and volume 2 of the eSeries Parenting with Truth & Grace, Children Obey Your Parents just released. For the next two weeks, type the word “obey” where it says coupon and you can get Volume 2 for just $1. Get Volume 2
Ages and Life Stages: Get Your Free pdf
Volume 1 – The Most Important Thing to Teach Your Child : Get Volume 1