My church recently went through the book of Ephesians. (You can listen to the teachings here). I have been reading through the book again. This morning I started Ephesians 6. I meant to read the whole chapter, but stayed in the first 4 verses. My toddler is 14 months old. I drink up any biblical direction on parenting. Parenting can be hard. It is beautiful, amazing, and hard at times. Here are a few thoughts I had while reading through this section.
It is human nature to be disobedient.
We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Therefore we have a disobedient spirit within us. This is our human nature. When Paul writes Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right, I hear “New parent, know that your children are going to tend toward disobedience. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t need to tell them to be obedient.” This is comforting for me. My 14 month adorable toddler has learned how to lay down, kick her feet, and scream when she doesn’t get her way. Is this something I have done, or is this something that is within a child’s nature to do. I think it is within their nature, and it is our job as parents to train a child in the ways of the Lord and obedience. I’ll explain in the next section.
It is a parent’s job to be a parent first, and a friend second.
This is a lesson my mom taught me. She would say (when I was a young adult), “I like being your friend, but I am your Mom when I need to be.” Paul writes Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. In order for our children to obey and honor us, we have to provide them with direction. We have to be present and thoughtful in their instruction. I think we all want our children to be successful. Paul directs children to honor their parent so that they are successful in life, but this is also a directive at parents to provide instruction that will allow them to be successful. This includes boundaries and limitations for our children. When we want to be our children’s friend first, and don’t provide boundaries and limitations, then we are setting them up for failure.
Provide loving direction, and be gentle.
I am not against physical discipline, but that is not what I mean by being gentle. Paul writes, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. What does Paul mean by do not provoke anger? I think this is a directive to both parents to be gentle in our discipline. In Ephesians 5, Paul describes the role of the wife and the husband. The wife is to submit to her husband and the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. This is an image of authority and love. The parenting relationship demonstrates the same imagery. Children are to obey their parents and parents are to love their children as God loves his children. God often corrects our actions as Christians, but this correction is done out of love not anger. We should correct our children the same way. Whether we use words or physical correction, in should be done in a gentle manner with the intention of producing a change in behavior. Discipline is not an outlet for our frustrations! The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). We can discipline in a way that shows how much we love our children with kind and firm words, or we can do so in a way that promotes anger and hostility. Check your emotions when disciplining your child. Remember, parenting can be hard but it is our job to train our children in a way that will draw them closer to the Lord.
If you have additional thoughts on this topic, please share them in the comments below. (Comment are moderated)