When I was younger, obedience was doing what I was told no matter what. As I reflect on my obedience as a child, I don’t believe that it was true obedience. Not really. I obeyed out of fear, not love. At least, that is the way it was for the most part. For parenting my own children, I desired for them to obey in a biblical sense. I wanted to have obedient children who were joyful in their obedience. This is what I have learned about How To Get Your Kids To Obey.
Parenting is hard and it seems that a new philosophy on how to parent arises every few years. We want to raise our kids well. We want to do good by them. And we want them to ‘turn out’ better than we did.
And because we know about many of the pitfalls of childhood and adolescence, we want to impart our wisdom to our precious children.
However, our children aren’t always receptive to our counsel of good judgment. They just seem to want to find out the hard way.
So, as a last resort, we pull out the big guns.
We quote scripture.
Oh yes, children! Obey your parents!! You MUST!
And if you grew up with the old adages “When we say jump, you ask how high” or “you will worship the ground I walk on!”, then you know even better how your kids are supposed to be obedient to your demands and rules.
No questions asked.
Any debate is met with harshness and punishment.
That’s how it’s supposed to be, right?
If it is, then we have sorely missed the mark.
The Forgotten Instruction
You see, we have no problem referencing the above verses and many others along the same line. BUT, we neglect the verse right after.
Well now! This is an entirely new ballgame!
Let us not discourage our children.
Let us not provoke them to anger – OHHH…could the cause of their anger be the fact that we are provoking them to anger and discouragement?
Instead, we are responsible for bringing them up in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Did you get that? Not our way. Not the way that makes us look good (or not so good).
But the instruction that comes from God.
I wonder if we intentionally avoid these verses because we really don’t like to be told what to do. Can I just put that out there? You know it is true. I know it is true.
Maybe we don’t want any of the responsibility that comes with our children’s behaviour.
Maybe we don’t want to think about the possibility that we have something to do with how our children react. That maybe it is more our responsibility than we want to admit.
My Heart Was Convicted
I did a study by Pam Forster of Doorposts – Child training Boot Camp. What I found convicted my heart but also encouraged me.
You see, I have held a certain belief for almost 15 years. My children are to be treated as kindly and respectfully by me as I would treat a friend – actually, I ought to treat them better than a friend. I should not treat my children in a way I would not want to be treated. Just because they are children – my children – does not mean I am permitted to regard them callously or coldly.
It’s not ok to treat them with contempt.
What I say greatly matters to them.
I have the power to break them.
I have the power to build them up.
I have the power to discourage and dishearten them.
I have the power to help them become who God wants them to be.
The choice is mine.
I created this 8×10 printable for my blog post “How To Get Your Kids To Obey”. It is a good reminder to us parents that we have the power to tear down our children or to build them up.
Interestingly enough, I discovered through this study that verse 20 of Colossians 3 is pretty much the same in all of the versions of the Bible I looked at.
Get Some Perspective
But verse 21 had several different variations.
As I read through the varied versions, I recalled the times I have failed to heed this instruction in regards to my own behaviour towards my children.
But I also see the progress that has been made in my life since my oldest was little. And it is only because of Jesus and His healing in my life.
Here is what I found in those versions. I know there are several versions below and it might feel redundant, but please, take the time to carefully read through each one and listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of anywhere you need it. Things will not get better if we just ignore it and pretend there is nothing wrong.
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. KJV
Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. NLT
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. NIV
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged. HCSB
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. NASB
Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become disheartened. NET
…the fathers! vex not your children, lest they be discouraged. YLT
Fathers, do not vex your children, to the end that they be not disheartened. DBY
Parents, do not irritate your children, or they will become discouraged. GNT
Fathers, do not be hard on your children, so that their spirit may not be broken. BBE
Parents, don’t provoke your children in a way that ends up discouraging them. CEBA
Fathers, don’t irritate your children and make them resentful, or they will become discouraged. CJB
Fathers, don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged. GW
Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits. MSG
Just because most versions say “father”, don’t make the mistake of thinking that these instructions relinquish us moms of our own responsibilities. Our husbands are the head of the home and we all fall under their headship, so ultimately, the father/husband will be held accountable for what goes on in the home – he will be held accountable for how he permits us to treat our children.
But we, as mothers, the nurturers, will be held accountable for our own actions and words as well.
My husband and I were talking about this topic the other day. He understands his responsibility in this area. I know, without a doubt, that if I ever mistreated our children, he would call me on it and put a stop to it immediately – even when our children are adults. The mistreatment of adult children hurts just the same as young children. He recognizes his authority and his responsibility as a husband and father. I am so thankful for his leadership of our family.
I know, we don’t need any more guilt trips on how we are failing as mothers. But, God gives us instruction in His word and it would do us good to heed His directives. They are meant for our good and not our demise. They are for our conviction and not our condemnation.
Parenting Wisdom From Bible Study
Last year, I went through a fantastic Bible study written by Pam Forster of Doorposts. It is called Child Training Boot Camp. I learned so much from her wisdom and what she said and how the Holy Spirit spoke to and trained my heart confirmed my own parenting philosophies and convictions. Here are some great questions from one lesson:
Have I provoked my children to disobedience?
Am I contributing to their disobedience?
Have I offended them in a way that is causing disobedience?
Am I treating them harshly or disrespectfully?
Are they feeling unloved or neglected?
If so, I need to repent and seek forgiveness.
Aren’t those great questions? Do they convict your heart as they did mine?
How have the above versions of Colossians 3:21 convicted you?