Your child needs you to lead them. They are born into a fallen world with a sin nature, know nothing, have to learn everything, and would have a painful life filled with tragedy if left to themselves.
The Bible emphatically commands both parents and children. We read in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:12 that children must “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” It is good in God’s sight for parents to lovingly instruct, direct, and correct their child. The motive for parents must be the glory of God and the good of the child. This is what God means in saying that the goal of parenting is to raise children to live a long and good life.
In the New Testament, Ephesians 6:1-3 echoes the Ten Commandments, saying, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘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.’” Therefore, as parents we must always seek to lead our children with the long view of the future in mind. In a moment, we can with frustration look down at our child and be short-term in our thinking. In the next moment, we must look up at the child’s future and see the fork in the road. On one path, rebellion and folly lead to death and destruction. On the other path, obedience and wisdom lead to a long life. As we constantly look into the future, we must help the child to do the same, walking with them into that future God intends for them.
The child must also submit to their parent and obey both their mother and father. Practically, this means that mom and dad need to be fully unified in the leading of the child. Furthermore, the child is expected by God to follow the parent into a future that is good.
Did you know that Jesus Christ, as a child, did just this? Even though he was perfect and had imperfect parents, he obeyed them. We read in Luke 2:51, “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” God obeyed his parents. Your child needs to obey you if they are to grow to become more and more like Jesus.
How good are you at leading your child? How good is your child at obeying and following your leadership? How can things be improved?