Do you encourage your children to disobey?

Posted on · Posted in Parenting, Sanctification, Shaping Influences

Suppose your child has developed a pattern of not coming when he is called.  This can easily lead to frustration for both parent and child. Tension can mount until finally the parent decides enough is enough and a confrontation irrupts. This confrontation also may encourage the child to think that the eighth time he or she disobeyed is far worse than the first time. In reality each refusal to come is equally serious. The problem is the same each time – God is being disobeyed.


The following scenario assumes that mom has been working with her daughter to change a pattern of being slow to obey. 


Five year old Jennifer has shown a pattern of not responding quickly to her mother. Mom realizes that she has allowed Jennifer to repeatedly ignore her direction because she has been distracted by other things. So instead of scolding Jennifer for failing to come eight times in a row, mom says this:


“Jennifer, please forgive mommy for encouraging you to disobey me this afternoon.”


“Mommy, I don’t understand.”


“I realized that I have allowed you not to come when I called. Do you remember not quickly obeying mommy?”


“Uh, yessss.”


“How does God want you to obey?”


“To do exactly what I am told, right away, with a good attitude.”


“Exactly!. This is why I am asking you to forgive me, because I let you ignore me when I called. I was wrong to keep raising my voice and telling you come. Will you forgive me?”


“Yes, mommy.”


“Great, thank you. I know it is hard to obey in your own strength. That is why Jesus died on the cross. His death and resurrection means that you really can obey the way Bible says. You see, I need to trust Jesus to obey just as much as you do. I need the power of the gospel to help me faithfully love you and teach you to obey. I am going to do what I should have done the first time you didn’t come when I called. Then we can pray and ask God to help us both obey quickly.”


In parenting, failing to be consistent is not love. If your children are being slow to obey, perhaps they are not the only ones who need to change. Love is quickly and lovingly disciplining your children. Love is being faithful to discipline your children to respond quickly and exactly as requested with a good attitude.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.