There were a number of questions from the post “Teaching your children to behave is not the Gospel.”
The topic is challenging because one of your main objectives is to teach children to obey. Let me clarify. Biblical obedience has as its core a love for God. Behavior change has as its core a desire to make things better. This is a profound difference.
Deuteronomy 6:7 is often taken out of context as a reason for focusing on behavior change. Regarding God’s commands, the first part of the verse says:
“You shall teach them diligently to your children…”
Allowing this sentence fragment to direct the focus of parenting can lead to an emphasis on behavioral change. However, if we place this fragment into the context of verses 5-7, an entirely different emphasis emerges:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children,…”
The practical application is that the parent’s heart is to be consumed with the love of God and his word. This has to happen first! Godly teaching is not information transfer. It is about the content of the parent’s heart overflowing into the lives of children. God is not pleased with mere information transfer. Isaiah 29:13
Biblical parenting is more of an art form than it is a step-by-step methodology. You can’t always use the same approach twice. It is important to anticipate the problems you regularly encounter with your children.
For example, if your child is stubborn, you should not be surprised when he “unexpectedly” becomes stubborn. Talk with him in advance about the temptations you know he will have each day. Tell him about your own struggles with being stubborn. You don’t need to give mini-sermons. Just let him know how God has helped you.
Your conversation should be about God and to God throughout each day. Your children from the youngest infant on up will see that you are trusting God and wanting passionately to know him. Trusting God this way doesn’t always make things immediately better, but it does honor God. Use the Spirit’s tools. Avoid manipulation. Love deeply. Listen well. Speak pleasant words.
You are locked in a battle for your chid’s soul. This is easy to forget. The message of Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is to talk about God, his greatness and what he has done for you. Even very young children need to hear about God’s daily faithfulness to you. Your comfort in God’s faithfulness, even when things are a mess, is something that will bless them and ease your own tensions.
If you have some specific areas you would like to see addressed, please leave a comment and I will be happy to respond.