Deuteronomy commands that children be taught about the things of God at all times, not just when discipline needs to be administered. Parents are to bring the wonder of God to every corner of life. Ephesians 6 echoes this thought when Paul commands that children obey their parents in the Lord. This means faith is the cornerstone of parenting, not performance. No one can obey “in the Lord” on the basis of performance. No one can obey God in his own strength. The gift of faith is needed.
This makes biblical parenting distinct from every other parenting methodology. Biblical parenting is proactive, not reactive. Biblical parenting is God centered, not child centered. Biblical parenting assumes that there are absolutes that must be taught to children. Before God, children do not have the option of deciding if they won’t or can’t obey. This truth is what you must communicate to your children. It is a truth that will not change, even when your children are grown and have left your home.
Your children cannot perform their way to faith. Therefore, reaching out to God for life-changing faith is the focus of parenting. Obedience is about faith, not performance. The question comes, “What if my child has not expressed faith?” Whether he has or has not come to faith cannot change the way you parent. This is why the gospel must be the focus in training your children to obey. God does not provide two different ways to please him. Just as in any other exercise of evangelism, it is not up to the one who urges faith to make faith a reality. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. Your job as a parent is to present God’s way of obedience. That requires faith.
Parenting is most significantly about evangelism, which means calling your children to faith and repentance on a daily, even hourly basis. Requiring performance without faith will produce exasperated or prideful children.
Thus discipline and instruction as well as obedience are acts of faith. Raising your child in the instruction and discipline of the Lord means putting your life and the life of your child in God’s hands. This is often a scary place to be. But even so, there is no better, safer thing than to put your faith in the one person in your life who is completely trustworthy. Faith is a gift freely given. Ask for it. Teach your children to ask for it.