Deuteronomy 6 is wonderfully descriptive of the parenting role. Verses 6–9 frame the daily instruction parents are to give their children in God’s ways.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6–9, NIV)
Notice that the parents’ role is that of instruction. The instruction is heartfelt. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
We cannot impress our children with the beauty and symmetry of God’s direction for our lives unless we have been moved by the beauty and suitability of God’s law for our own lives. Legalistic application of God’s law in our own Christian experience will ring like a cracked bell in our children’s ears. They will resist God’s law as restrictive and oppressive.
Think about the word “impress” in verse 7. It carries a sense of my child’s need for God’s law, but also our mode of communicating. It is a positive rather than a negative term. We could use the word “influence” just as readily to describe the task of graciously drawing children into the beauty and appropriateness of living in God’s world in God’s way.
The instruction is a consistent and winsome daily presence in family life. The entire day is framed by gracious and godly instruction: sitting, walking, waking, resting. And God’s revelation is always before us, directing and interpreting our experience of life. This is the force of God’s law being written on our doorframes and gates. It is a hallmark—a presence that characterizes all that is said and done. Our homes should reflect consideration of God’s ways so that the freedom of the gospel of grace is always before the family.
The graces of Christian living are these: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22–26), humility, forgiveness, sacrifice, thanksgiving, forbearance, honesty, trust, hopefulness, perseverance (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a), generosity and consideration in speech, loyalty to God and others (whether they are friend or foe, Ephesians 4:29–32), hospitality, orderliness, predictability that brings security, and rejoicing. All of these, and more, will mark the conversation and demeanor of our homes.
Excerpted from chapter one of It’s Not Too Late: Restoring Broken Relationships with Teenage and Adult Children by Margy Tripp