Take a moment to read Ephesians 6:1-4.
We may have no clearer picture of the interaction between parent and child in scripture than these few verses. Since this devotional is written to parents, I’ll consider even the first verse with Moms and Dads in mind.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Research clearly shows that our perception of God as a Heavenly Father can be directly linked to our experience with parents in childhood. Like it or not, you are shaping your child’s view of God. No pressure, huh?
Simply put, teaching your child to obey (literally “yield to”) your voice is critical to his or her future relationship with God. A child who learns to obey the voice of a parent becomes an adult who can obey the voice of God. The opposite stands true as well. A child who won’t yield to the parent whom they can see will likely not yield to a Heavenly Father whom they have never seen.
How, you ask? There are moments when a direct command is necessary. For instance, “Get off the hood of that moving car – NOW!” needs no explanation. However, most of the time we encourage obedience by taking time to explain the reason behind the rule. Children need to know that our directives can be traced back to a desire for safety and abundant life born out of our love. Communicate the love behind the rule and you’ll go far to inspire obedience in a child.
“Fathers (or parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
To exasperate is to bring someone to a place of extreme agitation, or to provoke to an extreme degree. For children this feels like, “I just can’t get it right!” Training a child in the ways of Christ has more to do with affirming the right choices than criticizing every wrong decision. With plenty of room for correction, focus your attention on the many good things your son or daughter does during the day. Too often parents remain silent over good choices, speaking up only to correct behavior that they don’t like. Watch for the good and offer words of praise.
A child who knows that he or she behaves correctly most of the time gains confidence, security, and assurance. This “I can choose what is right” perspective arises in a home where the child knows he or she is loved and accepted through the good and bad choices of the day.