November 18, 2010

What Should We Expect From Our Children? Part I

You don't need to spend too much time in a bookstore before coming across the expansive parenting section.  There's no shortage of literature to help guide you in your parenting pursuits.  If you read a few books on similar topics, however, you will quickly find contradictions.  Seriously, how are we supposed to have any idea what we're doing?!

I've been wondering what exactly I expect of my children.  Have I even thought critically about it?  Honestly, when I seek out a parenting book, often I'm looking for a quick fix for something my kids do that annoys me!  (re: sleeping, whining, hitting, talking back, etc.)  You too?

Upon reflection, I had a strong feeling this was NOT what God had in mind when He made me a parent.  So, what does the Bible say?  What are we supposed to be doing?  What should we expect from our children?

I knew the Bible talked about children obeying their parents; it's one of the 10 commandments, for goodness sake!  But was that it - simply turning my children into obedient robots?  Seemed a little shallow.  Over the next couple of post, I'll flesh out my findings, hopefully encouraging us as parents to love our children in accordance with God's call and directions and to depend more on Him in the process.  Part I (today!) will focus on God's word to and about children; in Part II we'll turn to God's word to parents; and in Part III we'll put it all together with some practical application and a good dose of hope ... I hope!

Two major themes emerged for me in my (surely not exhaustive) study of children in Scripture:
  1. Children are expected to honor and obey their parents.  There's no way around this one; it's stated as such in both the Old and New Testaments!  Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20
  2. Children are precious to Jesus and teach us about believing in Him and participating in His kingdom.  Jesus called the children to Him and blessed them - saying things like the kingdom belongs to such as these and become like little children to enter the kingdom. Matthew 18:2-4, Mark 10:14-15, Luke 18:16-17
 So, pretty simple then, our kids need to obey us, and that's that!  We tell them to obey and that doing so pleases God, and they obey, right?  Well ... if you have children, or know any children, or were a child once, you know it is not that simple.  That's where the commands of God to parents come into play.  We'll address that subject tomorrow.  It's not for the light-hearted, so prepare your hearts

As a quick sidebar for further reflection, I want to highlight two things Jesus said about our interactions with children.
  1. Welcome a child in Jesus name, and you're welcoming Him: Matthew 18:5, Mark 9:37
  2. Cause a child to sin, and you're in deep water! Matthew 18:6


  1. The honor part is where my family struggles. I don't think as a parent I stressed how important honoring others, especially authority figures, is and although my kids obey really well, they are often very disrespectful and think it looks cute or smart...we're working on it.

    jenny v

  2. I love what you share. Thank you for your faithfulness to get the word out and encourage so many others at the same time.

  3. Oh Jenny, don't we all struggle with honor! Excellent observation; what a job God's given us as parents. :)

    Thanks Kristen! I'm starting to feel some things coming together.