I’ve noticed on Twitter lately the hashtag #parentingishard and would like to offer a thought on this topic. Recently, I took my three year old son with me to Kentucky to help my parents move into a new house. We had a six hour drive one way, an afternoon of moving, sleeping in a new environment, then a six hour drive back home the next day. He did fantastic, was a good listener, and lightened up my family and the helpers with his smiles and antics. So, when he asked to play putt-putt. I said yes. He had earned a reward.
We played on Saturday evening and had a blast. That is up until we told our little man we had to go. Upon hearing those dreaded words, “It’s time to leave,” our toddler decided to take a rebellious romp through the putt-putt course dragging his little putter behind him expressing his refusal to leave with tears, crying, stubbornness, and a “catch me if you can” attitude. Well, I actually couldn’t catch him because I had decided to wear sandals. Eventually, he ran into his mother, was caught, and promptly taken to our car to head home
Anyway, we disciplined our son upon returning home for being disobedient. Ironically, I was teaching the next morning (Sunday) on the fifth of the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and mother.” How does our son know to honor (obey) his parents? Well, we have a responsibility to teach him. It is actually our job as parents to expect obedience and deter disobedience. We don’t do this so that we can make our children moral, but so that we can show them the holy standard that God has.
The command to honor your father and mother is not my idea. It is God’s. And he expects it to be obeyed. Of course, none of us (including my three year old) will obey this command or any of the commands perfectly. In one important sense that’s the point of the command. God gives us supremely holy commands to (1) reveal to us his holiness and (2) to reveal to us our sinfulness. It is when we see both God’s holiness and our sinfulness that the necessity of Jesus’ perfect life, substitutionary death, and glorious resurrection begin to make sense.
So making obedience important and disciplining disobedience is difficult. #parentingishard, but it is worth it. Because if we engage in parenting and discipline with a gospel perspective we can use these teachable moments as entry points for sharing the gospel with our children.