Caution: This is a bit ranty. I tried to tone it down a bit but there may be some left. 😛 Proceed at your own risk. haha.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”[a]
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4
18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:18-21
I grew up hearing these verses. It didn’t hit me until recently, though, that the ones regarding children are addressed to the CHILDREN, not the parents.
I’ve concluded this means two main things:
1. The children must be old enough to not only understand this, but be capable of actually carrying it out — so we’re talking older than 6 here, at least.
2. It isn’t the parent’s job to force them to obey them.
That second one is the big one in my opinion. The way it’s normally talked about it makes it seem that it’s the parent’s job to make sure their child obeys.
Well, it isn’t.
If that’s true, then it logically follows it’s also the wife’s job to force her husband to love her (which a. doesn’t even work because love isn’t a thing you can force and b. who wants forced “love”??) and it’s the husband’s job to force his wife to submit (which a. doesn’t work because submission isn’t a thing that can be forced, either. Not if it’s real. and b. who wants forced “submission”?? Only abusive people, thats who.)
So… it may seem that you can make children obey, at least while they’re small and easily forced/manipulated/intimidated. But it doesn’t last and often backfires. And is forced obedience really true obedience at all? Is that really what we want as parents?
What is the parent’s job, according to these scriptures and many others? To not provoke or discourage them. Basically… make it so they *want* to obey. To encourage them. To teach them. To be on their team. To spend time with them.
(You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7… that’s a lot of time. Like basically they should be with you all the time, even at night, and you should be talking to them most of that time.)
This is exactly what gentle/peaceful parenting says. And this is yet another reason why it’s the direction we’re headed.