I am convinced that if a homeschool family is struggling, it is not because of the curriculum or a special need with their child, but usually boils down to one root issue– parents have not taught their children to obey. Obedience needs to be both instant and cheerful.
Even the secular author, Dr. Leonard Sax, in his recent book, “The Collapse of Parenting“, puts the blame at the feet of parents who refuse to say “No” to their child and insist on obedience. It is a culture-wide problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.
As a homeschool parent, do you find yourself telling your child to sit down and start working, only to find that you have to repeat it several times? Then you go to find where he is hiding or playing and drag him to the table? Do you eventually give up the struggle and just let him do fewer pages or fewer problems and then go play? Does your child complain that the work is too hard and insist that he wants to use a different, easier curriculum which drives you to keep searching for “the perfect solution”?
If God commands children to obey and honor their parents, then this implies that parents must be in charge, giving commands that need to be obeyed. It is also a good reminder that due to their sin nature, children do not want to obey and must be taught submission to authority.
That is your number one job, parents – teaching your child to obey.
Following is a great article by Pastor John Piper, challenging parents to teach obedience!
Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children
I am writing this to plead with Christian parents to require obedience of their children. I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences. Parents tell a child two or three times to sit or stop and come or go, and after the third disobedience, they laughingly bribe the child. This may or may not get the behavior desired.
Recently, I saw two things that prompted this article. One was the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, California, by police who thought he was about to shoot them with an assault rifle. It was a toy gun. What made this relevant was that the police said they told the boy two times to drop the gun. Instead he turned it on them. They fired.
I do not know the details of that situation or if Andy even heard the commands. So I can’t say for sure he was insubordinate. So my point here is not about young Lopez himself. It’s about a “what if.” What if he heard the police, and simply defied what they said? If that is true, it cost him his life. Such would be the price of disobeying proper authority.
A Tragedy in the Making
I witnessed such a scenario in the making on a plane on a recent trip. I watched a mother preparing her son to be shot.
I was sitting behind her and her son, who may have been seven years old. He was playing on his digital tablet. The flight attendant announced that all electronic devices should be turned off for take off. He didn’t turn it off. The mother didn’t require it. As the flight attendant walked by, she said he needed to turn it off and kept moving. He didn’t do it. The mother didn’t require it.
One last time, the flight attendant stood over them and said that the boy would need to give the device to his mother. He turned it off. When the flight attendant took her seat, the boy turned his device back on, and kept it on through the take off. The mother did nothing. I thought to myself, she is training him to be shot by police.
Rescue from Foolish Parenting
The defiance and laziness of unbelieving parents I can understand. I have biblical categories of the behavior of the spiritually blind. But the neglect of Christian parents perplexes me.
What is behind the failure to require and receive obedience? I’m not sure. But it may be that these eight observations will help rescue some parents from the folly of laissez-faire parenting.
1. Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). It makes no sense that God would require children to obey parents and yet not require parents to require obedience from the children. It is part of our job — to teach children the glory of a happy, submissive spirit to authorities that God has put in place. Parents represent God to small children, and it is deadly to train children to ignore the commands of God.
2. Requiring obedience of children is possible.
To watch parents act as if they are helpless in the presence of disobedient children is pitiful. God requires that children obey because it is possible for parents to require obedience. Little children, under a year old, can be shown effectively what they may not touch, bite, pull, poke, spit out, or shriek about. You are bigger than they are. Use your size to save them for joy, not sentence them to selfishness.
3. Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.
One explanation why children are out of control in public is that they have not been taught to obey at home. One reason for this is that many things at home don’t seem worth the battle. It’s easier to do it ourselves than to take the time and effort to deal with a child’s unwillingness to do it. But this simply trains children that obedience anywhere is optional. Consistency in requiring obedience at home will help your children be enjoyable in public.
4. It takes effort to require obedience, and it is worth it.
If you tell a child to stay in bed and he gets up anyway, it is simply easier to say, go back to bed, than to get up and deal with the disobedience. Parents are tired. I sympathize. For more than 40 years, I’ve had children under eighteen. Requiring obedience takes energy, both physically and emotionally. It is easier simply to let the children have their way.
The result? Uncontrollable children when it matters. They have learned how to work the angles. Mommy is powerless, and daddy is a patsy. They can read when you are about to explode. So they defy your words just short of that. This bears sour fruit for everyone. But the work it takes to be immediately consistent with every disobedience bears sweet fruit for parents, children, and others.
5. You can break the multi-generational dysfunction.
One reason parents don’t require discipline is they have never seen it done. They come from homes that had two modes: passivity and anger. They know they don’t want to parent in anger. The only alternative they know is passivity. There is good news: this can change. Parents can learn from the Bible and from wise people what is possible, what is commanded, what is wise, and how to do it in a spirit that is patient, firm, loving, and grounded in the gospel.
6. Gracious parenting leads children from external compliance to joyful willingness.
Children need to obey before they can process obedience through faith. When faith comes, the obedience which they have learned from fear and reward and respect will become the natural expression of faith. Not to require obedience before faith is folly. It’s not loving in the long run. It cuts deep furrows of disobedient habits that faith must then not infuse, but overcome.
7. Children whose parents require obedience are happier.
Laissez-faire parenting does not produce gracious, humble children. It produces brats. They are neither fun to be around, nor happy themselves. They are demanding and insolent. Their “freedom” is not a blessing to them or others. They are free the way a boat without a rudder is free. They are the victims of their whims. Sooner or later, these whims will be crossed. That spells misery. Or, even a deadly encounter with the police.
8. Requiring obedience is not the same as requiring perfection.
Since parents represent God to children — especially before they can know God through faith in the gospel — we show them both justice and mercy. Not every disobedience is punished. Some are noted, reproved, and passed over. There is no precise manual for this mixture. Children should learn from our parenting that the God of the gospel is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:7, 29) and that he is patient and slow to anger (1 Timothy 1:16). In both cases — discipline and patience — the aim is quick, happy, thorough obedience. That’s what knowing God in Christ produces.
Parents, you can do this. It is a hard season. I’ve spent more than sixty percent of my life in it. But there is divine grace for this, and you will be richly rewarded.
Link to original article: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/parents-require-obedience-of-your-children by John Piper, Oct 29, 2013
If you need help in this area, I would encourage you to reach out to your pastor. A book that my wife and I found to be very helpful from a Christian perspective was What the Bible Says About Child Training: Parenting with Confidence