I have observed and talked with many parents of young children who believe that not requiring obedience of their children is a way of showing grace to their children. A recent article by John Piper refutes this and urges parents to require obedience. He gives nine thoughts with comments.
1. Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.
2. Obedience is a new-covenant, gospel category.
3. Requiring obedience of children is possible.
4. Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.
5. It takes effort to require obedience, and it is worth it.
6. You can break the multi-generational dysfunction.
7. Gracious parenting leads children from external compliance to joyful willingness.
8. Children whose parents require obedience are happier.
9. Requiring obedience is not the same as requiring perfection.
Young parents, you stand in God’s place. To train children to obey you is to train them to obey Christ when they are older. This is serious business. Show them grace by training them to obey.
Not requiring some sense of obedience harms your child in the long run. They need to understand that life comes with rules that they need to pay attention to.
Ah, but how? My children are 14 years old and older, but I know younger parents who want to know HOW to “require” obedience. The most extreme methods (for example, M. Pearl’s book, To Train Up a Child, chapter. 6) advocate physical punishment without relenting until the child gives up and obeys. This has resulted in death of a child in at least one case (http://hsinvisiblechildren.org/2013/05/04/lydia-schatz/) Yes, children are commanded to obey, but tragically, some parents do not know HOW to require this without harming the children. Isn’t it dangerous to exhort parents to require obedience without also giving them specific warnings that it is possible to go too far?