Summary: Raising G-Rated kids requires discipline that shapes the will without breaking the spirit
I’m sure that some of you have seen this photo which has been making its way around various social media recently.
[Show picture of note left by mom for her kids to clean up the kitchen].
As we’re going to see this morning, not only is this an example of brilliant parenting, it also employs several of the Biblical parenting principles that we’ll talk about this morning.
We certainly don’t know all the details here, but I think it’s safe to assume that this mom works outside the home and she has some older children who come home and stay by themselves after school and the mom wants them to clean up the kitchen before they get on the internet.
So just for the sake of illustration let’s suppose that this mom had used a different approach here. Instead of the note she left, she left a quick handwritten note that merely read. “Clean the kitchen”. And then about a half hour after the kids got home the mom called the house and asked “Have you cleaned the kitchen yet?” And her son says, “No, not yet, but we’ll get it done before you get home. Don’t worry.” A half hour later the mom calls again and her son sees it’s mom calling again so he tells his sister to answer the phone. Once again the mom asks, “Have you cleaned the kitchen yet?” And the daughter answers, “Well we did get the dishwasher unloaded.” So the mom once again warns her daughter that it better be done before she gets home from work.
Another half hour goes by and the mom calls home again. This time, seeing that it’s their mom again, neither child answers the phone. So now the mom has to resort to texting a stern warning to both kids. And when she gets home a little bit later, she comes home to a dirty kitchen and ends up finishing the job herself.
So let me ask you a question – Which of the two moms got the best result? [Wait for answers]. I think we would all agree that would be the first mom. But why? What are the Biblical principles that mom employed that ended up with the desired result?
This morning, as we come to the third message in this series we’ll answer that question. Today we’re going to address the third of the “5 D’s” of Raising G-Rated Kids in an X-Rated World”:
The last two weeks, the messages have focused primarily on the attitude that we need to bring to raising our children, both as individuals and as a church. We’ve determined that in raising our children our attitude is more important than our aptitude. We need to see our kids like God sees them – as a delight. And we also saw that our kids need devoted parents who partner with a church that is devoted to equipping and supporting those parents.
While we’ve certainly developed some practical ideas that we need to apply in our lives in those messages, the last three messages in this series are going to be even more practical, especially for those of you who are still raising young children.
We’re going to begin today with a passage from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. So go ahead and turn first to Ephesians, chapter 6:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)
Since I can’t think of any way to say it better, I’m going to borrow from Dr. James Dobson to summarize the main idea that we’ll draw today from this passage:
Raising G-Rated kids requires discipline that
shapes the will
without breaking the spirit
While I wanted us to read this entire passage so we have the proper context, we’re going to focus primarily on verse 4. You’ll notice that the command there is addressed specifically to fathers, but if we consider the entire context, which actually goes all the way back to the command to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” in chapter 5, verse 18, it is clear that Paul also intends that this command applies to mothers as well.
The command itself is broken down into two parts – a negative followed by a positive. Let’s look at the negative command first:
Fathers [and mothers], do not provoke your children to anger…
This negative command corresponds to the last part of our main theme this morning since it deals with disciplining children in a way that does not break their spirit. This was actually quite a radical command in Paul’s day. In both the Jewish and Roman culture fathers had absolute authority over their families, even over his married sons and their wives if they lived with him. So it was common for fathers to rule the family in a rigid, legalistic, domineering manner that could cause their children to resent them and be angry toward them. But as we’ll see this morning, that is not the only way parents can provoke their children to anger.