Oh that children would stay little! That is the lament I used to hear over and over as relatives or friends who hadn’t seen my children for some time commented on how much they had grown. The “enjoy them now” perspective indicated that there would be a time when I wouldn’t be enjoying them all that much.
Is this a 20th – 21st century cultural thing, or is it something that the Scripture tells us to expect? Is the normal and expected condition realized by parents and their older children (say 15 and up) one of conflict over what is right and what is wrong? Should we gear up for these stressful battles the way we anticipate the removal of wisdom teeth? Is it a given that children will reject the teachings of their parents?
I guess it boils down to you get what you expect. If you expect your children to rebel and challenge the standards you’ve established as the “for me and my house rules,” then I submit that any defiance on the part of your children will be considered normal rather than abnormal. After all, isn’t this the message we get from all the “experts” and people in the know? Don’t teenagers need to be approached on their own wavelength with their own music and culture and their own identities? Are defiance and rejection of God’s Law inevitable? Is this how the Scripture instructs us to view these matters?
I submit that the Word of God is quite clear that parents need to continually and repeatedly lay out God’s standards for living (His commandments) and continually and repeatedly demonstrate the application of them to the lives of their children. In the process, sin needs to be identified for what it is: a failure to do those things commanded in Scripture or doing those things which the Scripture prohibits. The desire to be “nice” or lenient on the part of the parents needs to be viewed for what it is – disobedience to God’s clear commands to train up children in the way they should go. This most certainly includes, although it is not limited to, providing a thoroughly Christian education.
For those parents who were raised outside the context of a covenant household and who came to faith as adults (like me), the initial step in being able to help steward the lives of your children involves reevaluating all that you think and have learned through the lens of the Bible. I began such a trek almost three decades ago when I had the benefit of being mentored from a perspective that began with the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God and never wavered from it. As a result of reading, digesting, and applying the material in R.J. Rushdoony’s works, such as his biblical law trilogy, his systematic theology, and his material on Christian education, coupled with the opportunity to have one-on-one contact with him and his wife, I have been able to withstand the darts of the enemy while receiving the correction that the Word of God brings to my own life. No, this journey did not mean there were no conflicts, crises, or disagreements in my own family. Rather, Rushdoony’s teaching gave us a context to wade through the mire and confusion that were the result of sins we all brought to the situations of family life.
When we lose God’s standard, we lose our way. If we fail to put on the full armor of God, we will be defeated at every turn. Parents, we have been entrusted with a very important responsibility and charge: to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When we equip ourselves to do this faithfully, we are in a position to provide the kind of hands-on training and guidance that will understand the nature of rebellion but, at the same time, give it no quarter.