I have a confession to make. For all the beautiful Christian thoughts of grace and virtue I love to share around here… well, I have a secret list. It’s my list of people I wouldn’t brake at the crosswalk for. Hey, I’m as much of a work in progress as my children are!
At the top of the list are the most influential “child training” advocates. You know those guys, right? The Michael and Debi Pearl’s of the world. Ugh.
But rather than just write a post bashing everything about them, let’s look at the one thing these “experts” actually have 100% right.
“Child Training” in a nutshell
If you don’t know what this means, or didn’t have to joy of being brought up this way, here’s the short version: The Child Training philosophy is, quite literally, beating the hell out of children. Physically “training” them to absolutely perfect and instantaneous obedience. Any infraction against one’s parents becomes the grave sin of disobedience. There is an absolute no-tolerance police.
The parent’s will is God’s Will to the children. The parents authority is God’s Authority. In a way, the parents personify God.
And that is where they get it right.
We are to represent God to our children.
Not in a creepy, controlling I-am-God-to-you-so-do-as-I-say kinda way.
We are called to show our children God’s character. His true character. To do this, we must careful, prayerfully, study His true character. And beg Him on our knees daily for the grace to represent Him authentically.
Our children first learn about God in their parents. We are ambassadors. What they see in us will shape how they See the One who sent us. What are our actions saying about Him? What do our words, responses, and daily life teach our children about God?
Hopefully, they are learning the nature of grace. The balance of law and mercy. The idea of high expectations, but also forgiveness. And the sacrificial love that flows from Christ’s wounds.
Our job as parents is not to force our children to follow a strict law by threats and violence.
Our job is to lead them to love God, by humbly trying to become more like Him every day.