It sometimes feels like our homeschooled children (because they are at home with us all day every day) love to challenge our authority! Many parents feel like this is a normal stage that our children must go through as they grow up. From toddlers to teens, most of our children at some time or another choose to challenge our authority. Whether it’s a 2-year-old refusing to go to bed or a teen refusing to obey a parent’s request to mow the grass or do the dishes, our children have many opportunities to challenge our authority.
There are other ways they challenge our authority that aren’t quite so blatant. What if our children simply want to know why they must do something we ask them to do? What if they technically obey but refuse to do something the way we ask them to and instead do it their own way? After all, our homeschooled students are often very bright and have their own ways of thinking about and doing things. (Of course sometimes it doesn’t matter if they do things their own way. There are times, though, when it is important.)
So the question is: Is it a normal stage that children go through that we simply can’t do anything about? Is it good for them to do so? And what do we do about it anyway?
I think that today’s society does consider it very normal when our children challenge our authority. After all, we see so many examples of this happening on television, in movies, in books, and even at church. It’s very easy to believe that it’s ok to allow our children to challenge our authority. We see everyone else’s children doing it, so why worry?
The problem, though, is this. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:5-7 that we are to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It doesn’t say to allow our children to challenge our authority because it’s “normal” or that it’s ok because they will outgrow it or learn better as they mature. It simply says to train them in the way they should go.
A good friend pointed out to me is that the discipline and training we give our children now while they are under our authority is training for obeying God as adults. Once our children are no longer under our roofs and are no longer accountable to us for their actions, the stakes are even higher because they are then directly accountable to God instead of being under our umbrella.
If our children haven’t learned to obey—and especially to obey when our instruction doesn’t make sense to them—they will probably have trouble trusting God and obeying Him. God’s instructions often don’t make sense to us until much later. There are many times God gives us instruction and expects total and unconditional obedience for our own good even if He doesn’t tell us why He’s asking us to do something particular. If you look at it this way, you can see why something that might not seem like a big deal is actually a very big deal! .
So what do we do about it? How can we force our children to obey completely and consistently? We can’t. But we can lovingly explain to them how our discipline and training are getting them ready for the future. We can teach them to love God. We can teach them to read the Bible for themselves, memorize Scripture passages, and see for themselves that it’s best for them to obey both you as parents and God. We can set a good example by reading and obeying God’s Word in front of our children and by telling them when we, as Christians, choose to obey God instead of going our own way. And each of us as parents must also decide when discipline might be needed to help a rebellious child learn to obey both God’s instruction and ours.
Is it easy to do these things? Not always. But I honestly believe it’s necessary. We aren’t perfect parents, and our kids won’t be perfect either. With God’s instruction and grace, though, we can do it!
Wendy lives in the South with her wonderful hubby and 3 great kiddos! She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for more than 20 years. Her oldest child has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, a typical boy, would rather do anything than school! Her youngest child is a little social butterfly and people lover. Wendy loves reading and quilting and will hopefully return to scrapbooking some time soon. You can visit her personal blog at Homeschooling Blessings.