Why We Allow Our Children to Disobey (Obedience, Part 1)

No parent wants disobedient children. But it’s surprisingly easy to let our children get away with disobedience.

  • It’s easy to allow outward obedience accompanied by whining, complaining, or grumpy looks.
  • It’s easy to allow a child to correct us, debate with us, or tell us how she will obey on her own terms.
  • It’s easy to resort to cajoling, reasoning, manipulating, distracting or bribing.
  • It’s easy to issue threats, give multiple warnings, or repeat our instructions.
  • It’s easy to allow excuses, or even worse, to come up with our own reasons why he’s not obeying: I’m not sure he heard me. Maybe he didn’t understand me. He’s tired. He’s hungry. He just forgot. He doesn’t know any better. He’s too young. He doesn’t know how to control himself.
  • It’s easy to make excuses for ourselves if we don’t want to stop and discipline our child: I’m busy making dinner. I’m just trying to have a conversation with someone else. I don’t want to upset him. Or maybe, I’m just too tired.

We’re tempted to let our children disobey because, at any given moment, it’s easy. I know this from personal experience. With my four children ages one to five, I’ve done all of these things more than I like to admit.

When I allow disobedience, it’s usually because I don’t want to stop and deal with that problem, right there, in that moment. I’m tempted to make my present ease and comfort more important than my child’s growth. I would rather keep reading my book (or whatever I am doing) than get up and take my responsibility as a parent seriously.

But when this happens, I’m disobeying God. I’m believing a lie. My project, conversation, or comfort is not more important than my child and the job God has given me of training him to obey.

It sounds hard to hold our children to God’s standard of obedience. Requiring first-time, respectful obedience may be hard for a few days if we’ve let our standards slide. But once we’ve drawn clear boundaries and started to consistently enforce them, our children will learn that we’re serious, and life will actually get easier. Plus, everyone will be happier to boot.

God has given us a position of authority over our children, and we’re responsible to faithfully and lovingly exercise that authority. Allowing our children to disobey effectively hands them the reins of our household and creates a child-run home, which is no fun for anyone.

Let’s ask for God’s help as we hold our children to His standard:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Eph. 6:1)


In the next two weeks, we’ll talk about why obedience is good for our children, and then some practical strategies for teaching obedience. If you have thoughts or questions about teaching obedience, please leave a comment below!

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