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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Curse of Obedient Parents

Came across this piece called "The Curse of Obedient Parents" from writer Gladys Villnow talking about something we've all seen in action - the indulgent parent.

If you want your children to grow up to be godly adults, there’s something you must do every single day. The bad news is that it’s hard and it won’t make your children happy at first. The good news is it will help your children turn out far better in the long run. And it will work well even if you mess up on a lot of other parental responsibilities.

Our society has encouraged us not to harm our children’s self esteem. We have interpreted that to mean that they should get their own way and have unlimited choices at a very early age.

During the day, the child chooses between what color cups to drink out of. And a wail of crying can erupt if you don’t give him the right color. The obedient parent walks around in fear of upsetting the newly created tyrant. Moms spend more time dressing a child, as they go through endless outfits, than they do preparing them to worship when they arrive at church – all to make the child happy.

I noticed a mom doing this just the other day while I was serving refreshments at a mom’s and children’s play group in our church. I observed with curiosity while this mom asked her two year old repeatedly to sit down while drinking juice. She explained how it could spill and cause stains on the carpet or on someone’s clothes. The two year old spun on her heels and walked away spilling her drink as she went. The mom looked at me and sheepishly said, “Well, they’re just children.” That day the little child learned she can get her own way.

How can we reverse this hurtful way of parenting? The answer lies in the dusty pages of the Bible.

The account of Eli, the high priest and his two sons is very enlightening. His sons were behaving immorally. 1 Samuel 3:13 tells us that Eli knew of their iniquity. The word “iniquity” means to bend or to deviate from the right way. The Bible says that Eli did not rebuke them. That word means, “He frowned not upon them.”

It becomes apparent from these definitions that Eli had accepted their perverse behavior and did nothing to stop their actions. In fact, I think Eli wasn’t even surprised, since they had deviated from the right way for quite a while. The account mentions how they took sacrificial meat for their own purposes. They always got their way.

However, God will not be mocked. “Whatsoever a man sows, that also shall he reap.” It was through the mouth of a young obedient Samuel that the prophecy of judgment came. Eli’s sons would be slain, Eli's death would come by the breaking of his neck, as he heard the sad news of his sons’ deaths, and finally, his family would be dispersed. And the prophecy occurred just as it was spoken.

Often when I read this part of scripture, I rehearse how different it would have been if Eli had not been an indulgent parent.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 – Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

Reprinted by permission from, which puts out an interesting e-newsletter.

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