Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Lately I've been thinking about this concept of first time obedience in my children. A year ago I would've told you without a doubt that we believe in teaching our children to obey the first time, right away, and with a happy heart. But back then I had an easy going two year old and a one year old who only needed to learn not to touch electrical outlets. Things are a bit more complicated this year as my three year old is learning how to disobey in ways that don't always seem defiant, and I now have a feisty, but sometimes whiny, 2 year old. People who advocate first time obedience in their children have all defended themselves by saying that teaching children to obey the first time prepares them to obey God's commands, because after all God expects us to obey the first time.

I have been really seeking the Lord on this issue, trying to decide if God honestly expects us to obey him the first time he commands us to do something. As I have been seeking Him, knowing He gives wisdom to those who ask,  Adam and Eve came to my mind. Then Jonah. Did Adam and Eve get a few extra chances to stay in the Garden of Eden after they disobeyed or were they corrected after they disobeyed the first time? How about Jonah? After he disobeyed God, wasn't he punished by being thrown into the belly of a whale?

And what about the scripture that tells children to obey their parents as unto the Lord(Col. 3:20)? Obviously children are not going to obey their parents unless their mom and dad teach them.

My husband and I are young parents and don't have much wisdom in child training yet. All we can do is seek the Lord and strive to glean wisdom from older and wiser Christians. Most everyone we've talked to has told us the same thing, "Train your children to obey the first time, but be willing to pick your battles. And always point them back to Christ" There is such wisdom in this, and I'm striving to keep that in my mind at all times, because ultimately I don't care how "well behaved" my children might seem, the only thing I care about is teaching them to obey so that, if the Lord wills, one day it will be easier for them to obey the Lord.



  1. I agree with your thoughts! It is so difficult! I often ponder that very question. I think that we have to remember that we are to obey God, all of us, immediately when He asks. But does He not give grace so often when we don't. And sometimes our our children need to see His grace and love in us. Not that we shouldn't ever punish! It's learning to listen to His Spirit as to what the situation needs. Sometimes I ask myself, "When did I stop sinning and become perfect?" Umm... I haven't! ;) And neither will my children!

    BTW, found you through Time Warp Wife!

  2. This is something I've been teaching my 5 year old daughter. It's definetly a struggle sometimes, and staying consistant is key. Sometimes I just don't feel like disciplining but those times are the times I relly need to. Once you get through it, the discipling, you will see how much they need it. It's amazing my daughter when I discipline her right away it's like she changes almost immediatly into a different person. She obeys and she feels loved. Weird, I thought, she seemed happy afterwards. But it works, children need discipline, even though it seems as they don't they really do. Just like we do.

    I found you from Time Warp wife too. Thank youfor sharing.

    God Bless you,

  3. How about Jonah? After he disobeyed God, wasn't he punished by being thrown into the belly of a whale?

    It seems to me that Jonah was SAVED by the whale. It can't have been very nice in there, but it was better than drowning or being smashed against the side of the ship by a wave. God saved Jonah in order to give him a second chance to obey God's command to go to Nineveh. Then, although the people of Nineveh had been very sinful, when they repented God gave them a second chance, too.

    My son just turned 6. I've found that when he is flagrantly disobedient and we have to do something drastic, afterward he feels just horrible. (Most recent example: he dragged out his bath, refusing to get into place for me to wash his hair, and started whining; so his dad held him down while I forcibly washed his hair and he screamed and struggled. But then he was sobbing that he would go to hell for this!) That is a good time to remind him that God can forgive anything if we repent and return to God. I help him to tell God he's sorry and ask God to help him do better next time.

    I also get control of myself in these situations with a lesson from Jonah: "What right have you to be angry?"

  4. I found your blog from a link on Courtney's Women Living Well blog. I have only read some of your blog (it is supper time after all!!!) and I want to give you a "high five". For a 25 year old woman with 3.5 children and a husband in school, I would say you are doing VERY WELL! You are in a very busy time of your life and you sound more together than some of my almost 40 year old friends with children not as young as yours. Thank you for your blog - you have inspired me!

  5. Crystal, I completely agree finding that balance between giving grace and training is so difficult. I loved your reminder that we have never stopped sinning so why should we expect our children to be perfect?
    Saved, Thankyou for your comment here! It encourages me to know that one day, hopefully soon, we might see some fruit from training first time obedience.
    Becca, excellent point that technically God used the whale to save Jonah. And what is it with little boys and not liking to have their hair washed?:)
    Anon, thank you for your sweet encouragement, and taking the time to read here. I hope you'll come back and visit soon!


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