It’s challenging to require obedience from our children. 

Just like us, our kids are sinful and naturally resistant to any will other than their own. 

Additionally, many of us struggle to exercise good and healthy authority because we know we aren’t perfect parents. Those internal insecurities we have as parents can make requiring obedience from our kids a real challenge.

We also live in a world and culture that is increasingly resistant to the idea of authority— a world that tells parents they have no right to require obedience from their children.

I am all too familiar with these struggles. Here are three reasons why it’s good, right, and even beautiful for you to require obedience from your children. 

1. We want our kids to obey God

As Christ-followers, we believe that God has ultimate authority over our lives. That being the case, our kids need to know what God has to say to them! In Ephesians 6:1, God says to our children, “Obey your parents.” 

If we seek to disciple our kids, then this verse also has an implied command to us as parents— “Parents require obedience from your children for this is right!” 

By teaching our kids to obey us, we are teaching them to obey God. At times, we might feel insecure about exercising authority in our kid’s lives— but the truth is that when we require obedience from our children, we are placing both ourselves and our children under the good and perfect authority of God. 

2. We want our kids to worship God

Because of what Christ has done, obedience is free from legalism. Obedience isn’t about being good enough to earn God’s favor— it’s an expression of worship!

When we take our children to church or engage them in family discipleship but don’t require their obedience, we’re accidentally teaching them that God just wants them to attend a worship service— when He really wants their whole lives. 

Throughout the Bible, God always considers obedience (or lack of!) as part of our worship. For example, in 1 Samuel 15, King Saul tries to offer a sacrifice to God as a way of hiding and minimizing his sin. God responds to Saul by saying, 

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” —1 Samuel 15:22

In the New Testament, Paul echoes that sentiment he writes,

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” —Romans 12:1

God wants more than our time, things, voices, and gatherings— He wants our whole lives! It’s good for us to require obedience because submitting ourselves to God is a part of our worship.

We can show our kids that obeying Mom and Dad is a way of saying “yes” to God.  We can tell them that when Mom and Dad obediently say “yes” to God, it’s because we love and trust Him. Our hope and prayer for our kids is that, in time, their obedience will become their worship-filled “yes” to God as well.

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams."

3. We want to help our kids navigate the reality they live in

When we discipline our children for disobedience, we are helping them understand that they live in a reality where there are choices and consequences, sowing and reaping (Galatians 5:7).

The choices we make matter. Our “yes” and “no” impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Discipline helps our kids learn to be thoughtful about their choices because they live in a world of consequences. 

When a loving parent disciplines their child, it is a mercifully safe way for kids to learn the reality that saying “yes” to sin leads to undesirable consequences. Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book Boundaries with Kids, says it this way, “Consequences provide motivation.” 

Consequences motivate us away from disastrous sin and toward the abundant life God has for us. Our kids need a safe place to experience the reality of consequences because sin is deceitful. It promises a freedom that it can’t deliver. When we sow sinful choices, we reap death (Romans 6:23).

When we require obedience, we are helping our kids learn the character-building principle of sowing and reaping— a principle that will help them navigate the rest of their lives.


In his book called Parenting, Paul Tripp says that our calling as Christian parents is to, 

“…be a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in [God’s] hands for the purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission in [our] children.” 

We are a faithful and consistent tool in God’s hands when we take our kids to church, when we read the Bible before bed, when we sing our favorite worship songs together, and when we require obedience.

Dear parent, take heart as you take hold of the authority that God has given you in your home. As you require obedience from your children, know that you are participating in the work of leading your kids in what is right and good.