Children, the right thing for you to do is to obey your parents as those whom God has set over you. The first commandment to contain a promise was: ‘Honour your father and your mother, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth’. Fathers, don’t over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline. (PHILLIPS)
Times have changed. In the days these words were written, adolescence didn’t exist. Children lived under the same roof as their parents and were thus subject to the prevailing household rules. Having a rebellious child would be terribly disruptive to the family. And such children would threaten the good order of wider society.
Today we need to apply this in a different way. Certainly children of a certain age need to be obedient. Always aware that there is a responsibility of a parent not to make such obedience burdensome. This was a radical teaching in those days. Agreed, children need to be obedient, but responsibility was not all one way.
Children who are allowed to do as they please, without boundaries, grow up to be spoilt brat adults who reckon the world revolves around them. Parents who are harsh and unbending create resentful adults who hit back at the world.
The Bible teaches that when a person marries, there is a new primary relationship created. So we can assume a married “child” is not required to be obedient to parents. And particularly nowadays we realise that a child has to develop a certain freedom which in time may mean disobedience to parents. Parental love is love which works at surrendering control.
The underlying principle is that children are always to honour and respect their parents even if the shape of that honour and respect varies as roles and responsibilities change.