Read Colossians 3:20-21
20 Children,do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master no end. 21 Parents,don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits. (THE MESSAGE)
In the ancient world,even in New Testament times,the usual way to raise a child was to beat them until they did what you wanted them to do. It was into such a world that Christianity proclaimed a radical message. Parents had responsibilities,children had rights.
It was not as if Paul was preaching some sort of family anarchy. There was a hierarchy,there was authority. But the authority was not to be abused. True,children were to be obedient and respectful. However,parents were not to make it hard for the children to be this way. Even in our day,too many grown-ups carry with them a residue of harsh parenting when they were young. And they may even perpetuate such parenting and continue the cycle with their own children.
Some might argue that the pendulum might have swung too far the other way nowadays. Children rule the roost and there is not sufficient discipline. This too is abusive parenting. To beat a child is one sort of abuse,to fail to set boundaries is another. The child is set up for a tough adulthood in a world where boundaries exist.
In general,Christian ethics are mutual ethics. We each have rights,we each have responsibilities. A family in which everyone loudly demands their rights is an unhealthy family. A family in which members gladly accept their responsibilities is a healthy family whose blessings extend beyond its own inner circle.