Character Blog


By August 19, 2019 No Comments

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

This might seem like an overwhelming task…asking your child to do something without grumbling…but with the right amount of love and coaching, the reward will be well worth the labor!

Consider for a moment this St. Augustine quote “The cost of obedience is small compared with the cost of disobedience.” There is a lot of truth in those words! There is a cost that comes with instilling obedience in your children (time being the biggest one). However, when you weigh the hurt and consequences that come from bad decisions, it’s an investment well spent.

Let’s talk about WHY we want to train our children to complete age-appropriate tasks or instructions without complaining. And let’s put an emphasis on age-appropriateness! Colossians 3:21 says “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Clearly, when teaching our children to be obedient we aren’t to be overbearing or to expect more than they are physically, mentally or emotionally capable of. We are cultivating a response of hearing and doing.

First of all, we are called to diligently watch over our children’s hearts. That is one of the responsibilities that comes with parenting. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that all of the issues of life flow from the heart. Our reactions and responses (and our children’s reactions and responses), both good and bad, come from the state of our heart. Our children desperately need us to pursue and instill (and even model) that which is good and true.

Secondly, by training up our children to find joy in daily tasks, we are cultivating a heart that truly loves and respects the standard (primarily God’s standard but also the rules of the home). Obedience doesn’t have to be forced but can be a delightful experience for both parent and child. It’s the follow through (consistency or lack of) that will make or break the deal.

Lastly, the simplicity found in joyful obedience prepares tiny hearts for obeying God. You might not see it now with your little one, but someday all of the time invested in carefully guarding your child’s heart will have set them on a path where they will find joy in obeying God. And let’s be honest…it’s a lot easier to manage and mold children when they are two or three rather when they are fifteen or sixteen – the cost of disobedience becomes far greater!


Cultivating our children’s heart for obedience won’t only affect them! As we strive to understand what obedience looks like as parents, we will be reminded of how our Heavenly Father looks upon our own obedience (and even disobedience). There should be a lot of patience and grace! And it never hurts for a little self-reflection: are we, as adults, loving His Standard enough to do His will without grumbling?

For your littles:

  • Be clear in instructions. Always make them simple and easy to complete.
  • Praise and reward the hearing and the doing. “Thank you for listening to Mommy and picking up your toys!”
  • As children get older, establish a chore list that allows them a little more freedom for choosing when they complete. This teaches time management. And it’s also fun to see the emerging personalities of your children – who tends to get it done right away and who tends to procrastinate?
  • Play games at home that reinforce the concept of listening carefully and following instructions (Simon Says, Mother May I, etc).
  • Incorporate a family mantra when cleaning up or completing tasks. One that we used in our home (from my grandmother’s childhood) was “many hands make light work” and it became a rally cry for everyone in the family to chip in so that we could move on to the next thing.

Tracy LaBreche