“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
The relationship between children and parents is just one of the many submission relationships that Paul teaches on (Eph. 5:21-6:9). He exhorts children to obey their parents in the Lord, which suggests that these children are possibly saved, having come to the knowledge of the truth. They are to obey their parents with the perspective that in the Lord they are no longer darkness but children of light (5:8-14). Paul’s reference to the Ten Commandments in this regards goes to show the continual use of the law in the life of believers (i.e. a guide of righteousness and holiness). Such speaks to the relation of the law and the gospel. The result of such obedience is none other than blessing from the Lord.
Although Paul does not mention mothers, they still have a responsibility and role in the upbringing of their children. Paul simply focuses on the fathers since they are the heads of households and therefore have the main responsibility. Paul’s exhortation to the fathers to refrain from provoking their children to wrath (or anger) may suggest that this is a common temptation of fathers, which needs to be guarded against. It is true that we men have the potential of being domineering and given over to strict scolding. Instead, the kind of discipline we practice on our children should be instructive (“bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”), not emotionally abusive. Abusive discipline will only make our children resent us, and gives them no wisdom in the process (this does not mean there is no room at all for corporal punishment; Prov. 22:15; 23:13, 14). Corporal punishment alone won’t suffice, however. As Christian parents we are to cultivate an atmosphere in our homes whereby our children are regularly taught the Scriptures, prayed with and prayed for, exhorted to gospel obedience, and disciplined in such a way as to not cause them to resent us or to hinder their spiritual growth, but to bring them up in the truth and wisdom of God.
As Christian parents your ministry begins in the home. (Read also Deuteronomy 6:4-9.)