Raising children presents many challenges. We are dealing with tiny, human beings that will have different talents, different strengths, and different weaknesses than we do. We are constantly trying to differentiate between demanding compliance and suppressing personality. And, while we second guess ourselves, we may be omitting one vital concept from our training. Submission.
To submit means “to yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.” While this concept is frightfully misused and misunderstood, it is definitely essential in our lives. Submission has a negative connotation, because nobody wants to have anyone tell them what to do. We all want to boast that we “answer to no one.” However, in reality, we all do answer to many people and things all the time. When we stop at a stop sign, we submit to the authority of the law. When we go in our basements during a tornado, we submit to the authority of nature. When we drink water and exercise, we submit to the authority of our health. When we study for tests and attend our classes, we submit to the authority of education. And, I could go on and on. We are submitted to each other on many levels, and it is absurd to believe otherwise.
Nevertheless, there are still people who really do believe that they are above even these most basic levels of submission. They feel they are “above the law” and do not need to follow the rules of the land. Many forsake their health and choose to harm their bodies by what they allow to enter. And, although their self-destruction is evident to those watching them, they really feel like their “unsubmission” is somehow proving that they are in control of their own lives. In reality, deliberately choosing to “relinquish control” through submission actually gives us the control we desire in our lives.
The Lord plainly commands submission to Him I Peter 5:6, to elders I Peter 5:5, to the laws of the land I Peter 2:13, and to them that have the rule over us Hebrews 13:17, so this concept is not new. However, the implementation of training submission in young children is a topic of much debate. When we fail to train submission in our children, we raise them to think that they are “above” authority in their lives. We hesitate to carry out the training, because we fear oppression. I am not talking about a suppression of their personality, but a submission of their will. There’s a huge difference. Children who have been taught submission to their parents will have the tools to submit to other authorities more readily, giving them a huge head start in life. (Notice I said that they “will have the tools.” Because of our free wills, we cannot guarantee that any child will make the right decisions. But, as parents, we are compelled to train our children in the right ways, so that when they are old, they will know what is right and wrong. Proverbs 22:6)
So, when do we start training? Many times, parents start their training much too late. Life is so much more peaceful once young children learn to submit, and the battle is so much easier when they are little. Toddlers are smarter than we give them credit for. Don’t insult your child’s intelligence by assuming they do not understand you when you say no! As children get older, they learn to be deceitful. They learn to “do” the right things, so their outward actions seem submissive, causing parents to believe that their child outgrew his/her unsubmissiveness. However, just because your child has learned to conform his/her actions to the socially acceptable norms, does not mean your child has learned submission. An unsubmissive spirit is not something that children outgrow. Seemingly submissive outward actions could still be hiding a rebellious will. As parents, we must learn to look beyond the action to the spirit of the action and to train in regards to that spirit.
Children subconsciously beg for parameters. Once boundaries are established and enforced, watch the demeanor of your child blossom into contentment. Submission is a vital part of any healthy society, because it teaches us to esteem others higher than ourselves, reinforces humility, and kills the sin of pride. Teaching our children to submit at a young age not only gives them the security and confidence they need to grow into good leaders and productive citizens, but it also aids in making submission to proper leadership, and ultimately to God, into a lifestyle.
A natural inclination to submit to God, to authority, and to others is a gift.
Train your children, and offer them this gift.