In a world drifting on a sea of parental moral and spiritual confusion, the doctrine of the total depravity of our children is actually an important practical anchor. Parents who understand its significance recognize the divine wisdom in teaching the commandments of God, given as they are largely in negative form. God wrote them for sinners. They also recognize the importance of teaching God’s law in the context of God’s grace in Christ and through the Spirit. With Augustine we know that God will give what He commands.
God has not given us angels, but sinners to train to be saints. Since the situation is further complicated by the fact that parents are also sinners, we constantly need to rely on the teaching and directives of Scripture. While that is a subject all on its own, here are some simple guidelines.
Recognize that your children are miniature versions of yourself. Learn to think in terms of Adam and Christ, sin and grace. That itself will help you realize why God has given you the command not to exasperate your children.
In bringing up your children, do not commit child-idolatry (in which the one commandment is “never say no”) or self-idolatry (“he/she will reflect my glory”). Rather, by God’s promised grace, parent a sinner into sainthood.
... In times when there is grievous sin, never forget that there is more grace in Christ than there is sin in your heart and your child’s heart combined. In Christ there is a way back from the far country of a life style even for children who have given full expression to heart depravity.
(From "Little Innocents?," February 1, 2001, www.banneroftruth.org)
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