I know it sounds wrong to say this, and there may be a better way to express the idea, but as parents of the children God has given us to nurture, we should treat our parenting as a privileged position of "being God to them". Well ... at least for a while, so they first learn to obey us as parents “on the ground”.
Don’t misunderstand me, God is the ultimate authority in the universe and always will be. However, under God, Tanja and I are authority figures in our children’s world. We define truth, we pass on values, and as they submit to us, we teach them to submit to God’s authority.
One of the practical implications of this, is when we sing with our children the Colin Buchanan song “Jesus is the Mighty, Mighty King”. We do not include our names, only our children’s in the part that says “[name] is not the boss uhuh”. Even though it is true we are not the ultimate boss, we are over his/our children. Our daughter who is three really enjoys when we sing that her younger brother, who is 22 months, is not the boss.
Tanja and I believe it is important for our children to be obedient to us as their parents for theological reasons. I found it helpful thinking through some key passages in scripture, such as Ephesians 6 where Paul gives these imperatives to children,
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Eph 6:1,2 NASB).
I found it intriguing that this command includes a promise of longevity in the land. This is my take on it - God instigated a unilateral convent of grace with his people that have ongoing covenant commitments of fidelity. Deuteronomy 4 verses 25-26 seem to be both prophecy and warning that God’s people are to remain faithful to him, and when they are, then they through God’s grace are able to remain in the land (see also Deuteronomy 11).
The Ten Commandments form the nucleus of God’s instruction to his people on what it means to be the people of God. After God has rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt by his power and grace, he gathers them around Mt. Sinai and declares to them he will be their God and they his people (Leviticus 26:12-13; Exodus 19-20). This is the kicker in the command with a promise - in order for the LORD’s instructions to be passed on from generation to generation (Deuteronomy 6:1-9), it was essential that a good relationship be maintained between parents and children, hence children are to obey and honour their parents.
It seems as though it is more than just enabling good communication in order that moral instruction be passed on from generation to generation. It was so they would remain in the land, which is really about being the people of God and loving God with all their heart, mind and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Just as Moses became like God to the people of Israel in order that God communicate to them, Tanja and I as the parents of our children, without being idolatrous, are like God to them (Ex 4:16; 7:1, 2 where Moses is like God to both Aaron & Israel). In this sense, in this early period of our children’s lives (they are both below five years old), we want to form our children into obedient people. In our house, we have two mantras, “Listen, and obey, straight away” and “delay is disobey”. As our children listen and obey us, they learn obedience. Our prayer is that they learn through us to listen, and motivated by love, obey God as they mature.