Why do we need to listen to our fathers and mothers? It is because God intends for us to learn of Him through them. If you watch television and listen to the dominant voices in our society you will hear this particular admonition greatly militated against. Our world wants us to make our own path and decide what we believe for ourselves - or at least when they are trying to influence us. There are those who think that a child who is being trained and taught diligently by their parents is being indoctrinated. Their answer is to stop this child abuse and let children make up their own minds concerning how they respond to the message from the fallen world. Of course you see what this brings when you look at society today and the direction that most children are going.
God says for a child to hear his father's instruction. Just a brief word to fathers as this begins. Dads . . . are you instructing your children in the things of the Lord? Do they hear you speak of the things of God often - and in a didactic fashion? Part of our problem today is that fathers don't take their roles seriously. They abandon the rearing of their children to their mothers and to the world. They figure that the educational system will do this work along with the mother. But God does not see it this way - in fact - He does not even want the father to abandon the teaching of his children to the church - or the Sunday School. This can be a valuable ally - but nothing can replace a godly dad teaching his children the things of the Lord.
Something that may even be more shocking to our current climate of child-rearing is the fact that this word "instruction" means more than just word of mouth. It means to chastise and discipline a child. The word here is used more of this than anything else. The ideas of discipline, chastening, punishment, reproof and warning far outweigh the idea of instruction here. This is a father taking the time to teach his son and daughter - but with more than just ideas. The dad is teaching and training - using correction and chastening to drive the point home to the child who is to be learning from him. What is told to the child? Hear this - don't tune dad out when he offers chastening and instruction. Listen and live - and be blessed. It is so vital to a child's well-being to listen and to do so soberly!
The child is also told to not forsake the teaching of the mother. Her teaching is not to be tossed aside and left behind. That is the idea being passed on to the child. He or she should take the mom's teaching and hold it fast - not allowing it to be cast to the side in favor of the world and what it seeks to teach that child. The mom is to "lay down the law" here - as the word for teaching is actually torah - which is the Word used to describe God's Law. Yes, there is a desperate need for rules and for expected actions and attitudes in a child. And YES - the mother and the father need to work together not only teaching these things - but also enforcing them with discipline when necessary.
Rather than just issue this command, God's Word lets the child know what is coming when they do listen and follow. This teaching and discipline will be a "graceful wreath to your head" and "ornaments about your neck." The wreath spoke of conquest and victory. When a child listens and learns from the Godly teaching and discipline of his father and mother - that child is going to gain valuable victories early in life over the flesh and over that part of himself or herself that rebels against the world. Oh, what a blessing it is when parents help a child early in life to obey - to submit their will to another - to surrender their rights when being directed in life. The worldling child knows little of this - and often is taught to rebel against God's ways and commandments. There is already a fatal flaw in us in this regard - and we so desperately need to learn to respond to God aright.
Children - learn to listen and follow the word and the warning of your parents. It will go a long way to preparing you for the world you face. But even more importantly it will help you listen to the God Who will draw you to Himself for the purpose of salvation and a life turned to the right!