In all the discussion about child-rearing methods, one aspect that hasn’t received much attention is how the issue relates to children’s conversion. In an Assembly-type group there’s the assumption that the parents’ “child training” is the underpinning of a child’s salvation. It’s up to you to discipline your children into the Kingdom.
The problem is that you are starting off with a contradiction. You begin – in infancy – to deal with your children’s “self will”, to make them obedient to God. And as they grow a little, your goal is to make them “servants” of God. But they haven’t yet had the all-important decisive conversion experience. Maybe not until they’re four or five, or ten or twelve. This gives children the impression that God’s acceptance and approval is earned, first by good behavior and then by an outstanding event in which they trust Christ for salvation.
Lee Irons, father of three, discusses a completely different approach in his post, Must Covenant Children Have a Conversion Experience? Children can be nurtured in the faith, rather than browbeaten to it. From this perspective, child-training is not related to their eternal salvation, but rather to character building.