My children need to be changed.
I cannot change my children.
My children cannot change themselves.
Ephesians 2:5 says we are "dead in our trespasses." Our sins make us dead. Dead people can't do much of anything, especially about the fact that they are dead.
"My children's behavior seems to be improving. Doesn't that count for anything?"
"Maybe if I am a great parent and love them well enough, they will respond to me, love me back, and then listen to what I teach them about God."
and of course, I can't leave out the "flavor-of-the-month" in current parenting trends:
"My children just need to be nurtured, have goodness modeled for them, and their inner "good" person will emerge."
The Gospel Action:
A gospel parent does not attempt to fundamentally change his/her children through manipulation, information, exemplification....or nurture.
A gospel parent knows that their child's inner "good" person, their soul's ability to love, is dead. They gulp down the harsh reality of Ephesians 2:5.
A gospel parent will, in turn, do things like pray. Not worry. Not balk at big demonstrations of evil from little people. Not be embarrassed by their children, or try to hide their wrong behavior when it crops up in public. Not be irritated or surprised by repeat offenses.
And the gospel parent reads the rest of the verse, as to remember what God loves to do with what is alread dead:
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.