One of my daughter's favorite movies is Cheaper By the Dozen 2. If you've seen the movie, Steve Martin's character becomes very competitive with an old rival and engages in a family-vs-family competition. The rival is one of those really annoying parents. You know, the ones who over-parent, the ones who won't let the child out of sight, who get onto them if they look like they are having a bad thought, who make sure their children only eat certified organic foods (only the ones that are tasteless), and generally don't know how to let their kids be kids.
For some reason, that stereotype came to mind as I was reading the story of Job. Job is described as a man who was "blameless and upright," who "feared God and shunned evil." But Job is also described as a very active parent. Even once his children are grown enough to have their own places, Job would call them together after a party and, after the fashion of the day, "purify them" because Job thought, "Perhaps my children have sinned, cursing God in their heart" (Job 1:5, HCSB) Apparently, Job did this regularly. As I kid, I always looked at Job like a paranoid mother who sprays you with Lysol every time you came back from a friend's house just to make sure you didn't bring back any germs. But the passage and everything in it stress that Job was a blameless and upright man, that this was right in the eyes of scripture.
When Job purified his children, he wasn't just trying to make sure that all of the rituals were performed so that they would technically be ok with God. Job was interceding on their behalf, offering burnt offerings for each of them as a mediator and as the one responsible for their upbringing. Job was concerned about the attitudes of their heart and their relationship with God ("cursing God in their heart"). As parents, we have the same obligation that Job had to intercede for our children, to pray for them, seeking God's best for them and, I think, letting them see us do it. We should be concerned about the way our children relate to God and certain that they have been taught what it looks like to be humble and contrite before God.
Unceasing prayer and continuously teaching our children the things of God is not over-parenting. In fact, anything less is under-parenting. Whether they want it or not, our children need it.