Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
I was thinking about this today as I prepared for a parenting class. Here are some ways that we parents can provoke our children to anger. I’ve done many of these, and for this reason I’m grateful for the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to change.
We can provoke our children to anger:
—By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
—By having double standards: Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g., ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
—By anger and harshness.
—By a lack of affection.
—By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
—By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
—By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?).
—By hypocrisy: acting like a Christian at church but not at home.
—By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others).
—By always lecturing them and never listening to them.
—By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin.
—By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them.
—By pride: failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
—By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?).
—By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?).
—By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).
May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.