It is easy to get frustrated with our children when they are not obeying, or when they are missing something that’s right in front of them. How we respond, however, can make the difference between having a child prone to wrath and having a child with a loving spirit.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, provoke not your children [to anger], lest they be discouraged. – Colossians 3:21
I feel that Paul directed this at the dads because I believe we’re the biggest culprits in flying off the handle when children do not do what we say. I think that we’re used to getting our way, or are less selfless than our wives (who should already be in submission to us (which should give us greater appreciation of where they are!)).
But how do we provoke our children to wrath or anger? A few things leap to mind:
- Inconsistency: Yesterday we weren’t supposed to touch the TV, but today you want me to turn it on and change the channels for you.
- Unrealistic demands: Eat this food in five minutes! — when it took you fifteen to eat it on your plate.
- Punishment doesn’t fit the crime: I forgot to do my homework, and you grounded me for a month!?
I’m sure you can come up with others. The point is that we are sinners, and we don’t always stop to think about what our directions, our actions, and our discipline conveys to the person on the receiving end. God wants us to step back and look at ourselves from their perspective. We need to be doing things in love with the best interest of our children at heart– not doing them out of anger or selfishness.