How To Exasperate Your Child
If there is one Bible verse that Christian parents know by heart it is Colossians 3:20, “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord”. This is God’s instruction on the authority-structure in the home and a key component of the parent’s job description. But do we know what comes next? “Fathers do not provoke your children” (Col. 3:21). God issues parents a warning, designed to put guardrails on their parenting.
This reality check is not only for dads. The Greek word used here for “father” can also be translated with “parent” (Heb. 11:23). But Paul does have especially fathers in mind. This is because God appointed the father as head of the home (Col. 3:18). Dads are responsible for setting the obedience-demanding and grace-filled tone for the home (Eph. 6:4). When you provoke your son our daughter to anger, you have failed in that mission.
We may get the short-term submission we want, but with the long-term collateral damage of a broken spirit.
Provoking a child has the idea of irritating his spirit to the point of explosion. It’s like stirring a few small flames into a blazing fire. As parents we can trigger our child’s bitterness and anger. We may get the short-term submission we want, but with the long-term collateral damage of a broken spirit.
If this is a pattern in the home, a sense of hopelessness will fill the child’s heart. Paul says, “Do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:21). Our children will lose heart and eventually give up, because they feel that they can never please us.
Here are ten sure ways to exasperate your child:
- Refusing to listen to their side of the story
- Unwillingness to admit when we’ve been wrong
- Correcting your child in front of others
- Discipline that doesn’t fit the crime
- Unreasonable expectations
- Inconsistency in what we expect of them
- An unforgiving spirit
- Playing favoritism
- Not keeping our word
- A critical spirit that always finds fault
We want to build hope, not crush it. Don’t beat your children down with words. Confront the disobedience and disrespect head on. It’s dangerous for their souls. But embed your words in love and grace. That's the way of Jesus.
We are shepherds, not policemen.