In what ways may dads bring up their kids without provoking them to violence?
To paraphrase the Bible, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but raise them up in the discipline and teaching of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
I was a Little League parent for a long time. I have applauded in scorching heat, freezing cold, after exhilarating victories, and after disheartening defeats. The baseball field is a great area to study the positive and negative effects of parental involvement on children. Some parents guided their kids in the direction of love, while others inevitably drove them to rage. This is true in any field or endeavor, and it is universal.
To raise successful adults, parents must strive for greatness without letting their own emotions, such as anger, greed, or discouragement, get in the way.
My kids tried their hands at everything from athletics to gymnastics to theater. I’ve seen my kid sit on the bench when I was sure they should have been the game’s MVP while other parents’ children were on championship teams with highlight reel action.
I certainly didn’t do it right every time, but I did learn that the way I reacted in critical situations shaped their personalities for the better or worse.
Drive Back To The House
Author John O’Sullivan mentions his numerous conversations with kids who have decided to quit athletics on his Changing the Game Project blog. His standard opening line was usually, “what was your least favorite time in sports?” The journey home from the game was the most common and depressing response I had.
My paternal instinct tells me to use the car trip home to lecture my children on what they did well and where they may improve, and to share with them my profound knowledge and insight.
Obviously, they don’t need any more problems right now.
Our society is full with people who are angry about everything. In reality, social media promotes hostility over empathy and understanding. It is true that anger is everywhere, but we have the power to create our homes and vehicles “anger-free” zones by keeping our minds on Christ and actively refusing to let it in.
A Special Message for the Dads Among Us
Paul’s focus on fathers in this passage begs the question: why? The significance of a father in a child’s development cannot be overstated. How we engage with them requires careful consideration. As adults, we frequently feel responsible for keeping children safe and out of trouble. This might make us stern, unfriendly, discouraging, or inactive. Instead of keeping children “out of trouble,” as Paul suggests, we should “put them into discipline and teaching of the Lord.” By doing so, we get the option of being supportive, kind, accessible, and proactive.
Fathers are urged to take their roles as household heads seriously all throughout the Bible. In Colossians 3, Paul delivers similar advice, telling fathers to “not embitter your children or they will get disheartened.” He then tells spouses to “love your wives and not be harsh with them.”
It’s obvious that dads should be the ones who set a godly example at home. As dads, we set a terrible example when we brag about how great we were when we were their age, compare them negatively to others, insist that they conform to unreasonable standards, treat them differently at church than at home, or address them with wrath rather than humility.
Respect for one’s parents is something that should be reciprocated by one’s offspring
In the Lord, obey your parents, because they know what is best for you (Ephesians 6:1).
Both dads and children may learn from this chapter of Scripture. Paul uses the first of the Ten Commandments with its promise to emphasize the need of teaching children to respect their elders (v.3).
This has to go both ways. Although it is important for children to respect their parents, this should not be seen as a green light for dads to ignore their kids and demand complete obedience. Children who are cared for by their parents in a Godly way, who are encouraged by the Word and by their own lives to follow Jesus no matter what, will obey those parents because they know they are loved.
Paul first addresses the youngsters with this guidance, and then addresses the dads. What he’s saying is that although your kids should respect and follow you, you should also act like a responsible adult. Everybody has seen, sadly, what happens when the concept of children following their parents is carried to an extreme. The second part of this verse, which urges parents to not encourage children to anger and raise them in discipline and teaching, might be ignored in the name of punishing disobedient children. The consequences may be quite serious.
Rage against Self-Control
We teach our children nothing except that we are angry, unjust parents when we reprimand them while we are frustrated or upset ourselves. But if we parents are actively seeking Christ, if we are actively seeking his education and discipline for ourselves, we may become the dads and mothers who discipline and instruct in faith and love.
There are effective ways to convey to our kids that they’ve done wrong without making them defensive. And it can only come from a heart full of Christ’s kindness and love. Keep in mind too that just because one was raised in a Christian household does not mean that they themselves are Christians. Each of our children, like every other person, needs to see, hear, and understand the Gospel for themselves. By our example and by God-honoring teaching and correction, we may point our children toward the truth of Jesus that will give them hope and strength for the rest of their lives.
We may teach our children that their identity in Christ gives them dignity, meaning, and purpose through spending time together in prayer, sharing prayer requests, memorizing Scripture, serving our communities, and passing on our faith to the next generation.
The birth of our children was the greatest gift God could provide to us. Let’s try to avoid doing anything that could make them angry. A sufficient amount of hostility already exists. Instead, let’s make a difference by showing them the love of Christ and bringing them into his kingdom.