This Week’s Passage: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Because I am a dad my pondering is drawn to verse 4: “Fathers do not exasperate your children.” And as a youth pastor for many years I have seen a lot of exasperated kids. The gospel is the key to overcoming this. Going back to the previous passage at the end of chapter 5, I think that when husbands learn how to sacrificially love their wives then they will carry this love over to their kids. And when kids see sacrificial love being lived out in front of them then the exasperation factor is diminished. Not that it will go away – it is a part of kid’s job description to be exasperated – but at least it will not be in response to dear old dad.
It is not often that I share what someone else has said in my ponderings but I came across an article that has some very good very practical tips that will help dads and parents alike to keep from exasperating their children. The author says it better than I can. You can find the original post HERE.
EAGERLY, HUMBLY SUBMIT TO THE WORD OF GOD. When you sin in front of your children, confess it. When you assert your authority over them, your children should clearly see the authority that you are submitting to. Your submission to God is your qualification to teach them. Let them see it, and they will know that you aren’t a petty tyrant.
DON’T PIGEONHOLE YOUR CHILDREN. Seemingly harmless things like calling your children “the artistic one,” “the athletic one,” or “the loving one” can make your children feel like their value to you is tied up in one characteristic. It can further invite sibling rivalry and resentments. Moreover, sets you up to stop trying to learn about them, as you begin to interpret everything through that expectation and sets them up to think that that’s the only part of them you appreciate.
DISCIPLINE BIBLICALLY. When you discipline, make sure it has a biblical category. A godly parent can’t discipline for “being annoying,” “making a mess,” or “squirming.” Instead, look to correct disobeying, lying, or something that you can support with Scripture, Proverbs and Ephesians in particular. If there isn’t a biblical principle and name behind it, don’t discipline for it.
SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS. Explain to your children in advance what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Make sure they understand. This will greatly aid you in #3, as well as giving them the security of knowing what you want.
RECOGNIZE OBEDIENCE. Talk to your children when you aren’t correcting them. Talk about the things they do right. Tell them about specific things that you love about them. Let them know that you know them, that you think of them, and that you enjoy them.
LISTEN TO THE WHOLE STORY FIRST. With little kids you actually might have to take some time to get the story out. Don’t try to hustle past your children in an effort to quickly discipline them. The discipline is for their benefit, not yours. Make sure that they understand and that they know you are interacting with them.
HONOR YOUR SPOUSE IN FRONT OF THEM. Show love to each other in front of your children. Don’t be short, snarky, or snide with each other in their presence (or out of it for that matter). Children need to see Mom and Dad as one. Parents in fellowship with each other is one of the most basic elements for a secure home.
DON’T CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR TOWARD YOUR CHILDREN IN PUBLIC. Don’t correct them for things just because someone is watching. Security for a child means knowing that their parent is for them, and that when one of them corrects the child, it is for his or her benefit, and not so that others will think the parents have it all together.
DON’T TAKE YOUR CHILDREN’S SINS AS A PERSONAL INSULT. Never discipline with a break in fellowship. Don’t be “mad” at your children. Be anxious to have things reconciled.
FORGIVE. FOR REAL. If breaking the window has been forgiven, act like it. Forget it. Do not hold past incidents over your children, especially if you’ve told them you’ve forgiven them. Let it go all the way, every time, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).
Good stuff! I’m Just Sayin’!
Next Week’s Passage: Ephesians 6:5-9