April 1st, 2009
The Bible tells fathers not to irritate and provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6).
Children are naturally selfish, undisciplined and irrational. They want to play all the time, they don’t want to share, and they rarely act rationally.
It seems to me that to be a good parent, given the job ofÂ teaching our children to go against their natural inclinations, and to be unselfish, disciplined, and rational, we will inevitably irritate our children and they will likely get angry.
Are we suppose to never do anything that might make our children angry? It’s certainly easier to just make our children happy – sure, go ahead, give them chocolate cake for breakfast! I don’t think that’s what the Bible means.
I think God put that instruction there to warn the parent, especially a father, against wielding his power a little too much. When we are having a bad day, we “kick the dog”, and the dog may end up being our vulnerable children.
When a father comes home tired from work, and little Billy pesters daddy to play with him, the Bible, if I can take the liberty to expand the application here, says, “Don’t be harsh with your son. It’s not right to yell at him.Â You will provoke him to anger if you irritate him.”
When your teenage daughter comes home with a bad grade, the Bible says, again my application here, “Try to understand what is going on with her life as a teenager. Communicate first and be fair. Don’t just exact the punishment of grounding her for a month. You will provoke her to anger.”
We parents do have a tendency to provoke our children to anger. Sometimes it is inevitable, but sometimes, if we stop to use a bit of wisdom, we see that some provocation can be avoided. Much of good parenting can be done without irritating our children to anger.
The Bible puts the responsibility on parents, we are the adults here afterall, to steer away from explosive situations as much as we can.
Here are some more tips on how not to make our kids angry:
1. Be fair with discipline. The time should fit the crime.
2. Keep your word. If you say you’ll take your son to the game, the only valid excuse for breaking that promise is…death.
3. Think before you speak. Given #2 above, it would be wise to not make promises on a whim. Same applies to #1 above. Think through the appropriate disciplinary action before spitting outÂ an extreme “you are grounded for a year!”
4. Don’t take sides when it comes to sibling quarrels. There is never an innocent party, no matter how they try to convince you otherwise.
5. Get some rest when you are tired. When I am tired and irritable, I make everyone mad! It’s best to get a grip first, with a warm shower and a cool [nonalcoholic] drink. 🙂