Colossians 3:21 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
What’s your purpose in parenting? Is it all about you or is it ultimately about the kids? It can be really easy to fall into the trap of parenting for results instead of parenting with love. I realize that can be taken the wrong way, so let me elaborate a bit. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t discipline our children; I mean that we should do it for the right reasons and in the right way.
I know there have been a few times that my discipline was based on being upset that the kids weren’t respecting me more than it was on wanting them to learn a lesson. My ego was hurt that these little people in my home weren’t doing what I, the man of the house, had told them to do. My thin skin couldn’t handle that type of rejection, so I reacted as many people do. But that’s not biblical parenting. That’s not leading my kids.
Other times, I’ve found myself being “that dad.” You know that dad, the one who is constantly on his kids’ backs with things like “Stop doing that!” “I told you not to do that!” “Be careful with that!” None of those are bad things to say, necessarily, but when it’s all that comes out of my mouth, I run the risk of provoking my children, thus discouraging them.
I’ve found that the right thing in most of life is balance and moderation. Kids do need guidance and direction. They do need to be cautioned against things that could hurt them. But they also just need to be kids sometimes. Being that dad that never allows anything and constantly says no can bring on resentment and how am I supposed to expect my kids to follow the heavenly Father when their earthly father showed them this type of example? On the other hand, being the kind of permissive dad that says yes to everything doesn’t teach my kids that there are boundaries in life that need to be in place.
The Bible is exactly what we need for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Within God’s Word, we find the balance needed to lovingly lead our children, including the right way to discipline without selfish ambition. It all begins with obedience to God in our own choices, setting an example to follow. If we don’t want to provoke our kids, we should be someone that actually deserves their respect instead of trying to force it from them.
What are your thoughts? Share your stories in the comments section below.