“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
Parenting is a high calling from our purposeful God. The older my children get, the more time I find myself in prayer, pouring over the Bible, reading books, and looking for those who have gone before me for guidance. No one knows how to parent until that first child comes along. And we know, even if we do all the right things, the wheels can still fall off.
The New American Standard translation of Paul uses the word, exasperate, and the Greek root means to stir up, excite, stimulate or provoke. Sometimes it’s necessary for us to step in and defend our children against injustice, but a bad baseball pitch probably isn’t one of those times.
I’ve read a lot of parenting books, but the one place I find solace in over and over again is the best selling book of all time: the Bible. By building a relationship with Christ daily, we can be better prepared for high pressure parenting moments, and more equipped to clean up the messes we make when we wing it.
Thankfully, Christ covers us in grace, and God’s Word gives us unchanging truth to direct our steps as we lead our children to His feet.
1. Put Anger in its Place
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
“Shut up!” I yelled into the backseat of the minivan. My girls were little, and they had never heard me yell a “bad word” before. They were scared silent! Volume and intimidation can temporarily solve a problem, but it can do a lot of damage, too. Paul wrote about bringing up children in the instruction of the Lord. When we’re in a fed-up parenting moment, or season, we can rely on God’s Word for guidance.
A sure sign it’s time to stop fighting our children’s battles for them plays out at sporting events every single day. We have a lot invested in our children, but we shouldn’t be shocked when the world doesn’t play fair. When we follow Christ, unrighteousness and injustice make us rightfully angry! But uncontrolled anger isn’t a healthy emotion, especially when we allow it to lead us. Grip onto Him for life. He is faithful to guide us and encourage us.
Now that my girls are older, they aren’t just annoying me in the back of the car with their antics to make themselves laugh. Many days, they are struggling to process something they don’t know how to talk about, and it’s causing them to act out. Part of learning to fight our own battles is having a platform on which to talk them out. “If you’ve always rescued your child from facing his own battles and sheltered him from responsibility,” Amy Morin, LCSW, wrote for Psychology Today, “he’ll lack the experience and confidence he needs to get by in the real world.” Outward behaviors may signal the need to work out a deeper issue. Allow space for kids to open up about what’s really going on. When our impatience and anger get the best of us and we explode our children, it’s important to circle back around and apologize.
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