In Lou Priolo’s book “The Heart of Anger” (Calvary Press) he identifies twenty-five conditions or behaviors that represent common ways that parents tend to provoke their children to anger. It is important to realize that a child or anyone who is angry cannot blame their anger on someone else. Anger is a chosen response and anyone who is angry is totally responsible for that anger. The command from Ephesians 6:4 is that fathers are not to contribute to the situation and to whatever degree I as a father may be contributing, I must stop it!
Today I will post the first 13 and tomorrow the last 12. For a thorough teaching on the topic, please read Lou Priolo’s excellent book. You might want to put a towel in your mouth to bite on because this is going to hurt!
1. Lack of Marital Harmony – Gen 2:24; Heb. 12:15
Perhaps the greatest provocation of anger in children is parents who do not live with each other in harmony that the Scriptures prescribe. When there is bitterness, it has effects on others and children can acquire this as well.
2. Establishing and Maintaining a Child-Centered Home – Prov. 29:15 (The book gives outstanding instruction in this area that too many homes are guilty of these days!)
Children start to see themselves as equal to their parents in status. It will bring expectations that their wants and desires will be placed on an equal status as the parents. Results will be frustrations and anger.
3. Modeling Sinful Anger – Prov. 22:24, 25
If you are displaying anger, your children can be learning your ways. It is manifested in the tone of voice or in the lack of self-control/ignoring actions – fight or flight. Teaches a child that there is no such thing as problem solving but the only solution is to win – get your way.
4. Habitually Disciplining While Angry – Ps 38:1; Eph. 4:26, 27; James 1:19, 20
When we are angry, it is easy to over discipline. The emphasis of our thinking and of subsequent discipline is to be on what the child has done by sinning against the Lord, not on how their actions have caused us some personal discomfort, trouble or embarrassment. Over discipline can be perceived by a child as a personal attack.
5. Scolding – Eph. 4:29; Mark 14:3-5
It is the expression of a bad spirit. As much as possible, all discipline should be done with as normal tone of voice as possible with carefully measured words.
6. Being Inconsistent with Discipline – 2 Cor. 1:17,18; Eccl 8:11
Common in 2 ways: First having different standards by each parent. Second is vacillating from day to day on what behavior is disciplined and how severe correction will be. The inconsistencies can come from different philosophies or methods of child rearing. One parent may struggle with emotions, spiritually, or physically. There also may the lack of wanting to put the time in.
7. Having Double Standards – Phil 4:9
Being a hypocrite. Calling for biblical standards in your children and then not willing to live by biblical standards yourself.
8. Legalism – Matt 15:8-9
Defined as elevating man-made rules to the same level of culpability as the commands given by God in Scripture. Need to divide out in a home biblically directed rules and biblically derived rules or God’s rules and house rules. Directed rules or God’s rules are those which all obligated to obey because God commands them. Derived rules or house rules are based on biblical principles and the obligation to obey is based upon God-ordained authority. House rules may be appealed but God’s rules cannot be.
9. Not Admitting You Are Wrong and Not Asking for Forgiveness – Matt 5:23, 24; James 5:16
A parent’s failure to acknowledge offenses to their children discourages the child from practicing open biblical communication.
10. Constantly Finding Fault – Job 32:2-3; Prov. 19:11
A parent is to point out sinful behavior and character problems but is not to be critical, condemning, accusing, or have a judgmental attitude. It is a spirit where the child begins to question whether they can do anything right. The safeguard is to purpose to praise, commend and acknowledge biblical achievement with greater frequency than reproving. Don’t turn every situation to reprove into a sermon.
11. Parents Reversing God-Given Roles – Eph. 5:22-24
A home where God’s order is violated will be a home that is frustrated. It presents confusion to the child on God’s plan for authority, leadership and submission.
12. Not Listening to Your Child’s Opinion or Taking His or Her “Side of the Story” Seriously – Prov. 18:3; 18:17
You may not agree always with your child’s reasoning, conclusions and opinions, but if you are going to lead them into truth, you need to understand their perspective. By not doing do, you may be communicating sinful attitudes such as arrogance, impatience, or a lack of love. To listen is to help your child learn how to receive a reproof biblically.
13. Comparing Them to Others – 2 Cor. 10:12
Every child has unique gifts and abilities given by God. Proper comparing should be made two ways: forward looking – by comparing where the child is today to the biblical standards of maturity or backward looking – comparing the child’s maturity today to other various points in the past.
Most men like straight talk. Just tell me what you want me to do and/or not to do. I do not want a lot of details but enough that I understand what needs to be done.
God obviously knows this and so for you fathers reading this who are like me, God gives it to us short and sweet. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) That’s it! The only direct command given to fathers in the New Testament. A negative followed by a positive. Don’t do this and do that! Simple, concise, yet so much to unpack.
Between now and Father’s Day, I will try to unravel this verse and hopefully encourage fathers who read it to be examples of gospel grace in the lives of their children. Tune in the next few weeks.