Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

on August 11, 2012

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

 While this verse specifically mentions “fathers”, it is clearly the will of God for all parents; both fathers and mothers. We can assume that because the husband, or father, is meant to be the head of the household under God’s commandment, and therefore the wife and mother would follow his lead in this matter. Therefore this verse does apply to mothers as well. So, what is it saying?

The word “provoke” is the Greek word “parorgizō” which means, “to provoke, to exasperate, or to rouse to wrath.” Parents are not to rouse their children to wrath. Sounds simple enough, but how can we accomplish this? After all, kids get angry if you say they aren’t to eat a bag full of candy, or if you turn off the television and ask them to help with the chores. The Lord is not telling parents to give children whatever they want to keep them happy. He is instructing parents to keep our side of things clean, and to search out areas in our parenting where our bad decisions, actions and language is causing unnecessary wrath in our children. For example, nothing angers a child more than favoring one sibling over the others. While parents will often deny doing this, I’ve seen many examples of families where one child is treated more favorably than the others. Perhaps he or she is the star athlete of the family, or the one with the greatest desire to learn. Meanwhile, little brother just doesn’t seem to take to sports and struggles with mathematics and science. Parents must always love these children equally and give them the same amount of nurturing, encouragement and quality time.

Children will sometimes accuse parents of favoring one sibling even if it’s not the case. My own brothers still tease my mother to this very day that I was always her favorite. While I hope and am sure they know this is not really the case, and that my mother loves us all equally, it is often the joke brought up at family gatherings. Parents will not be able to eliminate all instances of anger, but we can limit them by being cautious and examining our actions often.

Another mistake that parents fall into is one of inconsistency. Now this can be the match that lights up a fire in your child’s heart. This is an area I have struggled with and continue to fail quite a bit in my short time with my sweet daughter. Inconsistency with the rules, the discipline and the rewards can cause anger within your child. Kids need boundaries they can depend on. If you set a boundary and then bend or break it from time to time, children will be confused about what they can and cannot get away with. When they repeat the action that previously resulted in no punishment, but this time there is a consequence, they will become angry and rebellious. Be consistent. If something is against the rules, it must be handled the same way every time that rule is broken. Children need stability and consistency in their lives, and it is a loving parent who provides these.

Thirdly, children will be stirred up to wrath because of the sin of their parents. Children are always watching and listening. They hear when parents fight and speak cruel words to one another. They watch when mom is disrespectful to their father or dad is being unloving to their mother. They will spot hypocrisy when parents put on happy Sunday church faces and then become other people behind closed doors. Nothing used to make me more upset as a child then when people would talk about how wonderful my dad was and they never knew how things were at home. He was wonderful in public and kind and generous to everyone. Then, once we were home and it was just the family, his attitude, language and behavior would completely change. Your children are watching. Make sure what they see in you is a godly example of Christ and not a life of hypocrisy.

            “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” Proverbs 20:7

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2 responses to “Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

  1. Very convicting… I love it! This blog is just what I needed to read this morning! The thing you mentioned about hypocrisy rang a bell with me, about my grandfather. People LOVED him and only spoke good words about him, but my mom says, “They never knew what when on behind closed doors.” Just like your dad…. pretty sad, but God still has a plan and it makes us… not want to be like them 🙂

    • Amen sis. I believe children witnessing hypocrisy is sometimes what makes them want to walk away from the church as adults. They see their parents playing a role at church but at home it goes right out the window so they think faith is just a game and doesn’t change our lives. I was a blessed to have a mom who was really a solid believer so I had that good example, praise God!

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