Ways Not to Provoke Your Children

provoke your child
DO not provoke

There are two scripture passages that tell fathers not to provoke their children to anger. Ephesians says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.”  Colossians says: “Fathers, don’t provoke (irritage, agitate) your children to anger.” 

Fathers are named in this passage, but it speaks to any parent in any stage of life. There are several reasons. For starters, the father is head of the home. He tends to become more quickly frustrated with his children. And, what the father does is more easily followed by the mother than the other way around.

To provoke is to purposefully stir something up. This includes goading a child, or irritating a child. It’s a purposeful action with an intent. Provoking shows no care for the person who is provoked. Rather, it shows authority and power on the one who provokes.

How we provoke our children

We provoke our children when we abuse our authority. Our children are smaller, think slower, and not as adept physically as are we. Therefore we must adapt ourselves to their stride and abilities instead of “provoking” them by requiring what they are incapable of doing. We (often) expect them to be able to do more than they can. We make excuses for ourselves but do not allow their failures any grace.

Here are eight ways we exasperate our children.

  1. Make promises we don’t keep. The word “maybe” means yes to your kids. Remember that. Say “Yes” when you can and “no” when you must.
  2. Nag. Continually find fault. Constant criticism is not constructive, even if we think it makes us feel better. 
  3. Micromanage. When we’re afraid of what others will think of our kids, we must not give in to the temptation of micromanagement.
  4. Unrealistic expectations. Do not expect them to behave and act like adults or children older than they are. [Children should be given “chores” consistent with their age and ability.]
  5. Show partiality. Favoritism widens the gap in relationships. [Isaac loved Esau best; Rebekah loved Jacob most. Do you have a “favorite” child?]
  6. Inconsistency. Whether it’s in enforcing rules or exercising discipline, be consistent. [Sometimes a behavior is allowed, and other times it make you hit the fan; they never know what to expect.]
  7. Design punishment that exceeds the nature of the infraction. Spilled milk does not warrant time-out or a spanking. [Let them help clean it up.]
  8. Ignore them. Children need our attention and our time. Children spell love with 4 letters: T.I.M.E.  Be present when you are with them.

Looking back and looking ahead

I know more about this now than I did then – when we were raising our half-dozen race horses. Experience is a great teacher – but the lessons learned come after the experience, not before! As parents, we do the best we can with what we know. We should also be constantly learning how to do know more and do better. Scripture is full of wisdom to guide us. Other parents who are empty-nesters have a wealth of wisdom; just ask! Most importantly, pray for and with your children. When you mess up, remember there is always forgiveness at the cross. Leave it at the cross, and keep pressing on. Don’t quit and don’t give up. Focus on winning the war even when you sometimes lose a skirmish. When your heart is right as you parent your child, you will succeed.

Pinterest How NOT to provoke your child

Photo credit: Mo Farrelly via pixabay.com

Credit for the points in this blog post belong to Dave who – once again – graciously gives permission to use (partial) notes from his sermon on Colossians 3:18-25. 


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