Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
In first-century Rome, men were “real men.” Or at least, they had a very limited definition of real manhood. During that time, the fathers in the families ruled with an iron hand. They could even sentence their children to death, if they wanted to! Many fathers were cruel, harsh and demanding. It would seem that some of them have survived, and can be found even today, harshly frustrating and provoking their children. This kind of parenting almost always results in the child being angry, even hating the parent.
There is another type of parent that can be found today. This parent is gentle and permissive, and is reluctant to instruct or discipline their child at all. They worry about limiting their child’s creativity, or squelching their spirit. They don’t want to make their child angry or upset. So, they sweetly smile and permit their wild little rascals to do whatever they want, whenever they want. This kind of parenting usually results in . . . well . . . everyone else being angry at, even hating, the child.
But Paul calls for gentle, loving discipline and instruction. Children don’t learn when they are terrified – they simply act out of fear. They also don’t learn if no one teaches them at all. As parents, we must gently, lovingly discipline and instruct our children.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. He instructs us, but there is always that love. He disciplines us, but there is always that overwhelming, never-ending love in the midst of it. Everything He does for us, everything He teaches us, is always grounded in love.
As parents, we should strive to imitate the One, True, Ideal Parent. We should love. Yes, we must instruct our children, and discipline them. But in the midst of it all, we must seek to communicate love. That kind of parenting leads to healthy, well-balanced children.
Dear Father, Please help me to love my children, and to teach them and discipline them the way You want me to. Help me, in all things, to point them to You.