And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
I am really convicted by this verse. Paul draws a contrast between provoking children to anger and providing effective discipline. Clearly, I have been doing something wrong. Too often, it is precisely my efforts to discipline my children that elicits an angry response from them. Why? Because I fail to control my own anger. I am realizing that I need to decouple the frustration and inconvenience that a child’s disobedience causes me, from my response to that child.
I am truly amazed by those rare parents that I have witnessed who discipline without anger. They are able to correct their child’s behavior and apply appropriate consequences while holding their own emotions in check. When done well, the response of the child is contrition rather than grudging compliance, or worse, defiance. This verse is a great reminder to me that anger need not be the default response to discipline. Indeed, if discipline and instruction are done well, they defuse anger. I’ve been struggling to internalize this concept for over fifteen years. Thankfully, we serve a great God who accomplishes his will in spite of our struggles.
Thank you for your grace. Grant me the patience and wisdom to discipline my children in a manner that brings them closer to You rather than exasperates them. Amen.