Children are a blessing as long as you don’t lead them to be a burden.

Part of the role of parents is to shape children to be all that God has called them to be.  That takes time.  Growing weeds doesn’t take effort – growing gardens demands patience and care.  If you want your children to be successful, you have to help them get there.

The greatest obstacle to creating devoted children is discouraging parents.

That’s why the Apostle Paul once stated, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:21).  While the word he used for fathers is translated as parents in one other occurrence in the New Testament (Heb. 11:23), the principle should be applied to both father and mother.

The instruction should be applied to both parents even though it was most likely initially directed towards fathers.  Unfortunately, it was directed towards fathers because men in those days were checked-out, unaffectionate, uninvolved men who disregarded their wives and children.

In our culture today, we are not too far from that example.  Provoking a child exasperates them.  The constant barrage from their parents will break their spirits.

Here are 13 ways you can exasperate your children if you are not careful:

  1. Hypocritical Example – Parents should not expect a religious devotion in their children that they don’t possess themselves.  Teach your children through instruction and imitation.
  2. Excessive Rules – If parents nag about everything, children won’t listen to anything.  Loosen your grip and don’t make everything so rigid.
  3. Unchecked Freedom – On the flip side, if you give your children a license to do whatever, you are dooming them to failure.  Children need clear rules on the important issues.
  4. Unexplained Boundaries – As the parent, you have the right to enforce your rules in your house, but you would be wise to explain them to your children and show them a biblical or wise reason for its installment.
  5. Unrealistic Expectations – When you expect too much of your children, they feel overwhelmed because they constantly disappoint you.  Don’t put unrealistic expectations on them that you didn’t or couldn’t meet at their age.
  6. Constant Criticism – Parents who constantly criticize rather than encourage wears a child down.  If they don’t receive affirmation from you, they will go looking for it in unhealthy alternatives.
  7. Unrestrained Punishment – Parents must discipline themselves before disciplining their children.  Unchecked, excessive anger leads to verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.
  8. Unaffectionate Interaction – Children need to hear and feel the love of their parents.  Don’t assume they know it – show it.
  9. Obvious Favoritism – Never make a child feel as if he or she doesn’t measure up to another child.  Each child is uniquely crafted and should be uniquely celebrated.
  10. Spousal Indifference – You may be at odds with your spouse, but that is your child’s parent.  One of the easiest ways to upset your child is by going to war with your child’s other parent.
  11. Devalued Existence – Children deserve a voice even if they don’t receive a vote.  Don’t minimize your child’s feelings by disallowing them to express themselves.
  12. Neglecting Absence – Your children want you more than they want your stuff.  Even if you are present physically, ensure that you are present emotionally.
  13. Insufficient Provision – A parent should provide for a child’s needs but not wants.  Some children feel frustrated because their needs are simply overlooked and disregarded.

Your children are precious gifts – don’t provoke them or discourage them!

For more on this topic, check out the sermon, “Disciples in the Home.”