Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
If you were to think of a gift of a lifetime for your child what would it be?
- Would you give him lots of money?
- Would you build him a very beautiful house?
- Would you give him the best education?
Although all the above mentioned gifts can be good, the best gift that any parent can give any child—black or white, rich or poor, girl or boy, clever in class or not—is to provide an environment where that child can grow to be what God intended him to be: – to believe in herself, to follow her dreams, to learn how to live with others, and above all to honor Christ in every area of her life.
There are a number of ways parents can provoke their children to anger. The word “provoke” as used in the above passage means to make someone bitter or resentful.
There are different ways that parents can provoke their children to anger:
- By having unrealistic expectations of their children.
Although it is perfectly fine for parents to encourage their children to aim higher, it can be extremely discouraging for parents to set unrealistic goals for children. If, for instance, parents compare some children with their siblings it can be discouraging. Questions like, “Why can’t you be like you brother, John?” can be very dispiriting. Parents should always encourage their children to be their best but not to be like others—because each child is unique.
- By Breaking Promises
Sometimes parents make promises and never fulfill them. If promises are repeatedly broken, children will develop resentment. If you promise and for some reason you are unable to fulfill, let your child know well in advance and plan to fulfill the promise at a later date. If you promised them a vacation if they performed well at school or accomplished a certain task, be sure to do it.
- By Being harsh
Many parents think that the ONLY way to discipline a child is to be harsh. The quotation that says “spare the rod and spoil the child” was not meant to be a tool for subjecting our children to harsh corporal punishments, but to encourage measured and corresponding discipline to the mistakes done by a child.
- By Belittling them
Many times we do not take our children’s opinions seriously. If, for instance, we plan to move to another location or before we change their schools do we engage our children and seek for their opinion? As parents we need to know that children too are human beings with feelings and expectations. They can be hurt and they expect an explanation and even an apology when we wrong them.
So, how can we encourage our children, instead of embittering them?
- The Power of Love
When children grow up in an environment where they are loved, believed in and their worth affirmed they end up having a high self-esteem and a deep sense of security. If they don’t find love and affirmation at home they will look for it somewhere else. Your children need to know that you love them, deeply care about them and that you believe in them.
- Model the Christ-like Character.
Someone said that character is caught and not taught. Be their role model of faithfulness, hard work, integrity, self-esteem, respect and every trait you want to see in them.
- Spend Time with Them.
Parents ought to develop friendships with their children. Your children should not fear to tell you anything. Create emotional space where children can express themselves freely before you. Listen to them. One child said to her father, “You took time to have me, but you won’t take time to listen to me!” Come to think of it! Don’t underestimate their problems. They may not look big to you but to them they are real and need to be dealt with lovingly and carefully. Discouraged children are an easy prey to the devil.
Let me end with the question I asked at the beginning of this devotion: If you were to think of a gift of a lifetime for your child what would that be?
Again, more than anything else: education, wealth, fun, or anything you can think of, the best gift that any parent can give any child is to provide an environment where that child can grow to be what God intended him to be: to believe in himself, to follow his dreams, to learn how to live with others, and above all to honor Christ in every area of his life.