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Summary: Many people have written books on parenting. Dr. Dobson is popular among Christian parents. Dr. Spock was popuIar when I was young. Parents have looked to different sources for instructions on how to rear their children but what does the bible say?

FATHERHOOD: 101

Many people have written books on parenting. Dr. Dobson is a popular one among Christian parents. I was told I was raised on Dr. Spock. Parents have always looked to different sources for instructions on how to rear their children. The bible has some good instructions for us fathers. Let’s see what God’s word says about being a good father.

1) Don’t exasperate your children.

In the first three verses of Ephesians 6, Paul has instructions for children. Obey your parents and honor your mother and father. But he finishes with an instruction for fathers. Eph 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

“Exasperate”. Only occurrence of this word in the NIV bible. It means ‘do not frustrate or infuriate. Do not provoke them to anger’. Sometimes we as fathers are good at getting our kids going. We tease and goof around. But sometimes we might not back off when we should. We could take it beyond playfulness to where it becomes a situation where we exasperate our kids. I remember my uncle used to hold me down and tickle me until I became exasperated. I hated it. I need to remember that if I start to take things too far when I’m playing around with Shaun. If we know how it feels when someone gets us worked up we need to pull back the reins if we find ourselves doing that with our kids.

Instead of doing things that cause our kids to become frustrated to where they act inappropriately, we as fathers are to do the opposite-we help them calm down when they are frustrated. We instruct them and train them from the wisdom of the Lord. We teach them to use the tools that will help them when someone else gets them all worked up and angry. We seek to incorporate the character of the Lord into them. We as fathers are supposed to do things that will bring out the best in our kids, not agitate them to where it brings out the worst in them.

This rings true in the area of discipline. We shouldn’t be extreme with our punishment; it should fit the crime. Spanking is one thing-beating is another. Punishing to an extreme will exasperate our children and not produce good results. When kids get into the teenage years they can become more rebellious-breaking rules, talking back more, etc. And it can be easy to get sucked in and start fighting with them. How do we handle it without exasperating them? I mean, we can’t allow our kids to be disrespectful and defiant. No, but we can do our best to keep our cool when they lose theirs. We can instill discipline without flying off the handle. We can be firm without getting physical. We can lay down the law without screaming.

And we have Jesus as our example of how to handle negative situations. He spoke wisdom, he taught us to not be quick to anger but rather to be self-controlled. He taught us to be patient, compassionate, understanding and loving. And chances are if our kids see us maintaining control when they’re getting out of control, they will be more apt to calm down so we can handle things reasonably.

2) Don’t embitter your children.

Col. 3:18-21, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

“Do not embitter”. This means don’t make your children bitter or cynical. How would I be doing this? One way is how we respond to them when they disappoint us. When we say things like, “What’s the matter with you? Why can’t you get this right? Are you stupid or something?” This is embittering our children. “You’ll never amount to anything.” Embittering. You are fueling their bitterness and pessimism. They won’t ever look at life with any amount of hope. Life for them will be spent in despair and anticipation of failure.

I think another way we embitter our children is when we don’t keep our word. We tell our kids we’re going to do something with them or help them or get them something but we don’t follow through. They become disappointed and discouraged. And we become fathers who can’t be trusted.

Also Paul is telling husbands and wives how to set an example for their children. Husbands, you want your wife to submit? Then love them as Christ loves the church and give yourself up for her. Be humble and be her servant. And don’t be harsh. Harshness will not accomplish the true submission you seek. It might bring submission out of fear but harshness will not bring submission out of love and respect.

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