Summary: This is part three of our family series this week looking at what it means to not exasperate your kids
My oldest niece has a philosophy, actually she has many philosophies but I’m only going to share one with you today. Her philosophy on parenting is this: The government should put birth control in the water and people would have to pass a parenting test in order to get bottled water.
Makes sense to me, we make people takes tests to drive a car, fly a plane and pilot a boat. We even make people take a test to babysit but. . . any idiot can have a baby and many do. 400 years ago Samuel Butler wrote “Parents are the last people on earth who ought to have children.”
Two weeks ago I spoke about the Puzzle of Family and last week it was the Puzzle of Marriage, this week we are going to look at parenting. Because really those of us who have children want to be good parents, and now as a grandparent I hope my children will be good parents.
And it’s probably unfair but from my view as a grandparent I probably expect my kids to be a better parent then I was. And the reality is that I am probably harder on myself in regards to the type of parent I was then Stephen and Deborah are.
There isn’t a lot of advice on parenting in the scripture but there is some. A lot of times what we have are stories, stories of good families and stories of bad families. But the scripture that was read this morning has some helpful advice for those of us who have chosen parenthood or have had parenthood thrust upon us.
As parents we rather enjoy the first part of the scripture, the part about children obeying their parents and honouring their mothers and fathers. We want that to be their life verse, and it is a good verse, but it’s not what we are talking about this week, this week we are talking about the last part of that scripture, that part that says in Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Interesting choice of words here; do not provoke your children to anger. In the New King James Version it says Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
And the New International Version reads this way Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
And if you can remember being a child you can remember being exasperated with your parents and there were probably times that you were angry with your parents. It was Bette Davis who said “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” And sometimes it’s not a bad thing for your kids to be angry with you; you did the parent thing and put your foot down. You were right and you did it for the right reason and they were angry with you and they probably didn’t understand and if they did understand they would still be angry and that’s just the way it is. I think the technical term for that is “tough” and sometimes the answer to “Why” is “Because I am your parent.” End of discussion. And sometimes it has nothing to do with being fair and it has nothing to do with being their friend, because your first priority is not to be your child’s friend it is to be your child’s parent. Because friends don’t always have your kid’s best interest at heart. I bought my son a T-shirt years ago that sums it up and it says “Actually friends let friends do lots of stupid things.”
But then there is the other side of the coin where we drive our kids nuts. The side where we exasperate our kids by our behaviour. And we have a responsibility to do right by our kids. And that is an incredible responsibility.
So what is it we do that will exasperate our kids?
We Exasperate Them With Our Inconsistencies Our kids are an audience that is always there. They hear what we say but more important they see what we do, and they may not mention the inconsistencies that they see, but you can be sure they are storing them away for future reference. And so when we tell them to do something and then we don’t it, that is exasperating and when we tell them not to do something and then we do it, you got it.
There is nobody else in our lives that will see us at our best and our worst the way our kids do. And I know that it’s tough because they see us when we are tired, they see us when we are frustrated and they see us when we aren’t wearing the masks that we wear in public.