Ephes. 6:4 (ESV)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
I concentrate on this section a little more than on listening to your parents. Generally speaking children know to listen to their parents, Christian or not. But I think this speaks to the larger issue Paul was addressing. It too often happens that Christian parents become overbearing towards their children. It generally happens as an outgrowth of legalism. Father’s become worried that their children will be led astray from God by secular influences. Parent’s will prescribe all sorts of rules that children find to hard to follow. This I believe is what Paul means by provoking children to anger. Being to strict, to quick to punish, to severe in punishment.
It is a trick to raise children to be in the world but not of the world. But that is what is meant by bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Sheltering children from the realities of this world is not going to help them. Being to strict will only send them the other way. It might be better to let them go see a movie and talk to them about it afterward than forbid them to see it. Pop music may not promote the best virtues in the world, but discussing the lyrics and the problems with the music might be a better alternative than consigning them to listening to so-called Christian rock.
Disciplining children is perhaps more needed today than in years past. I don’t know. Children it seems get away with a lot more today than I remember my friends and I getting away with. Some discipline is good. But too much is a harsher thing. I think most people my age remember belt welts on their bottoms. And I don’t think to many of us turned out the worse for it. But I do remember that at times it drove me to anger and rebellion. I think my dad might have done better to spend more time with us children training us.
I try to remember that with my son. I don’t get to spend much time with him. But when I have him I all but refuse to work. There are more important things in life. I saw a sign the other day it said “Take time to be a dad.” It is good advice. Take time. It works better than a belt or grounding, more rewarding too.
I wrote this article at the beginning of the week. Today I found this link to some lectures by one of my mentors, "Dr. Rod". It may cost 6.95 but my guess is that the lectures are going to be worth it. Rod's lectures always are. You can find them here