As a parent we have the responsibility to encourage our children; to encourage them to good works, to encourage them to love the Lord, to encourage them to seek wisdom. If we can encourage, it goes without saying, that we could also discourage.

Fathers [Mothers] provoke not your children,
That they be not discouraged
Col 3:21

We may be more familiar with the translation that says ‘provoke not your children to anger’. Anger, frustration, irritation and aggression are all emotions that will break a relationship. And it seems that we as a parent can do something about this – it seems that I can either provoke or not provoke my child.

I want to do all that I can do to strengthen and encourage my parent-child relationship, so I’ve thought of six things that I can do as a parent, that would encourage my child.

A parent can make choices to either encourage or provoke their child’s heart.

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How to not Provoke your Child’s Heart

Be consistent – our children need to know that the standard we expect of them is consistent – the same today, the same tomorrow. When the lines become blurred, driven by expediency and emotions, then anxiety sets in and this is unsettling to children.

Be True – hypocrisy is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in a parent/child relationship. Children as they grow older are particularly tuned in to see us for what we are. We need to be humble in acknowledging our weaknesses but also true to the idea that we too are growing more and more like Christ (not just expecting that of our children.)

Be aware of Context – when children don’t believe they have justice, when they feel isolated from any comeback frustration starts to take root. When we consider the context of the situation, what is really going on and what is important before we make a judgment call our children will gain a sense of fairness and sense our genuineness. This will foster a response towards the parent’s heart and relationships will be strengthened.

Walk in forgiveness – not only do we need to offer our children full forgiveness (which includes forgetting and moving on) we need to ask for forgiveness from our children when we mess up too. We need to be humble and honest enough to admit we have done wrong and ask their forgiveness and commit ourselves (to them) to changing.

Be realistic – Expectations damage relationships. We need to watch what expectations we put on our children – remember they are learning. Our expectations need to be based on how much we have taught, practiced and expected. Our children are being moulded – we must give them time.  Our expectations must fit reality.

Be kind – the dictionary definition for ‘kind’ is to be generous, warm-hearted, considerate, forbearing and beneficial. Do our children feel these things from us? We can be so overwhelmed in our role as teacher/trainer that we drop these relationship building emotions. How much easier our training will be if we approach our children with understanding and warmth.

If you haven’t any charity in your heart,
you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
~Bob Hope

Sometimes we think that if we show love, gentleness, kindness, mercy etc towards our children that we lose our authority. This is so far from the truth. We don’t have authority in our child’s life because of a tough, bossy, unrelenting attitude. We have authority in our child’s life because God has given it to us. Let us not abuse that authority – let us be gracious, compassionate and yet firm and directive. Let us have our children’s best interests at heart, and let us make choices that assure them of that. We can make a choice today to protect our parent/child relationships by not provoking our children.

Over to You:

When you consider this verse about not provoking your children – what lessons do you learn?

(Love to hear your thoughts in the comments)

3 Comments

  1. Margit CK Hall

    Oh, this verse cuts to my heart revealing truth! I am guilty ….too often fall into an authoritative roll,..being too bossy, or demanding, and rigid with my child. I am trying my best to be more open, and soften up. It doesn’t really come naturally though – so it is challenging work. I will try to apply these principles.

    Reply
  2. Jo Lynn

    I enjoyed your article, especially the part about letting our children know that we also are always growing in Christ. It’s not just something we expect from them, and we’re all going to be working on it for our entire lives.
    I have been trying to admit when I’m wrong, and my kids really appreciate it when I humble myself like that. They always seem slightly surprised, but they like to have the discussion that everyone makes mistakes.
    I used to worry that they wouldn’t respect my authority if I admitted I was wrong, but that’s not been my experience.
    I thought you would like to know that I linked to your post.

    Reply
    • Belinda Letchford

      Hey Jo Lynn – It is hard to admit that we are wrong – and yet it really does so much in our family relationships – from rebuilding a connection, to setting an example. Thanks for link with my post – I do appreciate you sharing my post that way.

      Reply

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