Growing Up to Help Them Grow Up
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
I’ve had more than a few no-so-stellar parenting moments of which my kids occasionally remind me. Once, when they were maybe four and five years old, we were out playing in the snow when they wanted to make snow forts for a snowball fight. We built small opposing walls a few feet apart with my daughter and I behind one, throwing snowballs at my son behind his. My daughter was young enough that she couldn’t make snowballs or throw them far enough to hit my son, so she just kept picking up handfuls of snow and throwing them in my face. It was funny the first time, but it was cold out, so I told her to stop. After she did it a few more times, I lost my cool, picked up a handful of snow, and threw it in her face. She burst into tears and wanted to go inside, where I knew she would tell mom. I know – great parenting.
As parents, we’re supposed to be the grown-ups. We’re supposed to be mature. So often though, our guidance is hampered by our persistent flaws an immaturities. We’re not perfect and our imperfections are usually on most obvious display with those whom we’re supposed to love the most.
I’d like to say that the snow throwing incident was my worst parenting moment, but in my drug addiction, I abdicated my responsibilities as the mature father and acted like an impulsive child. In my addiction, I was tremendously hypocritical trying to teach my children how to live rightly, when I was following a path of such destruction.
In today’s passage, Paul instructed us as fathers not to provoke our children to anger. He knew that in disciplining and training our children, we’d often give in to our own impulsive, fallen nature, becoming angry ourselves. He knew that it is our own flaws which represent the biggest obstacle to raising our children well.
Acting like children, it’s difficult to help our kids grow up. It’s futile to yell at our kids for yelling at each other. It’s ridiculous to teach our kids not to engage in sexual sin while we’re looking at pornography. It’s hypocritical to raise them not to use drugs while we’re addicted. If we want our children to live right, then we must grow up and model right living for them. If we want our children to follow God, then we must show them how. Our kids model our behavior, so daily, we must live in such in a way that we’d be proud for them to follow.