(Column from Letterkenny Post)
Parenting – part 2
‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.’ – Ephesians 6:4.
Exasperate means to frustrate or annoy greatly. And although he directs his command to fathers, mothers are included – because it’s not alright for them to exasperate their kids! What do we as parents do that exasperates our kids? Let me suggest 6 areas:
Hypocrisy – “Don’t ****** use that sort of language with me,” I once heard a mum say to her daughter! That’s hypocrisy. When we tolerate and justify faults in ourselves, but not in our kids, that exasperates them. Often when we see our own faults in our kids we can be more severe on them because we hate the reminder that that is what we are like.
Inconsistency – One day we correct them for doing something, later we ignore them doing the same thing. One day something is ok, the next day the same thing is a major crime. Or maybe we don’t like to set too many boundaries. That’s harmful; children need to know where the limits are. Otherwise we are messing with their sense of right and wrong, and frustrating the life out of them in the process.
Too high expectations – Do we expect a 5 year old to behave as a 10 year old? Or a 13 year old to think/behave like a man? Are we seeking to live our dreams through them? Maybe she doesn’t want to do the gymnastics that we always wished we had done.
Same expectations – Each child is an individual, with different tastes and interests. To treat them as if they were identical can lead to frustration on their part. Do we take time to get to know our kids and what makes them tick?
No encouragement – Are we always faultfinding, but never seeking things to praise? Or perhaps we aren’t faultfinding, but we aren’t encouraging either. If a child puts effort into some idea and comes looking for our praise and gets none, they go away crushed and disheartened.
Neglect – Not just the ‘no food, no care’ type of neglect, but the neglect that goes on in well-to-do homes where mummy and daddy are so busy working, or relaxing that young children become frustrated because they don’t get to see mum and dad as much as they would like to.
God commands us as parents not to exasperate our kids. What should we do if we have been guilty of this? Thankfully we can come to God and seek forgiveness for it, and ask him to help us as we try to bring our children up and show them how to live.