“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger...”

By: P. Rich Harding

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.“

Ephesians 6:4


There is so much in this last section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (actually Ephesians I think is my favourite of Paul’s letters). However, this verse always stands out to me every time I read it. “Father’s don’t provoke your children.” In my experience this is nearly always the other way around, I have two boys, my eldest Noah is 4 and really knows how to provoke his dad!


But the Bible doesn’t say, kids don’t provoke your parents, but honor them. So what then? Do we really provoke our kids, and if so in what way?


       “Do we really provoke our Kids?”


Yes, is the short answer. It doesn’t matter how old they are, we can provoke our kids to anger with the way we treat them. Here are two ways I think we can provoke our kids:


  1. Raise our voices. Dr. James Dobson says that many people think raising their voice to our children (in other words, shouting, although we don’t like to admit it), is a valid form of discipline, but it’s not! He explains that it really doesn’t do anything at all!


     You should never shout at your children. If you do you will do one of two things, either     you’ll hurt them and build fear in their lives, or you’ll provoke them to become more angry!


  1. Be hypocritical: One of the hardest things I’ve found in parenting is changing my habits to line up with what I’m teaching.


From what I’ve seen counselling families in relationships between parents and kids this is nearly always the biggest struggle kids have with their parents. “He/she is such a hypocrite!” When they are younger they may not be able to express this sentiment with words but trust me, from a very young age children already understand the concept! So don’t think your kids are too young to feel the injustice of being told one thing and seeing another in practice.


   So what should we do instead?


What does this passage say? Instead of provoking them to anger we should “bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.” Trust me this is no small feat. First I’d like to note that this is addressing Fathers first and foremost.


Our job as Fathers is to discpline and instruct, this is not the sole job of the mother. It should be a team effort but has to start with the dad. Too many families have fathers who are failing in this area, and that failure is creating resentment and anger in our children.


I’d like to take a moment to say something at this point. If you’re struggling with this issue don’t just struggle on. Look into the subject. NO parent should be expected to just know what to do, that’s why there’s help out there. Find books and read them! There’s a wealth of great Christian resources out there on parenting. Then find an example, someone you respect who is further on than you, discuss your parenting issues with them and ask for their advice.


So back to what we should do. There are two things mentioned in this passage:


  1. Discpline: Discpline is creating boundaries for our children and then enforcing to them. We should never just let our children run wild, neither should we be constantly changing the boundaries and confusing them. We must discpline our children or suffer the dire consequences.


  1. Instruction: The best way to instruct our kids is with our example. In Derek Prince’s book, Husbands and Father’s, he explains that we should teach our children with our example. That means living up to what we are training them. (1) This can be something as meaningful as the way you treat your wife and how they learn to treat woman with respect and love. Or it can be something as simple as don’t eat a tub of ice-cream in front of them after you’ve told them they can’t because there’s too much sugar.


So don’t provoke your kids! Don’t wind them up and exasperate them creating resentment and anger in their lives. When you learn this you will find a lot of the arguments that your kids have melt away and are replaced with a mutual love and respect.


(1) “Representing God by Example”

Husbands and Fathers

Derek Prince


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