Exasperated Children, Clueless Parents
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Colossians 3:21
What in the world is an “exasperated child”?
Is that a child who threw a tantrum at the mall?
Is that a teenager who just slammed the door and rolled his eyes?
Is that a baby crying from colic at 3 am??
Every parent starts out clueless. Once you hold that tiny baby in your hands and experience his wailing in the wee hours of the morning, not even your Harvard-educated brain, or CEO skill set, or TED Talk coaching ability will be prepared.
It’s okay to start out clueless. But parents can’t stay clueless, just as babies don’t stay babies. We all need to grow.
Clueless parents are clueless that they have the ability to exasperate their children.
Exasperate (erethizo from ertho = stir to anger) means “to cause someone to react. . . provoke mostly in bad sense and so to irritate, or embitter.”
Our English word exasperate (from Latin exasperare = ‘to make rough,’ ‘to irritate to anger) means to make resentful, to cause annoyance, to irritate to a high degree, to provoke to anger.
How do parents exasperate their children? I think a more personal question to ask yourself is, Am I raising an exasperated child?
As a parent of three grown and married sons, let me share with you three key questions I ask myself every now and then (You might as well benefit from my success, mistakes, and wrinkles!):
1. WHAT DO I VALUE?
When your children observe your life and the way you spend your time, what will they say is valuable to you? Your regular behavior reveals your values, and your values form your basic foundation as a family.
In February of 2016, a Taiwanese building collapsed during an earthquake. Further investigation found empty paint cans embedded in the buildings cement posts when it was built in 1994. No wonder it collapsed!
Some families put their family’s value on educational attainment or achievements. Some on wealth accumulation. Others on career, or sports. While these are all important, they are but empty, plastic soft drink bottles, and cannot be the foundation of your children’s identity.
Children get exasperated when:
-they are valued, given time, and attention based on their performance, popularity, personality or appearance
-there is favoritism (whether they are the beneficiary or the neglected one)
-when parents words are dishonoring others, or when they talk a lot about spiritual stuff, but don’t live it out
-when parents are overly critical, fearful, absent, or unaffectionate
Children feel valued and secure when:
-they are loved unconditionally because they are made by God and in His image
(they are not stocks in the stock market whose values rise and fall!)
-there are consistent family disciplines and reasonable rules in place, for their protection and growth
– they see their fathers doing honest, diligent labor on a consistent basis
-the Word of God is the first and final authority of the family’s conduct and beliefs
2. HOW IS MY PERSONAL INTEGRITY?
Do you walk the talk? Do you follow the same spiritual standards you impose on your children? Do you parent in faith or in fear? Are you humble and teachable, or are you the parent that won’t admit your mistakes and change?
You are raising exasperated children when:
-you are an unfaithful, unreliable spouse, and impose hurt to their mother/father
-when you are manipulative and use guilt, fear, deception, or anger to get your way
-when you use Scripture as a club to hurt, rather than a light for all the family to follow
Children will love God and their parents when:
-the word of God is respected and obeyed by parents first
-there is repentance and forgiveness modeled in your marriage relationship
-parents are interested and actively listening to their children (with their mouth closed, but hearts can open)
-when parents are not afraid to discipline and educate their children according to God’s word; or believe Him for breakthroughs and opportunities for them to succeed and fly
3. HOW SERIOUS IS MY COMMITMENT TO PARENT MY CHILD UNDER GOD’S DIRECTION? (COMMITMENT & CONSISTENCY)
Do you have a daily time set aside to read the Bible and pray for your family privately, or do you just do token prayers? Do I seek godly counsel so I can constantly grow as a parent, and not just get help in times of emergencies? Or do I refuse to share any family problems with others because my pride can’t take it? Do I make a regular effort to strengthen my ties with my spouse? Do I even make time to be with my children on a consistent basis?
Children get “exasperated” when:
-Parents parent in fear rather than in faith
-They become the “punching bag” for a parent’s unhappiness, and have to shoulder a role God didn’t give them to carry
-Become “mini parents” because their parents are too immature or selfish to take care of their family
-Parents make empty promises that are never kept.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us not be clueless parents that exasperate our children.
Your word has clues that will show us the way.
Forgive us Jesus, for our sins as parents.
Give us the right values system and the right relationships to train up our children in the way they should go.
Most of all, we look to you as our Father, to teach us to parent in faith and not in fear, In Jesus name, Amen.
…but Jesus said, Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:14 (ESV)