"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
As I read this verse this morning, it gave me a little bit of a laugh because I could totally see this happening with Abigail. I could close my eyes and think about her rolling her eyes and getting completely frustrated and irritated with her daddy.
But that then made me think about how raising children is such a delicate balance of behavior. It really is. I think about this past Monday, the day after a very busy and long weekend. Oh, were both kids crabby and obviously in need of a good nights sleep. Normally, were they to behave as they did much of the day, there would have been consequences, they would have lost a privilege, or spent some time alone in their bedrooms. But because I knew the reason for their behavior, I just let the whole day slide. I encouraged them a few times to not be short with each other- to understand that they were just short on sleep- but otherwise, I just let them be how they were going to be.
Because I didn't want to exasperate my children. Yes, this verse is directed to fathers, specifically, but since fathers and mothers are a team, I think I can take this verse to heart as well. If I had come down hard on the kids on Monday, it just would have exasperated them and made them even more cranky and annoyed. Annoyed with me, annoyed with each other, and just annoyed with the day in general. Instead, I followed the second direction in this verse- bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. In this case, it was a day to show love, patience, and compassion, and I think by working around the crabbiness on those terms, it made the day seem so much better to them than it could have.
When I think about this verse this morning, it really is a good reminder for us as parents- but also a good reminder when dealing with people in general. When we're dealing with other people in a situation, we should never get to the point where they become exasperated- which also means annoyed, irritated and angry. If we were to see the exasperation coming on, it would be a sign to us to change tactics- to think more like Jesus and pull on the patience, understanding and compassion that we know is inside of us somewhere. Instead of making someone else angry with us, we should show them what the love of Jesus looks like and just love them while we try to give instruction or to help them with an issue.
I know that my kids are the better for it. The thing is, when you're dealing with children, there is almost always a root reason for bad behavior. Kids are not naughty to just be naughty- and this is where I really think that so many people maybe miss the mark, because they get so focused on doling out that punishment that they miss the reason for the bad behavior in the first place. When you work with patience and love, and use the Holy Spirit to help you guide your decision making process at that point in time, sometimes He can help you to see the truth of the situation, and you can correct the behavior first- you can see the root cause, address that, and then maybe work out a suitable punishment to fit the scenario.
With Father's Day upon us this weekend in America, this verse will no doubt be seen many times over the next few days, and while it is indeed a good reminder for Dads, I think it is also a wonderful reminder for those of us who aren't. So happy Father's Day weekend to all, may you be blessed this weekend as you spend time with family, friends, and fathers.