There are a ton of books and advice that is shared with expectant parents. Books that tell what to expect, when to expect it and what to do when the expected happens. There are also books that tell what to do when the seemingly unexpected happens, yet none of these books have all of the answers and many of them could be condensed into one verse from Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (NASB)

As a mother, I know that I am included in this admonition to fathers and parenting has taught me that there is much wisdom in this one verse.

The first point is – do not provoke your children to anger. At first read, you may wonder what does this mean? Let’s take a moment to dissect it…provoke is a verb meaning:
– to incite to anger or resentment;
– to stir to action or feeling;
– to give rise to; evoke; and
– to bring about deliberately; induce.
These definitions shed more light on the first point….do not do anything that will stir your children to anger, that will give rise to them being angry and do nothing deliberately to your children that will cause them to have feelings of anger/wrath/resentment/fury/irritation and I am sure that you get the drift. As a parent, we have to be mindful about how we treat our children and the feelings/emotions that can be a result of our actions or in some cases inaction.

In the midst of parenting, I often forget this part of the BIBLE as I have normally been provoked to anger. 🙂 God’s word is still clear that even in the midst of my emotions that I must not deal with my children in a way that will provoke them to anger. In other words, I must practice self-control and do whatever it is I that I need to do (pray, count to 60, relax, relate and release) before I attempt to deal with the item that needs my parental attention. Have I mastered it…not at all. Am I still working on this, yes I am and that is the beauty of God’s grace that he saw fit to bless me with His children in the midst of my imperfections.

The second part of the verse – but, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I love the word “but”…God doesn’t leave us at not provoking them to anger, He tells us what to do, we are to bring them up. Yes, we are to raise our children. I am familiar with the African proverb that it takes a village but the reality is that not all village members hold to the same beliefs and God doesn’t ask us to turn over raising our children to the village but He tells us that we (the parents) are to raise them. God created the family unit when he created Adam and Eve (Genesis 2) and as a result, the family was created long before the village. The family has the responsibility to raise the children and raise them how – in the discipline of the Lord.

Oftentimes discipline is mentally associated with punishment. However, the American Heritage Dictionary defines discipline as training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. Raising children in the discipline of the Lord means training your children, it is a process that when done properly will produce a specified character (Godly) and pattern of behavior. Everyday interactions reveal to us those that have had “home training” versus those that have not as their behavior is dramatically different. Olympic athletes train to be the best at their sport and often their training is lengthy and it involves their entire body, mind and soul. Raising children involves the mind, body and soul of the parent in order to raise a child with a Godly mind, body, and soul.

We are also to raise them in the instruction of the Lord. Instruction is imparted knowledge and that means that we are to impart knowledge of the Lord to our children as we raise them. Our children need to know who God is and parents need to live in such a way that our children know that we walk with God. The King James Version uses the word admonition which is mild, kind yet earnest reproof. When we teach our children who God is we also need to teach that while God is a forgiving God, God is also a God that chastens to bring about correction just like a parent chastens a child to bring about correction.

Parenting is job that no amount of books can prepare you for yet it is a job that provides continuous rewards and benefits. I am still working on my parenting and will continue to pray that God will continue to chasten me as He molds and shapes me into the mom that He would have me to be.