Even in Christian homes, parents and children do not always get long as they should. When relationships deteriorate, a power struggle can erupt. The apostle Paul addresses this issue in various ways. He does this from a Christian perspective. In connection with Father's Day, let's take a look at one guideline in particular: Ephesians 6:4. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children" (NIV). A somewhat more literal translation would be "Fathers, don't make your children angry." Children can sometimes become angry with their parents without having a good reason for this. But sometimes parents can be unreasonable with their children. That is what Paul is referring to. Fathers in particular must be careful in their dealings with their children.
What are some of the things to watch out for? Keep in mind how old your child is. Children are not small adults. There are many things they have to learn. Don't assume that it is enough to teach them something just once or twice. Some things will stick in their memory very easily. Other things will need to be repeated again and again. Pay attention to how you express yourself in your interaction with your children. Are you loud and overbearing or gentle and considerate in your dealings with your children? Parents can sometimes get very worked up about small details in the lives of their children. Paul warns his readers against making a big deal about something trivial. Stay focused on your main goal. What is it? He continues: "Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
The word "training" reminds fathers to be actively involved in the lives of their children. A "trainer" or coach really has to focus on the person being trained. This is a long-term commitment. Existing talents have to be developed. Bad habits need to be eliminated. How are your children coming along? It is not enough to provide for their basic physical needs. Are you focusing on their spiritual development? What do they know about God? What do they know about Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Do they know what it means to live as His followers? The apostle Paul gives well rounded advice to fathers. He not only speaks about "training" children. He also speaks of the "instruction of the Lord." The Greek word translated as "instruction" introduces another concept, namely that of admonition or warning. You can find many examples of this in the book of Proverbs, which can be found in the Old Testament part of the Bible. There is not only positive teaching going on. There are also many warnings against evil behaviour. How important it is to give children such warnings next to the positive training that they need to undergo! Fathers have a beautiful and challenging task. If you are a Christian, you know that the most important thing to teach your children is to know the Lord and to serve him in the light of his Word. That will help them to deal with the many questions and the many difficulties and challenges of life.
Dr. Andrew J. Pol