Children Ministry

23 Ways to Provoke Your Children to Anger

The number one influence on a child’s life is indisputably his or her parents. Study after study correlates the role of parents and the success or failure of their children; how a parent raises their child is of utmost importance.

We know this not only from experience, history, and social studies, but we know it from Scripture as well. Very early in the book of Genesis, we see the vital importance God places on parenting children to know and fear the Lord, to learn to obey the Lord and keep His commandments. And we see the horrific consequences of parental failure in the book of Judges.

The significance of godly parenting is made clear in Ephesians 6 as well, during Paul’s exhortation to the Spirit-filled family. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul sets a two-part responsibility before the parents – the first of which is for parents to put off provoking their children to anger. This is a commonsense exhortation to parents. Don’t do things that will drive your children to become angry or wrathful, and don’t act in such a way as to put the temptation to anger in front of your children.

Some scholars have noted that normally in a family, it is the child who fears provoking his father to anger. Paul turns that expectation on its head because he understands that parents who provoke their children to anger lead their children to become the kind of people who experience the wrath of God. Paul understood that ungodly parents raise ungodly children – unless the Lord intervenes.

But children who are raised by people filled with the Spirit, if they follow the teaching and example of their parents, will grow up to be godly people who love and trust the Lord. While this isn’t guaranteed, we can say as we look at Scripture that one of the key instruments God often used to bring people to faith in Christ was the influence of godly, Spirit-filled parents. Spirit-filled parents are parents who avoid provoking their children to anger and avoid doing things they know will stir up their children’s wrath and embitter their children.

Being the parent does not give you permission to do whatever you want, command whatever you want, expect whatever you want, or treat your kids however you want. The Spirit-filled parent is intent on doing what Christ wants him to do, not how he wants to use his authority to serve himself at the expense of his children.

Here are 23 ways that parents provoke their children to anger:

  • Excessively severe discipline and/or punishment
  • Unreasonably harsh demands/words
  • Abuse of authority/unnecessary rules and regulations
  • Arbitrariness or unclear standards
  • Unfairness
  • Constant nagging, condemnation, and criticism
  • Subjecting a child to humiliation
  • All forms of gross insensitivity to a child’s needs and sensibilities
  • Overprotection
  • Favoritism
  • Never satisfied with child’s performance
  • Lack of praise/discouragement
  • Feeling unwanted/selfishness in the parent
  • Disciplining normal behavior
  • Withholding love/affection
  • Abuse of any kind, including insults
  • Reactionary flareups
  • Sarcasm and ridicule
  • Inappropriate teasing
  • Unstable and inconsistent parenting/parents
  • Overindulgence
  • Manipulating/pressuring kids to do or say things they do not believe
  • Parents who act shamefully and are not respectable

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, but representative of common things parents do that are fleshly, worldly, or ungodly as they parent their children. Parents, you need to take ownership of where you are falling short – and where you need the Spirit’s help to put off provoking your children to anger. Only through His strength, power, and wisdom, can we instead provoke our children to godliness and in the fear and instruction of the Lord.

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