My dad is a tease. Always has been, and always will be. He's always known just how to get my sisters and I going. (Of course he rarely did it to my brother because they were on the same side.) In the midst of these moments of, "Dad! Did you really? Are you serious?" - my sisters and I would eventually look at Mom, who would inevitably end the joking around and relieve our fears. Then, while trying to hold back a smile, she would look at my dad and say, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children" - to which, he would nod and smile back at her with that twinkle in his eye.
It was a long time before I really knew what my mom was talking about. Of course, she was mostly kidding around, it was her way of saying, "Stop teasing them so much!" She was, however, quoting an important part of Scripture that I never really took the time to understand.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
This verse comes in the context of and a well known passage about families and relationships. In fact, many of us grew up hearing the first verse of this chapter, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Many a teenager has responded to this verse with rolled eyes or groaning, and then, the next verse continues with the same message about honoring your parents. (Is it possible that even as an adult, I still struggle a little to hear those verses?!)
Now, I'm the parent. Now, I get to say these verses to my child during moments of reproof and correction, right? Well... yes. But now as a parent, it's especially important that I keep reading and arrive at verse 4. Even though Paul directs his words at fathers in particular, it is still applicable to mothers, too.
As I read and reread this verse, I'm forced to ask myself 2 questions. The first is this: "How much of the anger in my home is caused by me?" Paul Tautges asks this question in an article that he wrote called 25 Ways to Provoke Our Children to Anger. The second question is: "Am I raising my child to simply do as I say, or am I leading my child by example to live as Christ?" Far too often I fail at setting the example of maintaining my temper, accepting blame, showing forgiveness, and many of these things that Tautges challenges readers with.
I'm thankful for having great parents who I still rely on as I now find myself in the parenting role. It's not as easy as they made it seem, at times. It truly is a calling of great responsibility that I must continue to challenge myself in, lest I find that my sinful nature taking over the godly example that I desire to be to my son. And I'm sure there will be a small dose of teasing along the way, too. Hey, I am my father's daughter. :)
~ Carrie ~