Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (EPH 6:4 ESV)
Kids can make you angry as a parent from the day they are born. They cry and deprive you of sleep. They bring out differences of opinion with your spouse. But we cut them slack and forgive because we know they are too young to know what they are doing. As they get older, they find all kinds of new ways to frustrate you and it becomes harder and harder to let it slide because we know they are more and more culpable. I say all of this because I know there are a thousand reasons for father’s to be mad at their children, and that it is not hard to justify yelling and exasperated, detailed accounts of all of their problems.
And yet, fellow fathers, we are not to provoke them to anger. We are not to exasperated them. This does not mean avoid discipline, but before we discipline they must know that we love them. They must know discipline is not rejection and condemnation. They must know grace ahead of discipline. This requires us to draw from a strength greater than our own. We need to know our own father’s grace toward us. We need to be intimately familiar with the gospel. This is the well from which we must draw.