It’s easy for me to show kindness to friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. It’s harder for me to show kindness to the people I live with day in and day out. It seems like my patience often runs thin—especially with my children. Constant arguing, fighting, and yelling—it all gets to me, and too often I react in unkind ways. Lately and not coincidentally—I’m sure, Colossians 3:21 has been on my mind:
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children….”
Chances are if I’m provoking my children to anger, exasperating them, I’m likely being unkind to their tender hearts.
- Losing my temper.
- Plaguing them with commands.
- Blaming them unreasonably.
- Disapproving of them.
- Preferring one over another.
- Comparing them to each other.
- Limiting their play time unnecessarily.
- Coming down too hard on them.
- Just plain getting on to them over and over and over again.
What a visual! I see myself in more than one of those examples. Can you?
We can have devastating effects on our children when we are unkind to them. The Bible says in that same verse—Colossians 3:21:
- “they will become discouraged” (NIV)
- “they will … quit trying” (NLT)
- “you’ll crush their spirits” (MSG)
- “they will lose hope” (NIrV)
- “so that they will not lose heart.” (NASV)
No doubt many children come to mind—from schools, neighborhoods, churches, and maybe even in our own homes—who have lost heart, quit trying, rebelled, and turned their backs on their parents—and even God—for these very reasons. So how do we train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6)? Ephesians 6:4 offers an alternative:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
The way of our Master and Lord is gentle and kind. He teaches us by coming alongside us and taking our hand. He encourages us and nurtures us to grow in Him—not only in knowledge but in actions. Our God is the perfect example of kind and compassionate instruction that helps change our hearts and lives (Psalm 103:13; Matthew 11:29-30; Romans 2:4). Sometimes His love appears tough, but always His love is kind.
May our kindness and gentleness be an example to our children that our faith is genuine in every aspect of our lives (2 Corinthians 6:3-7). May our example lead them to want to be “just like Mom” or “just like Dad”—but even more, just like Christ.
Father, forgive me for the unkind ways in which I treat my children. I know I cannot be kind without Your help. Help me to teach them as You teach me. Help me to be kind to them as You are kind to me. Amen.
Daphne Tarango is a freelance writer and recovery speaker. It took her awhile to write this article because it hit too close to home. Her prayer is that this article comforts others who might be struggling in similar ways—letting them know they are not alone. She also hopes the article inspires them to follow God’s example of kindness inside the home. For more information about Daphne or to subscribe to her blog, visit: http://DaphneWrites.com.
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