Through the Apostle Paul, God gave fathers the primary responsibility for disciplining their children (Eph. 6:4), but in connection with this he also warned them about the danger of provoking their children to anger. If you want to exasperate your children in this area of life, here’s a quick list of how to do it:
1. Excessive discipline: Too often or too hard.
2. Disproportionate discipline: Way out of scale to the offense.
3. Inconsistent discipline: Child punished for one offense one day but not on most other days.
4. Prejudiced discipline: Unfairly favoring one child over another.
5. Unexplained discipline: No explanation of why the child’s attitude, words, or actions were wrong, and therefore no understanding
6. Unforgiving discipline: Despite child saying sorry, the father keeps the child under a cloud for days/weeks after the discipline.
7. Imbalanced discipline: Discipline is never balanced with encouragement or praise for anything done right.
8. Humiliating discipline: Aims to belittle and shame.
9. Public discipline: No attempt to hide the child’s offenses and punishment from others.
10. Bad-tempered discipline: Terrifyingly out of control.
11. Prayerless discipline: No prayer before, during, or after the discipline.
12. Heartless discipline: No attempt to get behind the why of the wrong and show the child the need for heart-change.
13. Unwarned discipline: Child was never instructed about what was wrong or warned about the wrong before the discipline.
14. Selfish discipline: Parent takes out frustrations on child to make themselves feel better.
15. Gospel-less discipline: No hope of divine or parental forgiveness. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is ignored.
When we fathers look at such a list, we can only say with grief, “Tick, tick, tick…” “Done that, done that, done that…done them all!” That’s why we must repent of our sinful discipline and cast ourselves afresh on our Heavenly Father’s mercy. But we mustn’t only confess to God and seek His forgiveness; we have to do the same to our children too if we’ve exasperated them in these ways. If we’ve never said, “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” to our children, there’s something wrong with us.