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October 21, 2013, 9:36 AM

Elevate, not Exasperate Part I

Sometimes kids say the darndest things.  Sometimes our kids do the darndest things too.  Frustration. Disappointment.  Embarrassment.  Even anger can be a natural response on our part. What were they thinking? Why can’t they get their act together? What’s so hard about _________ (you fill in the blank)?  Your blood pressure can boil especially if your child struggles in area that you never did, i.e., organization, punctuality, etc.

The Bible says in the Message version that “Children are God’s best gift.”  Sometimes it doesn’t always feel that way.  Frustration sets in when expectations, some realistic and some not so realistic, are not met.  We all want what is best for our children—a vibrant relationship with the Lord, good health, solid character, and the disciplines that will lead them into God’s best for them. We know that choices have consequences and decisions lead to destinations.

As we “train them up in the way they should go,” we must be careful to elevate, not exasperate our kids.  The key issue is how do we love our kids and lead them through their choices to a place of maturity?   In other words, how do we nurture their hearts and minds so they can follow Christ, make wise choices, and learn to use hindsight in a foresight position?

In life, it is best to deal with situations as they are not as you would like them to be. Take an honest look at your children and identify what are their strengths and areas they need to grow in.  See these issues as opportunities to grow, not to grumble about. Your child must know that you are for them not against them.  The Bible tells us:

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4, NIV).

This verse immediately follows the passage instructing children to honor and obey their parents (Eph 6:1-2), and it helps us see how to make it easier for our children to obey us and grow in maturity. The key is to avoid exasperating them.

The Greek word translated "exasperate" means to provoke to anger or to enrage. And, the fastest way to exasperate a child is to micromanage every move, correct each misstep, and point out all the areas he needs to improve. Kids who are nagged and lectured soon become frustrated and often respond by rebelling, withdrawing, or "losing heart." We are so inclined to over-correct, we often end up fighting about small things that aren't important. We may win the argument, but lose the war as we find our kids disconnecting from us.

Instead, try walking beside your kids. Show them the benefits that come from living under God’s influence and lovingly allow them to experience the consequences of their choices. This is a far better way to create an environment in which a child can understand and embrace God's design for his/her life.

Pick your battles and avoid exasperating your kids. Next week, we’ll look at the second half of Ephesians 6:4.


Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris


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