What should I avoid in parenting?

The one sentence answer is that parents should avoid wrongly provoking their children: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Col. 3:21). Again, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Here are ten ways to wrongly provoke your children:

  1. Discipline your child while you are angry.
  2. Scold your child, especially in public. Mockery and ridicule also work well.
  3. Deliberately embarrass your child in front of his or her friends. Name calling really gets their attention.
  4. Create double standards so that the child never knows who or what to follow.
  5. Preach a gospel of self-discipline instead of a gospel of grace.
  6. Never admit you’re wrong and never ask your children for forgiveness.
  7. Inspect your child until you find something wrong. Holding them to an unreachable standard makes this easier.
  8. Judge a fight between your children before you’ve listened to them.
  9. Compare your child to others.
  10. Promise your children things early in the day and then don’t fulfill the promise.

Parents should provoke their children in good ways: “And let us consider how we may provoke one another toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).

(This material has been adapted from Matt and Elizabeth Schmucker’s article, “39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 Don’ts for Parenting”)

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