How Do We Reform The Way We Think About Our Children?

Advanced Family Strategies CD #1

By, Doug and Beall Phillips

How do we reform the way we think about our children?

The Problem: We live in a culture that is constantly disparaging of the family, a culture that emphasizes fragmentation, as opposed to family unity. Consequently a culture that emphasizes selfishness. We are instructed to have our “me time”, (IE- advertisements of all these activities for kids for the summer otherwise how are parents going to make it through the summer if you have to spend all day with your kids.) The message: “Get away from your kids and lead your own life.”

Attitude #1: “My children are just a pain in the neck!  There are just too many problems, constant problems! Help!”

Attitude #2: “My children are so expensive!”

Some parents feel their real joy & happiness is when they get away from their kids.

We are laying up our treasure in our private time and our entertainment & our own adult peer groups & agendas. That becomes the idolatry of our lives.

Language of division and fragmentation is another problem. The way we talk to our children and about our children contributes to the way we think about them.  When we look at scripture we see a tender language between fathers and sons, “Son give me your heart let your eyes observe my ways.”  (Prov 23:26)

Dishonorable talk in our homes is another problem. When you speak honorably about someone, you will begin to feel  honor toward them.  If speaking negatively (“The old ball and chain”) we begin to think negatively about that person. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

The goal for this topic is to set a “Joy Goal”: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth”. (3 John 4)

Whatever joy I have in work or with my friends, it’s not as important as seeing my children walk in truth.

How do we cultivate this in our home?

Look at our children & imagine them as old men and women. We will long be gone from this earth when they are 80 years of age. What kind of legacy will we be leaving them? We are looking at a person who will stand before the Lord & hopefully will impact hundreds or more for the kingdom of God.  All the hope of the future rests on our children. Understand that we don’t own these children , God does. We are just stewards of them. This helps remind us of the responsibility we have toward God & not just looking at their behavior and worry about what others will think if they act a certain way. We as parents need to get over our selfishness & ask ourselves, ”What is the big picture of this child’s life?”

Do not wait for tomorrow to enjoy our children. Delight in your children. Our duty is to discipline them, but also delight in them as our reward.  It is an honor that we get to work with our children for this short time. The act of enjoying our children is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Not in just watching their soccer game. Delight in the fact that they are reading for the first time, that they are learning and growing, that they are hugging you.

Delighting in them doesn’t come naturally for all of us. There are things we can do to reform our actions:

#1 Affirming our kids every single day:

#2 Being physical with our children: Kissing, hugging, playing

#3 Get a good nights sleep!

#4 Don’t put our children on our checklist for the day. Develop a relationship with them.

Don’t wait until they are gone and then say,”Why didn’t I spend more time with them?”


24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Man to Become a Gentleman

24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Man

Boys will be boys.

For sure. But he can learn to be a gentleman as well. A gentleman in the right sense – not in a sissy, unreasonable manner – but a kind, respectful and godly young man.

It’s not that we’d ask our son to sit with his hands folded or keep him from running, building or exploring. No way. But we do hope he’ll learn to be wise, to consider others, and to remember that he’s a son of the King.

A true gentleman.


  1. Fear The Lord. It’s the beginning of knowledge. Prov. 1:7
  2. Listen carefully. A wise man listens intently and learns much. Prov. 1:5
  3. Pay attention to your father’s instruction. You’ll be glad you did. Prov. 1:8
  4. And don’t forget your mother’s teaching. She has wisdom to offer. Prov. 1:8b
  5. Control your temper.  “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty. And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32).
  6. Keep your word. A gentleman follows through on what he says he will do.
  7. Don’t hang out with the ungodly. Bad company corrupts good morals. I Cor. 15:33.
  8. Invest in strong, loyal friendships. The kind of friend who “sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
  9. Do what needs to be done. Without being told. Don’t wait to be asked when you know what you should do.
  10. Look sharp. Not sloppy or slovenly – simply neat and clean will do.
  11. Trust in The Lord. And don’t rely on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
  12. Don’t chafe at correction. Consider it an opportunity to learn and grow.  Prov. 3:11.
  13. Be known as a hard worker. Learn to enjoy your job and take on whatever must be tackled. Prov. 6:6.
  14. Walk in purity. Avert your eyes and run from immorality. There is power in purity.
  15. Be polite. “Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  16. Work out. Keep in shape. A young man should be strong and fit for whatever he might be called upon to carry out.
  17. Watch over those who are younger or weaker than you. Never be too big for the small.
  18. Serve others.  To humbly serve is a very manly quality. Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. Follow Christ’s example.  (Phil. 2).
  19. Look after the ladies. Step back to let her in the door first. Offer to carry heavy items for her. Protect and defend her.
  20. Make study a life-long habit. Commit to learning as much as you can about as many subjects as you can. Read books, research, observe and ask questions.
  21. Show respect for those who are older than you. Look them in the eye and shake their hand. Listen to what they have to say.
  22. Flee from sin. Get out of there immediately when you encounter temptation. (I Tim. 6:11).
  23. Be bold. As a lion. A righteous man doesn’t need be shy about what’s right. Prov. 28:1.
  24. Love God’s Word. Blessed is the man…whose delight is in the law of The Lord. Psalm 1.

So yes, boys will be boys. But prepare them to be gentlemen too.

In His grace,

24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Girl to Become a Lovely Woman

24 Ways to PrepareYou wouldn’t guess just by looking at her.

That she’s not so much a young girl, but a more of a woman every day. And that now it’s as though there’s only a small window of time to teach her the many lessons she should learn. This fleeting, but oh-so-wonderful chance to share wisdom to a girl who’s growing up right before you.

Because you and I both know it takes a lot to be a woman. And even more to be a lovely one. You understand – it’s not so much her appearance – but what goes on in her heart and in her mind. Things of truth and beauty. Of courage and kindness. Of strength and sweetness.


So how do you prepare her for that?



  1. Be gentle in words and actions. Let your beauty come from a gentle and quiet spirit (I Pet. 3:4).
  2. Determine to be strong. As a woman, you’ll face many situations where you’ll need to be steady and of a sound mind. Strength and honor are her clothing (Prov. 31:25).
  3. Live purely. There’s goodness and power in purity.
  4. Choose joy. You will bless everyone around you with your joyful countenance. Besides, it’s a lovely way to live.
  5. Seek wisdom. And as wisdom comes from above, look up (James 3).
  6. Laugh freely. It will lighten your spirit and everyone else around you too.
  7. Care for your health. Be sure and eat good foods, exercise, and get enough rest. If you care for yourself, then you’ll be better able to care for others too.
  8. Speak sweetly. People will be able – and more open – to listen to you if you do.
  9. Be willing to work hard. Learn to enjoy your tasks and take on what must be tackled (Prov. 31:13).
  10. Sing loudly. A song can both change a mood and give glory to God. So make a loud noise! (Ps. 98:4).
  11. Study many different things. Decide you’re going to be a life-long student. Learn about gardening, ancient history, bread-baking, new languages, natural medicine, geography, or anything else that fascinates you.
  12. Look after those in need. Have compassion on others and use your gifts to bless them.
  13. Bring beauty into your life. And into the life of others. Whether it be flowers, art, poetry, handwork, or bright colors.
  14. Walk through trials in faith.  Don’t walk in your own strength, but trust Him who will carry you through.
  15. Have a good cry. Now and then. It’ll make you feel better.
  16. Invest in a few good friends. Make time for and pursue relationships with those who can encourage you, inspire you and challenge you.
  17. Learn how to cook. It’s a handy and necessary skill. Because doesn’t everyone need to eat?
  18. Spend time alone in the Word. Don’t ever get too busy for time with your God.
  19. Be kind to others. Kindness isn’t all that hard to offer and yet has such a significant impact on those around you. And on her tongue is the law of kindness (Prov. 31:26b).
  20. Serve cheerfully. Look to Christ as your example, not what the world says about service. Nothing begrudging or stingy there (Phil. 2).
  21. Pray about all things. Don’t try to solve everything by yourself, but go to your Heavenly Father with your joys, cares and concerns (Eph. 6:18).
  22. Watch what you say. Your words have power to build up or tear down. So use them carefully.
  23. Love others deeply.  I Corinthians 13.
  24. Draw near to God.  And He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Yes, it takes a lot to be a woman. And even more to be a lovely one. But it’s so what I want for her.

It’s what I want for me too.

Lovely living. As a woman.

In His grace,

Reasons for Family Game Night


Recently we received our newsletter from Voddie Baucham Ministries. In it Dr. Baucham listed some great reasons to play board games as a family:

Game time is a lost art in the modern American family. Between Ballet, sports leagues, non-stop church activities, and the constant allure of various electronic media, few families sit down together long enough to play a game of Candyland. However, playing games together offers several benefits that we would do well to consider as we contemplate our schedules.

1. Game Time Builds Family Unity. While passive entertainment can be “enjoyed” together without any interaction, game time requires real interaction. We hardly get to know one another when we watch a movie, or a TV show. However, playing games together allows us to interact in ways that go beyond the surface.

2. Game Time Protects Family Time. Interaction with members of our household is important. However, that time is difficult to come by. If we are not careful, we will spend our time in the house together without ever saying a word to one another.

3. Game Time Reveals Sin and Provides Opportunities for Teaching and Correction. With small children in the home, it is important to find opportunities to teach important interpersonal skills. Game Time puts children in situations where we see their selfishness, competitiveness, and impatience on display. This is means game time is an important tool in the arsenal of the conscientious parent who wants to address the great need for the “fruit of the Spirit” (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, etc.) in a context that normally brings forth the “Works of the Flesh.”

4. Game Time is (dare I say it) Fun. Laughing, playing, competing, screaming and shouting (with excitement, of course) are all joyous expressions that make game time fun. I don’t know about your family, but around the Baucham household, we can sit for hours just laughing about previous game times!

In our house, we love games like Settlers of Catan, Pictionary, & Sequence.
What are your favorite family games? 


Naive, Unsophisticated Children {And the Evil That is Out to Get Them}

There is a common line of thought that says too much sheltering of children will produce naive adults that cannot function in the real world. In the case of homeschooling this is just an extension of the age old “What about socialization?” question. (As if the child who spends seven hours a day, five days a week in an artificial environment unlike any he will ever encounter as an adult, will be better prepared than a child whose main role models are mature adults.)

But ironically, this myth also abounds within the homeschool community.  Could it be possible that we decry the “What about socialization?” remarks but on some level we truly are still worried about it?

We fear that our children will stand shocked and bewildered when someone uses profanity in their presence or they aren’t savvy to the words and phrases that other kids use to speak of illicit sex.  We fear that the latest movie or pop star will be discussed and our kids will awkwardly stand there not participating because they have been too sheltered from the world and haven’t heard of these things.

Parents assume that the best way to know evil is by experiencing it for ourselves and so we expose our children to evil, but only to the degree that we deem appropriate. Yes, that sounds good.  And look it’s right there in the Bible in the book of…wait.  Nope, it’s not there.

God never intended His children to know evil.  He wants us to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.  Satan is the one who told Eve to taste for herself.  And he wants us to fall for that same old lie.

Moms, our task is not to bring up children that fit in with this world.  Are your kids weird?  I hope so.  I hope they seem like they are from another world. If we are fitting in with the world then we are conformed.

The challenge of every parent is to raise up children who love God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.  Children who have a living and vibrant relationship with Christ, shining a light that penetrates darkness with righteousness and the gospel.  We want more than just “good kids”.  We want kids who enthusiastically love truth and hate evil and who have a burden to go out and change this world–not fit in with it.

We want them to know the difference between right and wrong because of:

1.) A good overview of the scripture.  I can teach my son more about immodest women and the flattering and seductive women of the world, through the use of scripture.  He doesn’t have to experience it.

2.) We can teach them the major doctrines of the Christian faith as well as teach them theologically rich hymns.

3.) We can teach them from biographies of true heroes–men such as Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone and William Carey.

4.) And we cover it all in prayer, that God would bring the increase of all we sow.  We pray He would sustain them when they are one day out on their own and that their love for Him would motivate their choices once they are outside our protective walls.

We pray that the “faith of their fathers” becomes their own.

Shaping Them in the Greenhouse

One thing is to be sure:  Our children will eventually be exposed to lifestyles and choices that are foreign to them.  But we, their parents, are the shapers of their “want to.” Shaping them happens in the home–the greenhouse for tender plants that protects and shelters them until they are ready to be transplanted outdoors.

Children are going to develop an appetite and hunger for what they are fed. If all we feed them is junk food why would we expect them to grow up and eat nutritious meals?  And if we allow our children to listen to and partake in pop culture, why are we surprised when they develop a listening ear to (or outright embrace of) the world’s philosophies?

Our children will one day have the freedom to go places, do things and spend time with who they wish.  Has their “want to” been shaped by you?  One day their decisions will not be driven by what they are afraid we, their parents, think.  Their decisions must be driven instead by a strong sense of the presence and holiness of God.

Why Have We Stopped Protecting Our Daughters?

Posted on April 9, 2013 by Jacqueline

little girl makeup


My heart is breaking for our younger generation of girls. I am also a bit concerned about possible negative reactions from my readers, however I feel the need to speak truth. What’s the point of a blog if one cannot share their thought to be an influence on the current trends and opinions? Please do not confuse this as legalism or me thinking I have all the answers~ it is that I care deeply about our young girls.

My purpose is not to judge anyone, but to hopefully awaken parents of young children to the damage that is being caused by knowingly or unknowing immersing our young girls in a culture that is sexualizing them earlier than ever before and with terrible consequences. Please extend me grace as I try to share difficult thoughts, but it is so important to raising our young girls to be whole, modest of heart, and content with who God created them to be. They will some day grow up to have little girls and boys of their own, and they will need to be well-grounded in much, much more than the latest makeup and how to be eye-candy for the boys.

One year we held a large event in a convention center right next door to a state cheer-leading competition. It was quite embarrassing to many families as we walked down the shared halls, and what a distraction to our sons and daughters! From the littlest tots to the teen girls, all were decked out with heavy make-up, sparkles, fake eyelashes, and racy outfits that mirrored NFL cheerleaders. More than a few at one point lay in the aisles with their legs up in the air doing splits (stretching), exposing themselves without a second thought. Mothers were fussing with their hairdos and giving last minute touch-ups as they got ready for the next routine, loudly urging them to ‘show ‘em your stuff’.

very young girls, cheerleaders, ESPN, glitter stars

(With just a little searching I found some very troubling articles. This was published in ESPN The Magazine in 2010 and has been going on for some time. A sad wake up call for me.)

This girl can’t be over 12. What was the message that this child was giving the world, or worst all of the young men in the room? I fear it was the wrong message. (source)

cheerleader in skimpy outfit, sexualizing our girls

Many mothers dream about seeing their child break into something big, to be the next Mary Lou Retton (my era) or achieve notoriety and financial success like a Hollywood figure they admire. If they have to learn to dance like Vegas showgirls, well, that’s OK.

Mary Lou Retton, gymnastics, perfect 10

(Mary Lou Retton)

Some mothers want their daughter to be beautiful and admired and enter them into beauty pageants. We women are so often lured into this type of thinking—we are sucked in by our desire for attention and affirmation through an appeal to our flesh and vanity.

Jon Benet Ramsey and Patsy Ramsy

There is a temptation for a mother to use her daughter’s attractiveness as a way of validating HER own self-worth. Patsy Ramsey was a former beauty queen, but I doubt that she foresaw the tragic end to their story.

“Today, hundreds of thousands of children participate in pageants. Many of these children enter their first pageants as toddlers, even infants. Before they can even walk, they are dressed up in sequins and even wear make-up to compete for cash and crowns. The modern child pageant industry includes over 25,000 pageants and brings in over a billion dollars per year. The pageant world is obsessed with physical perfection and the parents of these children will go to great lengths to secure the crown for their daughters.” (source)

little girls in beauty pageants, sad girls

Major retailers are certainly not doing anything to help. Here is a CBS headline that caught my attention: Abercrombie bikini tops: Threat to girls’ mental health? In an actual Barbie-world store, the main aim is marketing to 2-8 year-olds.

I am trying to address something that has been on my mind and heart for years since that weekend at the convention. What I have to say may turn someone off, or it may help someone wrestling with this topic of parental involvement and the strong guidance of Mothers, in particular, with daughters.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.“ ~Galatians 6: 7-9

Why are we not protecting our girl’s hearts and minds, helping them to ease into adolescence and womanhood without a heavy burden of thoughts and exposures they are not emotionally ready or equipped to handle?

The feelings of comparison and competition to look perfect, be the best, and get noticed take their focus off of the simplest foundational things that should be of greatest importance: being part of and fitting into a family, discovering through healthy play and study indoors and out, learning to work and help run a home, cook, and care for others in an unselfish manner with a cheery heart, build a healthy mind and body by getting good sleep and eating nutritious meals, not to mention a relationship with the Lord! Building these foundations take years of consistent input and prayer for guidance by a conscientious Mother (and Father).

This article is not speaking about normal dress-up play that many young girls enjoy. It is part of emulating who they want be someday, but beware lest dress-up loses it’s innocence.

Consider what your children watch and how it will affect their body image and tastes. Even a small exposure to something that awakens them to thinking about appearances or sexuality before it is necessary draws them into un-wholesome comparisons. TV is filled with actresses that spend hours with make-up artists and seldom look like that on a day to day basis, but a child’s mind doesn’t have the discernment to understand that.

little girl with baby doll

6 year old girls playing dress-up



We have become such a narcissistic society that we have stopped being intentional somewhere along the way! Much of our striving has to do with how cute we can be and the attention we can gain. It seems today our value is measured by how outwardly beautiful other people think we are. And we wonder why we have girls dealing with depression and potentially life-threatening eating disorders; they feel they can’t measure up to the world’s elusive definition of beauty!

Do you believe that parents can/should have a strong influence over what their children believe about sexual purity? Should we just give up and abdicate our position as mentoring parents because it is too hard or embarrassing to discuss sex, relationships, and other difficult topics?

Dr. Joe McIlhaney, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist has come to some very disturbing conclusions over his long career caring for girls and women. His observations?

“By in large, the family in Western culture has stopped protecting its girls. Today’s young women are growing up way too quickly. We have abandoned our protective role for young women, especially in regards to guiding them in male-female relations and marriage. Hollywood programs geared to teens and young adults often glamorize the idea of young women who are sexually aggressive and loose.”Have we lost our minds?

It is heartbreaking to read what Dr. McIlhaney says about the impact, both physically and emotionally, that America’s sexual culture is having on young women. The back cover of Dr. McIlhaney’s book Girls Uncovered states, “Our daughters live in a culture that sees sex as both a sacred right to be exercised with anyone, at any time, and also as ‘no big deal.’ This culture of ‘hooking up’ among teens and young adults is no longer a secret.” And, it is having disastrous and long-term effects on our young women, not to mention undermining our young men in purity and character.

So the question for us parents is: How can we help our young women live holy lives in our upside down world?

The end of James 1:27 exhorts us to keep ourselves “unstained by the world”. How can we encourage this in our girls and young women, knowing full well that they are bombarded daily with messages that do anything but encourage holiness?

I believe it must start when our girls are little, it comes from how we model our lives in front of them, and has a LOT to do with what we expose them to all along the way! And if they are not little anymore? We then cry out to the Lord and build that relationship with our daughter as best we can.

1. Teach the whole Word of God in all it’s fullness and truth, trusting the Holy Spirit will water the seeds we plant in our daughter’s lives. Do it with joy and gladness, remembering it can’t be done in a day or a week. Over many years give them a thoroughly biblical worldview through which to see the world and make future decisions.

2. Bind your daughters hearts to you and your husband by interacting with them in everyday life. Protect them by spending time with them in wholesome pursuits. These years will never come again so we must ask for grace and wisdom to use them wisely.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” ~James 1: 5

I asked our 20 year-old daughter to recommend books that influenced her, and these are some of her favorites:

Books for feminine beauty and purity, Beautiful Girlhood, Set Apart Femininity, Leslie Ludy,

Beautiful Girlhood and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood are ideally to be read with Mom. Set-Apart Femininity and Authentic Beauty are for a bit older (10 and up?-you be the judge), and both have companion guides. These books are very helpful for us mothers coming out of the culture, too!

If I Perish and Evidence Not Seen are for older girls who are going deeper in their faith, learning to live an others-focused life.

I wish I had a formula for a balanced approach to protecting your daughter’s heart and mind from the culture without totally sheltering her. For me it was mainly an awareness that I needed a wisdom much greater than mine. This brings new meaning to ‘pray without ceasing’!

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” ~Proverbs 31:30

If you haven’t heard of Randy Alcorn, oh, I want you to! Here are the wonderful Guidelines For Sexual Purity he has shared with young people and their parents for years. These can be integrated into daily teaching our little ones (in small, age-appropriate doses, of course).

What the Bible says about Discipline


The Purpose of The Rod of Discipline:

  • To express loving parental concern“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” (Proverbs 13:24)
  • To offer hope for the most effective development of the child- Discipline your son while there is still hope.
        Do not be the one responsible for his death.” (Prov. 19:18)
  • To cleanse the child of willfulness and disobedience – “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, strokes make clean the innermost parts.” (Prov. 20:30)
  • To drive out foolishness, which in Proverbs is the opposite of wisdom and centers in the spiritual realm – “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” (Prov. 22:15)
  • To break the rebellious heart and deliver the child from eternal punishment – “Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13)
  • To teach the child -“Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.” (Prov. 10:13)
  • To give a parent rest“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” (Prov. 29:17)

The Guidelines For Discipline: 

  • Administer promptly before behavior patterns become set – (Prov. 13:24)
  • Temper firmness with tenderness – (Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21)
  • Explain clearly the offense for which the child is being punished – (Prov. 4:4)
  • Reflect grief with the child for his act of disobedience – (Prov. 17:25)
  • Remain with the child until the fellowship and the relationship have been restored – (Psalm 51:7-12)
  • Avoid unnecessary severity – (Eph 6:4)

Growing up in abusive home as a child, it was difficult for me to know where to draw the line in disciplining my children. I would tend to go the opposite way than my parents as to protect my children from going through the same hurts as I did growing up. If you have had a similar background and are hesitant about how to discipline your children without crossing the line, I encourage you to check out some resources. Besides the Bible, I have found “For Instruction in Righteousness” by Doorposts an absolute blessing for helping me navigate which punishment fits which crime, “Creative Correction” by Lisa Whelchel to be very helpful on creative discipline ideas, I have also heard good things about “Proverbs for Parenting”. Also, below is a book I have not yet read but I have heard good things about.



In his helpful little book, The Fulfilled Family: God’s Design for Your Home, John MacArthur provides a list of ways parents may unintentionally provoke their children to anger.  MacArthur encourages parents to recognize and avoid these potential pitfalls for the good of their children and for the general happiness of their homes. He also reminds parents that their child’s anger does not necessarily indicate that the parent is guilty of provocation; but parents who are responsible for inflaming their child’s anger are doubly guilty, for “[They] [n]ot only violate their duty as parents, but they also cause their own children to stumble” (109).

So how do parents needlessly rouse their child’s anger? One way is by excessive discipline. MacArthur writes, “I have known parents who seemed to think that if discipline is good for a child, extra discipline must be even better. They constantly waved the threat of corporal punishment as if they loved it. No parent should ever be eager to punish. And no punishment should ever be brutal or bullying. Parents should always administer discipline with the good of the child in mind, never more than necessary, and always with love” (109).

Another way parents can provoke their child’s anger is by way of inconsistent discipline. Here a parent may lazily allow several infractions to go unpunished, grow frustrated, and then lash out at their children. But this kind of inconsistency will cultivate both anger and confusion in the child since they can rarely know what to expect from their parents in terms of discipline.

Parents can also aggrivate their children with unkindness—making mean-spirited comments to their son or daughter both publically and privately—and by showing favoritism toward one child against the other.

Some parents are guilty of overindulgence–giving a child everything they desire without providing any boundaries. But MacArthur comments, “Research from many different sources shows that children who are given too much autonomy feel insecure and unloved. No wonder. After all, Scripture says parents who let their children misbehave with no consequences are actually showing contempt for the child (Prov. 13:24). Children know that instinctively, and it exasperates them” (111).

The opposite of overindulgence is the tendency toward overprotection, where parents do not allow the child legitimate and age-appropriate freedom. ”That’s a sure way to provoke a child to frustration,” MacArthur avers, “make your child despair of ever having any liberty at all unless he or she rebels” (111).

Constant pressure to achieve can provoke children to anger.  MacArthur warns, “If you never praise your kids when they succeed but always drive them to do even better next time if you neglect to comfort and encourage them when they fail; or, worst of all, if you force your children to try to fulfill goals you never accomplished, they will certainly resent it” (111). Although it is natural for a parent to desire their child to work hard and to excel, such desires must be balanced with patience and wisdom.

Finally, parents often provoke their children through discouragement. ”[N]eglect, constant criticism, condescension, indifference, detachment, cruelty, sanctimoniousness, hypocrisy, a lack of fairness, or deliberate humiliation” can all cause profound discouragement in children. It is no wonder why Paul instructs us in Colossians 3:21, “Father, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (emphasis original).

It is easy to forget that a significant aspect of our duty as parents is to guard our children from cultivating anger in their hearts. We help our children in this regard by not only instructing them about the dangers of bitterness, resentment, and unrighteous wrath, but by taking care how our words and actions—or lack thereof—may nurture irritation and rage rather than patience and love.

”Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).