Angry Parents, Angry Children

Human anger must not characterize your discipline. If it does, you have made discipline about satisfying your requirements. As a parent you are granted authority to enforce God’s commands, not your own preferences. Your authority is derived, not earned.

Human anger and biblical discipline do not mix. Man’s anger will not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:20) The key phrase is the righteous life that God desires. God did not give you your children so that you could teach them to follow your desires and wishes. When you make parenting about your desires, then, in your mind, God exits to serve you, to support your agenda and standards. When this role reversal occurs, you attempt to make God subordinate to your will. This will produce anger and frustration, first in you and then in your children.

Remember, when children sin, that sin is primarily against God. God has placed children in your home so that  they would be confronted and disciplined in a way that leads to the gospel. In this light, being able to recognize your children’s sin is a great blessing. Yes, you read correctly—a great blessing.

If you view your children’s sin as a failure to satisfy your desires, then their behavior becomes an interruption, an irritation, or a continuing exercise in frustration. You will be given to anger and miss opportunities to display the beauty of the gospel.

When addressing sin in your children, the theme of gospel grace must not be excluded! If all you are doing in discipline is correcting behavior, then the core component of biblical discipline, the gospel, will be missing. The gospel is not necessary if your aim is only to have a child who will obey quickly and have a clean room. However, the gospel is essential if you are to lead your children towards Christ and to find redemption for their rebellious hearts.

Discipline that is based on the gospel is motivated by love for God and not by irritation at bad behavior. Gospel-based discipline is implemented by a combination of pleasant words (Proverbs 16:20-24) and loving discipline. Harsh, stern words, hurt feelings and frustration will provoke you and your children to anger.

God has not called you to implement your agenda, but his. Anger is an indication that your desires have become the most important thing. Follow Paul’s good words and nourish your children with God’s instruction and discipline. Make the gospel your goal.

Shepherd Press