Explanation may lead to Exasperation

Posted on · Posted in Authority, Communication, Discipline

Ephesians warns fathers not to exasperate their children. To be sure, there are a number of ways to exasperate children.  But, I believe one of the most subtle and discouraging ways of doing this is the wrong use of explanations in disciplining children. Explanations can become damaging when they are based on attempts at persuasive argumentation, rather than training based upon Scripture.One way to know if explanations are being wrongly used is if you hear yourself constantly saying, “how many times I have told you not to do that!” This is an example of seeing instruction as an exercise in knowledge transfer.  When you understand child rearing in this way, explanations will become a problem instead of being useful. You will tend to become exasperated with your children and they with you. Your goal in parenting is not primarily knowledge transfer, but to see transformed hearts. Deuteronomy 6:4-7

It is important to remember that sin, at its core, is deceptive and not logical. Thus trying to use detailed, logical explanations to correct children’s behavior will lead to futility and exasperation. Christ’s teaching was set apart from the teachers of the law because he taught as one who had authority. (Matthew 7:28&29). Jesus taught with the authority of God’s word. He did not rely on convincing, fine sounding arguments. He did not cajole or plead. He taught with authority. As a parent you also can teach with authority. Your instruction is to be rooted in God’s word not in what is personally attractive to you. You are totally dependent upon the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit to make your instruction and training effective. The more you can connect your instruction to the principles of Scripture the less you will have to rely on explanations that lead to exasperation.

Let me know if you have some specific examples you would like to address.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.