Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Ephesians 6:4, Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 22:6 Downloads & Resources The Duty of Parents Dr. Jon Morrissette - 5/8/2005 In celebration of Mother’s Day weekend, or in disdain for Mother’s Day if you prefer, the ABC Family station has been airing dozens of its "Super Nanny" episodes. The "Super Nanny" is a new reality show in which the show’s star, Jo Frost, brings peace to some of the most overwhelming and volatile home situations you can imagine. As a teenager, Jo began babysitting. But after college she took on nannying as a career. For over 15 years she has honed her successful methods of child rearing with hands-on, real life experience. From potty training and sibling rivalry to sleep issues and tantrums,she has solutions. I recommend the show to any naysayers who do not think parenting is a full time job. There is a reason we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I choose not to think of the misery my brothers and I put my mother through while we were growing up. On the "Super Nanny" you see the whole spectrum of childish behavior. Children smart-mouthing their parents or calling them names that no one knows how they learned. Children refusing to go to sleep hours after bedtime. Children screaming and crying, throwing temper tantrums, manipulating their parents, and being selfish. Children spitting at their parents, throwing their food off the table, and violently lashing out. Sign me up! Children can certainly bring out the worst in their parents! But what is so revolutionary about the "Super Nanny" is that she helps parents understand how ina short time they can completely turn their situation around. For even the most discouraged mother or father, there is hope. Two alternatives for raising children. This morning we come to Ephesians 6:4 (NIV). "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." If you look closely at this verse it is presenting parents with two alternatives. The one alternative results in exasperated children. Children who are misbehaving, who are frustrated, discouraged, annoyed, wound up, driven mad, and driving you mad! Instead of, "...do not exasperate your children", several bible translations read, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger." There are a lot of angry, exasperated, provoked children these days. We’ll get to some reasons why. But anger is one of the most basic human responses. It is like second nature. Anger is the root cause in a child’s misbehavior. When provoked to anger people (not just children) say and do a lot of really foolish and childish things. If you can address what is provoking a child’s anger, you can bring about dramatic change inhis actions and attitudes. This is why the "Super Nanny" is so successful. She first identifies, but then deals with the root causes in a child’s anger. Angry, exasperated children rise up in the vacuum of intentional, parental leadership. So one alternative for raising children is to createangry, exasperated children. The Bible suggests a second alternative. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." One alternative is a situation that is quickly escalating out of control, where parent and child are both losing. But the other alternative is parental training and instruction. It is one of intentional and appropriate control, peace, and harmony. This is awin/win situation for parent and child. When the alternatives are laid out in black and white, it is easy to make a clear choice. Who wouldn’t choose peace, harmony, and control over chaos? But that is not how parenting works. Parenting is the transaction that happens in the trenches, in the heat of the moment. You are tired. You’ve put up with it all day. You are at the end of your rope. Your child is fussing. Your spouse is making demands. The kids are fighting. Your oldest is smart-mouthing you. Another diaper needs changed. In these kind of moments it can be hard to have a clear mind, to have it all together, to be on top of your game, and to make a clear-minded choice. And far be it for anyone to cast judgment on you. But it is in these transactions that parenting happens. And it is in these transactions that children are either trained and instructed, or get provoked and exasperated. Lara told me that she always used to quote this scripture verse to her father growing up. I would have really liked her growing up! She could have given me some really good ammunition to use with my parents! I didn’t realize until later that the Bible is a double-edged sword, cutting both directions in the parent-child relationship! The "I" words which lead to raising angry children. The truth is that very few parents wake up and say things like, "Gee, I think I’d like to exasperate my daughter today." or, "How can I really provoke my son to anger so he’ll misbehave?" This provocation to anger is something that can happen rather unintentionally. Consider for a moment a few ways that children often get provoked to anger. This list is not exhaustive. Inattention Inattention can provoke a child to anger. Children want their parents' affection, and will do whatever it takes to get it. When my wife Lara was a little girl and her mother was on the phone, Lara would go into the kitchen and pull out all the pots and pans. As Margaret would talk on the phone, Lara would be banging and carrying on with the pots and pans. I told Margaret that Lara still does this. It seems that whenever I am on the phone, Lara starts making a bunch of racket until I get off phone. I’m just teasing, Lara! Children will do anything to get their parents' attention. If you ignore them for extended periods of time, they will make their move. Positive attention or negative, they just don’t care. Attention is the reward they seek. If you withhold attention and affection, they’ll escalate their level of activity until you notice. Tantrums. Screaming. Crying. Kicking. Hitting. Spitting. Depression. It is really difficult to raise children while juggling multiple jobs and other commitments. Over attention to work, overtime, television, computers, friends, favoring another child, or other pursuits are all things that negatively affect children. Inattention embitters them. Inconsistency Inconsistency can provoke a child to anger. Inconsistent discipline is a chief area of concern for parents. One moment it is a problem, but in the next moment it is no big deal. For child A there is one set of rules, but for child B there is another set of rules. One moment all is calm, but the next moment you are overreacting and out of control. The roller coaster of inconsistency exasperates children. It sends them mixed messages. It confuses their understanding of what is right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. Immaturity Immaturity can provoke a child to anger. In a flash of immaturity a parent might explode in a fit of rage and begin ridiculing the child, belittling him, calling him names, spanking him in anger, or even threatening him. Parents who respond in this way are setting an example for their child. Intentionally or unintentionally they are telling the child, "This is how you can get your way. Throw a tantrum. Call names. Lash out in anger. Break things. Be nasty. Get physical." Children will adopt the same patterns for dealing with conflict that they see modeled by their parents. If you are angry, out of control, and immature, why would your children be any different? The behavior parents criticize in their child is often behavior they themselves exhibit. Insensitivity Insensitivity can provoke a child to anger. It is very important for parents to know and understand their children. To spend time talking with them and gathering information. I have always been a conscientious student, but when I became a freshman in high school my grades tanked. My parents would get so upset and punish me. But I was dealing with all this pressure. We had major family things going on. I was being bullied severely at school. My friends were getting into drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex. That peer pressure was very real. I had mean teachers. My parents saw my bad grades, but they didn’t see my life and struggle. I hid it from them, but it wouldn’t have been hard to fish out of me because I wanted to be understood. Impatience Impatience can provoke a child to anger. Not giving them the space to grow, to be children, and to make mistakes. It is not important that we detail all the sources for anger in a child today. It is important that you identity anger as a root cause for a lot of bad behavior. It is important that you pay attention to your child’s need for affection, consistent discipline, a mature example, and being understood. Before we discuss the biblical alternative to these things, I might make a suggestion. Why not write these "I" words down on a list and consider how they are impacting your children. Are you giving your children attention? Do you provide consistent discipline? Are you setting a godly example for them? Are you being sensitive to their needs? Are you showing patience with them? I said earlier that angry, exasperated children rise up in the vacuum of intentional, parental leadership. Leaving things in autopilot is a certain formula for disaster. According to Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) a better alternative is to, "bring them (your children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord." This verse is encouraging parents, and especially fathers, to actively see themselves as trainers and instructors. It is an admonition to be intentional and involved. Instead of letting a child’s development spiral out of control, instead of passing the responsibility of child rearing onto a third party, a daycare, a school system, or some other program, parents are being charged with the responsibility of their child's development. Parents ultimately answer to God for their child’s growth and maturity. It is not something that can be neglected or passed off to some other entity. This word training has the idea of discipline. All training is in essence discipline. Consider part of the passage out of Hebrews12 that I read last week. Hebrews 12:5-6 (NIV) says, "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Proper discipline is an act of love. Discipline is one of the greatest acts of love parents can show their children. If you are not disciplining your children, you are not being a loving father or a mother. Hebrews 12:8 (NIV) says to children, "If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline),then you are illegitimate children and not true sons." In other words, if your parents are not disciplining you, then your parents are not being true parents to you. So why is discipline so important? Discipline is important because it teaches a child what is right and wrong or what is appropriate and inappropriate. It sets parameters. Without discipline a child grows up with no concept of right or wrong. Because they don’t learn what is appropriate and inappropriate in life’s relationships, they go through their whole lives and never prosper. But with discipline there is long life and rewards. As a parent you should never feel guilty for disciplining your children, providing you do it with restraint! Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." As a parent, do you see yourself as a trainer? Do you discipline your children? Are they learning what is right and wrong? What is appropriate and inappropriate? Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)also mentions the, "instruction of the Lord." As a parent you are responsible for your child’s instruction in the Lord. The church and church programs can be tremendous assets. But ultimately, you are responsible for your child's instruction. The Bible is the centerpiece for a child’s instruction. It is foundational to all of life. The Bible instructs our attitudes, our actions, and our speech. The Bible instructs us in what is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. The Bible instructs us in how to be good children, good sons and daughters, good mothers and fathers, good spouses, good employers and employees, good citizens, and good Christians. The Bible informs our conscience, it purifies our motives, it encourages our souls, it pierces the darkness of our heart, and it inspires righteous living. In the end, the Bible instructs us in things of eternal consequence, such as our need for Jesus Christ, our need for his forgiveness, our need for God’s grace and mercy, our need for God’s Holy Spirit to sanctify our lives, our need for a resurrection body, and our need for the hope of eternal life. In the absence of godly discipline and instruction and intentional parental involvement in these things, children spiral out of control. Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."