More specific thoughts on provoking your children to anger

16 Oct

One of our responsibilities as parents is not to provoke our children to anger.  

I suggested a number of different ways people can do that several weeks ago and I thought we could look at each of those a little more closely in the next several blog posts.  

One way to provoke your children to anger is to be a sinfully angry person yourself.

Angry parents have angry babies. 

There are many different Proverbs that talk about that. 

Proverbs 15:18, “A hot tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

You will meet people sometimes who yell and scream at their wives and at their children and they can’t figure out why their children yell and scream at them.  They don’t have self-control because their parent doesn’t have any self-control either!   

When a child is growing up in a family with an angry father or an angry mother, he learns to become angry himself.  He is literally being trained in getting ticked off.

In Proverbs 22:24 and 25 Solomon explains that we shouldn’t make “a friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

In Ephesians 4:26ff we see that there is even a supernatural element to this, because Paul says there that when we don’t deal with our anger biblically, we give the devil an opportunity and what he means is that when we are sinfully angry it is like we are leaving the door unlocked and open for the devil to come in and cause all kinds of destruction to our families.

And the point of all of this is that as a father, Paul’s command not to provoke your children to anger, means you need to set the pace in your family, and show your children the right way to deal with anger.  As selfish people there are all kinds of things every day that we can get mad about, and you need to show your family what it looks like to be self-controlled when you are not getting what you want.  

When my children really struggle with self-control, it is a good chance for me to ask myself, is it because I really struggle with self-control as well?

Another way to provoke your children to anger is to speak in harsh or pain producing ways.

If I wanted to get your attention, I could come up to you and pat you on the shoulder or I could come up to you and slap you in the face.

Either way I am going to get your attention, but there are going to be some pretty different reactions. 

The same is true with the way you speak.  

Sometimes the way people speak is like a slap in the face, and really they shouldn’t be surprised when people respond by getting angry.

Solomon puts it very simply:

Proverbs 15:1, “A harsh word stirs up anger.”

Now harsh could refer to the actual content of your words, where you put people down or it can even refer to your tone, speaking in a way that is intended to make the other person hurt.

You can slap people in the face with what you say or you can slap them in the face with how you say it.  

If you need some specific examples of this kind of speech, would be Proverbs 11:12 which talks about belittling speech.  Now I like that English word, belittle, because this is speech where you are basically saying to someone with the way you talk to them, be little.  This is where a parent talks in such a way to make his child feel like a fool. 

“You idiot.” 

“Do you have a brain?”

Another kind of harsh word, that Proverbs talks about are, rash words, Proverbs 12:18.  Rash words are words that are spoken in the heat of the moment without thinking.  They are words you use when you are angry like a knife in a fight, just to jab at somebody.

Anger wakes up our selfish desires and puts the security guard for our mouth to sleep and so it is easy for attacking words just to rush out.

And when that’s something that is happening on a regular basis, it produces children who do the same thing.

Now I want to give you two very specific warnings. 

The first is that when you have the television on all the time, you have to realize, the people your children are watching are training them in all of this stuff as well.  It may be that you aren’t saying nasty words at home, but still your children are hearing these nasty words and guess what, don’t be surprised when they start imitating what they see on T.V. as well.

And the second is just that sometimes when you grow up in a certain place around certain people who have a certain way of speaking, you don’t even notice how harsh that way of talking is, because you are used to it. 

Like when your child has headphones on and they are listening to loud music and so they talk to you but they are basically shouting and they don’t notice it?

Sometimes people are like that with children, they are just used to using harsh words with children, that’s what they hear around them all the time, that’s what they heard when they were growing up, and so they don’t even notice how rough they are being  and I am telling you  I see that kind of thing all the time.  It’s not uncommon at all for people to speak in really terribly harsh, rude ways to their children and they don’t even seem to notice. 

If your children are really harsh in their language and seem angry, you need to stop as a parent and evaluate the way you speak as well. 

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One Response to “More specific thoughts on provoking your children to anger”

  1. jack October 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    thanks, Josh. Good heart searching words…

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