“Fathers, don’t provoke your children, so that they won’t be discouraged.”
The perfect follow up to the preceding verse. Children should obey, but parents must not put unnecessary burdens in their children. It is easy to allow the weight of legalism to infiltrate our families and we construct all kinds of perfunctory rules and regulations, which are really just a tool to control. It is an ungodly mindset and undermines the ability of children to choose the right things for themselves. It makes them dependent on the parent and takes away their own sense of themselves and the prospect of a personal relationship with God.
The innate human desire to tell people what to do, can overcome us in various roles in our life, and none more so than in parenting. To be over-bearing toward the child in the upbringing of that child causes insecurities and lack of personal confidence. It encourages dependance on us as fragile human beings, and not on the living and true God who is searching for His children. To be too light-handed in the upbringing of the children, can encourage lawlessness and rebellion, which can also come from being too dictatorial also.
We work out the upbringing of our children with fear and trembling and dependant on the grace and mercy of the Lord to direct our paths, and bring our children safely into the heavenly fold. We should be more encouraging of them rather than the constant correction and punishment that some families follow. This is not helpful to the child. It could also tip quite easily into abuse and taking away the fundamental rights of the child.
We aim for godly, faithful, sincere relationships that guide our children into all truth, but realising that we cannot dictate their final characters or personalities, but leave that in the loving hands of God. Perhaps less is more. Perhaps a lighter touch is better than the heavy hand. God lets us make mistakes so that we can learn from them, and in all things leads us into all truth. Families should operate in this way too, and make independent and confident learners, who know the Lord and will walk with Him in courage and obedience, as we also should as clear examples of God’s handiwork.