DAY ONE: WHEN DISOBEDIENCE TRIGGERS OUR ANGER
I remember the first time my oldest son disobeyed me. He was a toddler and exercising his independence. Little did I know that dealing with waywardness in my kids would become the most challenging aspect of parenting for more than a decade--and I’m still in the thick of teaching and training my four sons about the benefits of obedience. I want them to know; obedience always gives birth to blessings!
As parents, we forget that our kids are immature. Yes, they will also be outrightly defiant at times; but I find that often, we are dealing with our own unreasonable expectations for obedience. God desires their compliance, but we need to be clear about what is actually doable for our kids in their particular ages and stages. Reevaluate your expectations and understanding of childhood developmental norms. Sometimes, we have skewed expectations of what a child should or shouldn't be able to do. Be a student of your child, seeking to set them up for success and diminish your odds of being provoked toward unrighteous anger.
But what about our reactions when they defy us?
Unreasonable expectations lead to biting and cutting punishment, instead of training our children in the way they should go by pointing them to Christ. We are tough on our kids because we can be—because we are the authority.
Iron fists chisel stony hearts, but graceful hands shape responsive hearts.
The book of James describes the avalanche of harm that can come when we yield to anger. In chapter 1, verses 19-20, James writes, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (NIV)
Often our anger leads to other sinful behaviors—impatience, rudeness, and harsh scolding, for example. I certainly don’t respond well when someone treats me like that, so it’s unreasonable to think that our kids will blossom under that kind of discipline either. With the Holy Spirit as our guide, we can transform our angry responses into loving ones that still hold our children to a godly standard of obedience while also demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit toward them.
Even when our children are outrightly defiant, though our expectations are reasonable, the righteous anger we feel should stir us toward loving correction, not sinful responses. There is nothing that anger can do, that love can’t do better. These verses from James are a warning to us, but they can also be a spiritual goal, attained through the Holy Spirit’s transformation in our own lives.
“Dear God, you want all of your children to be obedient. I know that when we obey you, we receive blessing and you are glorified. Father, I want to raise obedient children, but I also want to model obedience to you in my own life. Help me to see my kids through your eyes and to have reasonable expectations, lovingly pointing them to your standards with grace and truth, instead of anger. Replace my frustrations with mercy. Make me slow to anger! Help me to run alongside my children, championing them and loving them well, even when they disobey. May we all be more like you, Lord Jesus! Thank you for your promises to help me become a godly parent! In Jesus’ name, Amen!”
This 5-day devotional is inspired by the best-selling book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses. For 31 days, Amber Lia and Wendy Speake walk parents through 31 of the most common triggers toward anger. From sibling rivalry to teenage defiance, one chapter at a time they offer both practical and Biblical insights based on the teaching of Scripture. Join Amber and Wendy and leave your angry reactions behind, fostering a more gentle and loving home.