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Parents, Don’t Exasperate Your Children

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
A vital part of parenting is making certain that we do not discourage or frustrate our children.

Family Counseling Ministries -

Well-trained children seek to do the right thing in an effort to obey and please the Lord, even when they are away from their parents. In the 7th article of a 20-part series, Dr. Dunlap urges parents to see to it that they do not exasperate and confuse their children, according to Ephesians 6:4. He warns parents to be careful not to attempt to teach their children biblical principles that they are unwilling to live by themselves.

Many Christian parents are gravely misinformed on the topic of biblical parenting. They have embraced worldly child discipline philosophies that outwardly appear to be more humane and enlightened than God’s plan. In truth, however, these philosophies are dangerous and deceptive.


Perhaps the most prevalent deception is that parents have no rights or obligation to instilltheir values and beliefs in their children’s lives.


There are many dangerously deceptive child-rearing philosophies that masquerade as enlightened and humane.

According to this mindset, parents should abdicate their God-given responsibility for the moral and spiritual training of their children to other people, for example public educators, Sunday School teachers and Scout leaders. Our family witnessed an illustration of this ineffective child-rearing approach several years ago when a Christian family was visiting us for the weekend.


At one point in the visit, my wife put out a tray of cookies and fruit for the children (they had four children and we had three at the time.) Their children had each eaten about 15 cookies when my horrified wife asked their mother if she was afraid the children (ages 5-9 years) would get sick from eating so much sugar (which, in fact, they all did later that day.)


To my wife’s amazement, the woman answered, “That is not my responsibility. The children must learn to make their own decisions, and it is their choice to stop eating the cookies, or get ill.” All four children, of course, refused to eat the dinner my wife prepared a couple of hours later.

The children ate so many cookies that my wife feared they would be ill.

As my wife further questioned the woman and challenged her thinking with biblical truth, the woman stubbornly held out. “We don’t even instruct our children to act courteously and ‘mind their manners,’ because we don’t want to prompt them to behave superficially,” she contended. “The adults they relate to shouldn’t think that our children have been programmed like little robots. Then they would think that our children are insincere.”

Well-trained children do not misbehave the minute they are out of their parents’ sight.

The truth, however, is that God has a specific plan for how parents should train their children. It is interesting to consider the command found in Proverbs 22:6,

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when his is old he will not depart from it.

Parents cannot claim the promise of this verse without fulfilling the command. Children who are well trained seek to do the right thing, even when they are away from the immediate influence of their parents. They are aware that they should strive to obey and please the Lord, and they are learning to reverently fear God more than they fear being punished for wrong behavior.

A vital part of training up children is making certain that we, as parents, do not needlessly frustrate and confuse them. The writer of Ephesians 6:4 warns,

Fathers do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

God commands parents to consistently teach their children the principles of His Word. Further, they must see to it that their children do not grow angry and bitter as a result of neglect or abuse.



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