And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Anna sought counseling because she had just opened her home to a sister, who was relocating from a distant state, and her family. Watching her sister’s interactions with the sister’s children, Anna came face to face with her own childhood. Anna’s mother and father had used cruel and unnecessary means of punishment. They had beat her with a broom, locked her out of the house, and forced her to crouch with her feet and hands touching the floors for hours at a time, But she had repressed these terrifying memories until she watched her sister punishing rather than disciplining her children.
Meeting with Anna, I realized afresh that when parents provoke their children to anger, the cycle can continue for generations. Because the children have no safe place to take the anger, it is swallowed, repressed. Perhaps it lies dormant for years. When those children become parents, however, they are all too likely to follow the only parenting model they have and to take it out on their children. The good news is that the vicious cycle can be broken. The better news is that if we choose not to provoke our children to anger, the cycle never has to begin.
Prayer: Lord, help me face my own anger so that I will not provoke my own children to anger.