Do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged (v.21).
Amy Chua’s 7-year-old daughter Lulu was struggling to master a difficult piece of classical piano music. When she gave up, her mother ordered her back to the piano, threatening to dispose of the little girl’s dolls’ house if the piece wasn’t perfect by the next day. The threats continued: no lunch, dinner, or holiday presents—and no birthday parties for several years. Lulu was told to “stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic.” Her mother became hoarse from yelling. But then suddenly, “out of the blue,” as her mother put it, Lulu was able to play the piece beautifully.
Is it okay to harshly and excessively pressure our children to perform if we think the results will benefit them in the long run? As a self-proclaimed “Tiger Mum,” Amy Chua’s fierce parenting style says: Yes! Yet the Bible says, “Do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Demanding perfection is one way to provoke our children and dishearten them.
It’s important to remember that God doesn’t treat us this way. Rather, “The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him” (Psalms 103:13). Reflecting on our own experiences with God’s grace can help us as we parent our children.
Along with God’s example, we have His instructions on how to treat people. Our children have much to gain when we “clothe [our]selves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). And, “above all, clothe [our]selves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony” (v.14).
Harmony is often hard to achieve when it comes to working with our children. As children who have sampled our heavenly Father’s grace and love, however, we can discipline, train and teach our children in a way that makes Him proud.
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
How does your relationship with your heavenly Father impact the way you interact with children? How might you show them grace today?