12 Ways to Provoke Your Children to Anger (Lou Priolo)

Where your children angry today? If so, did you stop to ask why? In your search for a solution, did you consider that you may be part of the problem?

Unfortunately, parents and children often make life much harder for each other than it would need be otherwise. I know what it is like. All too easily our homes degenerate into mutual-maddening societies, where the words exchanged sound little better than the trash talk of opposing sports teams or presidential candidates.

Dads, the responsibility for our homes begins with us. Paul gave first-century fathers advice that we can’t afford to ignore today:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

How might I provoke my children to anger? Last spring I attended a homeschool convention talk by Lou Priolo where he answered this question. Today I found my notes from that talk. Parenting isn’t typical content for this blog, but I thought I’d adapt his thoughts here so I can toss my paper notes.

Here are twelve ways we dads (and moms) can provoke our children to anger:

  1. Lack marital harmony with your spouse. (Priolo noted that only marriage partners, not children, are described as being “one flesh”—literally, “one person.” Our children are not “one flesh” with us, and our relationship with them is not designed to be as permanent or intimate as our relationship with our spouse. This leads to the next point.)
  2. Establish and maintain a child-centered home. Allow your children to interrupt, manipulate, dictate the schedule, take precedence over your spouse, demand time and attention, speak to you as to a peer, and require coddling to come out of a bad mood.
  3. Model sinful anger. Show your children what real anger looks like. When life feels out of control, regain control by bitter cuts or dramatic explosions.
  4. Discipline in anger. Discipline to meet your own needs, not your child’s needs.
  5. Discipline inconsistently. Discipline (or don’t) for different reasons on different days—or differently than your spouse.
  6. Have double standards. Expect your children to do as you say, not as you do.
  7. Be legalistic. Raise man’s commands to the level of God’s commands. Fail to distinguish between God’s law (biblically directed rules such as honesty and love) and parental law (biblically derived rules such as curfews or table manners). Don’t allow your children to ever appeal your parental rules—after all, they can’t appeal God’s rules, right?
  8. Never admit you are wrong. Don’t be open to reason (James 3:17). Stick to your guns and never change course.
  9. Have unrealistic expectations. Expect children to want to do what is right all the time, not just do right even when they don’t want to. Expect unregenerate teenagers to act as Christians. Emphasize achievement over character, and perfection over confession.
  10. Abuse your children physically. Be like Balaam: Don’t worry about collecting all the data first. Just strike out of embarrassment, and don’t worry if you lose control.
  11. Scold them. You want to break their spirits, crush their pride.
  12. Train them with worldly methodologies that are inconsistent with God’s word. Talk lots about “the Lord,” but parent based on the “discipline and instruction” of people who don’t know or care about the Lord.

Come to think of it, many of these points are also relevant for others, such as church leaders. May God help us to bring peace to those who depend on our care, not provoke them to anger.

Thanks for reading! Add your insights in the comments below.


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