I had the wonderful privilege of growing up in a Christian home with wonderful, godly parents. Much of what I know about marriage and parenting came simply by observing the way they related to each other and related to us kids. What follows are five wonderful “won’ts” that I learned. Obviously I haven’t achieved any of these perfectly, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m growing.
1) I won’t give the cold shoulder.
If there is a disagreement or an argument, I will talk about it. I won’t give the cold shoulder. The silent treatment is simply unacceptable. I won’t stew in bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. I will keep short accounts with Jen, not letting grudges build and build. I will forgive seven times seventy times (Matthew 18:22). I will not let the sun go down on my anger (Ephesians 4:26), and thus allow the devil to have a foothold into our marriage.
2) I won’t raise my voice.
If I have an argument, I will, by God’s grace, not give in to the angry urge to raise my voice. I won’t buy into the stupid idea that louder equals clearer or more effective. I will work through disagreements with patience and love, listening to Jen and not trying to talk over her. Yelling, or any other form of angry outburst, is simply unacceptable. No slammed doors, thrown coffee cups, or kicking furniture. I will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19).
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3) I won’t become angry when my children sin.
If one of my children gets caught in a particularly “bad” or shocking sin, I will not respond with anger, shock, or shame. I won’t be shocked by eating disorders or cutting or porn or any other sin. Instead, I will treat them with gentleness, acknowledging that I too have committed many awful sins in my life. I won’t say, “How could you do this?” I won’t inform them that they let me down. I won’t be disappointed in them. Instead, I’ll work through appropriate consequences while simultaneously reminding them that Jesus paid it all. Consequences will be paired with gospel hope.
4) I won’t provoke my children to anger.
If one of my kids wants to do something, I won’t forbid them simply, “Because I said so.” I also won’t force them to do something simply, “Because I said so.” Using the, “Because I said so technique,” will quickly exasperate and frustrate my children (Ephesians 6:4), which will have a direct effect on their relationship with the Lord. Instead, I’ll seek to explain my thinking to them, and thus teach them how to wisely navigate the various choices they’ll face in life.
5) I won’t discipline my children out of anger.
If it is necessary for me to discipline of my kids, I won’t let anger dictate the discipline. If I’m angry, there’s a good chance I will make the consequences larger than the sin, which will lead my children to frustration and despair. When discipline is necessary, I will make sure my anger is in check before I dispense any consequences. If I must spank one of my younger children, I will do so in a controlled and restrained manner, never allowing my anger to be channeled into the spanking. Immediately after spanking my child, I will affirm my love for the child.
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Thanks mom and dad. I love you.