By Lois Evans
Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today.” Hebrews 3:13
One of the most important things your children should know about you is that you are always ready to encourage them. This does not mean you have to ignore their sin or disobedience. The inevitable times of disobedience require discipline, and we need not be slow in applying the “rod” when it is called for (see Prov. 13:24).
But too much criticism, even when delivered in the right spirit, is still too much. We all know that the Scripture commands children to be obedient to their parents, “for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Col. 3:20). But with the very next stroke of his pen, the apostle Paul warned fathers not to exasperate their children, lest they “lose heart” (v.21).
I think Paul specifically mentioned fathers here for two reasons. First, even though mothers are very much a part of a child’s upbringing, in the Bible it is the father who is responsible to oversee the home. Second, as Tony often points out, in many homes it is the father who tends to be more critical and demanding of the children.
Of course, children need correction. But part of the skill of parenting is balancing criticism and correction with genuine encouragement and praise. My hope is that when our children put our criticism and encouragement side by side, they will see that what dominated our conversation was encouragement.
Instead of exasperating or embittering our children, let’s equip them with encouragement every chance we get!