The way we parent reflects our view of Jesus. Knowing this can be a troubling burden to carry, Paul encourages parents—fathers in particular—to avoid embittering their child. Because children make decisions about who God is based on what they see in their parents, parents can embitter a child. This can lead to a sense of shame, a belief they’re a mistake, and can produce a child who shuts down, goes into survival mode, or openly rebels to get even.
We can embitter a child through ranting, “Can’t you do anything right?” Our body language with a well placed eye-roll or sigh can communicate strong dislike and disappointment. We can also embitter a child by treating them as if they’re invisible. This happens when a parent physically leaves and “bails” on their child or when a parent is physically home but emotionally unavailable for their child.
Regardless of their age, you have an incredible opportunity to cultivate growth and health in your relationship with your child. Find a moment today to ask your child, “What do you need from me right now?” Encourage them to answer candidly and discuss how you might be able to come alongside them and be the best parent possible.
Listen below as Pastor Manion invites parents to explore the challenge of giving our kids what they need without giving them what they want.