Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
“Dad, look at me! Look at what I can do!”
“Just a minute, son, hold on a second.”
10 seconds later…
“Dad, look at me. Look what I can do.”
“I’m almost done. Wait a sec.”
20 seconds later…
Your child stops asking.
Brushing of our children is sadly an all too common occurrence that many parents do without even realizing just how often they do it. But are there any negative affects for our children when we brush them aside, or is it just something trivial that all parents do and that all kids will just get over?
I would argue that there are some serious dangers for our children when we repeatedly make it a habit to brush them off in the routine of daily life. Here are 5 of those potential dangers:
- Have you ever gotten angry with a friend or maybe even your boss when you ask for something repeatedly without getting a response or a definite answer? It doesn’t take long before your anger meter starts to rise. Do we think that it is any different with our children? Yes, they are more quick to forgive and forget than we adults are, but according to the verse above, kids can be provoked to anger. What could do it more than being consistently brushed off by their parents.
- The longer a child is ignored, they more that resentment can build towards the one who’s ignored them. The process of resentment won’t happen overnight, but it can build like calluses over the course of many months and even years. Ignored children often become resentful adults. (If you serve in the full-time ministry, this is a specific danger that you must constantly be aware of and fight against.)
- One of the greatest dangers to your children when you brush them off is that you are implying with your actions that something else matters to you more than they do. Over time, this has the potential to create a low self-esteem within your child. It also produces an unspoken attitude that says, “I really don’t matter to mom and dad as much as they say I do, or as much as I want to.” Scripture addresses this danger for fathers more specifically in Colossians 3:21, when it lists discouragement as one of the consequences of provoking our kids to anger.
- If our children begin to think that they really don’t matter to us as much as they should, it can cause them to question whether or not they should care about themselves at all either. While the truth is that we do care, that’s not what they are reading from our actions towards them. Their natural response over time will be one of apathy. Sad but true, many kids’ attitude reflects what they’ve seen modeled… ‘If my parents don’t care, why should I?’ (This can display itself in misbehavior, poor grades, bad attitudes, and many other ways)
- When kids grow up getting ignored by their parents, they grow older with the mindset that this is just what parents do, and they often naturally (and even inadvertently) carry these practices into their own future parenting. By giving our kids the attention they crave, or by failing to do so, we are setting an example that they are sure to carry into the next generations.
While I hope that brushing off your kids is not a habit that you repeatedly do, I’d strongly encourage you to try your best not to do it at all. How many grown Christian kids have given testimony over the years that while their parents loved the Lord and served Him fervently, they took a backseat to those things when it came to their parent’s time and affection. What a danger!
Of all the people in the world demanding my time and attention, I want my children to have access to me and my attention more than anyone or anything else in my life, and I want them to know it.
I want my kids to have memories of me sitting around and talking to them, not memories of dad always being constantly busy and drained. I want them to know that when they want to spend time with me, I’m going to spend time with them. I want them to have my best of attention, time, and affection. And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s sometimes hard to do.
Parents, what are your children taking a backseat to in your life and getting brushed aside for?… a job, a to do list, a smartphone?
If it really comes down to it, there are many people who could do your job, who could serve on that board, or who could even pastor your church, but no one else can father your kids. Prioritize them. Don’t be guilty of brushing them off. And don’t feel guilty to anyone for putting them first.
These dangers listed are certainly the end result of an ignored childhood, but remember that such dangers can only happen one instance at a time. Strive to give your children the very best you have… every moment, every day, every time.
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Proverbs 3:27