“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
With Fathers’ Day coming up, perhaps it’s a good moment to reflect on what sort of responsibility rests on the shoulder of an ideal father.
The writer of this instruction was clearly very aware of the possibility of fathers taking excessive responsibility - trying too hard to mould their children? or maybe being domineering? Parents often have their patience tried, but it works both ways, and parents may exasperate children by unwelcome demands. Young people need to find the space and confidence to learn for themselves, maybe even from bitter experience. When Jesus talked of the Father, he was offering a pattern, not of assertive authority but of a parent who in love gives instruction and leadership but also freedom to be independent.