To “provoke . . . to anger” suggests a repeated, ongoing pattern of treatment that gradually builds up a deep–seated anger and resentment that boils over in outward hostility.
Such treatment is usually not intended to provoke anger. Here are eight ways in which parents can provoke their children to anger:
1) Well–meaning overprotection
3) pushing achievement beyond reasonable bounds.
5) parents’ failing to sacrifice for their children and making them feel unwanted.
6) failing to let children grow up at a normal pace.
7) using love as a tool of reward or punishment—granting it when a child is good and withdrawing it when he is bad.
8) physical and verbal abuse.
In closing, consider the confession of one Christian father,
My family’s all grown and the kids are all gone. But if I had to do it all over again, this is what I would do. I would love my wife more in front of my children. I would laugh with my children more—at our mistakes and our joys. I would listen more, even to the littlest child. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection. I would pray differently for my family; instead of focusing on them, I’d focus on me. I would do more things together with my children. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise. I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness. And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day I would use to direct them to God.
(Today’s article adapted from John’s commentary on Ephesians, published by Moody.)