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Col 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Everything I ever needed to know about parenting I learned when I took the training wheels off Leah’s bike. At four years old she begged me to release her from the enslavement of those extra wheels that were slowing her down. I tried to convince her they needed to stay on for her protection but she persisted in demanding her freedom.

So one day I removed them and began the process of helping her gain her balance on two wheels. With one hand I grabbed the handlebar. With the other hand, I grabbed under her seat while I ran beside her as she tried her best to multitask peddling, steering, and balancing. Occasionally, I would let go until she started to wobble. That’s when I knew it was time to grab. Finally, after multiple grabs and releases, I let go and she took off.

The secret to being a great dad is knowing when to grab and when to release. Dads who won’t grab discourage their children because they just are too busy grabbing other things. Their kids need the protection of a dad who is engaged in their lives. These dads have made the mistake of letting go way too soon. As a result, some kids end up in a ditch with some pretty nasty scars. Dad, if you won’t grab you can be sure there will be plenty of others standing in line waiting for the opportunity to grab hold of our kid’s hearts and steer them in a wrong direction.

Other dads won’t release. Overprotective dads provoke their children by controlling the choices of their kids. The older a child gets the less a dad can expect to control their behavior from the outside in. Many teenagers push back even harder against rigid rules. Dad, are you forcing compliance when you should be cheering from a healthy distance as a coach would from the sidelines watching his team execute the game plan they have practiced all week?

Wise fathers know it is the heart that controls behavior. You regulate behavior in your children by making continual investments in your child’s heart. You should ask your children to give you their heart as God’s Word shows us in Proverbs 23:26. “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”

By the way, I forgot to teach Leah how to brake so if you happen to see a fatigued little girl circling your neighborhood, send her home, would you?

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