But how can a father bring his children under control? The first thing a father must do is acknowledge that this task is his responsibility. Our Father in heaven has told us clearly that this is the case and we must own up to it. Likewise, we must not make excuses for ourselves and our children by telling ourselves that children are free moral agents and that if anything is to be done then the Holy Spirit will have to do the work. Believe it or not, the Holy Spirit works through fathers.
If you as a father choose not to love, nurture and discipline your children, usually the Holy Spirit chooses not to be active in the lives of your children. Fathers and mothers are God’s primary means of grace in the lives of children. And he has shown us clearly in his word how to be good fathers. A father is constantly involved in the lives of his children in a most loving way, just like our father in heaven is with us.
Here is one of the reasons why: as fathers, we are primarily responsible for disciplining our children. Often, a woman can not (or will not?) spank hard enough to make correction worthwhile. Since we are called to this unhappy task, we must make up for it in a multitude of happy ways. As I see it, we must constantly be looking for ways to win the affection of our children.
When our children know deep down inside that their father is for them, and not against them, they will not be “provoked” when it comes time for discipline. They will realize that what they have done has been deserved and must be dealt with. Every child made in the image of God has a basic understanding of God’s justice, “Mommy, Johnny took my toy!”
If you have not won over the hearts of your children, it will not even take corporal punishment to provoke them. In fact, it may not even take much more than a simple unloving look to stir up the most dreadful rebellion and anger.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ESV Ephesians 6:4