Provokers or Providers
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to Ephesians, chapter 6. We have been discussing the testimony and tranquillity of the Christian family as it is outlined for us in the passage from verse 21 of Ephesians, chapter 5, through Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4. We have talked to you about the family as “Heaven's Namesake,” as that suggestion is made to us in chapter 3, verse 15, of the Ephesian letter:

Ephesians 3

14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.

The Father of the Family

As we looked at that portion of the Word of God, we pointed out that it could be translated, “of whom all the fatherhoods of Heaven and earth are named,” because, scripturally, the family rises or falls with the father. The circle of which we spoke to you begins with and returns to the father.

It seems fitting to me that our thoughts should be turned by the Holy Spirit of God to the father of the family. For that reason, we call your attention to the last point of this scriptural outline, which is recorded in verse 4 of Ephesians, chapter 6:

Ephesians 6

4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Turn with me, please, to Colossians, chapter 3, and notice verse 21, which is a companion verse to this one and should be so considered:

Colossians 3

21Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

These two verses of Scripture provided the title of this lesson, “Provokers or Providers.” Each father should ask himself the question, “Am I a provoker or a provider?” Friend, you are going to have to face that question. As a father, you are either a provoker or a provider. I trust that by the time we are through with our discussion, you will be able to arrive at some conclusion as to the direction in which you as a father are headed.

The Danger of Provocation

I would like to think with you for a bit about the danger of provocation. When I speak of the danger of provocation, I speak of the ease with which this provoking can be done, the ease with which we as fathers can fall into provoking our children and not even realize that we have done so. Perhaps one of the reasons the danger is so very real is that we are not conscious that there is a scriptural injunction against it; if we are conscious that there is one, we do not know what it means. So I would like to suggest, as we look at chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians, verse 4, again, that you notice the phrase, “provoke not your children to wrath.” This word “provoke” is the translation of a word which means “to arouse to wrath” or “to exasperate.” If you want to put it into everyday language that you can understand, to provoke your child in the manner of which we are thinking at the moment means that you make your kid so devil mad that he says and does things that you belt him for doing. If you don't, you ought to, but you ought not to provoke him in the first place.

Provoking, provocation to wrath, in the sense of which we are thinking, is that kind of provocation that makes the individual so mad that there isn't anything he can say. All he can say is, “You make me so mad!”. He doesn't have anything else to say because he's just boiling on the inside. I hear someone here saying, “I know what I do when my kid gets mad like that.” I want you to ask yourself the question, “Why is it that you make your kid that mad?” The Amplified version of this passage of Scripture says, “Do not irritate and provoke your children to anger; do not exasperate them to resentment.”

Stirring Up Strife

The reason I have asked you to turn to Colossians, chapter 3, verse 21, the companion verse, is not for the sake of double emphasis in the sense that Colossians, chapter 3, verse 21, says the same thing as Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4, because it doesn't. As a matter of fact, if you glance at Colossians, chapter 3, verse 21, you will see that the translators have written two words in italics in your King James version, that means they are not in the original text. The translators have put them there to clarify the subject under discussion. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it takes your mind away from the specific meaning of the word in question.

Colossians 3

21Fathers, provoke not your children [leave out the words ”to anger” at the moment] , lest they be discouraged.

I would suggest to you that the word “provoke” is a word which very generally means “to stimulate” or “to stir up.” There are other synonyms used in other translations. Look at verse 21 and let me put these synonyms in the place where the word “to anger” are found:

Colossians 3

21Fathers, provoke not your children to [wrangling] , lest they be discouraged.
21Fathers, provoke not your children to [contention] , lest they be discouraged.
21Fathers, provoke not your children to [strife] , lest they be discouraged.

The Problem of Talking Back

Don't answer me audibly, but do your children talk back to you? I hear some fathers say, “If he gives me any lip, I'll give him the back of my hand.” Well, you may accomplish a swelled lip if you do, but that is all you will accomplish, and as soon as he gets big enough to give you the back of his hand, he'll do it. All that has attracted your attention is the strife, the wrangling, the back talk, the contention; you haven't been the least bit concerned about what gave rise to it.

That is what we are thinking about now–the danger of provocation. It is a very real danger. So much so that in Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4, when the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul in the grammatical arrangement of the sentence, he issued it in the form of a command, with the idea of an action that is constantly going on. He said, “You fathers, stop provoking your children to wrath. Stop provoking your children to strife, to wrangling and to contention.” Now I cannot believe that the Holy Spirit would be so explicit in relation to this command if it were not something that is pretty common, if it were not something that is continuously going on.

Oftentimes I am asked by parents, “Why is it that my children take issue with everything I say? Why is it that my children are constantly making smart-aleck remarks to me?” Well, there could be a number of reasons, and we have dealt with some of them in previous discussions, but for our present discussion, I would suggest to you that one of the reasons could be that you provoke them to it. Stop and give some consideration to that.

The Danger of Causing Resentment

The danger of such provocation cannot be denied, but the danger can be guarded against. If you put forth a real effort, you can eliminate it. But the sad thing that I have to say to you is that oftentimes the damage has been done by the time you have awakened to the fact that you are a provoker of children. The damage has been done by the time you realize you have been guilty of this sin. Yes, sin, which God warns you against here.

What are the dangers related to provocation? Look again at Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4:

Ephesians 6

4Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Recall to mind what I shared with you concerning the Amplified version of this verse, which reads, “Do not irritate and provoke your children to anger. Do not exasperate them to resentment.” To resentment–that is one of the damages of provocation. You can create in the hearts of children a resentment against you as a parent so that they resent everything you say and do to them; so that they resent even the good things you try to do for them, because you have irritated and exasperated them to the point of resentment.

Analyzing the Resentment

Some people call this hate. I very much doubt that any child hates his parents. I have been in the presence of children who have said to their parents, “I hate you.” I don't think they really do. I think they are voicing their resentment, to which they have been provoked. After they have grown up a little more and matured a little further, though they may still have the scars, the love which is in their hearts overrides the resentment, and unless some reference is made to earlier years which were troublesome times, no one would know anything about it. So I repeat: I don't think it is hate, though it is often referred to as hate.

I have had mothers sitting in my office with tears running down their cheeks saying, “I don't know why my child hates me so.” I know. I repeat: It is not hate; but I know why the resentment is there. That mother, for whatever reason–certainly we don't have time to go into the reasons–has provoked the child to resentment. Father, mother, this is the damage that can be done. Sometimes, particularly in these years when decisions have to be made and important things have to be done, the resentment is so deep that it cannot be eradicated. All you can do is ask God in His mercy and His grace to deal kindly with you and the child which He has given you. But let us search our hearts, and if we have not provoked to resentment beyond the point of no return, let's stop this provocation and do what we can to alleviate the resentment.

The Danger of Creating Resentment

What is the danger of this provocation? Recall to mind the Colossian passage:

Colossians 3

21Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged.

Take that word “discouraged” and underline it indelibly in your minds, because the provocation of fathers not only creates resentment in the hearts of the children, but oftentimes it creates discouragement. Do you know why it creates resentment in the hearts of some and discouragement in the hearts of others? Because some children are born with naturally strong wills. Some children have that same stubborn streak in them that you have in you, and when the provocation comes, they resent it. But there are other children born with wills which are more amenable and pliable, and all they need is a little molding. But because we fathers are as we are, we provoke them, and instead of building up resentment in them, we cause discouragement to fill their hearts.

Handling a Child's Spirit

This word “discourage” is the translation of a word which literally means “to break their spirit.” There are many children in Christian families today who are losing heart because of the provocation of their parents. There are many children in Christian families today who are discouraged and broken in spirit, and who will never reach their full potential because we fathers have sinned against them by provoking them.

I said earlier that it is important for us to tame the spirits of children, but that it is sinful to break their spirits. You break the spirit of a child by provoking him in the manner which we will describe now. We might ask the question, “What are the deeds of provocation?” We have talked to you about the danger of it. We have talked to you about the damage it can do. We want to ask the question, and trust answer it, “What are the deeds of provocation? What are the things we do as parents which provoke our children?”

Failing to Know the Child

Let me suggest to you that the first thing we do is fail to know our child. The “Know Your Child” series of lessons, to which reference has been made, will tell you how you can know your child. But let me say to you that the way to know your child is to ask God to let you understand the personality of your child, his weaknesses and his strong points, and to let you train him on the basis of his bent. If you don't want to take the time to know your child to this extent, then you will provoke him.

For example, you will make excessive demands upon him. I say “excessive demands” because you will have set up in your own mind a certain standard, and you will insist that your child maintain that standard, and it may be that he is utterly incapable, in view of natural endowment, to get half way up to the standard that you have set. When you make a demand like that, you are making an excessive demand. When you make an excessive demand, then you are provoking your child, either to resentment or to discouragement.

An Example of Grades

Let me give you a concrete example in the area of grades. I think it is ridiculous for a father or mother to issue a blanket ultimatum: “You make straight A's on your report card this next week or you are grounded for a solid two months.” You kids like for me to say that, don't you? And you parents may say to me, “Why didn't you go home last night?” But do you know why I say that? Your child may not be able to make straight A's. He may not be able to make all A's for his entire school term, or he may not be able for a particular period in the term because of things which are beyond his control.

We have always said to our children, “We want you to do the best that you can.” If they made straight A's and we knew they had done the best they could, we rewarded them in numerous ways which we will not go into. But one of mine made crooked B's. One came to me with a report card and said, “Daddy, I made straight A's”–and I would have been surprised if that one had not. But the other one, wanting to hear the same note of praise and be just as jubilant, came to me and said, “Daddy, I made crooked B's.” I knew that that was all that could be done, and my praise was just as sincere. Don't make the mistake of making upon your children excessive demands which they are not able to fulfill. If you do, you will provoke them either to resentment or to discouragement, depending upon their makeup.

Obtaining Obedience By Different Approaches

May I suggest that you know your children and be sure that you are not being too insistent in certain areas. You ought to know them. You ought to know that you can say a thing to one child to accomplish a purpose, and there is an immediate response. You can say the same thing, in exactly the same way, to another child in your family, and if you were behind him instead of in front of him, you could see the hair on the back of his neck bristle. You might say to your partner, “Now, what's wrong with that kid? I said the same thing to Mary that I said to him, and look at the difference!” Of course there is a difference. Do you have to say it in the same way? If you get the job done, what difference does it make how you say it? Why don't you study your child? Why don't you realize that with Mary you might be able to say, “All right, cut it out,” and it works. But you might have to say to Jim, “Jim, would you mind making it a little easier on your old man? He's had a hard day today.”

What do you want? You want obedience, don't you? You can say to Mary, “Cut it out,” and you'll get obedience. But if you say to Jim, “Cut it out,” he says to himself, “Cut it out? I won't 'cut it out'.” But you say, “Make it a little easier on your old man, will you?”, and how does he feel? “Well, the 'old man' is getting old and I'm young; I guess I'll 'cut it out' for him.” What a difference does it make how you say it? As long as you get the obedience, don't insist in an unrestrained fashion in any area. You make your own applications.

The Failure to Show Appreciation

Now, let me suggest one other way to provoke your child. You can provoke your child by your failure to manifest appreciation for what he does. I have seen little children scribble crisscross marks on a paper and pull on a mother's dress and hold it up and say, “Look at the pretty picture!” Mother says, “Yes, dear, I'm busy,” and does not look at it, and the little child goes away discouraged. Now, wouldn't it be much better for mother to take that piece of paper with those little crisscross marks and circles and all the rest of it and say, “Dear, that is a pretty picture. What is it?” Then that little child will say, “A church.” What is a mother supposed to do? If she says, “Now, honey, that is not a church. All you have done is crisscross back and forth on the paper,” what else can that little child do? If mother is wise, she will take the piece of paper that has all those crisscross marks on it and say, “A church? Well, I believe it is. There is the steeple, isn't it?” “Uh huh.” And the child goes away, encouraged. How do you know it is a steeple? Two lines come together!

Parents, your child as a rule is seeking your approval when he comes to you to show you anything. Don't be too busy to give it to him. There may come a day when you wish he would show you something. But you can so discourage him that what he thinks are his accomplishments he will keep to himself.

The Failure to Stay In Fellowship With God

I want to give you the basic cause of “provocation” on the part of parents. You may not like this, but it is true. The basic cause of provocation is the lack of right relationship to the Holy Spirit. I am talking to Christian parents now. A lack of relationship to the Holy Spirit is the reason we parents provoke our children. If you will take the time to read the “works of the flesh” as they are contrasted with the “fruit of the Spirit” in the book of Galatians, you will find that the things that I referred to earlier–wrath, wrangling, contention, in which you share–are the works of the flesh and not of the Spirit. If you have time, read the epistle of James, chapter 3, and notice the description which is presented of worldly wisdom, earthly wisdom, and of the wisdom which is from above. You will find that the wisdom which is earthly is characterized by these things I have been talking about.

When I have provoked my children to wrath, I have not wondered what was wrong with them; I have stopped short to see where I had grieved the Holy Spirit, in that I was walking in the flesh enough to provoke my children to wrath. This is basic; it is not comfortable, and you may not like it, but it is true.

Being a Good Provider

We said that we were going to talk to you about “provokers” or “providers,” and we have provoked you by talking about nothing but provoking. So we need to say just a word about “providers.” Are you a provoker or a provider? This word “provider” is a term which is used even among ungodly people. Even people who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ are often spoken of as “good providers.” I have heard people say concerning a certain person, “He is not a Christian, but he is a good provider. His family does not want for anything.” From a material standpoint that is true. But may I suggest to you that even if you are a good provider in a material sense, if you leave out this that we would emphasize now, you cannot solve the problems which arise in the disciplining of children. If these problems were solved, there would be no “Haight-Asbury” districts; there would be no other hippy sector.

It is a matter of statistics that most of the young people who are living in such areas did not come from the ghettos. They did not come from slum areas. They came from upper-class homes, and in many instances Christian homes, where they had their own bedrooms, private baths, and even their own automobiles, and they shucked it all to live like animals. Something was lacking. Someone failed, somewhere. I would suggest to you that the failure is related to the fact that though we may be able to provide for, and may be providing for, our children handsomely in a material way, we can fail to provide for them in a spiritual way.

Bringing a Child to Maturity

Look at Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4, again:

Ephesians 6

4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Notice the phrase, “bring them up.” Literally, it means to rear them up to maturity, and that does not mean to the legal age. Some people are mature before so-called legal adulthood and some people are not mature after legal age. Rear them up to maturity. This rearing is characterized by three things. These three things are suggested by the way in which this original phrase, “bring them up,” is translated in other portions of the Scripture. It is translated by the word “feeding.” If you rear your child to maturity, you will have the responsibility of feeding him.

I am not thinking only of feeding him three meals a day. I am thinking of the responsibility which is yours as a provider to feed every area of his being. There is more to your child than his belly. A lot of men feel that when they have filled the bellies of their children, their responsibility ends. But their minds must be fed, their spirits must be fed. When children are young, parents have the responsibility of feeding them spiritually.

A Personal Illustration

I am interested in the ministry of Bible Memory Association, because I feel it has one of the best plans for hiding the Word of God away in the hearts of children and adults that I know anything about. All of our children have been enrolled in the Bible memory plan and have memorized every book they had to offer. Twenty-five years ago the books were voluminous, but our children memorized the Scriptures.

I don't know how many times people have said to me or my wife, in about the third week of the twelve-week contest, “Johnny doesn't want to memorize; should I or shouldn't I make him?” My wife is a very gracious person and she says, “Well, I think it would be wise.” But when they ask me, I say, “You make them eat, don't you?” If they decide after eating for a week that they are not going to eat any more, do you say, “That's all right, honey, if you don't want to?” You watch the weight fade away and malnutrition take over and rickets collapse their bones, and do you say, “That's all right, dear; Daddy wouldn't dream of forcing food on you–wouldn't dream of it. If you don't want to eat, that's all right.” Do you do that? Of course you don't.

Mothers are sweet and tender, and they may put on the plate an extra portion of food that they think the child needs and say, “Now, darling, why don't you just try this? You would be surprised how good it tastes.” We are glad for tender mothers. But sometimes when it is left to the fathers, he puts the food on the plate and says, “Eat it,” and you don't think that unusual. Why should you, then, think it so unusual to say to your child, in regard to spiritual food, “Eat it.”?

An Excuse for Leniency

You say, “Well, I'll tell you why I don't want to do it. I remember a man in our neighborhood whose father made him go to church every Sunday and sit on the very front row, and now he is up and his own man and he just won't go to church, and I don't want to rear my child so he won't go to church when he is an adult.” Well, you are not going to have any control over what he does when he is an adult. You had better take advantage of the time you have with him right now.

Let me tell you something: These characters who don't go to church when they are grown up because they were made to do something when they were children were mythical. You produce one for me and I'll produce ten for you who went through the same thing and who do go to church. If we have time to sit down and analyze your one, we will find it is not because they made him go to church. It is because he was never born again and he needs the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior; that's what it is. So don't be afraid of overdoing it.

Feed your children, for it is your responsibility to do so.

Offering Children Affection

The second word that I want to use, because it is the translation of this word about which we are thinking, is the word “feeling.” Provide for your child by feeding him and provide for your child by treating him with tenderness and affection.

Why do some girls run off and get married when they are sixteen years of age? I'll tell you one reason. Their fathers never put their arms around them and hugged them up close and kissed them, that's why, and they are hungry with a normal hunger for male affection. Some boy comes along and offers it to them and away they go. Don't be so sure that they are bad girls that just can't control their passions. They may be hungry little girls who need some affection. Treat them with tenderness and affection. Don't be afraid of overdoing it.

Our family is a very affectionate family. When we come in the house we kiss one another, hug one another, and we don't have to be gone six weeks to do it. The only time I've ever noticed any change is with my boys. When I've been gone and I come home, the girls run out and throw their arms around Daddy, and I kiss them and hug them. When the boys were little they did the same thing, but now they are a little later getting out of the house, and they stand first on one leg and then on the other, not really sure what to do. Then my mind begins to turn and I realize what the problem is, so I stick out my hand and say, “How have you been doing, buddy?” Ah, that's the same as a kiss, you see. After all, they don't want to be caught kissing a man after the age of sixteen. Don't be afraid of being affectionate. Don't be afraid of showing affection to your family.

Firmness In Dealing With Children

Now the third word. All of these things I am just barely suggesting. You think about them, will you? The third word is “firmness,” because the word which is translated by our phrase, “bring them up,” is translated in the Word of God in its noun form by the word “firmness.” Very literally, it means “to stiffen.” You may have to mix up a little starch once in a while and apply it where it is needed. You may have to use a little firmness in what you have to say and a little firmness in the manner in which you exercise your discipline.

When my son was a very little boy, he played with another little boy who had a high falsetto voice. Everything he said was 'way up high. My boy has an unusual ability to absorb what other people have when he is around. So he came in one day and said, “Father,” 'way up high like that, and I said to my wife, “We can't raise a boy with a voice like that.” Well, it certainly wouldn't have helped to say, “Darling, precious one, don't talk like that.” That would have made matters worse. Instead, we developed a habit of saying, “Get your voice down.” We may have overdone it, because he has a deeper voice than mine, now. You have sometimes to put starch in where it is needed. Use a little firmness. That's all part of bringing them up.

Training a Child In the Realm of Action

Let me say a word to you about the realm of this rearing. Notice again Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4. The reason we are still looking at Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4, is that Colossians doesn't say anything about it:

Ephesians 6

4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up [notice] in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Bring them up in the realms of actions and words, because both of these things are included in the word “nurture” and “admonition.” The word “nurture” is the translation of a word which Trench suggests speaks of training and instruction through action.

Did someone say somewhere that a picture is worth a thousand words? Listen fathers: Your actions speak much louder than what you say. You may instruct your sons to treat girls like ladies, but they won't if they see you do otherwise–if, for example, they don't see you open the car door for your wife to get into the car, instead of piling in yourself and saying, “Why can't you open the door? You always opened it before. I've got to lean all the way over to open the door.” It's going to be pretty hard for them to think they ought to treat a girl like a lady if you do that.

It's going to be awfully hard for them to say, “Yes, Sir,” and “No, Sir,” “Yes, Ma'am,” and “No, Ma'am,” if when they ask you a question, you say, “What do you want?” When you ask a question, you demand that they address you as “Sir” or “Ma'am,” and I think you should; I don't like to hear children speak disrespectfully to older people. If my children ask me a question which I do not hear, I don't say, “Quit mumbling; what did you say?” I say, “I beg your pardon?” because I expect them to say that to me, and actions speak louder than words.

Training a Child In the Realm of Words

So this word “nurture” means to train them in the realm of action. And the word “admonition” suggests that the training should be literally in the realm of words. This word “admonition” in the original text means “to call to attention with a mild rebuke, or with a warning.”

You are not providing for your child if you do not rebuke him when you see him doing something he should not be doing. You don't have to beat him half to death; a mild rebuke will do. That is what the Scripture says. But you are not providing for him unless you do rebuke him mildly. And you are not providing for your child if you do not warn him of the dangers into which he can fall, before he does it.

A Personal Illustration

The Holy Spirit brings this illustration to mind. I have talked to both my boys when they reached the age when they were becoming more interested in young ladies than in just pulling their pigtails or throwing a rock at them–you know that's the way they first begin to court. When you are about seven or eight years old, if you like a girl, the thing to do is trip her. Then she knows you like her. Well, you don't need to be too concerned when they are at that age. But when they get a little bit older and they begin to think about something other than pulling pigtails and tripping, you had better not take it for granted that they know all there is to know. You had better sit down and make some suggestions. I have done that with each of my boys. You know, you can sit down and make those suggestions to them and they can listen respectfully, but that doesn't mean they are not going to do what comes naturally, because they are natural. You might from time to time have to do a little investigating and a little sticking the pin in, just to make sure that everything is running the way it ought to run.

One of my sons is sixteen. He became very much interested in a young lady his own age, a cute little bug, cute as she could be, and he had several dates with her. It looked as if it was going to be real serious, but it wasn't. The first one never is, so don't get too excited the first time it happens; don't begin to think, “What am I going to do? I'm going to have a married child!” You won't if you sit tight. You might if you don't.

Interrogation After a Date

My son came in from this date and I thought this might be a good time to see how much my lecture had taken effect. So we talked. “How was the date?” “Fine, fine; enjoyed it a whole lot.” “What did you do?” He told me what they did. I said, “Well, did you open the car door for her when you went to pick her up?” “Oh, yes, Sir, I opened the door for her.” “Did you take her to the door of her home when you were through with the date?” “Oh, yes, Sir; walked her right up to the door.” “Well, that's good; that's a gentleman.” Then I said, “Did you kiss her good night?” And he said, “Ah, ah, well, ah,” and he began to look around–you know. It's amazing how interesting the ceiling can become at a time like that. But I noticed that while his eyes were rolling around he looked down at his hand. There was a big gash on his hand. I said, “What happened to your hand?” He said, “The fool girl fainted when I kissed her and I scratched my hand on the door.” He had his arm around her, and when she fainted, it threw his arm up against a rough brick wall.

I got what I wanted, you see. I wasn't interested in how he had cut his hand. I was interested in whether or not he had kissed the girl good night. I am saying all this to make a point. I said, (after he told me he had kissed her, the worst was told), “Why did you kiss her? Did you enjoy it?” He said, “No, not especially.” I said, “Why did you do it?” He said, “Dad, I couldn't go to school tomorrow and have the fellows say, 'Heard you had a date last night.' 'Yeh, sure did.' 'Did you kiss her good night?' I couldn't say, 'No, I didn't kiss her good night.' Why, good night, you can't do that! You can't have a date with a girl and not give her a good night kiss. They would think something was wrong with you.” Then I was able to make my point, and that is what I wanted to do.

An Opportunity to Offer Advice

You see, I could have gotten all excited about the fact that he had kissed the girl good night, but that was not the important thing. This is the important thing–this is what I want you to get. I said, “What it boils down to is that a good night kiss, in your age range, is a status symbol, isn't it? That's all it boils down to. It's a status symbol.” He said, “You know, I reckon that's right.” I said, “Let me remind you that a kiss as a status symbol can be the beginning of a problem. So don't go overboard on these good night kisses.” He said, “Dad, I never thought about that.” I said, “Well, think about it, because if you keep it up, you may wind up with something else cut besides your hand.” He got the point.

What am I saying to you? Fathers, you are not providing for your children just because you give them bread and butter. You had better give them a word of admonition when it is needed.

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