The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a
child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Prov 29:15)
Though I have been a father for many
years and a grandfather for a few years, I still do not claim to be an
expert on child-rearing. I am still learning. I do believe that children
are getting better. My little angelic grandchildren do not need as many
spankings and their parents did. This is not purely a personal judgment
on my part. I have talked with other grandparents and they are seeing
the same thing in their cases as well.
Seriously, I am concerned about the
quality of rearing that today's children are receiving. I am aware of
the anguish of heart of many parents over the conduct of their children.
I know that this may be in spite of the training given by the parents. I
also know that sometimes it is because of the training (or lack of it)
given by the parents. I have sat up nights with distraught parents
trying to comfort them and make some kind of sense out of the
waywardness of their child. (The only thing sadder to me is for such
parents to not be concerned at all). Often, as far as it is humanly
possible to judge, the parents had done everything that good parents
should to guide their children in the proper direction. At times, I have
sat as parents agonized, "What went wrong?" Many times there was no
fault of the parents that I could see. At other times, I could have told
them and often had told them in sermons, in articles, in conversations
and in classes but it seems hardly profitable now to add to their
heartache by saying, "I told you so". So, I hold my tongue and try to
help them pick up the pieces.
Hence, these words are not directed to
parents who have already done their work (good or bad) of child-rearing.
It is directed to those parents who have the bulk of this grave task
still facing them. The advice in this article has no guarantee of
success in every case because even children are free agents with the
power to choose between good and evil. But, I do believe that the Bible
teaches some vital principles that have to do with child-rearing
that need to be taught and practiced by those who love the Lord and will
prevent many of the heartaches that come to parents. The things I will
say are from experience and observation over the years, but also based
upon the teachings of the Scriptures.
If you want to raise your child to be a
heartache then follow these rules:
1. Constantly criticize his
symbols of authority. Don't let it be enough to allow your child to have
free reign at home to do as be pleases, if any other authority tries to
restrain him, let your child know that you will be his automatic ally in
his conflict with that symbol of authority. Every chance you get throw
in some critical remark about someone in authority so that your child's
big ears will be able to soak it up.
While we need to teach our children
that there is no authority that transcends the authority of God, we need
to teach them that authority at all levels (including school personnel,
baby sitters, Bible class teachers, church leaders, grandparents, etc.)
must be respected to have an orderly society and to please God as
Christians. While you, in your maturity may be able to distinguish
between the man and the position of authority that he represents, very
few children are able to make the distinction. Hence, criticism of a
policeman's conduct becomes criticism of law in his mind. Criticism of a
teacher is criticism of school discipline in his mind. Criticism of
elders, preachers, or Bible class teachers is criticism of divine
government in his mind. The person represents the principle to most
children. Granted that occasionally some people in positrons of
authority over your child may abuse their positions, making it necessary
for you to point out that while such abuse is wrong It still should be
the general rule that you praise rather than, criticize those whose
position of authority should be respected by your child. In my judgment,
even in those cases of abuse it is better to take it up with the
person's Involved without the knowledge or participation of your child,
if at all possible. It is sad that about all some children hear about
their school, their country (government), or the church is criticism of
work done by the personnel of these institutions. How can we expect them
to grow up to respect them?
2. Let society take the
blame for his conduct. Let your child know that you "understand" that be
would not have acted the way that be did had it not been for the corrupt
society into which you so thoughtlessly caused him to be born. Let him
know that he is being constantly victimized by others. Allow him to
constantly console himself in the notion that be deserves a better shake
in life than society has banded him. Always express your sympathy to him
when be complains that "it is just not fair". Let him know that you
believe that it is impossible (or nearly so) to rear a child right in
the kind of world we have today. Then he can grow up believing, really
believing, that whatever happens to him and what ever be does is just a
product of the times In which be is living rather than the product of
his own making. He can then go through life blaming his wife for
domestic problems, blaming the church for his spiritual problems,
blaming the government for many of his failures and blaming you for the
rest of his woes after all you brought him into this world.
No Christian has ever had an ideal
society in which to live and rear children. This is a sinful world. It
was sinful in the first century. Christians were told to "become
blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the
world, holding forth the word of life..." (Phil. 3:15-16).
It was not an impossible task then and it is not now. Parents who were
Christians were told to "bring them up in the training and admonition of
the Lord" (Eph. 6:4) in a world filled with ungodliness. (Eph.
Our children must understand that they are going have to live godly in
spite of society and quit blaming their moral, ethical, or spiritual
behavior with its consequences of such upon society.
3. Do not teach your child
how to property use his or her body. Mothers, do not teach your child
the effect that nakedness or near nakedness has on the opposite sex, nor
the seductive power of "body language" (See Prov. 6:24-25). In fact,
when they become of age they will learn the effect and use it to the
fullest if you don't teach them the dangers involved.
One is simply burying his head in the
sand if he does not recognize that the sex drive in strong in young
people after they reach maturity. One way to protect it so that it
ultimately will be used properly in the marriage relationship is to
protect the sense of modestly and shame. One cannot allow that sense of
shame to be destroyed without weakening the restraints necessary reserve
the body for a husband or a wife. It disturbs me to see parents allow
their children (even while very young.) to get into the habit of going
nearly naked. Though it may be harmless enough in small children
habits can be formed early. It disturbs me further to see parents of
teenagers actually encourage their children to publicly display their
bodies in scanty attire (often setting the example for them) or else
ignore and/or defend them in their actions. Even if the attire is
justified by many in the name of sports and/or recreation, it is still
immodest Still worse parents become quite upset and even hostile in
their defense of their children's right to such immodesty without any
thing being said by anyone trying to reason with them about the dangers
they are exposing themselves to. These same folks seldom offer any real
guidance to their children about how to conduct themselves in dating
except "don't get in trouble and cause us embarrassment". Young people
need some teaching by their parents as to how to keep from kindling the
fire that might eventually burn them. Teach your child to flee
fornication", including actions that lead to fornication if it is
allowed to run its full and natural course.
Not every young person who gets in
trouble" is a bad person. Not every one has been neglectful in parental
guidance. Not every young fornicator gets caught and has to pay the
temporal consequences and shame of their actions. Those who escape such
consequences are just a much sinners as the others.
Young people are given a far better
chance when they have been taught from very early childhood to respect
their bodies as given to them of God to be used properly and to become
the temple of the Holy Spirit when they become Christians (I Cor.
and that they are to eventually become the cherished possession of a
loving husband or wife (I Cor. 7:2-4).
Such modest behavior will probably make one an "odd ball" in modern
society, but we have an idea that it will help prepare one for that
heavenly society anticipated by Christians.
4. Let him know that you
think happiness and success in life depends on outward circumstances.
This has all kinds of potential for heartache. It could cause your child
to become a ruthless, ambitious, selfish, driving, social climbing,
work-a-holic thinking that "moving on up is the key to happiness and
success. Or it could cause him to become a worthless bum thinking that
poverty and/or becoming a social drop-out will bring him happiness and
make him a better person.
We need to impress upon our children by
precept and example that one's relationship to God is the only thing
that can bring eternal -happiness and success and that one's station in
this life has little to do with it all. If one is right with God, he can
learn contentment and happiness regardless to outward conditions
If children constantly hear us equating
success with some external condition (A good job, a good house, social
acceptance, a vacation home, or even by denying themselves of these
things and "escaping the rat race" by going back to the "old ways") they
will likely grow up believing it and reacting accordingly.
We must make a determined effort to
teach WHATEVER (external) state one is in that he can be happy and
content - but even then that
happiness in this life is not our real goal, but eternal happiness with
die Lord in the next life.
5. Wait until be is grown to
teach him how to live righteously and godly. Let him do what "a
Christian should not do" while he is young and "not a member of the church"
and then when he becomes of age try to put the brakes on his behavior.
If anyone questions you about his conduct be sure to answer, "Now, he
knows that when be obeys the gospel he can not do those things any
Don't be too surprised when he learns
that lesson well and will not obey the gospel because he has learned to
love his conduct that you have allowed him to practice "until he becomes
May we ever pray to God for the wisdom
to rear our children as we've should.
Grace and Righteousness
The Consequence of Confusion
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