By Irven Lee
Large department stores, super markets, and other retail stores have many good things for sale. This is a wonderful convenience that we enjoy in this generation. Proper discipline leads to orderly conduct which is beautiful. There are likely many parents who would make a down payment and regular monthly payments for proper discipline for their children if it were available on the market and highly advertised. This purchase, of course, cannot be made because this item cannot be produced in the factory and sold through some market.
America wants to buy everything that it needs. Parents seem too much involved in searching for money, entertainment, and even in dissipation, so that they do not find time to bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord as taught in Ephesians 6:4. Many children are abused and neglected. Some are spoiled and pampered. A fortunate few are properly disciplined. Those exercised or drilled in obedience through instruction, love, and chasten-ing produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:11). The home is the place where this fruit should grow.
The Bible: A Child-Rearing Manual
Children are not all alike and training is not easy, but it is of great importance. The Creator has designed the child so that he is young for several years. This gives the parents time to search for skill in how to bring each into subjection or into submission (1 Tim. 3:4, 5). There is “know how” involved in this work, and this knowledge cannot be bought at the store just as the overall training is not on sale. Parents must seek this skill to find it. They may advise with good friends, but skill still must be developed. Advice may be very diverse and contradictory. The best advice is always from the Bible. This book is consistent and does not vary from generation to generation according to the trends of philosophers and psychologists.
After becoming aware of how precious the peaceable fruit of righteousness is and of the fact that each child must be skillfully disciplined to produce this fruit, each worthy parent sets out to drvelop his skill in harmony with scriptural advice. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). “A foolish son is the calamity of his father” (Prov. 19:12). “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Prov. 29:17).
We should feel free to search for wisdom in caring for children from both the Old Testament and from the New Testament. We do not live under the old law, but the facts of history from the Old Testament are still true. Our Lord’s death on the cross did not take away the history, the wisdom, or the picture of the goodness and the severity of God from the Old Testament. In fact, things recorded there were written for our example (1 Cor. 10:1-11; Rom. 15:4). In every age, the responsibility for child care has been on the family. Children of Solomon’s day were like children in our day in that all needed the proper training, and parents were the special ones to do it.
Discipline Produces Righteousness
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov. 29:15). “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). These verses show something in the contrast between the properly trained child and the untrained child. The difference is beyond words to describe. It is not easy to do the training, but it is worth all of the time and effort to obtain the finished product. The promise that the disciplined child will not depart from the right way is not teaching the impossibility of apostasy, but it is showing that training of the right type is effective and long lasting in its effect.
Punishment or chastening has its place as a tool for wise parents to use in nurturing their chidren. Many object to its use, but the Lord has always recommended it. He knows best. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Prov. 13:24). “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Prov. 19:18). “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beaten him with a rod, he shall not die” (Prov. 23:13, 14). This advice was needed long before Solomon’s day, and it has been needed ever since. The Dr. Spock type of permissiveness brought up a generation of city burners who were self-willed and resented all authority. They were a shame to our nation.
Let us notice parallel counsel from the New Testament. “Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chaseneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chaseneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:5-11).
If a child does not receive the chastening rod it is as if he did not have a father. Parents sometimes make mistakes. It is sad but true that some are abusive rather than corrective in the punishment they mete out to their children. This is not that which is recommended by the Bible. Firm and strict discipline is advised, but love for the children provokes this kind of exercise for them. The rose for chastening is not, of course, a club for abuse.
When a child shows a rebellious disposition his stubborn will should be brought into subjection. Inconsistent and ineffective chastening may only agitate the problem. It is very important that the punishment be adequate to get the job done. If the child can get his way by a louder squeal or by a vigorous physical effort, he is not in subjection. He makes his own decisions and is in no position to profit by his parents’ experience. Why should one cross him if he is to get his way anyway by some ugly maneuver? Such agitation may actually teach rebellion rather than obedience. The worthy effort teaches the child obedience and self-control. The child must learn self-discipline, and this is a final step after learning to respect his parents.
Discipline in the home is basic and important for proper conduct at school. Good teachers would be glad if all parents were good disciplinarians. Officers of the law and employers in industry and business wish the same. There would be less crime and more peace among neighbors if each adult had been taught respect for laws and for those in authority early in life. Obedience to God is more natural for one who has first been trained by a wise and determined father and mother.
Punishment is needed to make the child recognize the parent’s right to express his will. The child is not the one to take charge of things in the home. He is not the head of the family and should learn this lesson early in life. Every child should also be fully assured that he is loved and that he is a welcomed member of the family. The chastening is only part of the training process.
Instruction is very important in training a child in the way he should go. He at first is not capable of discerning the wise from the unwise. He is brought into subjection so that he will listen, and he can then be taught. It takes time and patience to do the teaching. This part of the training should begin early. Teaching Bible stories and principles of righteousness help parents see their children become worthy adults. They can be taught good manners and proper behavior just as the school child can be taught grammar and mathematics.
Time with the child is one of the most important elements in the successful process of child development. Parents should listen to the child, and the child should listen to the adults. Each can benefit from this two way conversation. It is our only hope of getting through to the little mind. A new generation should not be left to repeat all of the mistakes that have been made before them. If dialogue begins early and is continually encouraged there can still be communication when the child is as tall as the parent. In such conversations there can be the building of mutual love and understanding as well as instruction and correction.
The example of the parents is very important in the training process. Law breakers could hardly teach respect for government. Alcoholics and drug addicts could not teach sobriety. Children are repulsed by hypocrisy, while they are still too young to discuss it and describe it with words. One important way of teaching is by showing or demonstrating the. right way.
parents are not the only ones who influence the growing child. Each is influenced by his associates. If all parents were devout Christians and skilled disciplinarians there would be the ideal situation for child care and development, but the ideal is only a wish. Many young people are left to grow up as if they were animals. Children from good homes have some contact with these unruly neighbors. Parents have great need of wisdom in warding off these ungodly influences from evil companions. “Evil companionships corrupt good manners” (1 Car. 13:33). This danger is sometimes overlooked, and children are lost in spite of good examples at home and some worthy efforts at discipline. Let us all realize that young people face many temptations.
Families can well afford to encourage happy association with worthy companies by inviting the best into the home and by allowing their children to visit in better homes. It is the home that is responsible for providing the proper social life. The influence that children have on one another is very great.
Influence of Television
Television is a very dangerous force that is doing much harm in America today. Parents who would train their children in the way they should go should exercise much control over this powerful medium. Hollywood in all of its ungodliness is in charge of programs that are offered the young and the old. Atheism, immorality, violence, and alcohol with other harmful drugs are taught by song and drama. Their skills and popularity add to the danger. Are you training your children, or is this being done by money loving atheists?
Training, Not Forcing
Over the years each must make his own decisions. The successful parents do more than force their own wills on their children. They must train their sons and daughters to make wise choices and to choose worthy companions. Chastening is for the early years to bring about subjection. This is followed by instruction, worshiping together, encouraging, and continued firmness in the demand for righteousness.
A United Front
Both parents need to work together in matters of discipline. The children are almost certain to be lost unless there is agreement between the mother and the father in the training process. If one parent takes the part of the children against the other parent, failure is sure to come. A mother may fail to discipline and may object to the father’s use of chastening. 1 heard recently of a divorced couple who shared in the custody of the children. One of the neighbors observed that when the children were with the mother they behaved very much as young wild animals might with no sign of training. On the other hand, when they were with the father they were calm, well-behaved youngsters. It will be very hard for those children ever to develop into sober, law abiding adults because of the twisted experiences of their childhood. They are to be pitied. After they have grown up as law-breakers in one environment, it may be too late to make them understand why rules differ under different circumstances, and they will follow the course that seems good to them in bringing the most pleasure in this life. The mistakes in child training are made early, and the time of reaping comes later. All parents can agree that the heartache is great at harvest time.
Capable adults may easily observe that some children are much more active than others. In fact, some are hyperactive to such a degree that they need special help in learning to discipline themselves. In this age of wonderful achievements in medical science, there are doctors who can help the hyperactive children so that they require less punishment and pressure to bring them into subjection. There are doctors who obtained their M.D. degrees and then beyond this made a special study of the mind and nervous system. Such doctors can help the mentally ill, help the little one whose body is so keyed up that he runs a little like the steam engine that does not have a governor.
It is unfortunate that some feel that a child is disgraced if he goes to a skilled psychiatrist. Some infants are carried to highly trained surgeons immediately after birth because some part of the body is not functioning properly. It is sad for the little ones to need such help, but it is no disgrace. All through life physical problems may develop, and we look for those who are qualified to help in such cases. The seriously hyperactive child may appear to be an un-disciplined child because he cannot central his actions, when he may be in need of the help of a reputable physician. I am not a doctor, but I can suggest that you carefully observe your child and do your best to understand his needs.
A well disciplined child is a happy child, and the happy child is one whom everybody can enjoy. Every child deserves to be happy.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 15, pp. 449, 474-475
August 4, 1983