Poison Control (for the
The following is copied exactly from the original
html pages at the web site of Grace Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia,
At first when I read this on the web, I wanted to go
down there to Georgia myself and "correct" them all, these
are such sick ideas, but then I realized that my intense anger really
had more to do with my own upbringing. It is to exorcise this feeling
that I am reprinting this poison verbatim, with my personal comments
(therapy) interlaced. Please do not read it as anything but my personal
response as the son of a Baptist minister, someone brought up in what
has been termed the poisonous pedagogy. Sometimes, if my expression
seems to get personal, please understand that I mean it to apply to
a point of view that I find poisonous and extremely harmful in the world.
One man wrote this with his wife but it is a point of view still held
by so many folks.
Commandment Number I
The disciplining of a child is a two step process. It requires training first, and correction afterwards. A child must be taught the way he should behave before any deviant behavior can be corrected. There is no justification for using corrective measures on a child who has never been taught the expected behavior in the first place. This does not mean that every possible nit-picky application of a teaching must be covered in exhaustive detail. If you have taught your child to play nicely with his or her siblings, and the child begins grabbing toys, then a part of the correction process will involve helping him to see the meaning of "play nicely" on his own.
Obedience Lessons. One way to train a child in the way he should go is to use "obedience lessons". These are instructions you give your small children for the primary purpose of teaching them to become accustomed to obeying your voice. You can give them simple chores like wiping the dining room chairs with a cloth, or throwing away bits of litter collected from the yard. If you run low on chores, give them some arbitrary assignment. For instance, you might send them to the bathroom sink to brush their teeth, and then send them back ten minutes later to do it again.
Extend "obedience lessons" to the church. Teach your child that if the man in the pulpit says to open to a certain song in the hymnal, you obey his voice regardless of whether you already know the song or not. If the man in the pulpit says to open to such and such a verse, you open to it, even if you have already memorized it.
Begin teaching children to obey your will at the earliest possible age. The first time that little tyke clamps his mouth shut and turns his face from the spoon, you gently but firmly press his cheeks until his lips open back up, draw his face back to the spoon and insert it. Sure, he s signaling that he s full, and after another bite or two, you re going to stop feeding him, but not until he has learned who is in control and who is under submission first.
If you tell the little toddler to pick up his blocks and he ignores you, do not start picking them up for him. You gently but firmly pull him to his feet, walk him over to his blocks and guide his hand down if you have to, and place his fingers over the block if you must, and hold them there as you walk him to the toy box to deposit it. If he resists, you lean more on "firmly" and less on "gently". If he starts to refuse, to squirm and whimper, you get down low in his face to where he can hear you whisper and tell him, "You ll do what I say, or we ll take a trip to the bathroom right now!" And if he doesn t believe you, prove it to him right then and there.
Then come right back out and continue with the same toy you left off with. If he doesn t catch on after you walk him through the first block, you take him through every toy on the floor until he does catch on. If he s still refusing to pick up the toys of his own volition by then, dump the toy box out and start all over. "But why? The floor s clean now!" Did you seriously think this whole exercise was about cleaning a floor?
Practice doing right before the occasion for it is needed. We used to act out at the kitchen table how we would behave at Grandma s house. We would have our children pretend on the couch how to sit in church during choir practice when we would not be sitting with them to supervise but we would be watching from the choir loft!
Replace Bad Words with Good Words. Train your children to replace bad words with good words. Do this first by example. You as the parent should replace any bad words you might be saying with good words instead. For example, parents sometimes say bad words like, "If I have to tell you that one more time " Replace these bad words with some good words like, "What did I tell you to do? You didn t obey, did you? Go to the bathroom (or the bedroom or the woodshed or wherever you choose to do "business").
All children learn by experience at what point a spanking actually comes, and they time their obedience to occur just prior to that point. The same child who learns to obey a single, calm command from the teacher at school also knows to wait for a vessel to pop in the screaming parent at home. The obedience of the small child is 100% controllable by the authority whom God holds responsible for that child s obedience. Why else do you suppose God made parents bigger and smarter and stronger than their children?
Some other bad words that parents say are, "Stop it! Shut up!" Is that how you want to hear your child talking to his siblings during play? If your child is becoming crabby, then replace these bad words with good words like these: "When you re acting crabby, it s because you re tired. Go to bed and take a nap." Notice that this is not a threat, it is an instruction. You are not saying that they are in danger of having to take a nap if they do not change their tone. You are saying they have already shown that they in fact need a nap now, and they are going to take one.
Not only should parents say the right words to their children, but they should also say them in the right way. The tone of the parent should be one of eternal calm. Just remember this axiom: the quality of the discipline decreases as the volume of the parent increases. Rising decibels reveal a breakdown of control. We don t want to sound like people going over a cliff when we talk to our children. We want our children to learn to obey a whisper.
Children should be taught to replace bad words with good not only by parental example, but also by parental instruction. Teach them, for instance, that it is bad to say the words, "I want " Teach them to say, "May I please have " instead. Teach them to replace words such as, "I m bored " with "What may I do to help you?" Teach them to never say, "Do I have to?", but "Sure, I ll be glad to!" Do not permit them to say, "I don t like ", but have them say, "I wouldn t care for , thank you."
As you read those phrases that were not permitted and those good words that replaced them, did you notice a difference in how the words sounded even in your own mind? Can t you just hear the whining tone and the rudeness in the very pronunciation of the bad words? Can t you hear the refreshing sweetness in the phrases that replaced them? The very words you choose carry a tone of their own and reflect the spirit of the speaker. They also have a harmonic effect upon the spirit of the speaker and hearer alike, so that if your child doesn t feel very polite as he is made to say the right words, the repetition of even a contrived politeness will tend to affect his spirit in a positive way. After all, once a person says something, he tends to feel a certain commitment to it.
Not only do we want to teach our children to replace bad words with good ones, but we also want to teach them to say the good words before they ever learn to use bad words to start with. In our home, we would use the example of naughty children to do this. We would say something like, "Do you know what I heard a naughty child say today?"
This would always catch their interest, and with big eyes they would look up expectantly and breathe, "What?" I would always build up to it by saying things like, "Oh, it was one of the worst things I think a child could ever even say!" "What was it, Daddy?" "That naughty child needed a really big spanking, didn t they?" "Yes, yes, they did! What was it?" "It was so bad, I know you would never say a thing like that, would you?" "No, never! What was it? What was it?" Once they were fully prepared to abominate whatever thing the foul fiend had spoken, I would finally say something like, "They said, You can t make me! They actually said that to their own mother! Can you believe " etc.
We Never Get Anything We Ever Cry For! Another thing that we trained our children to avoid as much as bad words and bad tones was crying to get things. Our children understood from before they can even now remember that we never get anything we ever cry for!
It may have been something we were going to give them, it may have been something we wanted them to have and had specifically bought just for them, we may have just been reaching for it to give to them. But the instant they cried for it, that s it! They lost it. We would mournfully say, "Oh no, I can t give you that now, because you just cried for it, and we never get anything we ever cry for. If I gave that to you now, you would begin to think that crying is a way to get things, and God would not want me to teach you that.
Maybe some other time you will remember to ask for it nicely, but I cannot give it to you now. You cried to get it, so now you cannot have it."
Brian: I just feel so sad and overwhelmingly sorry for the children of Christians who are damaged adults and ritually harm those sweet children entrusted to them. It is such a horrible destruction of innocence.
A Ministry of Grace (sic) Baptist Church
Proverbs 19:18a, "Chasten thy son while there is
The idea of chastening is to give the child an incentive to avoid repeating his misbehavior in the future. We are commanded to chasten, or spank, our children "while there is hope". The intimation is that as an unchastened child hardens in his disobedience, the effectiveness of belated chastening is diminished. Eventually there comes a point where chastening can no longer tame an unruly and willful rebel. In ancient Israel, the only remaining alternatives were to either stone the child or suffer him to continue as an outlaw and face the judgment of society.
At what age is this "hopeless point" reached? Again, in ancient Israel indeed, in most ancient and even medieval cultures a boy was considered a young man about the time he reached puberty, or around the age of 12. My wife and I have made an interesting observation about the many young boys we have seen entering junior high school over the years. Boys almost always graduate from high school with the same basic disposition they had when they entered junior high. With girls, the cement tends to set around the ninth or tenth grade, but with boys, unless God works a miracle (and He sometimes does), their basic character is jelled by the time they have come through puberty.
Is character development really "hopeless" beyond junior high? Is there any hope for the parent of a child who was improperly trained in the earlier years? Indeed there is, but it lies beyond the scope of these lessons. This message is not about remedial parenting, but for laying a solid parental groundwork in the first place. I would suggest asking your pastor for his recommendation on material for reclaiming a potential prodigal. There is a great deal of teaching available on this subject, and your pastor would undoubtedly be able to help you find something pertinent to your need.
Unscriptural Alternatives. In dealing with young children, you will notice if you search the Scriptures that there is no alternative to chastening for correcting misbehavior.
Now I realize that in our day, "spanking" has been given a bad name by people who either do not understand the Scriptural teaching or who are themselves rebels blinded by the spirit of antichrist against anything that curtails fallen human nature.
There are many theories, fads and creative alternatives to old fashioned spankings that parents are bombarded with today. But beyond all the noise of arguing experts and the psycho-babble of professional counselors (whose whole experience is with the failures of child rearing, never the successes), the still, small voice of the Spirit of God yet whispers, "Whoso loveth his son chasteneth him betimes".
To say that some of these newfangled methods of correction are unscriptural is merely to acknowledge that the Bible nowhere endorses them. This is not to say that they may not achieve some of the results a parent is after. But I personally believe that, given a choice, I would prefer the measures God describes instead.
What are some of these unscriptural methods of our day, and what is so wrong with them?
Grounding. One popular alternative to a spanking is grounding imposing some obligation or withholding some enjoyment from the child for a period of time. He or she may not be allowed to watch television, go to a favorite hangout or participate in a sport or other activity for so many days, weeks or even months.
Now certainly, if an activity is preventing a child from performing duties which are reasonably expected of him, the activity should be laid aside as an offending weight. This is not punishment for misbehavior, but rather a common sense management of time and influences. If the television seems to be promoting some undesirable attitudes that are showing up in your child, then it should definitely be shut off! If sports are interfering with a child s academic accomplishments, then of course time should be cleared for the child s greater priority. But grounding removes pleasures from the child s life as an act of retribution. Parents frequently ground their children from activities which have absolutely no connection to the problem. Consider, for instance, the kid who cannot leave the house (even for church!) for one week because he got into mischief with some school friends.
One problem with grounding is that it can impose a burden on others besides the offender. An innocent sibling who just lost his frisbee partner for a week may resent being indirectly included in the punishment. Parents who now have to keep close watch to enforce the grounding have equally restricted their own lives.
This leads to another problem with grounding. It is often difficult to consistently enforce. In fact, the longer the period of grounding is, the less likely it is that the offender will actually end up serving his full sentence. This is especially true if the grounding was initiated in an emotional moment. As the anger or embarrassment recedes, the impetus to maintain the inconveniences caused by the grounding wears away.
None of these observations really address the root of the problem with grounding, however. Even if one applied an ideal restriction that was related directly to the offense, caused no hardship for others and could be realistically enforced, the fundamental objection to grounding is that it is inconsistent with what our Heavenly Father teaches about correction and forgive-ness. Grounding does not forgive, put the sin behind and restore the fellowship wholly as before. Grounding holds the sin over the child s head for a protracted period of time. Each time he re-experiences the disappointment of the restriction, he is reminded again that his debt is not quite paid, that his sin still holds some claim upon him, that everything is not yet perfect between him and his parent.
Chastening, however, is an act beyond which all can be forgiven, forgotten and restored as before.
"Time Outs". Another unscriptural device that has become popular recently is the "time out". This novel device is the philosophical brainchild of the anti-corporal punishment crowd. The idea here is to remove the child from the circumstance that is igniting his emotional reaction until he has time to cool off. But this sidesteps the issue the child s will is not being trained to control his emotion.
Someone on the outside is having to manipulate his emotions for him by rearranging his circumstances rather than his attitude. There is no lesson in self-control, and worse, there is no corrective consequence for his disobedience.
Swats. One more very popular but unscriptural tool that parents use is swats. Other than with small children still learning the meaning of "No!", swats are relatively ineffective as a corrective device. A swat is an uncontrolled venting of the parent s emotion its focus is to meet the parent s need, not the child s. Swats generate resentment, not repentance.
What, you may wonder, is the difference between a swat and a spanking? Well, perhaps it is only semantics, but let me describe to you what I am talking about. Picture the grocery store mother who gets frustrated with little Johnny s antics and finally gives him a pop or two on his britches. Johnny squalls and hops like an outraged Indian
while mom threatens more of the same if he doesn t straighten up. So he settles down and sulks for a while, but after mom s boil-over has had time to subside, Johnny starts testing the waters again. It may be something subtle at first swinging his leg against the grocery cart, or whining for a candy bar, or poking his fingers deep into the plastic wrapped loaf of bread, or something equally obnoxious. Meanwhile, mom is trying to get her shopping done as quickly as possible so she can get out of the store before her next eruption.
A spanking does not take place in a few brief seconds. In fact, there is no such thing as a quick spanking. A spanking is an ordeal. The point of a spanking is not to temporarily reduce misbehavior to an endurable level, but to stop misbehavior entirely and permanently. Unlike the quick fix of a few swats, a spanking changes the child according to the assurance of Hebrews 12:11, "Afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Teaching Toddlers, "No!" Swats used to teach small children the meaning of "No!" on the other hand are essential. There has been a tragic fad going through child care facilities recently. They have been trying to avoid ever using the word "no" with small children. The idea has been to create a totally positive lollipop kingdom that bears no resemblance to the world they should be getting prepared for.
The irony is that kids who grow up not hearing "no" enter adolescence unable to say "no" to sin. Suddenly they re barraged with a campaign to reverse all of their childhood conditioning as the experts now begin trying to etch the advice, "Just say No! " , onto a character that was basically established by the time they were six years old.
So what happened along the way with the Crayola-bright gingerbread world that was being manufactured for them? Did somebody figure out that the illusion could not be sustained forever? That at some point the bubble had to pop, and the little kiddies had to come tumbling down with a thud to a fallen world booby trapped with sins and dangers and temptations at every turn?
Somewhere between the Gumdrop Garden and the modern youth culture, the Yellow Brick Road got tarnished. The point is that if saying, "No!" is already so difficult for children to do, why wait till the last minute to begin teaching it?
So long as there continue to be experts who refuse to follow the wisdom of God
there will continue to be experimental notions that make guinea pigs out of our children. Just remember the wisdom of the Psalmist who wrote, "walk not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm 1:1).
Hebrews 10:26, "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."
"We don t spank for accidents!" The whole purpose
of chastening a child is to shape his will. There is absolutely no other
reason to spank. Whenever the inevitable spills occurred, our children
always knew the reassuring family maxim: "We don t spank for accidents".
So before you lose it over a particularly treasured item being swept into a dustpan, just think back on all of those "funny stories" your mom likes to tell about when you were a little tot. Never forget that other excellent maxim: "People are more important than things". Sure, you can blow up and storm and rage, and get it all off of your chest. But then ask yourself who has made the bigger mess. Ask yourself how much better you really feel now.
But what if an accident results from disobedience in the first place?
If your child spills Koolaide on the living room carpet,
just think to yourself, "We should have had a rule about this kind
As you administer the correction described in the following commandments, you will no doubt focus your child s attention on the purpose of such rules and the importance of obeying them. But the child should clearly understand that it was the disobedience that led to the accident rather than the accident itself that they are being corrected for.
"We don t spank for forgetting!" Another matter which is not an act of intentional disobedience is your child s forgetting of things. We do not spank our children who are learning some new habit for forgetting after the first couple of times they have heard about it. Certainly we want them to learn responsibility, and we are confident that they will if given a chance. But young children are having to learn everything pretty much from scratch, and there is a limit to how much they can absorb at once. They stumble when they are learning to walk; they have accidents when they are being potty trained; and they do forget sometimes when they are being taught new habits. It has nothing to do with a wayward will, and we do not demand from them the same level of maturity and responsibility that we do from an older child.
However, if a child does begin to appear careless in his efforts to accept responsibility and repeatedly "forgets" to fulfill an obligation or keep up with things entrusted to him, then there may indeed be a refusal in his will to perform something he considers unpleasant. Ask God for wisdom to discern the difference between a stumbling memory and a stubborn will, and deal with each accordingly.
"We don t spank for not being able!" Similarly, we don t spank a child who is incapable of performing what might have been an overly enthusiastic expectation. If a child just can t remember what comes after the number twelve although you ve told him a hundred times, tell him a hundred and one. The last thing you want to do is make him freeze up for fear of retribution. "Oooo, I think it s 13, but it might be 15 and if I say the wrong thing, I ll get punished could it be 15 after all?" A petrified child is about as teachable as a pet rock.
If a child does her best to wipe off the table but misses a spot, if the jug of milk is too heavy for her to lift back into the refrigerator, if he swings and strikes every time he holds a bat, if the crayons don t stay inside all of the lines, if in any way your child s efforts fall short of your expectations, then just figure that God is calling upon you to exercise the virtue of patience. A spanking is not a teaching resource.
"We don t spank for not knowing any better!" Generally, their failure to meet our expectations will go back to our own failure to train our children adequately in the first place. We don t spank for errors that result from a lack of parental training.
I remember long ago when our daughter Elizabeth was first learning to cook. Our girls began learning domestic skills at a rather early age, and Elizabeth was pretty small when she began cooking. On one occasion, she had finished with the flour that Mommy had set out for her, but she did not know where it was to be put away. Noticing a number of bags and boxes on top of the refrigerator, she assumed that she had discovered the proper storage place, but it was rather a high reach for such a short little girl. Still, she dragged in a chair from the dining room, and standing on tip toes she could just push the bag of flour up on the top edge of the refrigerator door. She returned the chair to the table and continued about her business until some time later when her little brother, Joshua, came in for a drink. No sooner had he opened the door when, "Whoomp!", the whole bag of flour fell like a booby trap and exploded all over him! From his cow lick to his toe nails, he looked like Casper the Ghost with two very startled eyes blinking through all of that white powder.
When Mommy came running in a moment later, she took one look at the sight and burst out laughing. Now some frustrated Mommies might have shrieked in horror at the waste and the terrible mess to clean up. Some might have cried, "You little trouble makers! I m going to punish you, and you too!" But Ruthie? She hurried for the camera and took a picture. Afterwards, she covered her omission in training and explained to Elizabeth where the next bag of flour we would buy belonged.
The point of all of this goes back to the verse at the beginning of this section, Hebrews 10:26. "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."
For deliberate disobedience, there are no deals that can be made, no "I ll give up this and that if you ll let me off this once" kind of talk. The next verse goes on to say, "But a certain fearful looking for of judgment". But it is willful disobedience that brings this on. It is the condition of the child s heart that is at issue,
not his motor coordination, not his intellectual development or academic training, not his potty training (I knew a couple once that began spanking when their child did not get potty trained fast enough). The third commandment of child discipline is to reserve chastening exclusively for willful disobedience.
A Ministry(sic) of Grace Baptist Church
Numbers 32:23c, "Be sure your sin will find you out."
When a person is being tempted to give in to sin, two of the most important questions that they evaluate during the battle to obey are, "Will I get caught?" and "Will I be punished?" If they are certain that they will be caught and that they will be punished, then they may not consider the pleasure of sin for a season to be worth the wages that follow. If, however, they have learned from experience that what typically follows being caught are repeated threats and warnings, then they will probably regard the nuisance of a nag to be a cheap price for the thrill of rebellion.
Therefore, it is absolutely critical for your child s moral development that you demonstrate to them the utter certainty of a retribution that will cost more in sorrow than the sin can afford in pleasure. The fourth commandment of child discipline, then, is to impress upon your children the impossibility of ever escaping sin s consequences. Make sure they understand from the very first disobedience that there will always be a price to pay, that it is a law as certain as gravity, that no mortal ever born has once gotten away with a single sin that was ever committed since the honeymoon ended in Eden. Teach them the verse, "Be sure your sin will find you out".
When our children were small, we would tell them things like, "God hates sin, because He knows how badly it hurts us, and He does not want us to be hurt. So God gives us Mommies and Daddies to spank us and teach us about the hurt that sin causes. But if our Mommies and Daddies don t spank us, then God has to spank us, and God always spanks harder than we do. Who do you want to spank you Daddy or God?"
They invariably conceded at that tender age that a spanking from Daddy was preferable to one from the Almighty. If we had waited until they were older, however, I am not certain that they would have been so wise! Teach them that the best thing that can happen to them is to be caught and dealt with by a loving parent, because the world is hard and the reproofs of life are unforgiving.
In fact, I recall occasions when they would be left with a more permissive relative (a practice we observed only in extremities) under whose care they would, unfortunately, yield more readily to temptations for mischief. After some feeble reprimand, the doting relative would assure the children that she would not report the misbehavior, and if they would just keep quiet about it, then Mommy and Daddy would never know. But the moment we would pull into the drive way, they would come out weeping and confessing and asking if they could hurry and go first for their spanking and get it over with to the total shock of their baby sitter!
The parents who do not chasten their children upon the first disobedience, but begin giving warnings and threats and bribes, are doing their entire family a terrible disservice for which both the parents and children will suffer in years to come. Such parents are failing in their parental responsibility, and the children know it.
A child knows when he has done wrong; he knows he deserves correction; he knows that it is his parent who should correct him, and the child loses respect for both himself and his parent when he sees that he is allowed to do bad things and is not made to be a better person than he is able to become on his own. Of course, the child may be unable to articulate this, but his heart still feels things that his head cannot figure out. It is tragic but inevitable that such a child will spend many years to come constantly testing the limits of disobedience, searching in all the wrong places for esteem, despising his parents and replacing them in his heart with unsavory role models who will praise his misdeeds since there are none to correct them.
Unfortunately, there are parents who try to pass the responsibility of curbing their children s sin nature off on others. They may rely on the church programs or the school or a Bible club or some other entity to act in loco parentis for them, and when the kids turn out a disgrace, they will say that it was that teacher s fault or the youth pastor s or a Master club worker or some such. But the truth is, the only ones who can make a child obey his parents are his parents. The strictest school teacher on the planet can make little Johnny obey in the classroom and the fire breathing youth pastor can make him sit up straight in the pew. But we have all known of children who dared not cross Miss Armburster at school, yet defied and snapped at their own parents every waking moment at home.
I remember several years ago when a lady in our church decided to go back to work for a while and asked my wife if she would baby sit her little toddler for a few months. Now this particular toddler had a reputation in the church nursery.
He was unruly and prone to tantrums.
So, as was our custom in taking such assignments, Ruthie accepted on the condition that she could administer the same corporal discipline that we used for our own children.
The mother was more than willing to see her child learn some of the self-control that she had observed in our children, and so it was agreed.
It did not take the little boy very long to learn that when Mrs. Lyons told him to do something, obedience was not an option. He soon became a charming little toddler a terrific two instead of a terrible one. He learned to obey Ruthie immediately and gladly and would cry when it was time for him to leave in the evenings.
But did that make him any better at home? This question was dramatically answered one night when Ruthie discovered his mother picking him up from the church nursery. The little fellow was throwing such a tantrum as he was notorious for, kicking and tugging and squalling like a wild cat. But when he turned the corner and saw my wife, she gave him such a look of astonished disappointment that he abruptly fell into a shamed silence. My wife whispered his name with a tone of hurt and betrayal, and he hung his head like a whipped puppy.
The change was so immediate and dramatic that the child s mother looked up in wonder, obviously wondering what miracle my wife had performed.
But the good news is that what Ruthie had done was something far better than a rare miracle it was simply the consistent, loving discipline described in the Word of God that can be applied by any parent who wants to rear a well behaved child.
Impress upon the child the truth that any misbehavior is always paid for one way or another and that the best thing that can happen for the child is to be caught and have his wrong dealt with by the comparatively gentle hand of the loving parent. Impress this upon them not only in words, but also by consistently applying correction upon the child s very fir disobedience. God requires this of us, society expects it from us and even our children look to us for it.
A Ministry of Grace(sic) Baptist Church
It is natural for a child to eventually wonder whether the rules he has learned at home apply in other places as well. And it is just as inevitable that he will eventually try to find out. When this happens, you will end up doing one of two things: a) teaching him that right and wrong are absolutes that apply at all times in all places, or b) apologizing to those around you with the lame explanation that you don t understand what s wrong he isn t like this at home.
If you allow them to, children will take advantage of social politeness to tie your hands with the cords of public embarrassment.
View your child s test of your rules in public as you would any other emergency. If you were on the front pew in the middle of the Sunday morning service and your child began to throw up, would you begin hissing "Stop that this instant!" and look around apologetically at those beside you? Would you make a feeble slap at him and threaten under your breath, "Just wait till I get you home"? No! This would be an emergency! Whether the preacher or the congregation understood or not, you would take your child by the hand and, making as little disturbance as possible, you would get him out of there as fast as you could. And then you would head straight for the bathroom to clean up the mess!
But if he began acting up instead of throwing up, would you view a sickness of the soul
as less of an emergency than a sickness of the flesh? Would you not still need to make a bee line to the bathroom to "clean up"? Sure, you may be a bit embarrassed, but how do you feel trying to discreetly manage a child making a spectacle of himself before everyone whose eyes can turn far enough in the corners to see him? I know, I know they shouldn t be trying to see him, but if your kid is putting on a better show than the preacher, it is an understandable temptation!
I remember one time when one of my children, many years ago, would not sit still and keep her eyes on the preacher as I had reminded her. I quietly took her by the hand, and walked out during point number two of the sermon. We went over to the church s education building, walked upstairs far from the auditorium and entered one of the bathroom stalls. I sat her on my knee and said, "What did I tell you to do? You disobeyed, didn t you?" And we proceeded to clean up the mess. Interestingly enough, we have only had to do that one time.
"But heavens! what would people think if they saw me walk a little misbehaving child out like that?" Well if it matters, they would probably think the same thing that I do on the rare occasions that I see such a thing.
They would probably think something like, "Now that is a conscientious parent! That kid stands a good chance of turning out all right some day That s how we trained ours to behave in church That is an excellent example to other young parents in our congregation That parent has my respect!" On the other hand, if what people think is so important, would you be interested in knowing what they think while being entertained by Curious George and his frustrated mom or dad?
If your child began throwing up in the car, would you threaten, "Stop that right now, or I m going to pull over and fix you good"? No! You would pull over immediately and clean up the mess. If it happened in a supermarket, would you bribe her with the promise of a candy bar if she would stop vomiting on the produce? Or would you immediately grab your purse, leave the grocery cart and head for a private place where you could clean up the mess? If you were at a friend s house, would you make embarrassed apologies to your host and shrug helplessly as your child fouled their carpet? Or would you excuse yourself and hasten off somewhere where you could take care of the mess? Whatever you would do to deal with an illness of the flesh, do so even more earnestly to heal the soul.
There has been a time or two when we pulled over and dealt with a problem in the back seat. For the rest of their lives, our children knew that it was no empty threat, but a certain fact that misbehavior while traveling would not wait until we reached our destination when we would be tired and might forget. There was once an occasion when we had to excuse ourselves at someone else s house and "clean up a mess". It didn t embarrass us nearly as much as it did the child, and we never had to do it again.
Children are naturally curious, and when yours acts up in public, he is simply experimenting to find out how far your parental authority extends.
Are you still in charge in the doctor s office? Are you in charge in the restaurant? Does he have to obey you in the mall? Can you still make him mind in the department store? View his demonstrations as simply your child s way of asking a question that he cannot articulate otherwise. He just wants an answer, and you, the parent, are the only one who can give it to him, because it s all about you and your authority over him. Furthermore, since a demonstration is the only way that he knows to ask, a demonstration on your part is the only answer he will really understand. No doubt, you have already told him (or certainly should have) that he must always obey Mommy and Daddy, but now he is requiring proof, and you just have to give it to him.
The verse we began with said that it is "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." The question your child is asking in the grocery store is, "What can you make me do in this place right now?" If you say anything like, "Just you wait till I get you home, young man!" then you have answered his question. Right now, in this place, you don t really have any power. Being a public spectacle certainly doesn t bother him, but it does you, and right there is the crack in your authority.
If hurrying through with your shopping is more important than making him obey, if visiting with your friends or sitting out the sermon or getting to your destination, or anything else on the surface of the planet can stall you from making him obey, then he will not be inclined to obey. Sure, when you get him back on your turf, you can make him sorry this time. But he has learned a valuable fact, and he will tuck it away, and a day will come when home is far away and no time soon. And now that he knows there are places and times when you cannot control him, his natural curiosity will drive him to continue experimenting until he discovers them all, and that can make for a very long childhood.
A Ministry of Grace(sic) Baptist Church
involves correcting the way your child thinks about his sin.
The verse for this says that the loving Father will "rebuke and chasten". The spanking ordeal also involves correcting how your child feels toward his sin. The verse says, "be zealous and repent". And the spanking ordeal ultimately involves correcting your child s will in regard to his sin by giving him a consequence as an incentive to resist temptation. The loving Father will "rebuke and chasten". The next three commandments of child discipline deal with these three aspects of correction.
One goal of correction is to lead the child to acknowledge his sin as a first step toward repenting of it and forsaking it.
One good way to do this is to send the child to the bathroom (bedroom, woodshed, wherever) and let him fret there while you and your spouse discuss anything you need to before addressing the miscreant. In our house, I, as the Daddy, was the primary spanker when available. My wife would fill me in on any details I needed to know first, so that when the rebuke began, I would be ready for anything that might come up.
I would walk into the bathroom and take the child up on my right knee (since I am right handed) for the Big Talk.
What all would this "Talk" include? Well, of course, we would start off by talking about his or her sin to make sure the child understood what the discipline was ultimately about. It wasn t because he didn t put away his puzzle and come to the table; it was because he disobeyed Mommy. It wasn t because she went outside and got dirty; it was because she disobeyed Daddy. At this age, virtually everything that needs correcting boils down to disobeying a parent or having a wrong attitude.
"You weren t nice to your sister don t we have a rule about being nice to your sisters? But you didn t obey that, did you?"
"You didn t stay with us in the line at the grocery store, did you? No, you went wandering off, and we had to look for you, didn t we? What is our standing-in-line rule? Let s say it together: Keep your body closer to my body than anybody else s body. But you didn t obey that, did you?"
"You made a disturbance in the library, didn t you? Oh, you don t think so? Well, let s just repeat our library rules together then: Be still and be quiet.
Were you being still and quiet when you were giggling and climbing over the bean bag chair with that other little child? You didn t obey our library rules very well, did you?"
After clarifying what the correction was all about disobedience of one kind or another we would go over a pertinent verse to keep before the child the fact that his disobeying us was also a sin against God.
Naturally, the verse was almost always something like Ephesians 6:1, "Children obey your parents". I would say something like, "You didn t obey, did you? But what does the Bible say? That s right, it says that little girls (boys) ought to obey their Mommies and Daddies, doesn t it? Say, Children, obey your parents. Good, now say it again. Okay, one more time."
After talking about his disobedience to us and his sin against God, we would then talk about the harm that his sin did or could have caused to himself or others. While it is true that children may not always understand the reason behind a rule but must obey nevertheless "because you say so", it is also true that anything you can use to help them obey should definitely be provided. Even an explanation over the child s head will give them a sense of the rule s purpose and will certainly assure them that it is not just an arbitrary infringement upon their activity. By the time a child is beyond the toddler years, however, they should be able to understand something of the reason behind almost any rule they could be given.
As you talk to your child, let your own disappointment and hurt show in your voice and face. You cannot overdo this. How your child feels about that sin for the rest of his life will largely be determined by how seriously you treat it right here. Your goal should be to make him feel worse from this talking than he ever does from the chastening; that the spanking should be a welcome relief from the emotional torment he endures from this talk.
"But what if I scar his little soul?" It is sin that scars his little soul, and right now, his soul has a gaping wound; your loving rebuke is the balm that heals it, and the more thoroughly you heal it, the less of a scar it will leave.
I might say something like, "If you had wandered off and gotten lost, then we would be sad and Mommy would be crying, and Elizabeth wouldn t have a big sister to look up to any more. We love you, and we don t want to lose you, and we don t want any bad person to get you. Even if you don t get lost, we don t want you getting in the way of other people who are trying to shop, because that isn t very nice to them either."
Your child may begin making claims that are new to you. Call your wife into the bathroom with you if you must, and say to the child, "All right, now tell Mommy what you just said." She will probably be able to put any other misperceptions you didn t already catch into their proper perspective. "No sir, young man, she was not hitting you with the broom; she was sweeping, and you were getting in the way .Just going to the bath-room, huh? By way of the porch? No, you were trying to tease her with that dead spider! Well if you were so anxious for her to sweep it out for you, then why were you waving it in her face? She needed a spider an inch from her nose in order to see it? No sir! You were not where you were supposed to be, you were not doing what you were supposed to do, and you did not answer me the way you know you have been taught, now did you?"
Some parents do not attempt to correct their children s attitudes. They apparently believe that so long as the child obeys the letter of the law, the spirit in which he does it is of little consequence. My wife and I have always felt just the opposite that the attitude is even more important than the performance, because if the attitude is right, the performance will follow whether we are there to supervise or not, whether we ever catch an infraction or not, whether they are still children who must comply with our rules or not. We do not wish to raise surly serfs who get by with what they must to avoid the rod. We want them to be kindred spirits who love us and desire to please and obey. Is this not what our Heavenly Father also wishes from us? Jesus said, "Henceforth I call you not servants but I have called you friends" (John 15:15).
No child should ever get away with expressing a bad attitude toward his parents no matter what circumstance they imagine justifies such an attitude.
They may say something like, "Well, Mommy was getting on to me because of what I had just said to my sister, but she had done something to me first, and Mommy didn t catch her, and it just seems like I m always the one who s getting into trouble and nobody ever does anything to her " Do not let her get away with using some circumstance to vindicate disrespect. You could begin by saying something like, "But when you were that age, you did the exact same things, and you didn t know what you were doing any more than she does now, but nobody treated you the way you were acting." Deal with how they should have responded, what their attitude should have been, and how the consequences of their wrong have hurt others always try to connect the sin with its consequences. "You had a chance to show your sister the right way to play, and now all you ve shown her is that you re just as selfish as you think she is and worse, that you even talk back and show disrespect to your mother. We are very disappointed, because we never thought that you would do a thing like that!"
Always hold up before him this ideal image of what a model child you think he is, and he will strive to fulfill that expectation. Let him hear you brag on his behavior to others; and then, when you re having the Talk and expressing your disappointment with his failure, the loss of faith he has in his parent s eyes will mean something to him. He ll think, "Will they still think
I m a good child anymore? Will they still say nice things about me to their friends?" You are driving home the lesson that "a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1).
Whatever situation revealed the child s attitude problem was sent to them by God to expose what had been hiding in his heart that you might have never known about. Whether a shaken cup spills clean water or dirty water on the table, depends entirely upon what kind of water is in the cup to start with. God allows each of us, parents and children alike, to be "shaken up" sometimes to show us what is really hiding inside. Does a sweet and proper attitude toward trials come out of us, or do we spit and fume?
God does this with our children to give us a chance to see a heart problem and correct it while there is still time. By dealing with their hearts when they are young, we can teach them how to handle the same kinds of problems on a larger scale throughout their lives.
Our job as their earthly parents is to cooperate with their Heavenly Parent in helping Him get His lessons across to them; but if we begin thinking that circumstances might have justified their attitude and that we should let them off, then we are essentially saying to the Heavenly Father that we think His lessons are too hard for our children. Who do you think really knows best how to prepare them for whatever may be on the path ahead?
A Ministry of Grace (sic) Baptist Church
Commandment Number VII
What is it about hell that makes it into the terrible place that it is? Is it the fire? The darkness? Is it the falling or the thirst? What is it that makes hell be hell? Actually, none of the individual descriptions that we hear of hell constitute the essence of its torment. What makes it hell is that this is the one corner in all of Creation that is completely abandoned by God. God is light, therefore hell is dark. God is the water of life, therefore those in hell thirst. He is the God of all comfort, therefore hell is a place of torment. He is the universal foundation by which all things are upheld, therefore those in hell are eternally falling. All of the descriptions that are given of hell are simply the inevitable consequence of a chaos without God.
When Jesus suffered the punishment of hell in our place on the cross, yes He thirsted; yes He was tormented; yes the world turned dark. But when He cried out, "My God, my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?" that was when He dipped His soul into the very essence of hell itself and took the spanking meant for us.
These dreadful and wonderful truths of eternal weight are as whispered echoes in the wells of your child s developing understanding of spiritual things when he sits ashamed upon your knee. The burden of guilt, as a cloud between his face and his father s, is as close a reflection of the separation in hell that he as yet can know. The desire he has to make peace with the parent is a foretaste of the yearning that is still developing to one day make his peace with God. Oh, what a responsibility is ours to guide our children through repentance to restoration as an object lesson of salvation yet to come!
After the child has acknowledged his sin and seen its consequences both for himself and others, the wise parent will seize this moment to try and turn the child s heart against that sin forever. We would always try to make the child feel very bad about his or her sin. I would especially try to make them feel extra bad about disobeying their Mommy. I would try to make them feel as though disobeying me was a really terrible thing, but disobeying Mommy was like disobeying an angel from God, and that spankings just had to be harder for doing something as unholy as that! I might say something like, "What did Mommy tell you to do? But what did you do? Do you love your Mommy? But the Bible says that when you love someone, you obey them; so why didn t you obey your own Mommy who is so wise and good and loves you so much? Did you see how sad you made your Mommy when you did that? Do you like making your Mommy sad? Then why do you do things like that?"
Whether the disobedience was against Mommy or not, I would
try to use all the things in the child s life that they loved and all
the things they hated to make them want to do right and hate doing wrong;
to make an indelible impression upon their little soul so that they
would never again, as long as they lived, want to repeat that sin. I
wanted to develop in them a zero tolerance for repeated offenses. My
goal as the wielder of "the rod" was to work myself out of
Whew! Does that seem like some pretty rough stuff to be laying upon the heart of your little one? Well, certainly children are different, and they won t all need the same dose of spiritual castor oil. You may have a very tender hearted child whose heart is broken the moment your voice quavers out the word, "Mommy " You may have some tough little character who needs all of that and then some just to get a tear drop. But whatever it takes, your goal should be to make sin appear exceeding sinful in their sight. They should grieve in their hearts over their wrong and feel pain on the inside long before they ever feel it on the outside. The bigger the stick you can put in their souls, the smaller the stick you will need for their flesh. If the child learns to feel his wrong, he will not need to spend his life being beaten into compliance. Unless the child sorrows over his sin, he has not repented, and if he has not repented, then his heart s attitude has not been corrected, and your job is incomplete. Be thorough now if you want to avoid going through this whole thing again later.
Depending on the nature of your child s offense, this part of "The Talk" will either be designed to strengthen something within your child or to weaken something. If the disobedience resulted from a weakness of the flesh or weakness of character, then your talk should aim to strengthen his emotional resolve against that temptation in the future. I would always use a pained and sorrowful voice to help accomplish this. If the problem arose from a strong will or a strong stubborn streak, as in a defiant or rebellious attitude, then your talk should try to weaken and break down his will to defy and rebel. For this, I would use a stern and hard voice.
Ask God for wisdom and use whatever tone or words seem most appropriate to deal with the child and the offense. Your goal during this part of the rebuke is to help your child correct how he feels toward his sin. If you have built a good relationship with your child, then your very disapproval of his deeds will be a strong force in shaping his feelings against whatever has now interfered with that relationship.
Our children have often told us that the burden they felt during the Talk was so heavy, the sense of broken fellowship so painful, that they were usually anxious to get to the actual spanking which was anti-climactic by comparison. This should be your goal as you help your child through the repentance. You want them to perceive the pain of the spanking as but a tangible object lesson of the even greater pain within their hearts caused by the dark cloud that has fallen between them and the ones they love the most.
Most of all, you want this to be the closest they ever get to the sense of eternal separation and abandonment in hell. "Withhold not correction from the child (thou) shalt deliver his soul from hell" Proverbs 23:13, 14. Our goal in disciplining our children was that they would be so prepared for the good news of salvation that as soon as they were old enough to understand that their sins had separated them from the Heavenly Father, they would be ready to repent and accept His forgiveness. We wanted them to never spend a single day in Satan s kingdom.
Now I do not know that we ever actually accomplished so idyllic a goal, but I do know that all four of our children were saved very young. Since they were of kindergarten age, our child rearing experience has been a wonderful partnership between the Holy Spirit working on them from the inside and my wife and myself cooperating with Him on the outside. Since we as parents have not always been perfect on our end, I am so very grateful that at least One on the other end has made no mistakes. We see our children now, ranging from almost junior high through college, and we consider them each to be a marvelous testimony to Christ and His Word. Our wish is that every parent would be able to rejoice in their children as we have been blessed to do. But even better, that is God s wish for every parent as well which is why He gives us these instructions from His Word.
A Ministry of Grace (sic) Baptist Church
Leading into the spanking. After the child feels grieved on the inside about his sin, it is time to bring closure to the chastening process. I would usually lead into this by saying something like, "And now, do you know what has to happen because you did that? That s right, you have to get a spanking. Do we just sometimes get spankings when we re naughty, or do we always get spankings? That s right, we always get spankings when we do wrong; because God says we have to get spankings to help us do what we re not strong enough to do by ourselves; and if Daddy doesn t spank us, then Who will? That s right, God will spank us; and Who spanks harder, Daddy or God? Yes, God spanks a lot harder than Daddy. Do you want a spanking from God, or do you want a spanking from Daddy? Okay then, bend over."
Applying the board of education to the seat of learning. Since I am right-handed, I would have the child sitting on my right knee. At this point, I would lay the child forward over my left knee so that his or her legs were trapped between my legs, with my left hand I could hold down the child s upper body, and this would leave the child s natural padding as a raised target for my right palm. The child s ability to squirm was very limited by this arrangement, and I could deal with business swiftly and without the nuisance of chasing a Jack-in-the-Box or Jill-in-the-Box.
Sometimes when a child is about to be spanked, he or she will start to cry loudly or yell before the first stroke has even fallen. This is an attempt on the part of the child to find a soft spot in the parent s heart by "(seeking) it carefully with tears" Hebrews 12:17. But the verse used for this commandment says, "let not thy soul spare for his crying". We never permitted our children to demonstrate this sort of lack of self-control. If I bent a child over and she started screaming, I would haul her back up, glare into her eyes and say real low, "Just what do you think you are doing? You stop that right now, you hear? Do you need two spankings? All right, then, you be quiet!" Then I would bend her back down and continue. We wanted our children to learn to accept correction with dignity. If in later life they must take correction as adults, we want them to be able to do it as calmly as possible and with grace.
The rod of correction. Most of the spankings I gave my children were with my open palm. I suppose I had some vague sense that I too should somehow feel the pain I was giving my children.
I did once hear what struck me as rather a silly argument against spanking with the hand. A lady told me years ago that she had been taught not to spank with the hand in order to avoid having the child associate your hand with something bad. "They should see your hand as an instrument of your love," she explained. I answered that her argument sounded like one in favor of palm paddling, since an act of love is exactly what a spanking is described as in the Word of God. She rolled her eyes and shook her head, clearly unimpressed with what I had thought was an excellent observation. Perhaps she had a difficult time perceiving a spanking as indeed an act of love. Perhaps in her mind it took a paddle to bridge that gap.
I do not quibble over what one uses for their "rod of correction". I have heard many pros and cons for a variety of instruments. Whatever is used should certainly be supple and not something that would cause internal damage. The only inflexible tool one might use would be the traditional wooden (or modern plastic) paddle since its breadth is designed to disperse the blow rather than concentrate it in an injurious fashion. I used this when the children outgrew the palm, although by that time the spankings had grown pretty rare. A switch or a light piece of cane also causes a good sting.
Breaking the will. Whatever is used, though, the most important thing to focus on during the chastening itself is the surrendering of the child s will. No spanking is truly finished, whatever tool is employed, until the will of the child gives in. Sometimes fair minded parents will say things like, "Now for this kind of an offense, you will get three licks with the paddle, and for that kind of an offense you will get five " and so on. Now it may be that in a school setting where a large number of diverse individuals are being managed, some sort of objective formula like this would be necessary. But I do not believe that this is the ideal way of administering discipline to one s own children. Your purpose should be for the child s will to submit, and the number of licks it takes to accomplish that is ultimately up to the child.
If you tell your child ahead of time that their disobedience is going to cost them three or four or five licks, for example, a child can think to himself something like, "Five licks, huh? Okay, I can take five licks I can hold out for five. I can grit my teeth and tighten myself up and not give in and cry, I can keep them from winning if all it takes is five licks. I can take five " Then you give that little tight-jawed rebel his five licks, and when he gets up, he hasn t broken, he hasn t wept, his will is still his own, and you haven t corrected him at all. Instead, you ve just hardened him in his sinful rebellion. He s thinking, "There I made it! I can take it whatever they can dish out, I can take it! They couldn t get to me they couldn t change me on the inside! They can give me pain, but they can t really beat me on the inside, I m still the same I ve won!"
I remember once when our strongest willed daughter was undergoing the disciplinary exercise. After giving her what I had supposed was an adequate dose, I hoisted her up ready to launch into the comforting half of the ordeal. But before I could begin, she started complaining about her spanking in a way that betrayed a disturbing lack of repentance. I immediately bent her right back down and addressed her complaint in the appropriate manner!
As long as the child resists, struggles against you and hardens his neck against your discipline he still needs it. As long as he can take it, you need to give it. If his will doesn t give up after five licks, six licks, seven licks, eight licks, however many licks, then the job isn t finished. It s entirely up to the child how long his spanking lasts, and counting licks is immaterial. When at last you feel him give up beneath your stroke, when his defiance turns to a broken-hearted sob and his will surrenders, you might add another lick or two, but not before then has the chastening finished its task.
"But I don t want to abuse the little fellow!" Certainly not, and if you use the instruments described above, you should avoid causing the child any actual physical damage. The idea here is to extend the length of the pain rather than the severity of the wound. I have known of parents who could cause a dark and ugly welt with the single whip of a leather belt. We have never considered the use of such a severe device necessary to get the attention of our children. Using an open palm, we could warm the posterior indefinitely and cause little more than a healthy glow. A switch, a light cane or a broad paddle will likewise induce sting without damage.
"Daddies Spank Harder." A special word of caution
is in order for when Daddies spank. Be careful to limit the force of
your strokes for smaller children. Here are three reasonable rules of
thumb to keep in mind:
The "Afterglow". Once the spanking is over, it is time for "the Talk, Part II". What happens on your left knee is just as important as what happened on the right. Here s what I mean:
When you let the child up from the spanking, turn her around and set her on your other knee. There is a subliminal symbolism in this, like moving a tassel. It says that a watershed has been crossed, the child has come through the lesson, and now she is facing a new direction, she is going the other way. It s almost like baptism the old child she used to be before bending down under the baptism of fire is buried and gone, and a new child, a good and obedient child has been resur-rected in her place. This serves to divorce the child from that naughty person she felt like a moment ago.
As hard as you pressed for repentance before, so great should be your forgiveness and comfort and love now. The idea to convey is, "Before, you behaved like a bad child, but now I can see from your repentance that this is not really the kind of person you are. You are going to behave like the good child I know you really are from now on, and I will get to keep on bragging to others about what a wonderful child you are. The spanking has helped you to come back to yourself."
Hug her close to you for a moment and let her cry, and just comfort her with your warmth as you kiss her hair and pat or rub her back and rock her back and forth until she subsides a bit. Hold some toilet paper to her nose, or if the child is older, just give it to her, and let her blow. Then say something like, "Daddy doesn t like to spank his little Sweetheart (or Buddy, or whatever endearing name you have for your child), but when she s naughty, Daddy has to spank her in order to help her be good. If Daddy didn t spank his little Sweetheart, then I wouldn t be a good Daddy, and then God would have to spank me.
But the reason Daddy spanks you when you re naughty is because I love you, and I know you re not always strong enough to be good on your own, and the spanking will help you to be the good little girl that I know you want to be from now on. Do you understand?"
Reparation. The last thing we would take care of before leaving the bathroom was reparation. They would pray and thank Jesus for their spanking, tell Him they were sorry for being naughty, and ask Him to help them be good from now on. Then they would go out to whoever their wrong had offended and say they were sorry, usually to Mommy for disobeying, and to any sibling that they had wronged.
After that, they would pick up at whatever point their disobedience had left off. If a mess had been created, they would have to clean it up. If they had refused to obey some instruction, they would now be required to follow through and demonstrate that they had learned to obey after all. We would never say anything like, "Oh well, since you went through that spanking, I guess that should be enough you won t really have to finish the dishes now after all." Obedience is better than sacrifice, and no chastening should replace the child s following through with what you told them to do. Like getting back on the horse, the child should immediately practice the obedience they failed to perform before.
After that, it was all over never mentioned, never thought about any more except as a "Remember when " tale that they would laugh about in after years.
Leviticus 26:18, 21, 28, "And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins."
If a sin is repeated, just figure that the severity of the first spanking underestimated the strength of the temptation.
Although your child wants to please you, he also has a number of forces pulling him away. He has a fleshly nature that wants to be gratified when it sees a cookie and couldn t care less about spoiling his appetite for supper.
He has a curiosity about the world that wants to explore interesting electrical outlets and cannot understand what the big deal against them is. He has diabolical urges that draw him toward the forbidden
and drive him to test his developing sense of independence. He may have little friends that get to do things, go places, wear stuff and watch programs that he cannot, and as Eve was made to envy what was denied her, he may yearn for things he feels cheated out of.
So although he wants to please you in general, the weakness of the flesh and the strength of rebellion cause him occasional falls in his daily walk. He may feel very sorrowful about it afterwards, but the truth is, he cannot help himself.
He lacks the self discipline needed to overcome his weakness to temptation and that is where you come in. The purpose of your discipline is to provide your child with the moral strength he would never have on his own, to help him rise above behavior which is natural to him, to liberate him from the dominion of his flesh and to mold him into a better person than he could ever have been without your guidance.
For this reason, the parent has an obligation to God and to the child to improve his attempt at correction if the child fails to learn obedience from the first exercise in discipline. In other words, if the child repeats a sin, the next spanking will have to be longer. If you do your child the favor of intensifying the discipline for each repetition of the same offense, he will learn to obey before very long. He will become a model child that other parents will point their younger children at as they encourage them to behave; and in the years to come he will thank you with tears for taking the time to impart to him a self-discipline that is increasingly rare among his peers.
Our children always knew another of our many family maxims, "The next spanking for (a particular misbehavior) is always harder." Knowing this was a powerful incentive to resist temptation, because the child knew how unpleasant the last spanking was, and the thought that the next one would be even worse was terrible indeed! The crucial message sent by this policy is that if the child thinks the fleeting pleasure of sin was worth what followed, it will not remain so for long. There will come a point beyond which he will find the consequences of his wrong too high a price to pay. The misbehavior will only be tolerated by the parent as long as the chastening can be tolerated by the child.
I remember years ago when one of our children had a problem with lying. Upon leaving the bathroom, the little penitent went to apologize to Mommy. After hearing the child s expression of sorrow, my wife asked, "And what exactly are you sorry for? What did you do?"
That was her way of teaching the proper elements of confession. But at that point, the child began to hedge in the confession, to make excuses and denials, began to try and "weasel out" of accepting full responsibility for a sin that had supposedly just been dealt with. She sent the miscreant right back down to the bathroom!
We went through the ordeal all over again. A second time the child went to confess; a second time the child balked; a second time Mommy sent the little hard-nose back to the bathroom. We had to go through the bathroom thing three times before Pinocchio would finally quit lying during the apology for lying!
Notice in the Scripture above how ancient Israel s Heavenly Father intensified the consequences of their unforsaken sins. Passages like these frequently lead naive people to believe that in the Old Testament, God was not a loving Father, but a stern Judge. They shake their heads in disbelief at the severity of His dealing with a nation that He claimed to love, and they cannot understand how to reconcile the two ideas. They are deluded by the same misperception that plagues permissive parents today they fail to realize that no Scriptural correction properly administered by a loving parent can ever be worse than the eventual consequences of unforsaken sin. Far worse than your palm or paddle will be the enslavement of his flesh with all its physical and moral perils, the remorse of the prodigal knee-deep in the swine husks of the world, and at the end of years, the haunting of childhood visions of all the bright promises that a disciplined life had once offered now forever lost. If it seemed that God was hard upon Israel, how do you suppose the armies of Nebuchanezzar appeared?
A Ministry of Grace Baptist Church
2915 Fourteenth Avenue
Columbus, Georgia 31904 (706) 323-9161
I cannot give adequate tribute to the influence my wife has had upon our children in her role as a full time mother through all of these years. Ruthie graduated from nursing school years ago as an RN and practiced as a nurse before we met. She continued working during the first years of our marriage in the office of a doctor in our church who had a private practice. But during her pregnancy with our first child, she gave up her lucrative profession for what she considered to be a higher calling Motherhood. Sure, there have been times over the years when an additional income would have made life a bit easier, but the decision for her to be a "keeper at home" (Titus 2:5) as a full time homemaker is a choice that we have never regretted.
We decided early on that we didn t want to hire out the rearing of our children to others, however dedicated and admirable those others might be. They weren t the parents directly responsible to God for what our children became. We decided that we didn t want our preschool children placed in a daycare setting where the children of strangers became as pseudo-siblings to them during their most formative years. We understand that in other family situations, these choices may not always seem practical. Our sympathy is with the struggling single parent or those in some other severe circumstance who feel that a second income is indispensable and not a choice. But we have always felt that allowing the mother to stay at home, especially with young children, is the Scriptural ideal, and we have always admired those who have made special sacrifices to do this.
But perhaps "investment" is a better word than "sacrifice" to describe this. There is no question in my mind that a major reason our children have become the joy to us that they are is directly because of the full time influence and example of their wise and godly mother. Whatever they accomplish in life (and we are watching on the edge of our seats!) will be her accomplishments as well.
Whether the mother works outside of the home or not, the tenth, but not least, commandment of child discipline is to see that a wholesome and godly atmosphere prevails in the home environment. If this can be achieved through the presence of another relative or friend, then fine and well.
"Be still " What constitutes a wholesome environment? One element of this would be a calm atmosphere in the home. Little children whose emotional development is still in its rudimentary stages should not have their nerves bombarded by noise and lights, erratic motion or tension, or other forms of over-stimulation.
Turn off the noise. Don t live with the television blaring all the time, the radio playing and the tape player going in one room after another. Even the Christian radio should sometimes take a back seat as you "be still and know that I am God". Learn to appreciate silence, and do not constantly drown out the still, small voice that waits for a chance to be heard. "The reason people choose to live with noise is they are not happy with their own thoughts" Ruthie.
Speak quietly. Avoid shouting from one room to another. Drop out of the talking-loudly-to-be-overheard-above-the-noise-at-work mode. You do not want your children to grow up being loud and obnoxious in order to compete for attention.
Teach the children to be pleasant toward one another. Do not allow them to be "crabby". Crabs disturb the pleasant atmosphere of your home. See that they get the rest they need, and if they become unpleasant, send them to bed for a nap.
See that they get the kind of food they need so that the "wiggles" cannot disturb the tranquility of the home. Avoid giving them antsy energy by keeping their sugar intake to a minimum. The parent who allows their children to have regular candy and Kool-aid and colas is going to have an exciting time managing all the little springs bouncing off the walls throughout the afternoon and evening.
One of the comments that I have often heard people make when visiting our home over the years has been, "It s so quiet here!"
I suppose that when one becomes used to noise, it is no longer noticed until it is gone. I have always taken the remark as a great tribute. Although we live in the heart of a city, you can still hear the birds sing and the winds blow, the bees drone and the crickets chirping through our window.
" and know that I am God."
It also helps to create a godly atmosphere in the home when the family has devotions together. This is in addition to their own personal devotions that you teach them to have as well. When our children were very little, we would read them short Bible stories from Kenneth Taylor s book, The Bible in Pictures For Little Eyes. Each story, from the Creation to the visions of John, is beautifully illustrated with the paintings of bygone masters. The two or three paragraphs are short enough to fit within even a toddler s attention span, and each page has a couple of comprehension questions at the end.
Notice the key word "short" used here. You want the devotional time to end before the child s attention does. As they grow older, you can lengthen this, but get them off to a good start in the early years. The last thing you want them to think about the things of God is that they are "boring".
As the children grow older, they can participate more and more in the devotional activities. If there is some kind of church club competition coming up, this would be a good time for them to demonstrate before a sympathetic audience what they have been working on. Over the years, we have been treated to flannel graph stories, Christmas plays, "pop corn" preaching ("Pop up, pop off, and pop down"), memorized recitals of Bible passages and poetry, demonstrations of gospel magic and all sorts of musical exhibitions.
During family devotions, we have also read books on character building or books that taught spiritual truths in interesting ways. Most of these were arranged as short readings to start with, but sometimes we would have to break chapters up at appropriate points. One excellent book that our children have enjoyed is Listen to the Animals by William Coleman. This is his first in a series of books that use animals as examples in teaching character lessons. Each chapter lasts for two or three short pages, presents interesting facts about some creature that are then used to make moral applications, and ends with a few comprehension questions.
We have also read hymn histories, the lives of great Christians, collections of stories about miraculous answers to prayers, missionary tales, allegories and so forth. We have also addressed character issues that we have seen a need for in our own family. We have done Bible studies, had questions and answers, shared answers to prayer, guessed "Who Am I?" from Bible clues and many other similar activities to teach our children in fun ways about the things of God and the Christian life.
Whatever our devotional time has included, whether it was long or short or included anything else at all, we have always ended it with our family "Hedge Prayer". We have often prayed for other things at this time as well, but the "Hedge Prayer" was always considered indispensable. This was when Daddy prayed (or Joshua if Daddy was away), for God to "hedge us about" with His "watch care and protection", and to "send Your angel to encamp round about us and deliver us from all harm and evil and keep us safe through the night."
We began this "Hedge Prayer" long ago when our oldest children first learned the fear of the dark and would come out whimpering at night. Daddy would pray for God to send a special angel to come and guard over them while they slept to keep out the scary shadows and bad dreams. Then they could go back to bed safe in the knowledge that heaven would watch over things and they wouldn t have to. This usually settled them beneath the covers, although once in a while I did have to pray for a second angel to help the first. Someday in heaven I will look forward to meeting these special servants!
Also when they were small, they found great comfort in having Daddy tuck them into bed with a lullaby. Sometimes I would sing to them the Levitical blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 that went like this:
In that great day when the trees will clap and the rocks cry out, the walls of this home will give back their echoes. They will replay the sound of a creaking chair and a mother humming her baby to sleep, of a toddler s first words and the giggling of a sibling playmate, of small voices piping a Sunday School tune and first piano lessons, of little girls chanting a rhyme as a jump rope kisses the driveway, of sisters singing in harmony as they work together over a sink full of dishes, of Monopoly deals and spelling bee practice and family devotions, of flannel graph stories and poetry recitals and brother-sister Christmas plays, of family birthday parties and half-birthday parties, of the hum of a sewing machine and a mother s instruction, of flowing rehearsals for piano recital, of algebra homework, of all the prayers, tears and laughter that have made up the symphony of our children s memories.
I hope that the walls of your home will sing a similar song. Surely you know, as a child of God, that it is His will for yours to be a happy home with well-trained
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