Parenting the Old Fashioned Way

A few years ago I was taking my then 3-year-old grandson down to the lake to fish. A man approached me from our condo association and struck up a conversation that went on for about twenty minutes. My grandson patiently sat down on the grass and uttered not a word other than to say hello to the man and tell him his name. At the end of our conversation the man commented on my grandson’s patience. I replied that he was being trained to not interrupt and to wait patiently until the adults were finished talking. The man marveled that it was even possible to train a three-year-child patience and to not interrupt.

Sadly, the man’s comment reflected what many parent’s seem to believe today about parenting. Instead of devising a methodology of child discipline parents today seem to gravitate to psychology or screaming to get their children to obey.

All that and more came to mind as I discovered an ad in the July 27th, 1918 issue of The Literary Digest. The ad is titled, Mistakes Parents Make-How to Avoid Them.

The ad encourages parents to send a coupon  in order to receive a free 24 page book titled New Methods in Child Training by Professor Ray C. Beery.

From what I could Google, I discovered that Professor Beery was part of a group called the Parent’s Association. I also discovered via Amazon that some, if not all of Beery’s books on parenting are still available in reprint form. The twenty-four page free offer which appeared in many magazines and newspapers of the time was obviously designed to get parents to order and pay for the larger volumes which totaled four in number.

The intriguing part of the ad that was designed to “hook” the parent is titled, “Do you know how…”

  1. …to instruct children in the delicate matters of sex?
  2. …to always obtain cheerful obedience?
  3. …to correct mistakes of early training?
  4. …to keep child from crying?
  5. …to develop initiative in child?
  6. …to teach child instantly to comply with command, “Don’t touch”?
  7. …to suppress temper in children without punishment?
  8. …to succeed with child of any age without display of authority?
  9. …to discourage the “Why” habit in regard to commands?
  10. …to prevent quarrelling and fighting?
  11. …to cure impertinence? Discourtesy? Vulgarity?
  12. …to remove fear of darkness? Fear of thunder and lighting? Fear of harmless animals?
  13. …to encourage child to talk?
  14. …to teach punctuality? Perseverance? Carefulness?
  15. …to overcome obstinacy?
  16. …to cultivate mental cultivation?
  17. …to teach honesty and truthfulness?

Judging from the ad and the reprint book descriptions on Amazon it seems clear that Professor Beery and the Parent’s Association wished to help parents develop moral character in children.

It’s easy to see that the items on the above list are biblically derived.  Professor Beery believes a child can be trained out of a bad habit or behavior. In fact, Professor Beery blames the parents if they are not.

    “When a child is straightforward, obedient and willing—when it is courageous, generous, and fine in every way, it is that way because the parents made it so. And the reverse is equally true. When a child is untruthful, selfish and disobedient, it is not the fault of the child but of the parent.”

The ad has some limitations from a Christian perspective although it should be pointed out the author doesn’t claim to come from a Christian perspective. I think most people of the time would simply have assumed he was coming from a Christian perspective.

Nevertheless, the first limitation is the absence of the gospel as the motivation for the necessary inner change. God changes us from the inside out. Beery’s principles stress behavioral change that is certainly vital in parenting small children (who do not yet understand the gospel) but less effective in teens who may simply conform to stay out of trouble.

The second limitation that I’d comment on is that while I do believe parents are to blame for not training a child,  I’d hasten to add that children are responsible for their own sin and that of course is related to the gospel. Professor Beery simply believes that if parents are diligent and intentional in their parenting chances are good the children will turn out responsible. Perhaps he had Proverbs 22:6 in mind.

Recently our Senior Pastor taught extensively on parenting and biblically derived principles to be used in child training. The series harkens back to a time when most parents would have assumed a Christian approach to parenting.

The series can be found here under The Drama of Parenting…

The Proactive Parent

Two weeks ago, in one of my sermons in the series on parenting, I noted the need for a parent to be proactive.  My point was simple, yet not so simple; if you are going to be raising your children as a Christian you must “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  That means you must have a plan.

The command, “bring up,” is a present imperative.   It is not something you relegate to others, but rather; as the parent you take upon yourself.  It is your responsibility.  To shift that blame to others is simply to show that you had no real plan or goal in your parenting.

I came across an article a few weeks ago that I thought was helpful toward this need to be proactive.  It is a secular piece but it is a good one.  It speaks to how one couple began to examine their goal, which was to eat dinner with their children — something that was not actually happening despite good intentions.

To resolve this they began to ask “Five Whys” and the end result was consistent dinners!  They began by identifying the problem, not eating with the kids.  Then they began to ask why.  Here are the Five Whys:

  • Why that [the problem] was true.
  • Why are we getting home so late?
  • Why had we ignored all those tasks?
  • Why were we arriving at work right before our first meetings, rather than earlier in the day?
  • Why were we leaving the house later than we planned?

The key was the first question.  Then all they had to do was be honest and ask the next four questions.

Now to you, the parent.  What are the areas that you are seeing deficiencies in the training and disciplining your children?  Write each problem down and then, over coffee or whatever, start to ask the whys.  You will quickly begin to see where things need to be adjusted and just as quickly you will be able to develop a plan.  Try it!

You can read the whole article here.

Lying Can Be a Good Thing?

“Lying is nothing unusual in small children. In fact, it’s a sign of healthy mental growth.”

So states an article titled Children’s Lies Are a Sign of Cognitive Progress in the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps the key paragraph is this…

“Child-rearing trends might seem to blow with the wind, but most adults would agree that preschool children who have learned to talk shouldn’t lie. But learning to lie, it turns out, is an important part of learning in general—and something to consider apart from fibbing’s ethical implications. “

The article is written from standpoint of psychology research. The clear drift is that children that lie are more successful in life and lying is a skill–something to consider apart from fibbing’s ethical implications as stated above.

So parents, when little Jimmy or Jenny start lying let’s recognize “the good” and be happy they are well on their way to success in life by learning an important cognitive skill.

Don’t be concerned about ethics, the self-centeredness inherent in lying, the manipulation involved or the victimization of others in lying to get what they want. These are minor concerns compared with the larger picture that your children are learning an important skill in how to read others. [Read more…]

Father’s: Disciple Your Children or Someone Else Will

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4  NASB

A link to Al Mohler’s The Briefing led to an article titled Four-Year-Olds Discuss Love and Marriage at rethinkingschools.org.

The author of the article is an educator who works with four-year-olds and observes their conversations.

fathersThe author remarks that four-year-olds discuss things about love and marriage, no doubt parroting what they’ve heard from parents and others.

The author does not identify himself or herself as either male or female.  He or she works at a public nursery co-op in Chicago. His or her goal is to challenge binary thinking.

Binary thinking according to the author needs to be challenged in order to expand the minds of the little ones in his or her care.

The real goal is political correctness and this ought to be a concern for any Christian parent that uses public education.

The binary thinking that needed expanding in the conversation he or she over heard involved, you guessed it, homosexuality.

One or more four-year-olds said that boys marry girls and another said that girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys. Apparently, there was a slight disagreement among the four-year-olds.

The educator came to the rescue. What an opportunity to have a conversation and expand (change) the thinking of narrow minded four-year-olds.

The educator explained that love is the issue and not gender. Since love was the issue anyone can marry anyone.

Christian parents that take Ephesians 6:4 seriously should be alarmed.

You work hard to educate your precious four-year-old in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and in public pre-school their binary non-“pc” attitudes are corrected. Did you know? Do you care?

Please do not take this as a total dissing of public education. I realize that many have good reasons for using it including no other choice.

My point is this: Biblical counseling is discipleship as I’ve said many times before. Discipling and counseling your children could not be more important.

I think of a friend who told me that he had four little boys to disciple and that was his priority; His attitude was spot on. Parents must be on top of discipling their children because if they do not someone else will.

Do not assume the public education is neutral. It is not.

Even a casual observer of public education must realize there is an agenda afoot; There has been for some time. It’s just now it is more and more overt as a genuine Christian worldview is mocked and disparaged and corrected when your four-year-old innocently reflects the worldview of his or her Christian parents.

I am a grandfather now and my five-year-old grandson starts public kindergarten this fall after “graduating” from a Christian pre-school.

I am certain that my son is serious about Ephesians 6:4. I am equally certain that he will be on top of what my grandson hears, understands and repeats. I am equally certain my son will challenge the public school if and when my grandson is mocked, corrected or verbally abused by educators with an agenda. My son will be on guard.

I’m simply sad that we have to fight this fight in the first place.

Dads: disciple your kids because if you don’t someone else will and you probably won’t like it.

A Simple Way for Dads to Connect with His Children

Yesterday, I had a short post pointing fathers to a longer post on how to disciple their sons.  I hope those who read it took the time to read the longer and better post that elicited it.  If not, take the 10 minutes to go and do so now.

Mentor2Today I want to throw out another little thing that I did as a father that I found to be very helpful.  Remember that we had four children and I had a crazy schedule during my college and seminary days and that schedule did not change when I took on the pastorate.  I tried to always give my children at least a half an hour of just dad time when I got home before their bed time.  When they were younger this just meant getting on my hands and knees on the floor which signaled to them all to pile on and begin to try to defeat their papa.

But the best thing I did was a simple thing, but it meant that I could not have time to myself.  Every time I went to a store to do something I took one child.  Very few exceptions to that rule.  I leave to go somewhere, one of my children is sitting next to me in the front seat.  During the drive and during the walk through the store I would just talk to them.  Sometimes I could ask them very personal questions right away, perhaps one of them had been struggling in obedience at home lately or messing up with school.  But many times I would just talk, letting the conversation flow and listening very, very carefully.

It is that last part that is key.  I refused to just “chat” though I did a lot of that regardless.  I listened for a hesitation in their voice where perhaps they were about to ask something and changed their mind.  I listened for vague questions that might lead to more specific ones if I didn’t mess things up by over-reacting or blowing off the question.

It was amazing the way conversations would turn to things “eternal.”  Honest questions about God, life, and the future.  Times where they could toss out basic conclusions they were coming too about reality and truth, even though some of it was scary.  Times where I could share with them my failures as a young man that mimicked theirs, letting them know that I was a fellow sinner.  Opportunities to talk about the glory of salvation in Jesus Christ where our sin is dealt with for all eternity.

I am not saying that every conversation was like that.  But I am saying that by purposefully taking a child out with me every time I went somewhere I gained opportunities to have those conversations.  Dads, think about it.

Oh, and by the way, unless it is impossible, take them for a quick bite of french fries or ice cream.  Teach them how to lick a cone properly.  Pause for a bit and kick over an ant hill with them or climb down the embankment to a stream.  Just you and them.

Raising A Son Does Not Have To Be Difficult

bible readingI read a great post today that described what one man, now a pastor, decided to do with his son.  Basically, he had watched other young men walk away from the faith and there he was, a father with a twelve year-old son.  His decision?  Carve out an hour or two each week for the two of them to go out together and simply read the bible.  Wow!  Pretty tough stuff right?  Nope.

Here is one of my favorite parts of the post:

“The way we did it was to trade off chapters. I led us through the first, Josiah the second. Whoever was leading was responsible for doing his best to guide us through the chapter. Having Josiah lead a chapter gave him some ownership, some responsibility, and ideally some added incentive to dig in and ponder before we met to study.

The times were delightful. And discouraging! More than once we came on a verse that I’d sweat over, in Hebrew and multiple tools, before figuring out what it meant — and, seemingly without effort (and none of that struggle), Josiah would just hit the right meaning. As if it were the easiest thing in the world. I kinda hated him.

No, that’s not true. I’m his dad. I loved it.”

You can read the rest of the post here.

My point in this brief post of my own is to encourage each father to mark out a time each week for his son or sons.  Be that man who simply shows what it looks like to submit himself to the Word.  Not to preach, not to demand or upbraid.  Just two men looking at God’s Word together.