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Qualities Needed in Parenting

Qualities Needed to Succeed
In a Chosen Career

Qualities Needed to Meet
the Needs of a Growing Child

A constant striving for perfectionA tolerance for repeated errors
MobilityStability
A need to be free from time constraints to focusPlenty of time for family activities on work
ImpatiencePatience
A goal-oriented attitude toward the project at handEmphasis on process, surprises and change as the child matures
A total commitment to yourselfA total commitment to others
A stubborn self-willA softness and willingness to bend
EfficiencyA tolerance for chaos
A belief that succeeding must always be the top priorityAn understanding that failure promotes growth
A controlling nature that enjoys directing othersA desire to promote independence in others even if their ways are not your ways
A concern about imageA relaxed acceptance of embarrassment
FirmnessGentleness
A feeling that nobody is as smart as youA true respect for your child’s abilities free from comparison with your own
A preference for concise informationAble to listen patiently while children talk
An exploitation of othersAble to put another’s needs ahead of one’s own

From Children of Fast-Track Parents Raising self-sufficient and Confident Children in an Achievement-Oriented World, Andree Aelion Brooks; Penguin Books, NY, 1989, page 28. Used with permission, quoted in The Relaxed Parent by Tim Smith, p. 9

Punishment and Logical Consequences

Punishment

Logical Consequences

1. Used by an authority figureReflect the world with cause and effect
2. Often done in angerCan be used without much emotion
3. Often unrelated to the misbehaviorLogically related to the misbehavior
4. Moral judgment by parentMoral responsibility by child/teen
5. Focused on the pastFocused on the present and future
6. Use restricted to homeTransferable to many other situations
7. Appropriate for control (I control them)Appropriate for influence and motivation (They exercise self-control)

Tim Smith, The Relaxed Parent, p. 14

Tips for Motivating Your Child

1. Allow Your child to fail.

2. Give your child regular chores

3. Limit what you give to your child

4. Teach and model respect for people and property

5. Build into your child the habit of completion. [How do we help kids finish more things? Start fewer things—do more my doing less.]

6. Limit and monitor exposure to media [TV leads to irritability and non-motivation]

7. Model virtues over conformity

8. Hold your child personally accountable

9. Work together (service projects) [Helps them not become “gimme” pigs.]

10. Play together

Tim Smith, The Relaxed Parent, p. 18

S E V E N Ways to Impact Your Child’s Faith

1. Model a growing and personal faith. [If they don’t see it, they won’t catch it.]

2. Include faith in normal conversations.

3. Be well-rounded. [Don’t compartmentalize your faith.]

4. Be authentic.

5. Serve together

6. Pray for your children and with them.

7. Learn and communicate love in their language.

The Relaxed Parent by Tim Smith

The Five Love Languages of Children

1. Words of Affirmation

2. Quality Time

3. Receiving Gifts

4. Acts of Service

5. Physical Touch

Taken from “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell, quoted in The Relaxed Parent by Tim Smith, p. 23

A Mother’s Kiss

Benjamin West was just trying to be a good babysitter for his little sister Sally. While his mother was out, Benjamin found some bottles of colored ink and proceeded to paint Sally’s portrait. But by the time Mrs. West returned, ink blots stained the table, chairs, and floor. Benjamin’s mother surveyed the mess without a word until she saw the picture. Picking it up, she exclaimed, “Why, it’s Sally!” And she bent down and kissed her young son.

In 1763, when he was 25 years old, Benjamin West was selected as history painter to England’s King George III. He became one of the most celebrated artists of his day. Commenting on his start as an artist, he said, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.” Her encouragement did far more than a rebuke ever could have done.

Our Daily Bread, March-May, 1996, p. for May 17

Temper Tantrum

I have a friend whose marriage has gone through tumultuous times. One night George passed a breaking point. He pounded the table and the floor. “I hate you!” he screamed at his wife. “I won’t take it anymore! I’ve had enough! I won’t go on! I won’t let it happen! No! No! No!”

Several months later my friend woke up in the middle of the night and heard strange sounds coming from the room where his two-year-old son slept. He padded down the hall, stood for a moment outside his son’s door, and shivers ran through his flesh. He could not draw a breath. In a soft voice, the two-year-old was repeating word for word with precise inflection the argument between his mother and father. “I hate you. I won’t take it anymore! No! No! No!”

Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Zondervan, 1977, p. 120

Cat’s in the Cradle

Many of you may recall the popular song “Cat’s in the Cradle” sung by Harry Chapin. The words always bring a tear to my eye because I am a father, and over the years I have had to travel so much. The song unfolds as follows:

My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way,
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay,
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it and as he grew,
He’d say, “I’m gonna be like you, Dad.
You know I’m gonna be like you.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little Boy Blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home, Dad?”
“I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then;
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on, let’s play.
Can you teach me to throw?”
I said, “No, not today,
I got a lot to do.”
He said, “That’s okay.”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed.
It said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah,
You know I’m gonna be like him….”

And he came from college just the other day;
So much like a man I just had to say,
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and he said with a smile,
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later, can I have them please?”

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, “I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kids have the flu,
But it’s sure nice talkin’ to you, Dad,
It’s been nice talkin’ to you.”

And as I hung up the phone
It occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little Boy Blue and the man in the moon,
“When you comin’ home, Son?”
“I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad.
We’re gonna have a good time then.”

The melodrama of this song was played out in Chapin’s own life almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have been told that his wife, who wrote the words of the song, asked him one day when he was going to slow down the torrid pace of his life and give some time to their children. His answer was, “At the end of this busy summer, I’ll take some time to be with them.” That summer, ironically and tragically, Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident.

It is not possible to read that postscript of Chapin’s death and miss the larger point—that something was known, believed, and even “preached,” but never lived. When we chase manmade crowns and sacrifice the treasured relationships for which God has made us, life loses its meaning.

Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, (Word Publ, Dallas: 1994), pp. 108-109.

Parents Neglect Biblical Principles

Of All Born-Again Parents…33% Practice Biblical Principles in Parenting.

The majority of Christian Parents surveyed in a recent Barna Research Group project say that church and the Bible do not influence how they parent their children.

Only 33 percent of born-again parents surveyed said their church or faith has been a dominant influence in the way they parent, and only half of born-again parents mentioned anything related to faith (including the Bible, church or religion) as a significant influence on how they raise their children.

The main influences listed by parents included: their own upbringing (45 percent); friends, relatives and spouses (35 percent); and books, magazines and articles on parenting (34 percent). Nearly 63 percent said they expect the church to take a more active role in assisting parents, and 80 percent said the church should do more to help people be better parents.

“Family ministry will be one of the hot issues facing the church over the next few years,” said George Barna, president of Barna Research Group. “The challenge facing churches is to know what types of support parents and family members need to become productive Christians and citizens and to provide that support in useful ways.”

“Ministry Matters’” from Ministry Today, April, 1998, p. 13.

Parenting in Committed Christian Households

In Christian households, where parents are committed to each other, the results are much more encouraging. These statistics are gathered from Joe White, director of Christian camps in Missouri which draw more than 5,000 kids from more than 40 states.

  • 95% of the boys say their fathers regularly tell them, “I love you.”
  • 98% of the girls say their mothers tell them regularly, “I’m proud of you” or “You’re doing a great job.”
  • 91% of the kids say their parents play games with them.
  • 94% say their fathers attend their athletic events.
  • 97% of the boys say they get hugs from their dads.
  • 100% of the girls say they get hugs from their moms and dads.
  • Recalling their childhood, 100% of the girls remember having stories read to them by their mothers. 85% of the boys recall having stories read to them by their dads.
  • 89% of the boys say their fathers have taken them fishing.
  • 100% of the girls say their parents have taken them to Sunday school.

Taken from Orphans at Home by Joe White; Copyright 1988, Questar: Phoenix, quoted in The Promise Keeper, Mar./Apr., 1998, p. 6.

Good Trade!

My husband, two-month-old daughter and I were flying to Kansas for a family wedding and met up with my father on a connecting flight. He was sitting in business class and felt guilty because we were in coach.

To compensate, Dad made his way to the back of the plane after take-off, bringing with him some first-class goodies and taking my fidgety daughter up front with him for a few minutes. Just then a woman behind me, who had seen the whole thing, leaned forward and asked, “Did you just trade that baby for a couple of packs of pretzels and some cookies?”

Reader’s Digest, August, 1997, p. 139, contributed by Jennifer L. Daugherty.

What the Bible Says About Parenting

1. Parents must teach God’s truth (Dt. 4:9; 32:46).

2. Parents must lovingly discipline children because they are immature and need guidance (Prov. 22:15; 29:15).

3. Parents should not exasperate their children (Eph. 6:4).

4. Parents’ wise decisions bring blessing to their children (Dt. 30:19-20).

5. Parents who are godly teach their children to obey (Eph. 6:1; 1 Tim. 3:4).

6. Parents who faithfully train their children can be confident that their efforts are not in vain (Prov. 22:6).

JDB, Our Daily Bread, Sept.-Nov. 1997, page for October 12

Quotes

  • The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children. - Edward, Duke of Windsor (1895-1977)
  • Adolescence has become a waiting period of enforced leisure with few responsibilities and little or no meaningful contact with adults. - “Adolescent Rolelessness in Modern Society,” a report of the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development
  • Ours is the only era in the entire history of human life on this planet in which the “elders” of the tribe ask its newer members what the tribal rules and standards of expected behavior would be. - Paul Ramsey, ethicist, Princeton University
  • More often than not, children are learning major value systems in life from the horizontal peer-culture. The vertical structure is not there in adequate increments of time or intensity to do the job. - Gordon MacDonald, The Effective Father
  • When peers have dialogue primarily with peers, they fail to be exposed to those with more advanced insights and more highly developed faculties….Our children, who are constantly engrossed in peer-centered activities, interact minimally with those more mature than themselves. - Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen, Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World
  • The culture of the electronic Media Prescribes perpetual adolescence and consumption as developmental ideals. Indeed, perpetual adolescence and consumption constitute the twin-pronged gospel of these media. - Quentin J. Schultze et al., Dancing in the Dark

Lamentations of the Father

Laws Concerning Food and Drink

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.

Laws When at Table

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for you will be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat of it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statues, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package, nor rub yourself against cars, nor against any building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout “stupid-head” and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straight-away, “Can I come out?” and I reply, “No, you may not come out.” And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.

Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

Household Principles by Ian Frazier, quoted in The Atlantic Monthly, February 1997, pp. 89-90

Parenting: Tough Role

Mothers and fathers, a new survey shows, are clearly feeling the strain of balancing the demands of work and family. The poll of 500 parents with kids at home—conducted for the National Parenting Association in New York—found that 86% of fathers and 73% of mothers hold jobs, 1 of every 5 parents works two jobs and only 1 in 6 moms is a stay-at-home parent. As a result, 84% of today’s parents believe their roles are tougher than those of their own mothers and fathers.

U.S. News & World Report, October 14, 1996, p. 30

A Prayer for Children

We pray for children…

who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak Popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those

who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never “counted potatoes,”
who are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those

who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can’t find any bread to steal,
who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children

who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
who love visits from the tooth fairy,
who don’t like to be kissed in front of the school bus,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those

whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children

who want to be carried,
and for those who must.
For those we never give up on,
and for those who don’t get a chance.
For those we smother,
and for those who will grab the hand of anyone kind enough to offer it.
Hear our cries, O God, and listen to our prayers.

Amen.

- Ina Hughes

Reprinted by permission of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri

Ernest Hemmingway

Ernest Hemingway, the literary genius, said of his life: “I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead, and there is no current to plug into.”

This is a startling statement, given the fact that Hemingway’s life would be the envy of anyone who had bought the values of our modern society. Hemingway was known for his tough-guy image and globe-trotting pilgrimages to exotic places. He was a big-game hunter, a bullfighter, a man who could drink the best of them under the table. He was married four times and lives his life seemingly without moral restraint or conscience. But on a sunny Sunday morning in Idaho, he pulverized his head with a shotgun blast.

There was another side to Hemingway’s life, one that few people know about. He grew up in an evangelical Christian home. His grandparents were missionaries, and his father was a devoted churchman and friend of evangelist D. L. Moody. Hemingway’s family conformed to the strictest codes of Christianity, and as a boy and young man he was active in his church.

Then came Word War I. As a war correspondent, Hemingway saw death and despair firsthand. His youthful enthusiasm for Christianity soured, and Hemingway eventually rejected the faith he had once claimed.

While we don’t know all that transpired in Hemingway’s heart, it seems he never developed a truly personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Genuine Christianity means more than living in a Christian environment, going through catechism, conforming to the codes, and affirming the truths of Scripture. True Christians are non-negotiated followers of Christ, those who are progressively moving toward Him and who understand all of life in the context of His teaching.

The point is not Hemingway’s life. It’s my life and your life. If we aren’t cultivating a living, vital relationship with Jesus Christ, then we, too, may respond as Hemingway did when life’s questions are agonizingly unanswerable or when our inner impulses are too seductive for us to resist. An allegiance based on systems, rituals, and rules is never enough to keep us loyal.

“Moody,” January/February 1997, pp. 23-24.

Lost Child

The 19th-century pastor Henry Ward Beecher told of a mother in the wild frontier country who was washing clothes beside a steam. Her only child was playing nearby. Suddenly she realized he was no longer near her. She called his name, but there was no answer. Alarmed, the mother ran to the house, but her son was not there. In wild distress, the frightened woman dashed out to the forest. There she found the child, but it was too late. The youngster had been killed by a wolf. Heartbroken, she picked up the lifeless body, drew it close to her heart, and tenderly carried it home. Beecher concluded, “Oh, how that mother hated wolves!” Understandably, she detested them because of what they had done to her beloved child.

Every Christian parent should feel that way about evil. Like a wild wolf, it can destroy children. Many mother s and fathers who are so careful to guard their youngsters from physical harm don’t notice the sinful forces that threaten the spiritual welfare of their boys and girls. As a result, they leave them unprotected. They show little concern for the friends their children make, the magazines they read, or the TV programs they watch. But if any of these influences are evil, they should be viewed as a deadly threat. Like the psalmist, we must determine, “I will not know wickedness” (Psalm 101:4). And we should protect our children from it.

The mother in Beecher’s story had good reason to hate wolves. And, as parents, we should hate evil with that same passion. - R.W.D.

Our Daily Bread, July 23

Susannah Wesley

Many godly men of the past have been richly blessed by what they learned from their mothers. Consider the biblical characters Moses, Samuel, and Timothy. The maternal influence experienced by these spiritual leaders bore rich fruit in their lives. Think too of men like Augustine, John Newton, and the zealous Wesley brothers. Their names would probably never have lighted the pages of history if it hadn’t been for the godly women who raised them in homes where the law of love and a Christian witness were their daily guide and inspiration.

Susannah Wesley, for example, spent one hour each day praying for her 17 children. In addition, she took each child aside for a full hour every week to discuss spiritual matters. No wonder two of her sons, Charles and John, were used of God to bring blessing to all of England and much of America. Here are a few rules she followed in training her children: “(1) Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul. (2) Teach him to pray as soon as he can speak. (3) Give him nothing he cries for and only what is good for him if he asks for it politely. (4) To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, but never allow a rebellious, sinful act to go unnoticed. (5) Commend and reward good behavior. (6) Strictly observe all promises you have made to your child.”

Let us honor our godly mothers today, not only with words of praise, but with lives that reflect the impact of their holy influence! - H.G.B.

Our Daily Bread, May 8

Quotes

  • A born loser is the father whose child appears last in a three-hour piano recital. - Anon
  • There are two things in life we are never fully prepared for; twins. - Anon
  • A parent’s responsibility is not to his child’s happiness; it’s to his character. - Anon
  • Insanity is hereditary—you can get it from your children. - Sam Levenson
  • Then there was the assertive toddler who called his favorite store “Toys R Else.” - Contributed by Beth Critton, Readers Digest, May 1996, p. 68.
  • The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them. - Anon
  • I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. - Harry S. Truman, quoted in Reader’s Digest

Theodore Roosevelt

Owen Wister, an old college friend of Theodore Roosevelt, was visiting him at the White House. Roosevelt’s daughter Alice kept running in and out of the room until Wister finally asked if there wasn’t something Roosevelt could do to control her.

“Well,” said the President, “I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”

Bits & Pieces, December 9, 1993, p. 16.

Facts of Life

It was time to tell my ten-year-old son the facts of life, so I took books out of the library and prepared myself for any questions he might ask. At the end of our lengthy chat, he looked confused. “If you have any questions,” I said, “please ask them. There are no silly questions.”

“Well, suppose I was married,” he said with some embarrassment, “my wife was pregnant and I had to rush her to the hospital. Okay?”

I nodded supportively.

He asked, “Can I go through red lights?”

Contributed by Crystal Lessard, Reader’s Digest, January, 1996, p. 160.

Relaxed Parenting

Edgar, father of nine, reflected on how he had mellowed over the years: “When the firstborn coughed or sneezed, I called the ambulance. When the last one swallowed a dime, I just told him it was coming out of his allowance.”

Contributed by Jean Short, Reader’s Digest, January, 1996, p. 81.

Battle of Wills

Dr. James Dobson tells one of my favorite stories about the effects of poor parenting choices on the life of a child. The young fellow in this story was a patient of California pediatrician Dr. William Slonecker, and his name was Robert. When Robert was scheduled for a visit to the doctor’s office, the news would spread like wildfire: “Batten down the hatches! Robert is coming!

Nurses steeled themselves in preparation for this ten-year-old undisciplined terror who tore magazines out of their holders, threw trash all over the waiting room, and wreaked havoc throughout the clinic. Each time his mother would simply shake her head and say, “Oh, Robert. Oh, Robert.” If the office staff corrected him in any way, he would bite, kick, and scream his way back to his seat. When his visit with the doctor was over, Robert would come out of the examining room wailing and crying—a practice that always terrified the other children waiting their turn!

During one of his examinations, Dr. Slonecker noticed that Robert had a few cavities, an observation that presented the doctor with a real professional dilemma. He needed to refer Robert to a dentist but hated to inflict him on a good friend or associate. Finally one dentist who had an unusual rapport with children came to mind, so he rather reluctantly made the referral.

Robert saw his trip to the dentist as a new and exciting challenge in an ongoing battle of wills. As he was ushered into the examining room, he announced to the dentist that he had no intention of getting into the chair. “Now, Robert,” the old dentist replied, “I’m not going to force you, but I want you to climb up into the chair.” Robert bowed his little head and screamed his refusal. The dentist patiently explained that Robert must sit in the chair so his teeth could be fixed. Robert refused once again—loudly. As the dentist moved toward him, Robert played what he was certain was the trump card: “If you come over here and try to make me, I’ll take off all my clothes.” Calmly, the wise old dentist said, “Fine, son, you go right ahead.”

Robert removed his shoes and shirt and stood defiantly. The doctor did not back down. Robert continued removing his clothing until he stood there just as naked as the day he was born. “Now Robert,” said the dentist, “you climb on up yourself.” And a naked (and surprised) ten-year-old terror climbed up into the chair and sat motionless as his teeth were filled. No crying. No screaming. No hitting or slapping.

When the dentist was finished, Robert climbed down and asked for his clothes. “No, son,” the good doctor replied, “I’m going to keep your clothes overnight. Tell your mother she can come by tomorrow to pick them up.” So a bested Robert walked out into the waiting room…naked. His mother took him by the hand, led him down the hall, and out into the parking lot to their car.

The next morning Robert’s mother returned to the office for her son’s clothes and asked to speak to the conquering dentist. When he came out she said, “Doctor, I want to thank you for what you did to Robert yesterday. Since he was very young he has threatened us with a host of things if he did not get his way. We never called his bluff. But since you did, he has been a different child!

Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1994), pp. 57-58

Death Row Prisoner

A young man cowered in the corner of a dirty, roach-infested death row cell in a South Carolina prison. His body curled in a fetal position, he seemed oblivious to the filth and stench around him. His name was Rusty, and he was sentenced to die for the murder of a Myrtle Beach woman in a crime spree that left four people dead.

Police arrested twenty-three-year-old Rusty Welborn from Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1979, following one of the most brutal slayings in South Carolina history. Rusty was tried for murder and received the death penalty for his crime. Bob McAlister, deputy chief of staff to South Carolina’s governor, became acquainted with Rusty on death row. Bob had become a Christian a year or so earlier and felt a strong call from God to minister to the state’s inmates—especially those spending their last days on death row.

Bob’s first look at Rusty revealed a pitiful sight. Rusty was lying on the floor when he arrived, a pathetic picture of a man who believed he mattered to no one. The only signs of life in the cell were the roaches who scurried over everything, including Rusty himself. He made no effort to move or even to brush the insects away. He stared blankly at Bob as he began to talk, but did not respond.

During visit after visit, Bob tried to reach Rusty, telling him of the love Jesus had for him and of his opportunity—even on death row—to start a new life in Christ. He talked and prayed continuously, and finally Rusty began to respond to the stranger who kept invading his cell. Little by little, he opened up, until one day he began to weep as Bob was sharing with him. On that day, Rusty Welborn, a pitiful man with murder and darkness behind him and his own death closing in ahead of him, gave his heart to Jesus Christ.

When Bob returned to Rusty’s cell a few days later, he found a new man. The cell was clean and so was Rusty. He had renewed energy and a positive outlook on life. McAlister continued to visit him regularly, studying the Bible and praying with him. The two men became close friends over the next five years. In fact, McAlister said that Rusty grew into the son he never had, and as for Rusty, he had taken to calling McAlister “Pap.”

Bob learned that Rusty’s childhood in West Virginia had been anything but “almost heaven.” His family was destitute, and Rusty was neglected and abused as a youngster. School was an ordeal both for him and for his teachers. Throughout his junior high years he wore the same two pair of pants and two ragged shirts. Out of shame, frustration, and a lack of adult guidance, Rusty quit school in his ninth grade year, a decision that was to be just the beginning of his troubles. His teenage years were full of turmoil as he was kicked out of his home many times and ran away countless others. He spent the better part of his youth living under bridges and in public rest rooms.

Bob taught Rusty the Bible, but Rusty was the teacher when it came to love and forgiveness. This young man who had never known real love was amazed and thrilled about the love of God. He never ceased to be surprised that other people could actually love someone like him through Jesus Christ. Rusty’s childlike enthusiasm was a breath of fresh air to Bob, who came to realize how much he had taken for granted, especially with regard to the love of his family and friends.

In time Rusty became extremely bothered by the devastating pain he had caused the family and friends of his victim. Knowing that God had forgiven him, he desperately wanted the forgiveness of those he had wronged. Then a most significant thing happened: the brother of the woman Rusty had murdered became a Christian. God had dealt with him for two years about his need to forgive his sister’s killer. Finally, he wrote Rusty a letter that offered not only forgiveness but love in Christ.

Not long before his scheduled execution, this brother and his wife came to visit Rusty. Bob was present when the two men met and tearfully embraced like long-lost brothers finally reunited. Rusty’s senseless crime ten years earlier had constructed an enormous barrier between himself and the brother. The love of Christ obliterated that barrier and enabled both men to realize that, because of Him, they truly were brothers reunited on that day. It was a lesson Bob would not forget.

Not only did Rusty teach Bob McAlister how to love and forgive, he also taught him a powerful lesson about how to die. As the appointed day approached, Rusty exhibited a calm and assurance like Bob had never seen. Only his final day, with only hours remaining before his 1:00 A.M. execution, Rusty asked McAlister to read to him from the Bible. After an hour or so of listening, Rusty sat up on the side of his cot and said, “You know, the only thing I ever wanted was a home, Pap. Now I’m going to get one.”

Bob continued his reading, and after a few minutes Rusty grew very still. Thinking he had fallen asleep, Bob placed a blanket over him and closed the Bible. As he turned to leave he felt a strong compulsion to lean over and kiss Rusty on the forehead. A short time later, Rusty Welborn was executed for murder. A woman assisting Rusty in his last moments shared this postscript to his story: As he was being prepared for his death, Rusty looked at her and said, “What a shame that a man’s gotta wait ‘til his last night alive to be kissed and tucked in for the very first time.”

From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1994), pp. 3-5.

Answering Children’s Questions

On three separate occasions, God told parents in Israel how to answer the serious questions of their sons and daughters (see Exodus 13:14, Deuteronomy 6:20, and Joshua 4:6,21). This would indicate that God wants us to take the time to answer our children when they ask us about spiritual matters. How we respond can either greatly help or terribly discourage them.

Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy told of an aunt who hurt him deeply when she didn’t take time to answer some questions that were troubling him. She stirred his emotions by telling him of Jesus’ crucifixion, but when he cried out, “Auntie, why did they torture Him?” she said simply, “They were wicked.” “But wasn’t He God?” Tolstoy asked. Instead of explaining that Jesus was indeed God, that He had become a man so He could die for our sins, she said, “Be still—it is 9 o’clock!” When he persisted, she retorted, ““Be quiet, I say, I’m going to the dining room to have tea.” This left young Tolstoy greatly agitated. Commenting on this scene, Calvin Miller said, “Tolstoy found it incomprehensible that Christ had been brutalized and his aunt was not interested enough to stay a little past teatime and talk about it.”

Do we allow our own interests—a television program, a sporting event, a hobby—to keep us from taking time to listen, admonish, and instruct our children, or anyone who may ask us about God? If we pause long enough to explain His truth, He will use it to change lives. -H.V.L.

Lord, teach me how to love and live
That I may cheer each heart,
And to my fellowman in need
Some blessing rich impart.

- Anon.

Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can, while you can.

Our Daily Bread, Monday, November 25.

What Parents Could Forget This Event'

CINCINNATI—Thirty-five years ago, Vic Mills decided to try to find a way to avoid the mess of his granddaughter’s cloth diapers. The chemical engineer from Procter & Gamble Co. came up with Pampers, the country’s first mass-marketed disposable diaper that helped create a multibillion-dollar industry. P&G currently is celebrating Pampers’ 35th anniversary.

“Pampers has become a tradition in parenting,” said P&G Vice President Jeff Ansell.

Mills, now 99, long-retired and living in Tucson, Ariz., helped to develop such products as Jif peanut butter, Duncan Hines cake mixers and Pringles chips. But none stood out as much as Pampers.

At first, disposable diapers were considered so unique they were used mainly for travel, by baby sitters and on special occasions. Today, 81 percent of the hospitals in the United States use disposable diapers, and 94 percent of all parents rely solely on disposable diapers, according to P&G’s research.

Associated Press, Corner Office, Spokesman-Review, September 1996.

Parenting Poll

  • Percentage of adults who strongly agree that “parents today are too lenient and permissive with their children”: 63%

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, cited in USA Today, 11-27-95

Squeaky Fromme

In 1976 Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme exploded on to every front page in America. She had pushed her way through a crowd and had tried to kill the President of the United States. She was 17 years old. Investigators found her proud that she was a follower of Charles Manson. The world knows Manson as a crazed killer who worked through his small, dedicated band of fanatical “disciples.” News magazines began to dig into the background of this tragic young woman. Their reports found that Squeaky had felt like a misfit in her town, and so she wandered across the country until she reached California. There Manson met her and promised to take care of her. She went with him and was willing to kill and die for him.

Reporters wanted to know, “Why would you give your life to a man like Manson?” I read her explanation in a magazine, and I have never been able to forget it. Squeaky explained that she had made a choice early in her teenage years. Here it is: “Whoever loves me first can have my life.” Someone probably had loved Squeaky, but she was ready to give her life to whomever made her feel loved first.

Ron Hutchcraft, Five Needs Your Child Must Have Met at Home, Zondervan, 1995

What Parents Would Like to Hear

There’s always something you wish your kids would do, such as not tossing clothes inside out into the hamper. Here’s my wish list of phrases I’d like to hear my kids say. Not all the time—just once would be nice.

1. “You’re so cool, Dad.”

2. “Who cares if the TV is broken?”

3. “Pass the broccoli, please.”

4. “What! No kiss?”

5. “No, thanks. It’s too expensive.”

6. “It’s a hard choice. Everything sounds great.”

7. “Bored? How could I be bored?”

8. “I’ve already made my bed.”

9. “It was my fault.”

10. “That’s okay. None of my friends are allowed to do it either”.

Larry Rout in Child

Teamwork/Cooperation

In a speech before regional community leaders in Kingsport, Tennessee, Ernie Deavenport, chairman and CEO of Eastman Chemical Company, made a pitch for cooperation and teamwork between his company and the community leaders. To highlight his message, he told this story about a Little League coach:

At one point during a game, the coach said to one of his young players, “Do you understand what cooperation is? What a team is'

The little boy nodded in the affirmative.

“Do you understand that what matters is whether we win together as a team?”

The little boy nodded yes.

“So,” the coach continued, “when a strike is called, or you’re out at first, you don’t argue or curse or attack the umpire. Do you understand all that?”

Again, the little boy nodded.

“Good,” said the coach. “Now go over there and explain it to your mother.”

The Executive Speaker, quoted in Bits & Pieces, November 10, 1994, pp. 20-21

Parenting Time

David Elkins, author of The Hurried Child, quotes economist Victor Fuchs, who says children have lost 10 to 12 hours of parental time per week since 1960.

Spokesman Review, October 11, 1994, p. D1

Make Me What He Thinks I Am

A teardrop crept into my eye as I knelt on bended knee;
Next to a gold haired tiny lad whose age was just past three.

He prayed with such simplicity “Please make me big and strong,
Just like Daddy, don’t you see? Watch o’er me all night long.”

“Jesus, make me tall and brave, like my Daddy next to me.”
This simple prayer he prayed tonight filled my heart with humility.

As I heard his voice so wee and small offer his prayer to God,
I thought these little footsteps someday my path may trod!

Oh, Lord, as I turn my eyes above and guidance ask from Thee;
Keep my walk ever so straight for the little feet that follow me.
Buoy me when I stumble, and lift me when I fail,
Guard this tiny bit of boy as he travels down life’s trail.

Make me what he thinks I am is my humble gracious plea
Help me ever be the man this small lad sees in me!

Source Unknown

Crime and Environment

In the 1950s a psychologist, Stanton Samenow, and a psychiatrist, Samuel Yochelson, sharing the conventional wisdom that crime is caused by environment, set out to prove their point. They began a 17-year study involving thousands of hours of clinical testing of 250 inmates here in the District of Columbia. To their astonishment, they discovered that the cause of crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression. Instead, crime is the result of individuals making, as they put it, wrong moral choices. In their 1977 work The Criminal Personality, they concluded that the answer to crime is a “conversion of the wrong-doer to a more responsible lifestyle.”

In 1987, Harvard professors James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein came to similar conclusions in their book Crime and Human Nature. They determined that the cause of crime is a lack of proper moral training among young people during the morally formative years, particularly ages one to six.

Christianity Today, August 16, 1993, p. 30

Self Esteem and Parenting

According to a recent study, young men with high self-esteem shared some common childhood influences. There were three major characteristics of their families. (1) The high-esteem group was clearly more loved and appreciated at home than the low-esteem group. (2) The high-esteem group came from homes where parents had been significantly more strict in their approach to discipline. By contrast, the parents of the low-esteem group had created insecurity and dependence through their permissiveness. Their children were more likely to feel that the rules were not enforced because no one cared enough to get involved. (3) The homes of the high-esteem group were also characterized by democracy and openness. Once the boundaries were established, there was freedom for individual personalities to grow and develop. Thus, the overall atmosphere was marked by acceptance and emotional safety.

Dr. James Dobson’s Focus of the Family bulletin, July, 1994

Resources

  • Styles of parenting, The Gift of Honor, Gary Smalley & John Trent, Pocket Books, pp. 74ff.
  • Sketches of Jewish Social Life, A. Edersheim, Eerdmans, pp. 103ff
  • The Gift of Honor, G. Smalley and John Trent, “Recognizing our own parenting strengths and style,” pp. 74ff.
  • The Moral Catastrophe, David Hocking, Harvest House, 1990, pp. 84ff.
  • Importance of teaching a child to compensate in one area for lacks in another: Illustration of Stevie Wonder, The Rest of the Story, p. 13.
  • Styles of leadership in parenting, Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 135, #540, p. 345.
  • Letting go of children, C. Swindoll, Growing Strong, p. 190

Marriage and Parenting

Undoubtedly, the most stressful time for any couple is parenthood. Carolyn and Philip Cowan, psychologists with the University of California, Berkeley, found that 92 percent of new parents report more conflict and lower satisfaction. Pennsylvania State psychologist Jay Belsky, who has just completed a seven-year study of 250 sets of new parents, finds that only 19 percent say their marriages improved after the birth of a child. Couples usually look forward to the birth of a baby as a time of closeness, but Belsky found that nearly all new parents grew more polarized and self-centered in response to the fatigue and strain.

Difficult transitions like parenthood are also the times when spouses are most vulnerable to an extramarital affair, find psychologists Tom Wright and Shirley Glass. But more often than not, Glass and Wright find, having an affair says more about the individual than the marriage. Spouses with loving marriages but with an excessive need for admiration or thrills are notorious for extramarital dalliances. But even for more regular folks, taking on new roles makes one ripe for philandering. “Even given a rich, happy marriage, it’s often easier to form a new image in the eyes of someone new,” says Glass. “Trying to change your identity inside a marriage is akin to the new CEO of a major company visiting his parents, only to find they still see him as the baby of the family.”

An affair is arguably the most shocking blow to a marriage. Yet study after study finds that wayward spouses are quite happy with their love life at home, both the quantity and quality—as happy, in fact, as their faithful counterparts. Psychologists are divided about the ramifications of an affair. “I liken an affair to the shattering of a Waterford crystal vase,” says Gootman. “You can glue it back together, but it will never sing again.” But Glass and Wright, currently studying couples recovering from affairs, find that not only do two thirds decide to stay together, but many report a newfound richness and closeness gained through conquering the ordeal together.

Perhaps the best ideas about what keeps a marriage alive through thick and thin come from couples who, after decades of marriage, bask in blissful unions. Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson is now in the process of studying pairs who have been together 40 years or more. So far, reports from the front indicate that these couples are masters in soothing one another and preventing each other’s distress during conflict. These enduring couples also display a distinctly mellowed approach to marital differences, with far less conflict and far more pleasure than younger couples. And as a couple ages, gender differences appear to fade away, replaced by a more unified view of marriage and life. A nice ending to a bumpy ride.

U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1994, pp. 68-69

Battling Our Culture

Columnist Ellen Goodman wrote a powerful editorial on this topic, a portion of which follows:

Sooner or later; most Americans become card-carrying members of the counterculture. This is not an underground holdout of Hippies. No beads are required. All you need to join is a child.

At some point between Lamaze and PTA, it becomes clear that one of your main jobs as a parent is to counter the culture. What the media deliver to children by the masses, you are expected to rebut one at a time.

But it occurs to me now that the call for “parental responsibility” is increasing in direct proportion to the irresponsibility of the marketplace. Parents are expected to protect their children from an increasingly hostile environment.

Are the kids being sold junk food? Just say no. Is TV bad? Turn it off. Are there messages about sex, drugs, violence all around? Counter the culture.

Mothers and fathers are expected to screen virtually every aspect of their children’s lives. To check the ratings on the movies, to read the labels on the CDs, to find out if there’s MTV in the house next door. All the while keeping in touch with school and in their free time, earning a living.

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, a research associate at the Institute for American Values, found this out in interviews with middle-class parents. “A common complaint I heard from parents was their sense of being overwhelmed by the culture. They felt relatively more helpless than their parents.”

“Parents,” she notes, “see themselves in a struggle for the hearts and minds of their own children.” It isn’t that they can’t say no. It’s that there’s so much more to say no to.

Without wallowing in false nostalgia, there has been a fundamental shift. Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition.

Once the chorus of cultural values was full of ministers, teachers, neighbors, leaders. They demanded more conformity, but offered more support. Now the messengers are Ninja Turtles, Madonna, rap groups, and celebrities pushing sneakers. Parents are considered “responsible” only if they are successful in their resistance.

It’s what makes child-raising harder. It’s why parents feel more isolated. It’s not just that American families have less time with their kids, it’s that we have to spend more of this time doing battle with our own culture.

It’s rather like trying to get your kids to eat their green beans after they’ve been told all day about the wonders of Milky Way. Come to think of it, it’s exactly like that.

“Battling Our Culture Is Parents’ Task,” Ellen Goodman, Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1994 (I think this would be 1993) Focus on the Family Newsletter, February, 1994, pp. 2-3.

Divorce and Dual Careers

  • With divorce and dual careers, parents spend 40% less time with their children than parents did a generation ago.

Charles Colson, Christianity Today, March 7, 1994, p. 80

Members of the Counterculture

Sooner or later, most Americans become card-carrying members of the counterculture. This is not an underground holdout of Hippies. No beads are required. All you need to join is a child. At some point between Lamaze and PTA, it becomes clear that one of your main jobs as a parent is to counter the culture. What the media deliver to children by the masses, you are expected to rebut one at a time. But it occurs to me now that the call for “parental responsibility” is increasing in direct proportion to the irresponsibility of the market place. Parents are expected to protect their children from an increasingly hostile environment. Are the kids being solid junk food? Just say no. Is TV bad? Turn it off. are there messages about sex, drugs, violence all around? Counter the culture. Mothers and fathers are expected to screen virtually every aspect of their children’s lives. To check the ratings on the movies, to read the labels on the CD’s. To find out if there’s MTV in the house next door. All the while keeping in touch with school and in their free time, earning a living. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, a research associate at the Institute for American Values, found this out in interviews with middle-class parents. “A common complaint I heard from parents was their sense of being overwhelmed by the culture. They felt relatively more helpless than their parents.”

Columnist Ellen Goodman

Concerned Teacher

Concerned that his students were not really learning the material, an algebra teacher sent a note home to parents, asking them not to do any to the homework assigned to their children. The next day, one student turned in a reply from his parents:

“Dear Mr. Wood, we are flattered that you think we could.”

Source unknown

Legacy of Individualism

Americans are so shaped and stamped by their legacy of individualism that the concepts of community virtue and moral obligation have been discredited In our popular culture, adulthood is too often defined as doing what you want to do, not what you are supposed to do. Making a baby is a sign of status, while caring for one is not. Right and wrong are old-fashioned, politically incorrect concepts. And sin? Forget it. The problem doesn’t end with ghetto kids getting pregnant and going on welfare. Half of all Americans who marry and have children eventually divorce. For many, marriage is more like a hobby than a commitment, a phase instead of a trust. We are becoming a country of deadbeat dads who don’t pay their bills and dead-tired moms who work two jobs to pick up the slack. Even many parents who pay for their children don’t pay attention to their children. In so doing, they miss out on some of life’s greatest joys: hearing a small giggle or holding a small hand.

As Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders notes, it is easier for many children to find drugs “than it is for them to find hugs.” Probably the best thing that society can do for its toddlers is to make “parent” an honorable title again. No job is more important, yet no job is more often taken for granted. We teach work skills but not life skills, how to change a carburetor but not a diaper, how to treat a customer but not a kid. Becoming a parent should be the result of love, not just sex; a sign of a lasting relationship, not just a passing infatuation; a source of pride, and not remorse. Only then will our children be safe.

Steven V. Roberts, in U.S. News and World Report, April 25, 1994, p. 11

Feeling Guilty

In his recent book The Future of the American Family (Moody, 1993), George Barna noted the following, “According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times in 1990, most parents (56%) feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children” (p. 171). In the same chapter Barna noted, “A study in 1991 by the National Commission on Children reported that six out of ten parents want to spend more time with their families” (p 172).

George Barna, The Future of the American Family, Moody, 1993.

What is a Sex Sin'

“Father, what is a sex sin?”

My father turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—but now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.

Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Chuck Swindoll

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it.

“I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day,” he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. “Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was become unbearable.

“I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.’

“Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, ‘Honey, you can tell me—and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.”

“I’ll never forget her answer: ‘Then listen slowly.’

Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 13-14

Children’s Complaints

When the 10-year-olds in Mrs. Imogene Frost’s class at the Brookside, N.J. Community Sunday School expressed their views of “What’s wrong with grownups?” they came up with these complaints:

1. Grownups make promises, then they forget all about them, or else they say it wasn’t really a promise, just a maybe.

2. Grownups don’t do the things they’re always telling the children to do—like pick up their things, or be neat, or always tell the truth.

3. Grownups never really listen to what children have to say. They always decide ahead of time what they’re going to answer.

4. Grownups make mistakes, but they won’t admit them. They always pretend that they weren’t mistakes at all—or that somebody else made them.

5. Grownups interrupt children all the time and think nothing of it. If a child interrupts a grownup, he gets a scolding or something worse.

6. Grownups never understand how much children want a certain thing—a certain color or shape or size. If it’s something they don’t admire—even if the children have spent their own money for it—they always say, “I can’t imagine what you want with that old thing!”

7. Sometimes grownups punish children unfairly. It isn’t right if you’ve done just some little thing wrong and grownups take away something that means an awful lot to you. Other times you can do something really bad and they say they’re going to punish you, but they don’t. You never know, and you ought to know.

8. Grownups are always talking about what they did and what they knew when they were 10 years old—but they never try to think what it’s like to be 10 years old right now.

For Families Only, J. A. Petersen, ed., Tyndale, 1977, p. 253

What a Parent Can and Can’t Do

I gave you life,
but I cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things
but I cannot make you learn.

I can give you directions
but I cannot always be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom
but I cannot account for it.

I can take you to church
but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong
but I can’t always decide for you.

I can buy you beautiful clothes
but I cannot make you lovely inside.
I can offer you advice
but I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love
but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to be a friend
but I cannot make you one.

I can teach you to share
but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect
but I can’t force you to show honor.

I can grieve about your report card
but I cannot doubt your teachers.
I can advise you about friends
but I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex
but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you the facts of life
but I can’t build your reputation.

I can tell you about drink
but I can’t say NO for you.
I can warn you about drugs
but I can’t prevent you from using them.

I can tell you about lofty goals,
but I can’t achieve them for you.
can teach you kindness
but I can’t force you to be gracious.

I can warn you about sins
but I cannot make your morals
I can love you as a daughter or son
but I cannot place you in God’s Family.

I can pray for you
but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about Jesus
but I cannot make HIM your Saviour.

I can teach you to OBEY
but I cannot make Jesus Your Lord.
I can tell you how to live
but I cannot give you Eternal Life.

Source unknown

Children in Day Care

1. Day care during infancy is associated with “deviations” in the expected course of emotional development.

2. Infants placed in twenty or more hours of day care per week avoid their mothers and are insecurely attached; some have attachment problems with both mothers and fathers.

3. Children placed in day care receive less adult attention, communicate less, receive and display less affection, are more aggressive, and are less responsive to adults.

4. Compared with children who were cared for by their mothers as preschoolers, third-graders who were placed in day care as preschoolers are viewed more negatively by their peers, have lower academic grades, and demonstrate poorer study skills.

Family Survival in the American Jungle, Steve Farrar, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 105

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the first African Secretary General of the United Nations, has more than a passing interest in politics. His grandfather, Boutros Ghali, the only Christian prime minister of Egypt, was shot by an assassin in 1910. Cairo crowds hailed his Moslem killer, but the family did not intend anyone to forget the grandfather. They adopted his given name, Boutros (Peter), and anointed the new grandchild with the same given name. The family then built a church in Cairo to honor the martyred patriarch. “On his tomb were the words ‘God is witness that I served my country to the best of my ability,’” says Boutros-Ghali.

“For a boy to grow up with such things creates an impact. I felt I would betray the tradition of our family if I didn’t play a political role.”

Stanley Meisler in Los Angeles Times Magazine, quoted in Reader’s Digest

Expectant Fathers

A group of expectant fathers were in a waiting room, while their wives were in the process of delivering babies. A nurse came in and announced to one man that his wife had just given birth to twins. “That’s quite a coincidence” he responded, “I play for the Minnesota Twins!” A few minutes later another nurse came in and announced to another man that he was the father of triplets. “That’s amazing,” he exclaimed, “I work for the 3M company.” At that point, a third man slipped off his chair and laid down on the floor. Somebody asked him if he was feeling ill. “No,” he responded, “I happen to work for the 7-Up Company.”

Source unknown

Delicate Balance of Discipline

Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering. I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn’t handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, “All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!”

Our Daily Bread, August 7

Toymakers

Why do toymakers watch the divorce rate?

When it rises, so do toy sales. According to the analyzers, four parents and eight grandparents tend to compete for children’s affections, so buy toys.

L. M. Boyd, 3-15-93, Spokesman Review

High Expectations

You can have a brighter child; it all depends on your expectations. Before you’re tempted to say, “Not true,” let me tell you about Harvard social psychologist Robert Rosenthal’s classic study. All the children in one San Francisco grade school were given a standard I.Q. test at the beginning of the school year. The teachers were told the test could predict which students could be expected to have a spurt of academic and intellectual functioning. The researchers then drew names out of a hat and told the teachers that these were the children who had displayed a high potential for improvement. Naturally, the teachers thought they had been selected because of their test performance and began treating these children as special children.

And the most amazing thing happened—the spurters, spurted! Overall, the “late blooming” kids averaged four more I.Q. points on the second test that the other group of students. However, the gains were most dramatic in the lowest grades. First graders whose teachers expected them to advance intellectually jumped 27.4 points, and the second grade spurters increased on the average 16.5 points more than their peers. One little Latin-American child who had been classified as mentally retarded with an I.Q. of 61, scored 106 after his selection as a late bloomer.

Isn’t this impressive! It reminds me of what Eliza Doolittle says in My Fair Lady, “The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.” You see, how a child is treated has a lot to do with how that child sees herself and ultimately behaves. If a child is treated as a slow learner and you don’t expect much, the child shrugs her shoulders and says, “Why should I try, nobody thinks I can do it anyway!” And she gives up.

But if you look at that child as someone who has more potential than she will ever be able to develop, you will challenge that child, work with her through discouragement, and find ways to explain concepts so the child can understand. You won’t mind investing time in the child because you know your investment is going to pay off! And the result? It does!

So, what’s the message for parents? Just this: Every child benefits from someone who believes in him, and the younger the child, the more important it is to have high expectations. You may not have an Einstein, but your child has possibilities! Expect the best and chances are, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Kay Kuzma, Family Times, Volume 1, Number 3, Fall, 1992, p. 1

Christian Andersen

The fame and popularity of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen rested largely on his children’s fairy tales, written over a period of some 37 years and translated into scores of languages. Andersen was well aware of this fact—so much so that late in life, he told the musician who was to compose a march for his funeral, “Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps.”

Today in the Word, January 15, 1993

Property Laws of a Toddler

(Evidences of Original Sin)

Test this on the toddlers in your home or church this Christmas!

1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.

8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If it’s broken, it’s yours.

Deb Lawrence, Missionary to the Philippines with SEND International, quoted in Prokope, November/December, 1992, p. 3

Prevention Better than Correction

Prevention is better than correction, suggests an English study of criminal behavior, and the key may be better training for parents. The Cambridge Study of Delinquent Development tracked 411 London males from ages 8 to 32. It found that a man was most likely to be convicted of criminal behavior if he’d experienced the following between the ages of 8 and 11:

  • a broken home
  • low family income
  • poor housing
  • antisocial parents and siblings
  • poor parental supervision
  • harsh, erratic child-rearing behavior
  • delinquent friends
  • problems in school

The study suggests that better training for the parents of young boys, as well as improved preschools, might go a long way toward reducing future crime rates.

YouthWorker Update, Signs of the Times, November, 1992, p. 6

No Time to Play

My precious boy with the golden hair
Came up one day beside my chair
And fell upon his bended knee
And said, “Oh, Mommy, please play with me!”

I said, “Not now, go on and play;
I’ve got so much to do today.”
He smiled through tears in eyes so blue
When I said, “We’ll play when I get through.”

But the chores lasted all through the day
And I never did find time to play.
When supper was over and dishes done,
I was much too tired for my little son.

I tucked him in and kissed his cheek
And watched my angel fall asleep.

As I tossed and turned upon my bed,
Those words kept ringing in my head,
“Not now, son, go on and play,
I’ve got so much to do today.”

I fell asleep and in a minute’s span,
My little boy is a full-grown man.
No toys are there to clutter the floor;
No dirty fingerprints on the door;

No snacks to fix; no tears to dry;
The rooms just echo my lonely sigh.
And now I’ve got the time to play;
But my precious boy is gone away.

I awoke myself with a pitiful scream
And realized it was just a dream
For across the room in his little bed,
Lay my curly-haired boy, the sleepy-head.

My work will wait ‘till another day
For now I must find some time to play.

- Dianna (Mrs. Joe) Neal

Source unknown

That Age-Old Question

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, and my 5-year-old son, Stephen, and I are sprawled across the couch. I’m reading aloud from C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, and my boy is lapping up every word.

With each page, he studies my every inflection. Ah, quality time.

“Daddy,” my blond son interrupts. “You’re getting old.”

“What did you say, Stephen?”

“You kinda look like Grandpa,” he replies.

My son’s blue eyes are scrutinizing me, searching for signs of age.

“What do you mean, I look like Grandpa?” I try to remain calm, but inside I’m losing it.

“You have lines on your head.”

“No, I don’t…Do I?”

“Yep.”

“Where?”

“Here, Here and here. You’re getting old.”

Oh, boy. I didn’t need to hear this.

“Do you think I’m going to die soon, Stephen?”

“I don’t know. How many are you?”

“I’m 30 years old. Remember? I just blew out 30 candles on my cake—or at least, most of them'

“How many is 30?”

“Well, it’s this many three times,” I say, showing him my hands with all the fingers outstretched.

His blue eyes are really big now.

“Yep, you’re old.”

Now, I realize it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that the crown of my head bears a striking resemblance to a mosquito landing zone. But until now, I thought I was doing all right. After all, 40 years is old, not 30. No way.

As I straighten up on the couch, the sad truth begins to sink in: I am 30. Three-oh, no longer a kid. No longer do the neighborhood children call me “Phil.” To them,

I’m “Mr. Callaway.” The college and up-and-coming pro athletes aren’t my contemporaries. They’re kids.

What do I have to show for three decades on plant earth'

It’s not incredible wealth. We have a car that’s paid for, but the house is a rental. Like most folks, we’re just plugging along.

Now that I’m “old,” I realize wealth is not measured in things you can touch. Fame never got anyone to heaven. What is worth leaving is my faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, Stephen, that is what I want to leave you.

We are rich, my son. Rich in relationships. Rich in memories.

Rich in fun. I may not look that good in the will, but for someone approaching retirement age at light speed, it’s worth smiling about.

- Phil Callaway

Focus on the Family, September, 1992, p. 13

Some Minimum Daily Requirements

Your child’s journey from 4 to 14 is very short. Christian parents need to put God into each day during this impressionable time.

As a father of five foster children and a preschool teacher for 10 years, I’m convinced that the following practices—instilled early—can teach children to hold onto God during the difficult adolescent period:

1. Hang a picture of Christ in each child’s bedroom. Children are often quicker to respond to pictures than to words.

2. Teach your child how to pray. By the time a child is 5, he should be able to speak one-sentence prayers with a parent. By the time he’s 6, he should be looking for answers to his prayers. But avoid correcting a child’s prayers. They are between him and God.

3. Bless your child each morning. If you want to see sudden dramatic improvement in your family and young children, try this. I admit it sounds formal, but it’s been a miracle for many. Place one hand on the shoulder or head and repeat a blessing from Scripture, such as one of the following: “May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26) or “May God strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith” (Eph. 3:16). You can also choose your own words. The spirit of the blessing impresses even the youngest children. Giving a blessing can also renew a parent’s heart.

4. Take short walks. Get outside to God’s world as much as possible. You can identify trees, capture bugs and look at scenery. Let creation declare the glory of God.

5. Purchase Scripture cards from your Christian bookstore and leave them on the kitchen table. Reading from God’s Word as part of the mealtime prayer is a great way to remind the family of God’s presence.

6. Display your child’s Sunday school lesson. Letting a youngster’s efforts die a painful death on the car floor can leave hurt feelings.

Of course, none of these efforts is a guarantee that your daughter or son will know God. But incorporating some of these ideas will be a daily reminder of His presence and love.

by Charles White

Focus on the Family, September, 1992, p. 13

What I Would Do…

1. I would love my wife/husband more. In the closeness of family life it is easy to take each other for granted and let a dullness creep in that can dampen even the deepest love. So, I would live the mother/father of my children more and be freer in letting them see that love.

2. I would develop feelings of belonging. If children do not feel that they belong in the family, they will soon find their primary group elsewhere. I would use meal times more to share happenings of the day instead of hurrying through them.

3. I’d find more time for games or projects which all could join.

4. I would laugh more with my children. The best way to make children good is to make them happy. I see now that I was, many times, far too serious. I must always be careful that I do not communicate that being a parent is a constant problem.

5. I would be a better listener. I believe that there is a vital link between listening to children’s concerns when they are young and the extent to which they will share their concerns with their parents when they are older.

6. I would do more encouraging. There is probably nothing that stimulates children to love life and seek accomplishment more than sincere praise when they have done well.

7. I would try to share God more intimately. We are not whole persons when we stress only the physical, social and intellectual aspects of life. We are spiritual beings, and if the world is to know God and his will, parents must be the primary conveyors. For my part, I would strive to share my faith with my children, using informal settings and unplanned happenings as occasions to speak of my relationship with God.

John Drescher, Content, The Newsletter, August, 1990, p. 3

Keeping Calm

The man in the supermarket was pushing a cart which contained, among other things, a screaming baby. As the man proceeded along the aisles, he kept repeating softly, “Keep calm, George. Don’t get excited, George. Don’t get excited, George. Don’t yell, George.”

A lady watching with admiration said to the man, “You are certainly to be commended for your patience in trying to quiet little George.”

“Lady,” he declared, “I’m George.”

Source unknown

Sense of Belonging

There’s an old story about two young children who were standing on the corner, bragging about who had moved from state to state the most. One little boy said, “My family has moved three times in the last three years.” “Hey!” said the other little boy. “That’s nothing. My parents have moved five times this year—and I found them every time!” It’s safe to say that this second boy came from a home without a strong sense of belonging.

The Gift of Honor, Gary Smalley & John Trent, Ph.D., p. 89

Do Teens Want to Be Like Their Parents

  • Percentage of American teens who say they want to be like their parents: 39%

Source: What Counts: The Complete Harper’s Index, edited by Charis Conn

How Time is Spent

Children today average 17 hours a week with Mom and Dad—40 percent less time than children spent with their parents in 1965. And they spend more than 25 hours a week watching television.

Los Angeles Times, quoted in Signs of the Times, May, 1992

Women Without Children

Women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time, says Susan Lang, author of Women Without Children. If that figure seems high, remember that the average mother spends 3.5 more hours a week doing housework than would a woman without children, plus 11 hours a week on child-related activities. This adds up to an additional 754 hours of work every year—the equivalent of three months of 12-hour, 5-day work weeks.

Signs of the Times, May, 1992, p. 6

A Sheep, Not a Lamb

Twas a sheep, not a lamb,
that strayed away in the parable Jesus told.
A grown-up sheep that had gone astray
from the ninety and nine in the fold.

Out on the hillside, out in the cold,
‘twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought;
And back to the flock, safe into the fold,
‘twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.

And why for the sheep should we earnestly long
and as earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger, if they go wrong,
they will lead the lambs astray.

For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
wherever the sheep may stray;
When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long
till the lambs are as wrong as they.

And so with the sheep we earnestly plead,
for the sake of the lambs today;
If the sheep are lost, what terrible cost
some of the lambs will have to pay!

Source unknown

Dirty Work

Writing for the New York Times Magazine, Mauren Dowd and Thomas L. Friedman describe a conversation that once took place between Secretary of State James Baker and President George Bush. With Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak due to arrive for a state visit, Baker hurried into the Oval Office to brief President Bush, telling him what the sore spots were, what favors would be asked, and what aid would be sought. “Mubarak is going to ask for money,” Baker warned Bush before the Egyptian leader entered.

“You’re going to have to say no. You tell him he can’t have any money,” the President replied. “Turning down money is dirty work. That’s your job, Jimmy. I want to do the good stuff.”

Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, Jan., 1992, p.21

Demanding Father

In his men’s seminar, David Simmons, a former cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, tells about his childhood home. His father, a military man, was extremely demanding, rarely saying a kind word, always pushing him with harsh criticism to do better. The father had decided that he would never permit his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments, reminding him there were always new goals ahead.

When Dave was a little boy, his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with the command that he put it together. After Dave struggled to the point of tears with the difficult instructions and many parts, his father said, “I knew you couldn’t do it.” Then he assembled it for him.

When Dave played football in high school, his father was unrelenting in his criticisms. In the backyard of his home, after every game, his dad would go over every play and point out Dave’s errors. “Most boys got butterflies in the stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my father was more stressful than facing any opposing team.”

By the time he entered college, Dave hated his father and his harsh discipline. He chose to play football at the University of Georgia because its campus was further from home than any school that offered him a scholarship. After college, he became the second round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals’ professional football club. Joe Namath (who later signed with the New York Jets), was the club’s first round pick that year. “Excited, “I telephoned my father to tell him the good news. He said, ‘How does it feel to be second?’”

Despite the hateful feelings he had for his father, Dave began to build a bridge to his dad. Christ had come into his life during college years, and it was God’s love that made him turn to his father. During visits home he stimulated conversation with him and listened with interest to what his father had to say. He learned for the first time what his grandfather had been like—a tough lumberjack known for his quick temper. Once he destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn’t start, and he often beat his son.

This new awareness affected Dave dramatically. “Knowing about my father’s upbringing not only made me more sympathetic for him, but it helped me see that, under the circumstances, he might have done much worse. By the time he died, I can honestly say we were friends.”

Unfinished Business, Charles Sell, Multnomah, 1989, pp. 171ff

Moral Instruction is Not Automatic

Even when families remain intact, moral instruction is not automatic. A public school survey in Maryland showed that parents spent an average of 15 minutes a week in “meaningful dialogue” with their children—children who are left to glean whatever values they can from peers and TV.

Senator Dan Coates, Imprimis, Vol. 20, #9, Sept., 1991

Quality Time

I learned the idea of Quality Time was an evil lie. Some experts pushed the idea that successful overachievers, those we call Yuppies today, could have children and be guilt-free about the little time they were able to devote to them. The remedy was Quality Time. Sort of like one-minute parenting. It went like this: Be sure to make what little time you are able to spend with your child Quality Time. What garbage. I’ve seen the results of kids who were given only Quality Time. The problem is that kids don’t know the difference. What they need is time—all they can get. Quantity time is quality time, whether you’re discussing the meaning of the cosmos or just climbing on Dad.

Jerry Jenkins, Hedges, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989, p. 125

What Are You Good For'

In an article in Moody Monthly, Craig Massey told about being in a restaurant when he heard an angry father say to his 7-year old son, “What good are you?” The boy, who had just spilled his milk, put his head down and said, “Nothing.”

Years later, Massey said he was disgusted with his own son for a minor infraction. He heard himself ask what he called “the cruelest question a father can ask.” He said, “What are you good for anyway?” His son replied, “Nothing.” Immediately he regretted the question. As he thought about this, he realized that the question was all right but the answer was wrong. A few days later when his son committed another minor offense, he asked, “What are you good for?” But before his son could reply, he hugged him and kissed him and said, “I’ll tell you what you’re good for. You’re good for loving!” Before long, whenever he asked the question, his son would say, “I’m good for loving.”

Source unknown

John Barrymore

John Barrymore once played the role of a father who disapproved of the man his daughter planned to marry. In one scene, the daughter had to ask Barrymore what he thought of her fiancé, who had just exited. Barrymore was supposed to answer, “I think he’s a dirty dog.”

One night, when the bridegroom-to-be walked off stage, he accidentally tipped over a pitcher of water. Barrymore watched in fascination as a puddle formed. A moment later, his daughter asked, “What do you think of Tom, father?” “I think he’s a dirty dog,” Barrymore answered. Then he ad-libbed, “And what’s more, he isn’t even housebroken!”

Bits and Pieces, December 13, 1990

How to Train Your Child to be a Delinquent

1. When your kid is still an infant, give him everything he wants. This way he’ll think the world owes him a living when he grows up.

2. When he picks up swearing and off-color jokes, laugh at him, encourage him. As he grows up, he’ll pick up “cuter” phrases that will floor you.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and let him decide for himself.

4. Avoid using the word “wrong.” It will give your child a guilt complex. You can condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up after him—his books, shoes, and clothes. Do everything for him so he will be experienced throwing all responsibility onto others.

6. Let him read all printed matter he can get his hands on…[never think of monitoring his TV programs]. Sterilize the silverware, but let him feast his mind on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in his presence. Then he won’t be too surprised when his home is broken up later.

8. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. Every sensual desire must be gratified; denial may lead to harmful frustrations.

9. Give your child all the spending money he wants. Don’t make him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you did'

10. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They’re all against him.

11. When he gets into real trouble, make up excuses for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him; he’s just a bad seed.”

12. Prepare for a life of grief.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, pp. 105-6

Shouting Contest

A father of three won a shouting contest with a roar louder than a passing train. “If you want a war, you go!” Yoshihiko Kato shouted. The sound meter registered 115.8 decibels, louder than the racked of a train passing overhead on an elevated railroad. For that winning shout, Kato won the $750 grand prize of the 10th annual Halls Year-End Loud Voice Contest. Kato admitted that he probably built up his loud voice shouting at his children.

Resource, Jan./Feb., 1991

A Parent’s Prayer

Dear Lord… Thank you for this child that I call mine; not my possession but my sacred charge. Teach me patience and humility so that the best I know may flow in its being. Let me always remember, parental love is my natural instinct but my child’s love must ever be deserved and earned; That for love I must give love, That for understanding I must give understanding, That for respect, I must give respect; That as I was the giver of life, so must I be the giver always. Help me to share my child with life and not to clutch at it for my own sake. Give courage to do my share to make this world a better place for all children and my own.

Source unknown

What Successful People have in Common

In a 6-year survey at a West Coast university, it was found that self-confident, successful people had three things in common: They were loved and valued at home; their homes were democratic; their parents were not permissive.

Homemade, July, 1990

Support Not Freedom

Best recipe for high-achieving and confident children: strong direction and support—not freedom. The latest study found that children who grow up with high control and high support are more confident and better achievers than those raised with high support and low control, or low support and high control, or low support and low control.

Dr. Diane Baumrind, in Homemade, May, 1990

Amish People Don’t Yell

An author for READERS DIGEST writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, “Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?”

Source unknown

How to Bake a Cake

  • Preheat oven; get out utensils and ingredients.
  • Remove blocks and toy autos from table.
  • Grease pan, crack nuts.
  • Measure two cups of flour, remove baby’s hands from flour, wash flour off baby, remeasure flour.
  • Put flour, baking power, and salt in sifter.
  • Get dustpan and brush up pieces of bowl baby knocked on the floor.
  • Get another bowl
  • Answer doorbell
  • Return to kitchen, remove baby’s hands from bowl.
  • Wash baby.
  • Answer phone.
  • Return.
  • Remove one-fourth inch salt from greased pan.
  • Look for baby.
  • Grease another pan.
  • Answer telephone.
  • Return to kitchen and find baby. Remove his hands from bowl.
  • Take up greased pan and find layer of nutshells in it.
  • Head for baby, who flees, knocking bowl off table.
  • Wash kitchen floor, table, walls, dishes.
  • Call baker. Lie down.

Source unknown

Socrates

Socrates once wrote:

“Could I climb to the highest places in Athens, I would lift up my voice and proclaim; Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of the children to whom you must someday relinquish it all?”

Source unknown

Number One Influence

Your home is the number one influence in the life of your child. The average church has a child 1% of his time, the home has him 83% of his time and the school for the remaining 16%. This does not minimize the need for churches and schools, but it establishes the fact your home is 83% of your child’s world and you have only one time around to make it of maximum benefit. - Howard Hendricks

Source unknown

Catch the Child Being Good

Catch the child being good. Tell the child what behaviors please you. Respond to positive efforts and reinforce good behavior. An observing and sensitive parent will find countless opportunities during the day to make such comments as, “I like the way you come in for dinner without being reminded; I appreciate your hanging up your clothes even though you were in a hurry to get out to play.

Youth Guidance

I AM Helping!

I was two or three years old, sitting on the floor of my bedroom trying to get a shirt over my head and around my shoulders, and having an extraordinarily difficult time. I was grunting and sweating, and my mother just stood there and watched. Obviously, I now realize that her arms must have been rigidly at her side; every instinct in her had wanted to reach out and do it for me. Finally, a friend turned to her and said in exasperation, “Ida, why don’t you help that child?” My mother responded through gritted teeth, “I AM helping him.” - Harold Wilke

Source unknown

Negatives Outweigh Positives

In a survey parents were asked to record how many negative—as opposed to positive—comments they made to their children. Results: they criticized 10 times for every favorable comment.

Another survey revealed teachers were 75% negative.

It takes four positive statements from a teacher to offset the effects of one negative statement to a child.

American Institute of Family Relations, in Homemade, August, 1990

Success Related to Work

Two Harvard researchers, Dr. George Vaillant and Caroline Vaillant, report that success in adulthood is more related to a child’s capacity to work than to his intelligence, social status or family background. Their study involved 456 men, mostly from Boston working-class immigrant families, interviewed periodically from their adolescence up through age 47. The Vaillants discovered that those who worked hardest as children developed into the best-paid and most satisfied family men. Their work as youngsters had usually consisted of household chores, part-time jobs, sports and studies. The least hardworking as youths later encountered more unemployment and unhappiness as well as a higher death rate.

Parade, in Homemade, April, 1988

Training Children to Obey

In Genesis 2:16 God first outlines the perimeters within which there is freedom. Then he specifies the restriction. Finally he states the consequence of disobedience.

  • If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
  • If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
  • If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.
  • If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.
  • If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilty.
  • If a child lives with encouragement, he learn to be self-confident.
  • If a child lives with tolerance, he learn to be patient.
  • If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.
  • If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.
  • If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
  • If a child lives with recognition, he learns to have a goal.
  • If a child lives with fairness, he learns what justice is.
  • If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is.
  • If a child lives with sincerity, he learns to have faith in himself and those around him.
  • If a child lives with love, he learns that the world is a wonderful place to live in.

Source unknown

Walking Alone

The loving mother teaches her child to walk alone. She is far enough from him so that she cannot actually support him. She holds out her arms. Her face beckons like a reward, an encouragement. The child constantly strives toward a refuge in her embrace, little suspecting that in the very same moment he is emphasizing his need for her, he is proving that he can do without her. - Soren Kierkegaard

Source unknown

Plastic Clay

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.

I came again when days were past—
The bit of clay was hard at last;
The form I gave it, it still bore,
But I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay
And gently formed it day by day,
And moulded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.

I came again when years were gone—
It was a man I looked upon;
He still that early impress wore,
And I could change him nevermore.

Source unknown

Huge Investment!

Economist Lawrence Olson cited some shocking figures about how expensive it is to raise children. He estimated that the average cost, taking into account low-income and high-income families, to feed, clothe and educate a firstborn son is $226,000. And if that baby happens to be a girl, the expense would be $247,000!

Reflecting on those figures, Steven Cole commented, “If you had $200,000 to invest, wouldn’t you do some careful research in advance, and then watch that investment very carefully over the years? How much time, study, thought and watchfulness do you exercise over those precious lives in which you invest $200,000?”

Our Daily Bread, quoted in Homemade, Vol. 11, No. 4 (April 1987)

Pearl Buck

Novelist Pearl Buck told her 16-year old daughter that she wouldn’t allow her to attend a party of mixed teenagers where there would be no adult supervision. The girl wailed, “You don’t trust me!”

Mrs. Buck’s reply was, “Of course, I don’t trust you. I couldn’t trust myself at 16, 17, 18, or as much farther as you care to go! When you face the fact that you don’t trust yourself in a situation, the only wisdom is to be careful not to put yourself into that situation.”

Quoted in Homemade, May, 1989

Disciplinary Problems in 1940

Schoolteachers were asked in 1940 to describe the top seven disciplinary problems they faced in the classroom. The problems:

  • talking
  • chewing gum
  • making noise
  • running in the halls
  • wearing improper clothing
  • not putting waste paper in the waste paper basket

In the 1980s, educators were asked the same question by college researchers. Here are the top seven disciplinary problems that modern-day teachers must put up with:

  • rape
  • robbery
  • assault
  • burglary
  • arson
  • bombing
  • murder

Focus on the Family, March, 1987

What Children are Afraid Of

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported that 30 years ago, the greatest fears of grade school children were:

  • Animals,
  • Being in a dark room,
  • High places,
  • Strangers,
  • Loud noises.

Today, kids are afraid of the following:

  • Divorce
  • Nuclear war
  • Cancer
  • Pollution
  • Being mugged.

Back to the Bible, quoted in Today, Summer, 1990, p. 5

Twice as Many!

My father would not have been particularly interested in a book about fathering, although he did like to read. One day when he was reading in the living room, my brother and I decided that we could play basketball without breaking anything. When I took a shot that redesigned the glass table, my mother came in with a stick and said, “So help me, I’ll bust you in half.” Without lifting his head from his book, my father said, “Why would you want twice as many?”

Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, Doubleday

Parent, Do You Know What’s Going On'

Parents rarely know what’s going on with their kids. Some 36% of parents surveyed said they thought their child had taken a drink, while 66% of students admitted they had…14% of parents thought their child had tried cigarettes, while 41% of students reported they had…5% of parents thought their child had used drugs, while 17% of students actually had.

Louis Harris Survey, in Homemade, March, 1990

Why Parents Say ‘No’

Often parents say “no” only because it simplifies matters. I’ve made a practice of saying “yes” when the consequences are not far-reaching. Then the important “no’s” are considerably easier for teens to accept. Think about why “no” is best, and back up your decision with a logical reason. - Sally Stuart

Source unknown

Same Today as 4,000 Years Ago

Generational tension is not a phenomenon which erupted in the 1960s and 1970s. It is as old as the trouble Adam and Eve had with their two boys. Parents need to remember that. For example, when did this conversation occur?

An angry father asks his teenage son, “Where did you go?”

The boy, trying to sneak home late at night, answers, “Nowhere.”

“Grow up,” the father chides him.

“Stop hanging around the public squares, and wandering up and down the street. Go to school. Night and day you torture me. Night and day you waste your time having fun.”

Was that sharp rebuke administered last night by an irate dad to a defiant juvenile? No, it comes from Sumerian clay tablets 4,000 years old.

Dr. Vernon Grounds in Homemade, Dec., 1984

If you Had to Do It Over…

  • 90% would still have children if they had it to do over again.

Psychology Today, quoted in Homemade, Feb., 1985

Can Kids Talk to Mom and Dad'

A recent survey by America’s most popular teen magazine revealed that only 4.1% of the teenage girls in America feel they could to go their father to talk about a serious problem.

Even more recently, USA Today published the eye-opening results of a study of teens under stress. When asked where they turn to for help in a crisis, the most popular choice was music, the second choice was peers, and the third was TV. Amazing as it may sound, moms were down the list at number thirty-one, and dads were forty-eighth.

Joe White in Homemade, Nov., 1989.

No Parental Control

The average young teenage American girl views 1,500 references to sexual acts on TV annually, according to a study at Michigan State University. Boys of that age view an average of nearly 1,300 such and attend 17 R-rated movies annually. According to the teens studied, parents “never” or “not often” limited their TV viewing. There’s little indication that parents exercise any control, positive or negative, over TV viewing.

Homemade, March, 1989