“A Happy Ending”
When I was doing graduate work at Cornell University, they were doing some experimenting over there with different ways of helping children and helping parents. One of the experiments that they were doing was bringing in some children that their mothers couldn’t do anything with, and seeing what could be done there at the University. They made a movie of this, and this movie is still available, I believe, from Cornell University. And they brought in this mother who had the complaint that her child flatly refused to eat applesauce. She simply could not feed that child applesauce.
And so one of the crews set this up and photographed this woman trying to feed her child applesauce. The woman obviously looked apprehensive she expected to fail. She didn’t even expect to feed this child applesauce. And she took a spoon full of applesauce, and headed it for that child’s mouth, and the child shoved it away. And the mother said, “See.”
So they said, “Try it again.” And the lady filled the spoon with applesauce, shoved it towards the child’s mouth, the child shoved it away, and the mother said, “Happens all the time.”
So then one of the staff members there tried it. Now this staff member meant to feed that child applesauce. Now there’s a difference. And there is a term that I want to leave with you here, it’s called confident expectation. Now, confident expectation is a possibility. If you are doing something requiring something that you believe is worthwhile, and in the best interests of your child, if you’re doing something that’s worthwhile, you ought to have the conviction … enough conviction to help you see it through.
Well, this person decided that she was going to feed that child applesauce, and she put some applesauce … it’s on the movie, and you can see it for yourself, Cornell University … she put some applesauce on this spoon, headed it toward the child’s mouth, child shoved it aside, and the teacher brought it back, and the child shoved it aside, and the teacher brought it back and in. One mouth full of applesauce.
As it was being photographed, that mother just couldn’t believe that anybody would ever get a spoon full of applesauce in that child’s mouth. That staff member did it again. Filled that spoon full of applesauce, shoved it toward the child’s mouth, the child shoved it aside, and the instructor brought it back and in. And do you know at the first try, that staff member fed that child a whole little dish full of applesauce, and that mother couldn’t believe it.
Now they went through a course of trying to help this mother to appreciate and understand why she was being unsuccessful, and that was a really simple matter. She expected to fail. She was taking her cues from that little child, and that little bit of resistance from that small child was enough for the mother. Then came the big day when on camera this mother was gonna try it. Here’s the mother, same mother, spoon full of applesauce, heading it for the child, and you could just see the child with a gleam in his eye.
Eye-to-eye between him and his mother, he shoved it aside, she brings it back, and he shoves it aside, and she brings it back and in, and you couldn’t believe the look on that lady’s face. You’d think that she had inherited a million dollars. She was so victorious! She got a spoon full of applesauce in her child’s mouth! Now you can see this happen time and time again, when you watch parents relate themselves to their children, and they’ll ask their children to do something, and expect to fail.
Now this is a good term for you to remember: a confident expectation. If you’re going to be effectively related to your children, and give them the guidance that they need, it’s first of all going to take the conviction on your part that you truly are doing your child a favor. This is good for your child in your judgment. Now let me remind you of that basic Bible verse that I gave you before that it is an adult’s responsibility to train up a child in the way that he should go. And when he is old, he’ll not depart from it.
The ingredients: A nice lady and a nice man who like each other, and who like those children, and who are dedicated to seeing to it that what happens to those children is the best thing that they can think of for those children. Now I had a professor at Cornell University by the name of Dr. Ethel Wethering. She talked about raising children, and she used four building blocks. I just want to give those to you, because they were very useful and helpful to me whenever I was working with children.
The first one is an attitude of approval. I like you. I like this child. And you know, that’s something that you don’t do, it’s an attitude, it’s a spirit. I’ve been amazed, time and time again, when I’m dealing with a child, and I meet that person’s parents, how much alike they are. Or you meet a child whose goal is to be just as different from my parents as I can be. And the difference, I think, has a lot to do with the spirit of the parent. A spirit of approval. I like you; I even like you when you’re bucking me.
And the second one that we’ve mentioned before is help. That you have enough conviction that what you expect of your child, that you want to do it, and you’re going to figure out how to make it happen, helping them.
And the third one is respect. Lots of times, I believe, this is a very important thing, because we find ourselves being a little bit impatient. Especially with a small child, because this child lacks coordination, or lacks ability. I think part of dealing with children is to take the trouble for you to understand what the capabilities of a child is. What can a child do? And what can’t a child do? And a lot of times, I think we get disgusted with a child because we are demanding more of that child than it can produce. Respect.
And then there’s a fourth one: affection, tenderness.
Approval, help, respect, affection.
Now what I’ve said so far, I believe and I think it’s so true, that the important part of parenthood is not what you do, it’s what you are. I heard one man say that one of the best ways to teach morals to the children is to have it around the house. Much of what you get across to your children will be caught, not taught. Have you ever heard your own tone of voice coming back from your children?
Now isn’t it amazing? You don’t sit down and teach your children how to smile, and yet they somehow pick it up, don’t they? They tell me that my son is so much like me it’s unbelievable. His voice sounds like mine. He speaks like me, he talks like me, he acts like me, and I don’t recall sitting down trying to develop him, and teach him how to act like me. We have a daughter. You can’t believe how much like her mother she is, and I don’t think that her mother really sat down and tried to develop one of our children to be a duplicate of her mother. But it’s just unbelievable how much like her mother that daughter is. And then we have another one that seems to be a cross between the two of us.
Now what I’m saying is that parenthood involves a lot more a matter of your character than what you do. I’m saying pay attention to the kind of a person that you are, and pay attention to your relationship as parents, and do what comes natural. I don’t think you’ll be needing to worry about your children.
So this last session I want to emphasize what I believe to be the most important point that anybody could emphasize, and that is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life. This is the qualification that will enable you to be cool-headed enough to deal with the problems that come across in your family. In Second Corinthians chapter 4, in the first and second verse, it talks about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There are some characteristics here. Some behavior patterns that are typical of a person that walks in the Spirit, and I want to read those to you.
This is 2nd Corinthians, chapter 4, and the second verse. It says that this individual who has a ministry of the Spirit, one characteristic is this: “He has renounced the hidden things of dishonesty.” I look this audience over and I say to myself, “Who are the honest people here? The honest ones?” You know, you just run your eyes through the audience to pick out the honest people. Well, you ask yourself another question. “Who are the dishonest people here?” The ones who tell lies?” Can you think of somebody that you’re fooling? You’re withholding truth?
Now what it’s saying here is that this person who walks in the Spirit has renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. Did you ever stop to ask yourself, “What does a dishonest person look like?” You know what they look like? Like an honest person. Why, you can walk up to somebody that you don’t like, can’t you, and put out your hand and say, “I’m so glad to see you.” And you aren’t either. You look ‘em right in the eye and lie to ‘em. Let me tell you a story about what happened to a couple of young people; serious, well-intentioned young people.
This young fellow was an engineer, and these folks were in their late twenties when they met, and they were pretty serious about their courtship, and they did things like looking for a building site during their courtship days. And then they were looking at building plans, and they found some building plans, and built a new house, like about a $40,000 house, and when that house was built and furnished, and the lawn was in, and the driveway was in, they were ready to be married, And they were married, and they started life in that beautiful new home.
Now you’d think that they had it made, wouldn’t you? Well you know, it wasn’t very many months and they were in my consulting room, and this is what they said. “There is a coldness developed between us, and we don’t know what it is. We don’t fight, there’s just something wrong.”
Well, this is what happened. When this fellow came home one night in his nice new house, and he looked up there in the corner, and he saw a cobweb, and he was surprised. He didn’t think that she was that kind of a housekeeper. She surely must have overlooked it.
So, he didn’t say anything, and he did the standard things you do when you come home from work. He took his wife in his arms and he kissed her and told her he loved her, and he was glad he was married to her. Well, the second night he came home, and that cobweb was still there. This disturbed him a little bit, but he didn’t say anything.
He did the same things that you’re suppose to do when you come home, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth night, he came home, and that cobweb was still there, and this time when he was kissing her, he did it with his eye on that cobweb. And he was getting kinda disgusted because by now you just can’t chalk it up to being overlooked. It seemed to him like he wasn’t about to take care of that, or should he?
And the sixth and the seventh night, and that cobweb was still there. So he called her into the living room, and he said, “Do you see that cobweb up there? Do you know how long that’s been there? This is the seventh night.”
And do you know what she said? What would you have said? Well I’ll tell ya, she put her arms around him, and she kissed him, and she said, “Honey, I’m so glad I’m married to you. I’m gonna be a better woman, 'cause I’m married to you.”
And he felt so bad because he was so disgusted with her, and look how nice she took it. But do you know what she said to herself on her way to the kitchen to get the broom? She said, “Why doesn’t he clean up that cobweb?” I’ll bet you some of you have even thought of that, haven’t you? Then, by the time she got back into the kitchen, though, she had her smile back on her face, and she whisked it away.
Well you know, a while later, he was standing in the kitchen watching her do dishes, and she was washing away, putting the dishes on the dish drainer like that. Now this fellow was an efficiency expert. And the longer he watched her do dishes, the more disgusted he got, and finally he said to her as she was washing dishes, he said, “Do you realize that you’re doing dishes cross-handed?” She said, “Cross-handed, what’s that?”
He could hardly conceal his disgust. He said, “Now look, if you take the dish drainer from here, and put it over here, you see how much easier that is than that?” Now that’s a tip for some of you. And when he did that, she wiped her hands on her apron, and she put her arms around him, and she kissed him, and she said, “Honey, I’d have never thought of that by myself.” Isn’t that nice? I wondered how many of you would have done that?
But, do you know what she said to the dishwater? She said, “Why doesn’t he mind his own business.” And he felt terrible because he was so disgusted with her, and look how nice she took it. But because she was so appreciative of his help, he started looking around for other ways of helping her. After all, what’s wrong with that? When a man believes his wife, isn’t that right? Now, supposing your partner believed you.
Would they get an accurate picture of you? And he found some other things to reorganize, and she responded the same way. She didn’t like it, but made him think she did. Well, one time he came home from work and up there in the corner … you guessed it ,,, it was a cobweb. And he watched that cobweb for the standard seven days, and he called her in and pointed out to her, and you know what she said?
Mind you now, this is a quiet, sedate, appreciative wife, and she said, “I’M SICK AND TIRED OF HAVING YOU TELLING ME WHAT TO DO, AND CRITICIZING ME!” Wee! What happened to her?
Now, we’re not surprised, are we? We could see it coming, couldn’t we? But you see, he couldn’t peek underneath her skin, and so he couldn’t see it coming. You see, this is what happens when you practice dishonesty.
Now, it sounded like the way to handle that would be for him to keep his feeling to himself, and for her to keep her mouth shut, but you see, all you do then is postpone trouble, and so he never opened his mouth again. But she said, “I try to give him a warm greeting when comes home, but I just freeze up when I see the car pull in the driveway. He comes to the door, and when I see his eyeballs sweep that ceiling, it just burns me up.”
Now what was wrong with these people? She was a phony, wasn’t she? And so was he. And they were trying to relate to each other on the basis of trying to out guess each other, and withholding information from one another. And what did they get out of it? They developed an invisible wall that was just as real as though it was made out of bricks. What’s that wall made out of? It’s made out of dishonesty.
It’s built out of people withholding their opinions, and withholding their thoughts, and trying to out-guess one another, and trying to figure out what the other person wants to hear. Now what do you develop when you do that? You develop an invisible wall that’s just as real as if it were made out of stone. Now the man who walks in the Spirit is a man who has a burden for truth. Now I think you oughta handle truth carefully, and the Apostle Paul said to us, for example, “Speak the truth in love.” Truth is a delicate thing to handle.
I was telling one man who was griping about his wife, and I told him he oughta go home, and level with his wife. So he did, he went home and said, “Dr. Brandt told me to tell you that you’re a sloppy woman.” You see, everything he said was true, and he took the occasion to vent his wrath on his wife, with a piece of truth. Now that’s not what I’m suggesting.
I’m not suggesting that you pound somebody over the head with a piece of truth. Truth is like a scalpel. It’s sharp, and it’s difficult to handle, but it’s got to be done. And the man who walks in the Spirit, is a man of truth. He has renounced the hidden things of dishonesty.
Now the next thing about him, he does not walk in craftiness. Every once in a while, somebody will say to me, “Doc, I’ve got somebody I’d like you to talk to, but they just won’t talk to ya. So what I’d like to do is to arrange a dinner party. I’ll invite him over to the house, and I’ll invite you over to the house, and we’ll arrange that you sit together.”, Isn’t that clever? And it will turn out like here’s a fellow and a problem, and I just happen to be a psychologist. Isn’t that good? Craftiness. Have you ever been manipulated? You don’t like it, do you? I don’t like it either. One of the best ways for you to ruin a relationship is to be manipulated, or to have somebody manipulate you.
Now, the burden on the part of an individual who walks in the Spirit is to have a forth-right relationship. He doesn’t practice dishonesty, and he doesn’t practice craftiness.
Now the other characteristic is that he doesn’t handle the Word of God deceitfully. One of the most important things I can leave with you, I talk to so many people who seem to carry a Bible around, and don’t really pay any attention to what’s in it. How seriously do you take the scriptures? If you read something in the Bible that tells you how to deal with your children, and it contradicts something you read in the newspaper, or it contradicts something you read in a book, which will you choose?
Will you choose what the Bible says, or will you choose what the book says? I believe this is an important decision for you to make. What will you do about the scriptures?
Now this man, who walks in the Spirit, has renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, and he does not walk in craftiness, and he does not handle the Word of God deceitfully, but he does manifest the truth. And so the last thing that I have to say to you then is to give you an opportunity to identify whether you walk in the Spirit, or whether you don’t.
Now let me go through it again. This man walking in the Spirit has renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, he does not walk in craftiness, he does not handle the Word of God deceitfully, but his burden is to get across the truth. And if you and your partner approach each other in this Spirit, I’ll guarantee you success as parents.