Let me read you a few lines that I like and I think paints a wonderful picture of a human being. “Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of felling safe with a person. Having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, and certain that a faithful hand will sift them and keep what is worth keeping and blow the rest away.” Doesn’t that sound great? What would a man give for a wife like that? Probably as much as a woman would give for a husband like that.
How seriously do you take the Bible? Does it really make any difference to you what it says? If you read something about parent-child relations in the Bible that contradicted something you read in another book, would you reject what the Bible says or would you reject what the other book says? This is an issue that I had to decide a long time ago and my decision was that for me the Bible is not on trial, the other book is. For me, my standard of evaluating another book is the Bible. And so if the other book says something that disagrees with the Bible, I’ll reject the book.
To me any speaker that I listen to is on trial, not the Bible, and if he contradicts my understanding of what the scriptures say, I’ll stick with the scriptures. Now I have said a few things here that I believe are pretty important for us to remember and I want to repeat them again. I’m talking about Biblical principles. Do Biblical principles mean anything to you? Now listen to this, “Honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God hath given you.” You know a lot of us adults make it pretty hard for kids to do that and here is one of the objectives for an adult - to make it easy for your children to honor you. Now here is another verse: Philippians 4:9, “Those things which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me do.” Doesn’t that sound presumptuous or egotistical? But you stop and think about that, that’s a minimum requirement of an adult if you want to lead your children. Now here’s another one: Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in a way that he should go.” I can’t think of anything any more comforting than to think about a real nice lady married to a real nice man and these two people are friends and these two people sitting down to decide what’s best for your children. Can you think of anything more comforting than that? The two of you working together to make sure that the best that you can think of happens to your children. Now to me that’s the opportunity and that’s the challenge of parenthood, and once you sit down and to decide what is best for your children.
I’ve said it and I’ll say it again; that you can expect your children to resist some of what you believe is best for them. Then it’s a question of their judgment verses yours.
I can remember when I was a kid. One time I wanted to go out, and I tried to talk my mother into letting me go out, and I explained to her where I wanted to go, and she said I couldn’t go. So I tried to persuade her to go out and I approached her something like this, “Aw come on Mom, please, won’t you please let me go out Mom? Please Mom?”
You know I tried to make myself look as pathetic and sound as pathetic as I possibly could. I was appealing to her sympathy and her mother instinct I thought, and obviously she would melt at somebody as sincere as me, and she said, “No.”
I said, “Aw, please Mom. Please, won’t you let me go out?”
She said, “No.”
Well, no use in being decent so you have to try something else. Let’s see what could I try? Here’s one, “So you say you love me? Now how could any mother that loved her child treat me the way you’re treating me? Can I go?”
She said, “No.”
“But Mom, do you realize that everybody else but me is going? Now you wouldn’t want to make a freak out of me would you? Can I go?”
She said, “No.”
What else can you think of? My objective was to get out of there, that’s all. I wasn’t interested in my well being, I had already decided I was going to get out that’s all. Isn’t that familiar to you? Let's see you try something else. “So you call yourself a Christian? How could any Christian woman treat me like that? Can I go?”
She said, “No.”
There were times when I didn’t make it. I would be so mad, and then I’ll tell you what I did. I used all the ingenuity and all the creativity that I could come up with to make life miserable for my mother until I went to bed. Does that sound familiar to you? I’ve gone to bed defeated and I would say to myself, “How did a fellow ever get saddled with parents like this?” Do you know there were times I said to myself, “I wish I were dead.” I could even picture myself in my coffin and there my poor mother came and looked down at my dead body, and I said to myself in that coffin, “Serves you right.”
Do you know I grew up and got married and had some children and to my amazement I saw and heard some of that same reasoning coming out of my children’s mouths? Here I found myself interfering with the wishes of my children. Now mind you, if you just look at me briefly you’ll realize that I’ve been around a long time and the ideas that I came up with to try to persuade my mother to let me go are the same arguments that you’re hearing from your children today. Isn’t that right? Your children aren’t that original and they’re saying, “Look at what you’re doing to me. After all a nice lady like you wouldn’t want to ruin my life would you?”
What your children want and what they want so fervently isn’t always what they need. There are some ideas in the scriptures that tell you how sincere you ought to be in seeing to it that your children do what you want them to do. Let me read you some of those Bible verses. Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because sentence for an evil act is not executed speedily therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil.” Now that makes sense doesn’t it? Did you follow that?
That’s a very basic principle. “If sentence for an evil act is not executed speedily.” If you don’t receive the consequences for your behavior quickly what happens? The hearts of the sons of your children are set within them to repeat it. If you try something and get away with it once, and I see this and hear about it time and time again. When children are old enough to go out and their mothers say, “Come in at ten,” and they’re not there and the mother’s say, “I wish you would listen to me. Why don’t you listen to me? Now it’s in your best interest to come in at ten.”
And the child says, “Yes Mother, I forgot.”
“Okay, next time, come in at ten.” Now when you do that, no consequences, your child has a fifty-fifty chance of getting away with it next time. That’s the way they’ll reason and a fifty-fifty chance is pretty good. That’s worth gambling on. So they try it again. Maybe come home a little later and that time, mother isn’t even there. She hasn’t gotten home yet so the child slips into the house and says to herself, “Got away with that one.”
The next time she tries it she’s got a two thirds chance of getting away with it. Now that’s pretty good odds and pretty soon your children simply conclude that my parents aren’t interested in this limit, to see to it that it’s carried out. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the worst thing that you can do, is to set a limit that you're not prepared to carry out. As I’ve been saying to you, you do need to be prepared to deal with the resistance of your children. Let me give you one more illustration of resistance as it pertains to small children.
I used to be supervisor of some little nursery schools that we called cooperative nursery schools, where parents would come together and they would bring their children to this nursery school and we would teach parents what made little children tick. I came to this one nursery school and this was in Michigan and this was winter time and one of our rules was when the children go outside to play they must wear their snowsuits. I came into this yard and all the children were out there and they were all in their snowsuits but one. And where was the snowsuit? Draped over the arm of the lady that was watching them.
And I said to the lady, “Why doesn’t that child have its snowsuit on?”
The lady said, “She won’t let me put it on.”
Now believe it or not here is this big lady and a little child and the lady says, “She won’t let me.”
So I said to her, “Why don’t you let me watch you try it?”
So she takes the snowsuit kind of gingerly, frightened, and walks up to the child and says, “Would you like to put your snowsuit on?”
The little child says, “No!”
The mother turned to me and said, “See?”
So I said, “Give me the snowsuit and I’ll show you how to put it on.” So I took the snowsuit. First I had to catch this child, and finally I caught it, and this child was pulling and resisting but anyway I got one sleeve in and to my embarrassment I realized that’s not how you put snowsuits on. At least I was doing something, I was trying.
So I started over again, pulled out it’s sleeves and got one leg in and the other leg in and both the arms, and that child was tugging and fighting me every inch of the way, and I zipped it up and that child gave me one final dirty look and ran off to play. And the lady looked at me as though I was a miracle man. What did I do? I did anything that I needed to do in order to help that child on with a snowsuit. Now did that child need a snowsuit? Was I doing a bad thing or was I doing a good thing?
You need to be convinced that what you are doing is in the best interest of your child. And if in your judgment it is in the best interest of your child, and you’re decent about it, you ought to do anything you need to do in order to see to it that it’s done. Now parenthood is just that simple. How simple? Two dedicated people who care the most of any people in the world about your children sitting down to decide what in your judgment, your mutual judgment, is in the best interests of your children. And parenthood is just that simple.
Now your children are going to resist you in all kinds of ways. And for example, there is the question of church. That question comes up many, many times. What do I do about my children going to church? It depends upon your judgment. Do you have any doubt about whether your children ought to go to school? Now for most of us when our children resist school the only question in our minds is how we get them there, never should we. Isn't that so?
Do you have any doubt about whether or not your children should visit a doctor? I remember one of our children didn’t like doctors and when it was necessary to take that child to a doctor I had to scoop that child up kicking and screaming and plunk it in the car and drag it into the doctor’s office and hold her down. Now is that any way to treat a child? I have even had occasion where I have to go into the doctor’s office and the nurse sat on one end of that child and I sat on the other while the doctor let her have it. That child would scream.
Is that any way to treat a child? It certainly is. If I love my child and my child needed medical attention the only question in my mind was how to get her there, not should I. None of our children have rejected doctors. None of our children have rejected education. My son has got as much education as I have. All our children went through college. We never had any concern about whether or not our children would reject education.
Now there is another thing that we thought was important at our house and that was church. And my wife and I decided that in the best interest of our children that they were going to church twice every Sunday and every Wednesday. Now I didn’t ask you what your opinion was. This is what was the judgment, the considered judgment of my wife, who is the world’s greatest expert of our three children, and myself. So the only question that we had to ask was how do we get them there?
Now all three of our children had comments about church like, “Wait until I turn eighteen. I will never darken a church door again. You make me go to church and you’ll regret it.” We heard all the standard statements that you hear. And my judgment that church is good for you and the question of whether they should go was debatable but not negotiable. They could say anything they wanted.
One day one of our children didn’t want to go to prayer meeting. She simply announced, teenager, “I’m not going.” You see that’s a very simple problem. You have to help her get there. How do you do that?
The first thing, we had to help her on with her shoes. Now when a teenager doesn’t want shoes on it takes two of you to get them on, but between my wife and me and we worked hard at it, we got her shoes on. Now the next job is to get her moving and so we had to get her up and we discovered that her knees wouldn’t work. She went like this, “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t.” Pretty hard to get a person outside whose knees won’t work and especially difficult to get her into the car but we got her in.
We drove up to the church and one of her girlfriends was standing there on the curb and she jumped out and that girlfriend of hers had no idea how we got her there. All she needed was a little help.
What did you do about it after that? We didn’t do anything about it. She needed some help and we gave it to her and that’s the end of it. After church she came up and said, “Hey what do you say we stop and get some ice cream on the way home?” Why not? If I were to deprive her of one I would have to deprive me of one and I didn’t do anything wrong and neither did she really. The only thing that happened was that she had a little bit of resistance streak and she needed some help to get past it. Don't be afraid to help your children.
We had this experience one time. Our son decided he was going out, and we had decided that he wasn’t going out, and he said he was. So I took my own advice that I had given other parents and I got between him and the door.
Well he proceeded to remove me from there and as he came along I looked him over and he was almost as tall as me and in better shape and that fellow sure needed a lot of help that night. We were both tired by the time I helped him stay home. Now you say won’t that shape his destiny forever after? I think it helped. What did it do? It served to show him that we cared enough about him that we’re going to everything that we could do to make happen what we think is the best for him. Now if that’s the worst criticism that a child can have of their parents that’s not too bad.
Now it may be that our judgment may be a little faulty along the way but there is no question about our intent, there’s no question about our attitude or our dedication to those children. This matter of a man and a woman who are friends coming to a meeting of minds about what’s best for your children, and I don’t know anything any more pleasant than the prospect of a nice lady and a nice man working together in order to guide their children in a direction that in their judgment is the best for them.
That’s what so many of us adults have walked away from today, and at the time when our children need our judgment and our guidance the most is when we turn them loose. Let me read you a few more scripture verses that indicate the dedication and the interest that you ought to have in your children. Proverbs 13:24, “He that spares the rod hates his son.” Is that a misprint? Now let me repeat, how seriously do you take this Book?
Now some of us would say that evidence of our love for our child is to just let them go and that proves your love. This says, “He that spares the rod hates his son but he that loves him will chasten him.” Think it over. Now you aren’t venting your wrath on your children. See, that’s not the idea here. We’re talking about a real nice man who cares enough about his son so that if necessary, I don’t see this as a club wielding hostile out of control blowing up kind of parent, the picture here is a loving parent who cares enough that if necessary you’ll use the rod.
Listen to this. Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof (giving your child your judgment and enforcing it with the rod if necessary) give wisdom but a child left to himself will bring his mother to shame.” You can see that all around you can’t you? Once more, “Correct you son and he will give you rest, yea he will give the light unto your soul.” Do you care what the Bible says? If you do then let me challenge you to be guided by these principles and twenty years later your children will call you blessed.