Happy Home - Part 2

Scripture: Proverbs 22:6, Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 19:18
What does the Bible teach us about raising children? How should we discipline them? We ought to teach them to love God and honor us as parents. Disciplining children demonstrates love on the part of the parents. It teaches them respect and self-control. This does not give license to abusive behavior toward children.
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So many are asking these days, "How are we to rear our children in these troubled times." I will have to confess I was much more free in my advice before I was married than I am now when it comes to the question, "How to rear children." I want to turn to the Bible and let the Bible tell us how we ought to raise them. Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." The Bible says we are to train a child up. We are not to let a child grow up, we are to train a child and help him to grow up into a mature man.

Deuteronomy 6, reveals to us that we are to train our children to obey their parents and to obey God. After God had counselled the children of Israel to keep His commandments, He says, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might, and these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thine children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way and when thou sittest down and when thou liest down and when thou riseth up, and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. Thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house and on thy gates." You ask, "Are we to do that? Are we to take the commandments of God and write them on the door and on the kitchen wall and on the gateposts so that our children can see them?" That's not what it's talking about. It simply means that we as parents are to have the love of God in our hearts. We are to obey God and to keep His commandments and then in turn, by our lives and by our counsel and instruction, train our children to do likewise.

The love of God should be in our hearts every moment of the day and that ought to be reflected in the lives of the children. They must be taught to obey God and obey their parents, for obedience lies at the foundation of all society and disobedience lies at the root of every evil. We have this wonderful command of God in Exodus 20:12, "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." In another place the Bible says that this is the first commandment with promise. Honor thy father and thy mother. Children must be taught to obey.

You ask the question, "Should parents ever punish their children?" Friends, I don't want to know what men have to say about this but I want to know what the Bible answer is. Proverbs 19:18, "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Now that is an interesting Bible text. We are to chasten a son while there is hope; while he is young he must learn to obey and must learn also that disobedience does bring punishment, that disobedience cannot go by without receiving attention. Proverbs 23:13, "Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die." Now it says here that if a person does have to spank a child, if he has to get a switch or a rod or whatever else it is, a child isn't going to die because of that. Now, this isn't giving license for a parent to beat his child unmercifully. That is not what it is talking about. But it does say that correction and punishment has its place in rearing children and teaching them to obey. The reason for that is found in Proverbs 22:15, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." One of the reasons for insecurity in the world today among young people is that their parents have never disciplined them and so those children feel that their parents don't really love them. I have heard young people express that very thought.

Some young people over in Nevada were having a round table discussion on a television program and the question was asked "Why are young people today getting into trouble with the law authorities?" And those young people themselves said, We'll tell you what the trouble is. Our parents don't care what we do. They never discipline us, they never tell us that we can't do certain things, and so we will go the whole limit, but we don't feel right about it. We wish that they would set their foot down and tell us what we ought to do. But as long as they don't care we'll go the whole limit and therefore, because we do not respect them, we don't respect the law authorities either. If our parents would just sit down on us a little bit then we'd feel more secure about the whole thing."

Take a little boy. His daddy never lays a hand on him. Now, when I talk about the laying on of hands, I'm not talking about unmercifully beating a child or striking in anger or yelling or any such thing. A child should never be spanked in anger or impatience. But now let's take this little boy. His father has never corrected him, has never spanked him. He stands on the street corner talking to some of the other fellows and they get to talking about their dads. One little fellow says, "You know, my dad is really strong, he can whip every man in town." Another little boy bristles up, "Why, listen here, my dad can whip your dad." But the third little boy stands saying nothing. His dad has never laid a hand on him. He feels dejected. His dad couldn't lick anybody, he's never even licked him. This is the truth. There is insecurity in a child who doesn't know true discipline.

Someone has said that we have a switch for everything in these modern homes but the kids, and I suppose that there is a certain amount of truth in that. Billy Graham tells the story of visiting a family. ln the course of the visit with the father of the home, the little boy ran in. lt was a cold day and the door was left wide open. The father said, "Johnny, go close the door." Johnny went on about his play in the room and didn't pay a bit of attention to his dad. After a moment went by the dad said, "Johnny, I told you to close that door. You go close it right now." The child completely ignored the father's command. They talked on for another minute and the father said, "Johnny, I'm telling you for the last time, if you don't close that door, I'm going to spank you." Johnny just went about his play. Pretty soon the father got up, walked over, and closed the door. Billy Graham made this comment, "If I had that child for five minutes, he'd go into the door slamming business." Really friends, disobedience to parents is appalling.

Parents say, "We shouldn't discipline a little baby." Then when it's hard to discipline them a little later, we say, "Oh, well, he is just going through a stage" and we flatter ourselves that when he becomes a sensible teenager that everything is going to straighten out. But it doesn't happen because he has never learned discipline as a baby. Children can be taught to obey, God has given them reason and the power to think. A child can learn to obey when just a babe.

The Bible counsel is not a permission or command to beat a child or to yell and scream at a child. So often a parent will say, "I have told you a thousand times not to do that." If telling a child would do it, you wouldn't have to tell him a thousand times. And it isn't just yelling or striking in anger or jerking a child around that is meant here. We need to understand the balance between love and discipline and consistency. When a child errs we do not strike in anger. We explain it as calmly as we can. I agree that there are times when it is pretty hard to keep your composure, it's pretty hard to keep from flying off the handle at times at the disgusting things a child can do, but that is the time for the parent to learn some patience and learn some discipline for himself. Just draw aside and wait till he cools down before you handle the situation and then carefully explain the situation to the child and why it has to happen. Pray with the child and bring in that spirit in the correction. But the punishment must come and the child will understand. The punishment will have a wholesome effect and will not have to be repeated many times in most cases.

On the other side of this question is something just as bad. That is the parent who is harsh and cruel to the child, the parent who is indifferent, who is not aware of the needs of a little child, who does not understand that little babies and little children are like tender plants that need to be nourished, cared for, tenderly watered and provided for. In too many homes the children are starving for love. They never know what it means to have the parent love them and fondle them. They never see the parents expressing any love. They never see dad put his arm around mother. They never see them kiss and they never receive any expression of love either. Many young people are actually dying because of the lack of love. They may not die physically, but they will die emotionally and mentally for want of love. They are ill prepared for life. Mental illness sometimes follows simply because they did not have genuine love expressed to them while they were children.

Oh, my friends, I want to appeal to you to have Christian homes: Christ the center of every home, Christ the head of the house! Let us have family worship and erect the family altar. Gather the children in a prayer circle, kneel and have prayer together. Uplift your children before God in prayer. lt will do so much to bind your hearts together and to God. lt will mean so much in bringing happiness into your family.

You say, "I live in a divided home. My wife or my husband is not a Christian. Therefore I do not feel that we can have family worship." Then the believer, whether it be the husband or the wife, should gather the family, those that do believe, and conduct family worship. Kindly and tactfully that can be done.

I think of one lady who gathered her little family every morning and every evening for prayer. The husband was an unbeliever. Each evening as it came time for prayer he would go out and walk around the block until he knew that family worship was over. One night as he sat there reading the newspaper, he thought to himself, "I'm not going to be driven out of my home by family worship. I'm going to sit right here." So there he sat, newspaper in hand. Mother read from the Bible and then they knelt for prayer. The father heard his son pray, "And God, please help dad. Help him to know the love of Jesus. Help him to yield his life to Christ." That was just about all he could take. He put the newspaper down and headed for the door but he didn't get there before he heard his little girl lisp, "And bleth papa, and help him to know da troof." That father's heart was touched. Next evening he decided to stay again. There again around the circle of his little family, he listened to the prayers. Again they prayed for him. He stayed the next night and when they kneeled for prayer, he laid his newspaper down and knelt with them but they didn't know it. The next morning was the Sabbath, and they were preparing for church. They were surprised to see father come in for breakfast all dressed up. The wife asked, "Honey, where are you going? "And he said, "I'm going to go to church with you, if you don't mind." She was thrilled. The father committed his life to Christ and has since become a leader in the church." Oh, how wonderful it is and what strength and courage it brings in these troubled days to have family worship, to gather the family for prayer.

Here is a definition of true love according to Weymouth's translation. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is forbearing and kind, love knows no jealousy, love does not brag, is not conceited, she is not unmannerly or selfish, nor irritable, nor mindful of wrong. She sides with the truth. She is full of trust, full of hope, full of endurance." Oh, friend, don't you want that kind of love today? The kind of true love that is a gift from Jesus.

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