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Home The Light Articles from 2002 Caring Enough to Train

Caring Enough to Train

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Caring Enough to Train

by George Bentch

Almost every daily newspaper tells of another case of child abuse. Psalms 127:3 says, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward." At the birth of her sons Eve said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord."

Children are not valued today as they were then. There are some children who live in fear of one or both parents. Some are killed. Some are maimed beyond recovery. Others are so damaged psychologically that they may never be able to function in an adult world.

Solomon said, "He who troubleth his own house shall reap the wind" (Prov. 11:29). The world is full of husbands abusing wives, wives abusing husbands and both abusing children. Much of this degradation can be directly attributed to the drinking of alcoholic beverages. The last time I visited my brother Bill, we were talking of and singing some of the songs we heard as boys at home. He recalled one whose chorus has haunted my emory ever since. The words are:

No song, no smile, no word of love,

To lead the childish hearts above.

But all is dark distress and gloom

Within the wretched drunkard’s home.

This sad old song paints a picture of all too many homes in our country. At work there is a notice on the bulletin board that begins, "If you have a problem with chemical dependency..." That’s a nice way of saying "If you are a drunkard or a drug addict..." There is nothing nice about the loss of self control that comes with "chemical dependency."

I watched a skilled man with twenty years experience lose his position because he was no longer dependable, hence, no longer a valuable employee. Thus, his house is troubled, not only by a drunken head, but by the loss of income. He did not physically abuse his family, but he certainly troubled his house and his wife’s tears were just as real. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" Prov. 20:1).

Volumes could be written on this subject and temperance is much needed in this world, and I began this writing with a sad song and abused, misused and misguided children in mind.

God gave us children to mold and train. He holds us responsible for that which is committed to our trust. Consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

The very words train and mold signify limits. No dog ever won first prize who growled at the judge. The walls of a mold are firm and unyielding. Thus, these two words, when applied to raising children, have great significance. The problem is that cruelty is substituted for corrective disci-pline, and violence is used for walls of the mold.

Every child is a testimony, bearing witness to the attitudes of their parents. Am I against physical punishment? No; the wise man knew what he was talking about when he wrote Proverbs 13:24; "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." And, "chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not they soul spare for his crying" (19:18). Does this imply cruelty? No, it implies caring enough to teach the law of cause and effect. This teaching must begin at an early age in the home. In fact, the word betimes is sometimes translated early.

If you say, "If you do so and so you will be punished," you owe it to that child to live up to your word. Sadly, many young people do not learn about cause and effect till they stand before a judge, convicted of a crime. Then, because of their lack of training, they blame someone else for their actions. Each of us is responsible for what we do. If you are stopped for speeding and tell the officer, "It’s my wife’s fault, she made me mad before I left home." Can you expect him to desist from writing a ticket? Not likely. Rather he will say, "She’s not the one driving the car."

There is a world of difference between child abuse and corrective discipline. One is angry, cruel and often sadistic. The other is motivated by love in the fear of God, and actually is an act of kindness. Paul wrote, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). W.E. Vine defines nurture as: chasten and admonition, as putting in mind, or reminding. Both of these require responsibility and paying attention by the parent. Thus, we come back to the illustration of the mold with its firm and unyielding walls.

Children are smart. They know when you compromise your principles. They do not resent punishment that is just. Some time ago, while talking to a young man, I was touched by the love and respect with which he spoke of his mother. In the course of the conversation he told of one time when he broke one of her rules. He said, "I looked around and there stood Mama with a young oak tree in her hand." Then he added "I didn’t do that any more!" He learned the law of cause and effect very well, and he dearly loves the one who cared enough to be vigilant and teach it to him.

Children do not respect parents they can push over and walk on. If the walls of a mold give way, the product is malformed. Iron can be remelted and poured into a new mold, but we have only one chance with our children. We as parents are the mold for the church of tomorrow.

Isn’t it wonderful to hear a young person say, "My Daddy (or my Mama) knows the Bible and lives by it"? This points out the truth that you can’t really teach something you don’t do. Children may not heed your lecture, but they will follow your example. Hebrews 12:10, speaking of our parents says, "For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he (God) for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." It is in the home that the children should learn submission to loving authority. God makes no errors. The trials of this life are designed to strengthen and purify. As the old song says, The flame will not hurt thee, I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Prov. 22:15).

Some will say, "If you hit your child it shows you are out of control." No, my friend, do not punish in anger, for anger begets resentment, which grows into rebellion. Punishment in anger is likely to be unjust. Punishment in anger is likely to become abuse. Punish then, not because you are angry or embarrassed by childish conduct, but because you love that child and care about where they are going. Punish because they have broken a rule or disobeyed an order, not because they bother you, or are in your way. When you say "go outside and play and don’t bother me," you may, in their mind, be giving them license to do that which is bad. They know you are observing and are responsible.

I do not claim to be an expert on child raising. I am simply an old man who looks back with regret on many mistakes. I would spare you that. In my opinion, the worst abuse a child can receive is lack of training. To feel that no one cares what you do is not an incentive to do good. A hug and the words, "I love you" is often a strong deterrent to misbehavior.

 

Mary had a little boy,

His soul was white as snow.

He never ever went to church,

‘Cause Mary didn’t go.

He never heard the story

Of our Savior’s boundless love;

He never knew there was prepared

A home of joy above.

In youth he followed every whim;

Not knowing how he’d pay.

The soul that once was snowy white

Became a dingy grey.

Then Mary saw her error—

To the church she then did flee;

But he laughed and told her loudly,

"Church ways are not for me."

Vain were her tears and pleading,

He discovered coke and crack.

The once white soul so pretty,

Turned a dirty solid black.

Thus, was a young life wasted,

Drugs took his life in youth.

This could have changed if baby

Had been taught of love and truth.

Beware where you lead the children—

Beware how their soul is attired;

For today the firm voice may whisper,

Tonight thy soul is required!

–105 W Jefferson, Richland, MO 65556

 

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