Child Rearing With Vision
In 1926, God began working with Herbert W. Armstrong through a challenge from his wife on Sabbath-keeping. A second challenge on the theory of evolution versus God’s existence quickly followed. These questions led him to an in-depth study to prove whether the Bible is the Word of God, as it claims, or if man is merely the result of evolution. And if God does exist, is His command for Sabbath-keeping something all Christians should obey? Mr. Armstrong’s determination to prove the answers in these matters led to his conversion to the truth and, eventually, to a worldwide work reaching millions! God gave Mr. Armstrong the commission to reach all nations with the gospel (Matthew 24:14). He fulfilled the prophecies of an end-time type of the Elijah, who would restore all things to the Church (Matthew 17:10-11) and restore family relationships: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).
Mr. Armstrong established multiple programs for God’s youth in the Worldwide Church of God. In 1947, he established Ambassador College. In 1962, the first youth camps began, which grew to include multiple locations in 12 countries around the world! He also established Imperial Schools for grades kindergarten through grade 12. He published Youth magazine for teens, and The Bible Story series for readers of all ages. He established Youth Opportunities United for teens and Youth Educational Services for younger children. As he stated: “Of all of the people that we are commissioned to preach the gospel to, the most important are the young people—children of Church members” (Worldwide News, July 22, 1985). In the 1960s, he published The Plain Truth About Child Rearing, stressing to parents the importance of raising their children properly so they would have every advantage to grow into successful adults, physically and spiritually.
When Mr. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986, the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God believed they could easily push aside what Christ had restored through him. As the Church entered the Laodicean era (Revelation 3:14-22), they set about to bury what Mr. Armstrong had taught, written and published for over 50 years. But God established another work to continue and complete the Elijah-type work established by Mr. Armstrong.
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old,” God revealed (Amos 9:11). Speaking directly of the Work established through Gerald Flurry in the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg), God encouraged His true and faithful people that He remained in the midst of them and that the modern-day Elijah work could not be destroyed. (You can read about this history in Mr. Flurry’s important book Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today.)
Beginning in 1997, Mr. Flurry and the pcg battled the Worldwide Church of God in court for six years for the right to print and distribute 19 works written by Mr. Armstrong. First on that list was Mr. Armstrong’s most important book, Mystery of the Ages. In 2003, the pcg obtained the copyrights to these vital spiritual works.
Among these works is The Missing Dimension in Sex, which contains vital information on rearing children. Chapters 6 and 7 in this book are taken from that important work. When your child is at an appropriate age, you should read The Missing Dimension in Sex with him or her.
God has flooded the pcg with incredible new revelation on many prophetic subjects and doctrines, including child rearing. He has also raised the ruins of Mr. Armstrong’s work with the establishment of Herbert W. Armstrong College, Imperial Academy, publication of The Bible Story, Youth Bible Lessons, True Education magazine, and summer camps around the world. This should impress upon us how important child rearing is to God.
The first chapter of this book is Chapter 2 of Mr. Flurry’s book The God Family Vision. This exciting chapter greatly expands the foundational teaching given to the Church by Mr. Armstrong. It is new revelation, and it provides the vision through which we must view our child-rearing responsibilities.
Throughout the book, you will find essential quotes from The Plain Truth About Child Rearing, published by the Worldwide Church of God in 1963.
This book is intended to give you the basic foundation to successfully raise a God-fearing child. At the end of this book is a list of additional articles you may find helpful to further your study. No matter the age of your children, we recommend you read the entire book first, and then use the book as a reference.
We hope this book helps you as you endeavor to raise your children to attain their incredible human potential.
Chapter 1: Hannah’s Family Vision
By Gerald Flurry
We need to look at one of the most inspiring examples in the Old Testament. It should become etched in our memories forever.
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. … Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:20‑21, 24). Here God is talking about the restitution of all things to the world. Jesus Christ is just about to return to this Earth to fulfill that prophecy. And in this passage, Samuel is singled out. He must have had something important to say about restoring all things to the world.
Samuel is classified as one of the former prophets, and at least 90 percent of Bible prophecy is for this end time.
Tradition says that God first appeared to Samuel when he was only 13 years old. So this is a message for young people and old people alike.
Acts 13:19-20 state, “And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” Until Samuel came, there was the terrible period of the judges when everyone did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25)—which is why Israel was ruled, most often, by the Philistines. It was Samuel who made a big change in Israel, through God’s direction. He helped establish the monarchy—the throne of David which Christ will sit on when He returns to restore all things to the world.
David laid the foundation for Israel’s greatest glory as a nation. That was only a little foretaste of what Christ’s rule will be like in the Millennium and over the universe forever!
“And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:21-22). Samuel anointed David, the man who fulfilled all of God’s will. What a rich blessing David was for all Israel.
So Samuel had quite an impressive life. Let’s look at where it started.
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite” (1 Samuel 1:1). The first word of this book, instead of being now, should be and, because it continues the story from the terrible period of the judges. It was about 1140 b.c., and there was quite a negative history being recorded (as there is in this end time with God’s spiritual nation). The Word of God was rare. Israel didn’t receive many revelations. God wasn’t able to work with them much at all during the judges period, with few exceptions.
“And he [Elkanah] had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (verse 2). The relationship with these three was somewhat like Abraham and Sarah and her handmaid, where the handmaid was brought in to have children (see Genesis 16). Hannah could not have children, so Peninnah was brought into the marriage, which was a mistake. Still, it provides an important lesson for us today.
“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there” (1 Samuel 1:3). When Israel entered the Promised Land (approximately 400 years earlier), God used Joshua to establish headquarters at Shiloh. He wanted all of Israel looking to Shiloh. God wants everyone focused on Shiloh, or where the ark is—where His headquarters is. That is the kind of government that should rule the nations of Israel, as it does rule spiritual Israel, God’s Church.
“And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy [or double] portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb” (verses 4-5). Hannah was the love of Elkanah’s life—not Peninnah.
“And her [Hannah’s] adversary [Peninnah] also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat” (verses 6-7). Note that God closed Hannah’s womb. This was a significant trial for Hannah, and she received a lot of grief over it.
Husband Comes First
Notice how Elkanah handled this situation. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8). Elkanah was teaching his wife a very important lesson. Is a husband not more valuable than 10 sons? For a marriage to work, the supreme love must be between the husband and the wife. Serious problems arise in marriages when one of the parents exalts the children above the other mate.
But this example is about much more than a physical marriage—it is really about our spiritual marriage. Jesus Christ is our Husband, and He wants to be certain that we don’t look to any individual, any man, more than Him—that we will never exalt a man or 10 men above Jesus Christ. That is what created the Laodicean condition today! We are Christ’s helpmeet. We are to love God, our Husband, above the members in the Church. It is vital that we understand this lesson.
If we love our Husband the way we should, then we have that family love and family vision. You must always keep the God Family vision in mind.
Understanding Why Children
Hannah waited many years for a child. This was an immense trial she struggled with. But God was making her wait for an important reason. He was developing tremendous, godly character in this woman. After many years of being barren, Hannah had come to have an entirely different view about children.
One year when the family went to Shiloh, Hannah made a special prayer in the temple. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:10-11). She vowed to God that, if He would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God forever. That’s right—forever. She understood what she had to do with that son. In the years God made her wait, she had learned that.
How many people, even in God’s Church, understand that as deeply as they should? Child rearing should start long before the child is born, in that sense. Parents must first understand why God gives children. Hannah learned that. By the time her son came on the scene, she was ready to dedicate him to God. She was ready before the child came! That is the kind of understanding it takes to be a proper parent God’s way.
We must be prepared for children. By the time of the marriage, Jesus Christ’s wife will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). We must get ready before the children are there. What God wants us to do is to get ready to rear and teach billions of people. That is the wife’s purpose: to help Christ rear all those who will be called into God’s Family in the future. They are our spiritual children in this sense: They must come through Christ and His Bride to get to the Father, who begot them (John 6:44).
Our job is to help build the Father’s Family. Everybody will have the same Father and the same Family—or no family at all!
The Father rules His Family. He reigns supreme.
Having physical children helps prepare the firstfruits to get ready to have billions of children in the World Tomorrow. Those converted in the Millennium are likened to children of the Husband (Christ) and His wife, the Church. Rearing physical children is a type of what we will be doing spiritually in the World Tomorrow! We are called to help Christ in this job—to be His helpmeet. God wants us to focus our minds on all the children to come on the scene in the future and to get ready to rear them and dedicate them all to the Father, the way Hannah did her son.
Rearing children is a trial and a test. There is struggle involved. We have to struggle to teach our children. Likewise, it will be a struggle to teach all the spiritual children in the future. So God has us start small, learning many wonderful lessons with a few physical children. Even if you don’t have children, you can still learn this all-important lesson by studying God’s Word and observing other families.
Are you ready to rear and train billions of spiritual children? That is why we are here in God’s Church today. We must get ready for that awesome responsibility. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
God heard Hannah’s prayer, and allowed her to conceive as soon as she returned home. “[A]nd Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:19-20). God gave this remarkable woman a son. Samuel means heard of God.
Hannah was committed to this child. Samuel was properly reared. Hannah fully intended to follow through on the promise she made to God. She spent the first few years preparing him to be brought to Shiloh, where the tabernacle was. She knew that when the time came to bring him to Shiloh, it would be permanent. “[T]hen I will bring him,” she said, “that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever” (verse 22). We don’t know exactly how all this transpired. But her husband was very compassionate and supportive toward his wife.
Finally Hannah brought Samuel to Shiloh, along with a sizable offering. She presented him to Eli, the priest, who had heard her prayer in the temple several years earlier. She told him, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent [given] him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there” (verses 27-28).
Hannah said she would give her child to God as long as he lived. The astounding part of this is that neither the Nazarites nor the Levites ever dedicated their children to God as Hannah dedicated Samuel! She had a marvelous attitude. How well do we teach our children to honor and please God?
Did Hannah dedicate her child to God? Did she ever! She gave birth to and reared a prophet!
There should be no chapter break at the end of the first chapter. 1 Samuel 2 is a prophecy about the Feast of Trumpets, which pictures Christ’s return. The Jews still read this chapter on Rosh Hashanah even today. Notice what Hannah begins to prophesy after she has had this child. “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation” (1 Samuel 2:1). A horn is a symbol of strength and power. We’ll see what Hannah meant by that a little later.
“There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (verse 2). The Hebrew word for God here is Elohim, which refers to the God Family. She understood so much about God’s Family. She probably understood God’s family plan more deeply than the most righteous women of God in the Bible—and this is before God gave her a child. When you understand their potential, you know those lovely children are gifts from God.
God used Samuel to deliver Israel anciently, as He will use the firstfruits to deliver Israel and the whole world in the future. We will give them a vision about the Rock—our Husband.
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (verse 3). God is watching all our words and deeds. When Christ returns, every person will be judged (Matthew 12:36). The time to rid ourselves of our vanity and arrogance is now. We are getting ready to rule the world and later the universe with Jesus Christ.
“The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble” (1 Samuel 2:4-5). Remember, this is an end-time prophecy.
The second and third chapters of Revelation describe seven successive eras of God’s true Church from Christ’s first coming until His Second Coming. (Our free book The True History of God’s True Church will explain this to you.) The final era, the Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-22), is a colossal failure. That is the era currently on the scene. Look at this spiritually. The Laodiceans are “full”; they are rich and increased with goods (verse 17). They have lost this awesome, magnificent vision God gave them through the end-time Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, during the Philadelphia era (verses 7-13).
Notice the phrase “they that were hungry ceased” in 1 Samuel 2:5. There is a cutoff when a man such as the end-time Elijah comes along. While Mr. Armstrong was preaching God’s truth, people who were hungering and thirsting spiritually would come along to develop and grow as members of God’s Family. There were prospective members, donors, people who only had a slight interest in God’s Work. Then, all of a sudden, they that were hungry just ceased being fed. When “they that were full” turned away from God, it spelled disaster for the many people who were being nurtured spiritually!
If God’s people—those whom He called out of this world and gave this vision to—don’t get out and proclaim His message to the world, they will lose their own blood (Ezekiel 33:7-9). That is how important God’s message is. But on top of that, they will be guilty of the blood of those to whom they should have been giving this message—the whole world! This is all there is. This is why man. This is why God gives physical children. When people turn away from that, they turn away from God.
God’s Work always continues, though. We can’t escape the responsibility God has given us. It is up to us to do the Work. This world desperately needs the message God has given us to deliver. There is so much sadness in this world. Hannah said that the woman with many children is waxed feeble. The Hebrew means to droop or hang down the head, or a drooping heart. As tragedies in this world increase, a mother with many children who doesn’t know about Elohim will be bereaved. Look at what is happening to our children today with the drugs and violence in schools. Yes, many women are hanging their heads. Although they may have many children, there is something missing. Do they know about Elohim? Do they know about the God Family? If they do, are they heeding what Elohim says so they can become a part of His Family? This is the message God has been teaching man from the beginning—all the way back to Samuel and even before, to the very first man and woman.
On the other hand, Hannah said that if you are barren, and you go to God and try to understand this, He will give you seven children! Your joy will multiply.
This world’s women don’t think the way Hannah did!
“The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Samuel 2:6). God kills, and He makes alive—He resurrects! He will do it even to people in His own Church. Many of them will be killed and brought back to life shortly after that. The Laodiceans who are full and have no need for God will soon face death. Because they have hired themselves out for bread, exchanging this God Family vision for the evil of this world, they will have to repent before God will resurrect them to a place in His Family. Otherwise, God will “bring them down to the grave”—forever!
Pillars of the Earth
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:7-8). Hannah is prophesying about the first resurrection, when God will raise up His firstfruits from the dust. He will raise them from the dunghill and make them royalty. He will make them pillars and set the whole world on their shoulders.
These verses picture a time when Samuel, Hannah, Elkanah and many others will be resurrected as pillars at headquarters—pillars for God to set the rule of the world upon. Revelation 3:12 is a companion scripture, showing that God will make the Philadelphians into pillars.
Hannah also talks about them inheriting the “throne of glory”—David’s throne. In Revelation 3:21, Jesus Christ promises His Philadelphian Bride that they will share this throne! In addition to being pillars, we will rule the world. We will be with Christ, ruling with Him, under our Father. That is the God Family vision.
This is what Hannah saw! She saw that she could have a son, and God would make him a firstfruit pillar—and God would resurrect him to set the whole world upon his shoulders. This is no fantasy—it will certainly happen! That is what God will do: raise people right up out of the dunghill—those the world so scorns and hates. They will be pillars. Most of the commentaries say Hannah was just being poetic. No, she was not! God will set the whole world upon those pillars—those Philadelphians who remain loyal in this end time. They will be pillars at headquarters, and God will set the whole world upon them! The very purpose for our calling today is to teach and rule the entire Earth in the near future—and, after that, the universe. That is our incredible human potential as firstfruits today!
That is a lot of responsibility. If God is going to give us this kind of glory, He must try and test us to prepare us.
But notice: “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). We cannot get through this with human ability. God must keep our feet from slipping. So don’t worry about your trials and tests. You are Christ’s Bride! He will not let you slip. He will not let you fall.
The Horn of His Anointed
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (1 Samuel 2:10). This is a prophecy about David.
Remember, Hannah is talking about dedicating her son to God’s plan. Samuel ended up anointing David to sit on that throne and become God’s anointed. She must have understood that prophecy quite well. Recall verse 1. Hannah knew her horn would be exalted. And it was indeed: She gave birth to this prophet.
Make this personal, ladies. Realize that if you follow Hannah’s example, your horn will be exalted! You will be a part of David’s throne, just as Hannah and her son were.
Hannah knew about the prophecy later recorded in Luke 1: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest [the Father]: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (verses 32-33). This is about an eternal family, and it has to do with David’s royal family throne. It is about a family forever—a royal God Family vision.
Again, Samuel actually helped to originate this throne—the very throne which Jesus Christ, the Son of the Highest, will sit on at His return. He will rule with His Bride to expand God’s Family over all this Earth, and He will restore all things.
This is about you! God will exalt your horn in that day. We shall be His kings! He will give strength to His kings and priests! Jesus Christ soon will thunder out of the heavens to usher in His Kingdom to restore all things to the Earth!
Can you imagine having a vision like this after you’ve had a child? Hannah was some wife. She was desperately unhappy for a while; but it was because of that unhappiness that God could teach her this deep spiritual lesson.
Now, think far in advance. Think past the Millennium, past the Great White Throne Judgment—when the rest of humanity will have been resurrected and brought into God’s Family. Then they will be prepared to rule the universe. Human beings will have been glorified into sons of God, a family of God beings! That is what Hannah saw.
She saw that if she had a son, it would be a total waste to rear him without God’s truth and let the devil have him. Hannah realized God gives you a child as a gift, so you can give the child back to Him spiritually! If we don’t dedicate our children to God as Hannah did, we will droop when we see what happens to our family. Of course, the children have a responsibility in that too.
Do we see the spiritual connection? If you have a son, can you look into his eyes and begin to educate him about the resurrection and the God Family vision? Can you really help him see why he is alive? Can you see as Hannah saw?
What wonderful and precious truth this is!
Desiring Spiritual Children
Now, consider this inspiring parallel. It is natural for us to desire physical children. In fact, some women have such a strong maternal desire that they have children even when afflicted by grotesque health problems. Still they have children, because that desire is so strong within them.
What about having spiritual children? We don’t naturally desire spiritual children. That is an unnatural desire. How much time do you spend thinking about all those wonderful children that you’re going to have with Jesus Christ, your Husband? How much do you yearn for sons and daughters in the Family of God? Do you desire with all your passions to have children in the Family of God? We must build that yearning for a spiritual family.
That is so unnatural that it takes the Spirit of God to truly yearn for that; yet that is the purpose Christ’s Bride will fulfill!
If you understand that deeply, you can understand why we are so concerned about the Laodiceans. After that, you can understand why we are so concerned about the world—because they are the potential Family of God! Meditate on it, pray about it, study it, because it is unnatural to deeply yearn for the world to be in God’s Family! We do not spend nearly enough time thinking about it the way Hannah did. God put her through a trial so she could realize this astounding parallel!
The Bride of Christ must build a natural yearning, a natural desire, to have spiritual children! That desire, however, must come from God. Remember, spiritually we are the woman; we must be building this spiritual yearning within us, where we feel we must have spiritual children. The real family is the God Family! That’s the family God wants us to really get passionate about.
The physical family is here only to help us get into the spiritual family.
This God Family vision really stretches your mind. It is unnatural for us, but it is the way Christ, our Husband, thinks! We must think that way too if we are to marry Him! (Philippians 2:5).
Imagine what Christ would say if we married Him and then told Him that we didn’t really want children. Of course, this is hypothetical; we would not even be Christ’s wife if we thought that way. If we don’t want children, then we are in the wrong spiritual family! And we won’t be the Bride of Christ.
Christ is determining now if you want to have a lot of children; and by a lot, He means all of humanity. Multiple billions of people will be given the opportunity to be a part of the God Family before this is over.
That is the lesson that God taught Hannah when He closed her womb. We have our trials and tests so we can be prepared for the Family of God. We must be ready; we must come to think like the wife of Jesus Christ. Hannah was barren, and God would probably have left her that way if she had not passionately desired to dedicate her son to Him.
God is teaching us that we must understand our purpose for being created, or our life is shamefully wasted. That is what this world is now learning by excruciating experience!
When you plan to have a child, do you think about it with God’s perspective? Do you think about it with this vision? There really is not another example quite like Hannah’s in all the Bible. Mary, Sarah and other women of the Bible were no doubt even greater than Hannah in some respects. However, I don’t see any woman like Hannah who had such a transcendent vision of why God gives us physical children.
What an awesome vision she had! She had her child and began prophesying about the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Look at all of God’s feast days—especially Pentecost, Trumpets, Tabernacles, the Last Great Day. What are they about? Sons of God being born into God’s Family!
Some women are bored by and perhaps even hostile toward the notion of being a housewife and mother. Some women want to establish a career in the workforce. But look at the vision in Hannah’s home! Look at what Hannah saw. She didn’t want another career. She knew she had the greatest career God had to offer. Her job was to get her son ready to be born into God’s Family. And she bore a prophet! She really knew how to rear children. She realized what a wonderful career it is. But women even in God’s Church can lose that vision—and what happens to the children then? What an awful sin it is to sacrifice our children to the world and to the devil!
Having a child is about bringing the whole world at one with God—one child at a time! We are supporting Christ in this effort. Why are we bringing them at one with God? So they too can be members of the God Family. That’s the only reason. When we see a little child, can we connect him or her to the God Family vision? Children of converted members in God’s Church, even if not baptized when Jesus Christ returns, I believe will still be a part of that firstfruits group, because they were sanctified before Christ’s return. Our children have such a wonderful future!
If we do our part as parents, generally speaking we will have great young people who yearn to be taught about the God Family vision and what it means to their future. What other vision will cause them to stand up to this evil world? This vision makes it real in their minds. How heartbreaking it is when you see parents who will not dedicate their children to God and will not teach them the God Family vision. In some cases, maybe they need to go through a trial worse than Hannah’s to learn that lesson.
As the adversary, Satan too has a message for young people. He also can teach his way effectively. How quickly he can turn them away if they are not grounded and established in this vision! It is so simple for him.
As parents, we should make it impossible for Satan to do that to our children. Just being parents brings a great responsibility. If you understand God’s plan—the most luminous vision you could ever hear—it puts great responsibility on your shoulders.
Your Children Are God’s Royalty
Psalm 45 discusses converted parents and Jesus Christ’s return. Verse 10 describes Christ’s Bride (the Church), verse 15 addresses the marriage of Christ to His Bride, and then verse 16 focuses on the children of converted parents: “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.”
Converted parents, your children are God’s princes and princesses of the World Tomorrow! Understand what this means. Very few humans will have this privilege. Furthermore, your children won’t remain princes and princesses: If you teach them to submit to God now and resist the ways of the world, your children will not only be the young royalty of the World Tomorrow, they will also grow to become God’s kings, just like you parents.
If your children remain faithful to God, they will be given the same reward as the rest of the firstfruits—being the Bride of Christ forever! Only those human beings who have resisted Satan and the ways of the world in this life will be given that magnificent reward. Those who are called in the Millennium or later will not marry Christ.
God puts your children, including teens, in a special and unique category—first princes or princesses, then kings who are married to Christ for all eternity!
So what will your children be doing as princes and princesses—until the time comes that they can become spirit God beings? The Bible shows that today’s converted and faithful parents—the kings and priests of the World Tomorrow—will be ruling and teaching mankind. They will not be spending much time on physical duties. Their primary role will be to educate mankind. For the most part, their children will attend to the physical details.
All the physical blessings the Bible talks about in the World Tomorrow—abundant prosperity, good health, tame animals—are for your children! Your properly reared children will be able to take advantage of those physical blessings. On the physical level, they will be the leaders in the World Tomorrow.
For practical, everyday examples of how to live, the young people and adults in the World Tomorrow will be looking to your children! The whole world will have just gone through the worst time of suffering ever. They will have also witnessed the magnificent, trumpet-blast return of Jesus Christ. Most will want to live God’s way! But on a practical, day-to-day level, they won’t know how.
Of course, you parents will be teaching them God’s way. But your teens and younger children will be the examples that other humans can look to—at school, in sports, at the markets, in everything. After all, your children will be the only beings in the physical realm with any prior knowledge or training in God’s way of life. They will be the only human beings ever to have lived God’s way of life on both sides of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). And your children will be part of a tiny minority that has a parent who is a God! This is a tremendous level of responsibility God wants to put on the shoulders of your children. At the same time, it is an inspiring and unique opportunity that no one else will ever have!
Can you begin to comprehend the positions God is preparing for your children? Deeply meditate on and be inspired by these facts. It will make all the difference in your diligence in child rearing.
Chapter 2: Fathers: Rule the Family Well
“And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable” (Isaiah 3:4-5). In today’s society, children rule. They exercise a certain dominance. It is “normal” for children to be not a precious blessing but an onerous curse! More and more quickly, children are transforming from delightful babies into negative, criminal, violent and even murderous youths!
“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (verse 12). Notice how God emphasizes this aspect of rule: Men are absent, women rule the families, and children—untaught and undisciplined—oppress their parents and make life miserable for the whole family!
Who defines what makes a family right-side up? The children? The parents? The society? No. The definition of how family should function comes from the Creator of family. He provides clear instructions in the Holy Bible for family structure and functioning.
The only homes that will thrive are homes with right-side-up families that follow the Bible and have God and Jesus Christ at the head!
Is a right-side-up family just a nice thing to have? Is a strong family something you can just take or leave?
Family, a Building Block
“The very foundation of any stable civilization is a solid family structure,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in “Where This Breakdown in Family Life Is Taking Us.” “Today’s civilization, with its foundation disintegrating, is itself on the way out!” (Good News, August 1985).
The foundation of a person’s entire life is greatly influenced by how he was raised (or neglected) in his family (or lack of family). Consider that this person is likely to go on to have a family (or neglect to have a family) of his own. What he does within his own family affects his community and his nation.
Unfortunately, statistics show that family life is breaking down worldwide. Divorce is rampant. Violence and murder within families is becoming common. Millions of children are being neglected.
Any child reared in an upside-down home is going to develop into an upside-down child.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
The building block of the nation is the family. The family is also the building block of God’s Church. And like society, the Church has also suffered from problems within its families.
“In era after era of God’s Church, it is a repeated fact that after a few generations the local congregations are no longer generally composed of truly converted brethren, but of unconverted children and halfhearted believers of whom many go astray into error” (Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968, Lesson 51).
Time after time, a new era of God’s Church started out zealous to serve God and obey His commandments. But after a generation or two passed, the youth who grew up to replace their parents lacked the same zeal. The Church would become spiritually lazy and weak.
The current era of God’s Church has now lasted more than a quarter-century. That is an entire generation!
God’s people must always fight against descending into a lukewarm, indifferent attitude toward God and His way of life. That includes fighting against it happening in the next generation.
For God’s Work to thrive, His people must constantly think about the future—and the future is our children! We must think ahead about the next generation.
Families are the building block of the nation, the building block of God’s Church, and the building block of the Kingdom of God.
Change the World—Starting With Your Family
“God is a Kingdom—that is, the supreme divine Family that rules the universe! The whole gospel, which Jesus Christ brought from God for mankind, is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.
“And the united, closely knit together family of Christians—the Church—will, at the coming of Christ and the time of the resurrection, become the Kingdom of God!
“The Kingdom of God starts with a family relationship—first the physical human families; second, the one compacted together Church; and, finally, when the Church is changed to immortality, the God Family—which is the Kingdom of God!” (Good News, op cit).
God has called His people to change the world. That miraculous transformation begins with the families in His Church!
The Bible defines strong families as having God the Father as the ultimate authority, Jesus Christ under Him, the father under Christ, the mother under the father, and the children under both parents. The father submits to God and Christ, sacrifices, and exercises godly authority over the mother, and both parents exercise godly authority over their submissive, thriving children. This is the only way to have happy families and ensure the survival of the nation!
This means that you have to really work at building a strong family.
It might be easy to think, I have some problems now, but once I am born into God’s Family, I’ll be perfect and I’ll be able to rule and help Christ the way I know I’m capable of. But that is backward! God has specifically given parents the opportunity to exercise God’s Family rule now—before Christ returns. He will not bring us into His Family and give us rule if we don’t learn to rule God’s way now!
Father Must ‘Rule Well’
Jesus Christ calls His people the light of the world. When people see the families in God’s Church, they need to see God’s loving family government in action! And when our children wake up or come home from school, they desperately need to see God’s loving family government in action. In particular, they need to live in a home where the father rules!
Today, a family led by the father is rare. And a family led by a father who himself is in subjection to God is almost nonexistent!
1 Timothy 3:2-5 outline qualifications for a minister. Though these requirements apply to ministers in God’s Church today, they also apply to every man in God’s Church, especially those who lead a family. Every member of this spiritual body is preparing to minister to (or serve) the whole world when Jesus Christ returns!
What are these qualifications of a servant leader? “A bishop [minister] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?).”
Notice what God emphasizes in this list of prerequisites for a leading man in His Church and his role within his family. God could have inspired the Apostle Paul to write, “One that provides for his family, sacrifices for his family, spends time with his family, teaches his family and loves his family well.” But that is not what God emphasized. He emphasized that this man must be ruling his family.
For fathers in God’s Church, the main goal in the home is to rule the family well and to bring our children into subjection!
Compared to the world we live in and our natural inclinations, this is the difficult, uncomfortable, opposing way. But it is the way that builds a strong family, a strong nation, a strong Church and a strong Kingdom of God!
Fathers, you can choose the broad, “easy” way of life, adopting the ways of society and deferring to your own preferences, pleasures and laziness, and deal later with the disappointment, suffering and tragedy this way produces. Or you can follow God’s biblical instruction for strengthening your family.
If you want to take the straight and narrow path that leads to a strong, stable, enjoyable, godly way of life for yourself, your wife, your children and your Church, ask yourself: Is God’s government clearly evident in my marriage? Are my children in subjection to their father’s rule?
“A minister must excel at child rearing,” Gerald Flurry wrote. “We have all started at different points, and some tend to be better at this than others are. But the ministers must be getting this right in their lives, and always improving and growing in this area!” (Royal Vision, July-August 2014).
If you are a father, are you improving and striving for excellence in how you administer your home? This process leads to a strong physical family, which leads to a strong Church family, which leads to the divine Family of God!
We fathers have a serious responsibility to rule our families well. This includes bringing our children into subjection.
Children Need to Be Restrained
In our liberal society, many people believe that any use of restraint is oppressive, evil and wrong. Many parents feel it is their duty to remove as many restraints as possible from their children’s lives. But these “free,” unrestrained children are growing up miserable, and they are making other people’s lives miserable as well.
Children need restraint—the right kind and the right amount of restraint. Think of a car seat. A child may not like to use those restraining belts. He would much rather be free to roam around the cabin of the car, maybe even climb onto your lap and hold the steering wheel with you, maybe even steer it himself. But he needs to be compelled to stay in his seat and to wear safety restraints!
Think about just this one issue: the Internet. It is an ocean of every kind of information—including appalling evils. Does your child need a healthy amount of restraint from images, influences and people who can scar his mind for life? Or should he remain unrestrained, with a smartphone of his own and a laptop in his bedroom behind a closed door?
If evil influences are scarring your child through the Internet, your family is not being ruled well! Most children want a smartphone, want a computer, want unrestrained Internet access. You can attempt to reason with them. You can get on your knees and cajole them. You can even threaten them—and they’ll still want what the Internet offers. They will find a way to get what they want. So how do you protect them from harm? You have to rule! You have to exercise your God-given authority to restrain your children in order to protect them! (You can learn more about this subject on page 203.)
Children who have lacked restraint have suffered and caused others to suffer since the very first child, Cain. The Bible records several detailed instances of parents allowing children to live without restraint. Here is what God recorded about one of David’s children:
“Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? …” (1 Kings 1:5-6). The New King James Version renders that last sentence: “And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, ‘Why have you done so?’”
What does God emphasize in this verse for us to learn from? He focuses on the fact that David did not train, challenge or correct this son! Perhaps he felt guilty because he was so busy or had so many sons that he was not with Adonijah often enough. Maybe when he did spend time with Adonijah, David did not want to restrain him because it might come across as “negative.”
Moffatt translates that sentence as, “His father had never checked him all his life, by asking what he meant by his conduct.” David never said, “No”! He did not challenge his son nor tell him to explain his behavior. Verse 6 mentions that Adonijah was “a very goodly man,” indicating that David saw good traits in his son, making it all the more unpleasant and uncomfortable to restrain him.
But what eventually happened to this unrestrained child? He led an armed rebellion against his father!
If you want a child to learn God’s way of life and not depart from it, do not neglect him, coddle him, or avoid proper restraint of him. Train him up in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6).
God used Herbert W. Armstrong to restore all basic truths to His Church in this modern era. Mr. Armstrong came to learn what the Bible teaches about raising children, and he learned it through hard experience. He used to tell stories about his two daughters who were very good and very loyal to their father and to the Work. But they did not endure in the Church. Mr. Armstrong later admitted that one of the reasons was that he did not test his daughters enough.
Our children need to be restrained. They aren’t born knowing right and wrong. They aren’t immune from evil influences. To protect and instruct them, God gave them parents! If you do not restrain your children from evil, your children will turn out with the same spirit that many of David’s sons did.
But God’s people do not just try to avoid raising delinquents or rebels. They work to raise kings who can rule under God’s government! They work to raise individuals who can help God change the world! If you are one of these parents, you have a heavy and pressing responsibility!
God also recorded what happened with the sons of another leader in Israel, Eli the high priest. His sons Hophni and Phinehas were “sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12). The Hebrew words convey the meaning that these grown sons were worthless.
Had Eli restrained these sons who grew up to become worthless? As they were beginning to commit worse and worse acts, did he correct them? Did he challenge them to repent?
These two sons used their offices as priests to rob people who were trying to worship God! (verses 13-16). They were stealing from God’s altar! They did not fear God at all. Yet Eli was content to consider them “ministers in good standing,” you could say.
Eli’s unrestrained young children became unrestrained young men who became unrestrained priests who abused their power to satisfy their own selfishness at the expense of God and His people.
Isaiah 3 prophesies that our generation will live under children who actually become our oppressors, with youths terrorizing their own families, schools and churches because they have not been restrained from following their own desires.
1 Samuel 2:17 records that the sins of Hophni and Phinehas were “very great before the Lord” and that people abhorred bringing their offerings to God! Verse 22 tells us that these two men committed fornication or adultery right around, possibly even inside, God’s tabernacle!
The unrestrained sinfulness of these sons was turning people away from God!
Now notice Eli’s response. This is the man who had the authority of a father, the authority of a senior priest, and the authority of God over the entire nation.
“And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress” (verses 23-24). The Revised Standard Version renders verse 25, “If a man sins against a man, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him? But they would not listen to the voice of their father ….”
Eli broached the subject of his sons’ wickedness in general terms—and that was it!
This father didn’t have the courage to stand up to his sons—not when they were growing up, and not even when they were disdaining their father, neglecting their duties, abusing their power, robbing their brethren, sexually abusing women, and corrupting the worship of God that they and their father were supposed to be upholding! This is where lack of restraint can lead.
And where does lack of restraint end? “[I]t was the will of the Lord to slay them” (verse 25; rsv). As these and many other biblical examples show, if we fail to restrain our children, we will face disaster!
In verses 27-29, God sent a nameless prophet to confront Eli, Why do you honor your sons above me?
“Eli could not keep the God Family structure in his own family, despite the authority God gave him. So God vowed to slay his sons. Still, that didn’t bring Eli to repentance,” Gerald Flurry writes in The God Family Vision.
Godly fathers are required to administer the government of God! We need to realize how much is on the line. If we do not restrain our children the way God commands, we are guilty of committing the very same sin!
Prepare Children to Honor Their Heavenly Father
The first four of the Ten Commandments sum up our overall approach to life: putting God first in everything, upholding and esteeming His position and office above all else, reverencing Him and everything He stands for. These are commands to honor, fear and love God our Father. The Fifth Commandment bridges the necessity of honoring God to the human level.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).
Here in the Fifth Commandment, God commands children to reverence, or to promote, their parents, akin to the deferential respect one gives a dignitary. This commandment flows right out of the spirit of the first four commandments.
The First Commandment requires mankind to give honor to God’s high office of authority as Creator. The Fifth Commandment requires all men to honor the highest human office—that of parents. This commandment then forms the bridge between the two great sections of God’s law. We will never attain true spiritual and physical success without giving honor and obedience to God. Do we see that the same is true of our human parents?
Regarding children, Mr. Flurry wrote, “[T]he main thing you want to be able to teach them is to honor the father. The father is the head. That is God’s way—and it always will be as long as there are families!” (Royal Vision, July-August 2014).
The very first form of government with which the child comes in contact is the government within the home. If there is no authority, no government in the home—how can the parents expect their children to respect the authorities and governments in the society? …
To a tiny, squirming infant—his parents are “god.” That is, they are the supreme authority in his life. They constitute his life-giver, his provider, protector, his law and his ruler. If the little child cannot have an orderly existence, and cannot be kept within certain bounds which he is made to understand, he becomes confused, frustrated.
The parent who truly loves his own children will want to discipline them in the right manner, at the right time, when they are doing things which will cause much greater hurt.
To a tiny, newborn infant, his parents reign supreme. He knows of no other authority, no other law, no other governing influence, no other protector, provider—and he knows of no other love. Recognizing this fact, parents should again realize that the time to begin training their children is early in life.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
God is the supreme authority in our lives, in the same way we parents possess awesome authority over and above our children.
The Father’s Correction
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him” (Hebrews 12:5).
Paul quotes from Proverbs 3:11-12 and notes how easy it is to forget the divine purpose for correction. Everyone needs chastisement and correction. These are great blessings. God looks down and actually steers us toward those things that are for our own good and benefit. How joyful! But human nature resents correction, whether it comes from God the Father or a human father.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).
Almighty God punishes His children because He loves them! True Christians today receive God’s merciful chastisement, His just punishments, His loving admonitions, His corrections, His rebukes and His comfort and encouragement.
God gives us His Word to correct us, to chastise us, to rebuke and to reprove us. That is the nature of our Father. And He has assigned us to be fathers like Him. Fathers must learn how to mete out just, merciful and loving punishment. Mothers must learn this as well.
One of the very characteristics of a loving God is His nature of meting out just, merciful and loving punishment when it is needed! Of course, God also comforts and encourages in time of need (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 7:6-7).
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Honor Your Father and Mother
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right,” (Ephesians 6:1). According to Thayer’s Lexicon, obey means “to hearken unto a command, to be obedient to, to submit to.”
Children first learn obedience and come under authority by obeying their parents. God’s commands to children regarding their parents are clear. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
Because of his total lack of experience and judgment, it is absolutely necessary that a child be taught to obey his parents instantly and without question. Explanations and reasons may and should be given to the child from time to time. But at the moment a parent gives a command, there may not be time or opportunity to explain why!
Therefore a child must be taught the habit of unquestioning obedience to his parents. For, until the child matures, his parents stand to him in the place of God. And God holds them responsible for teaching and directing the child properly.
When a child disobeys, the Bible teaches that he should be corrected—not in frustration, not in revenge, but in love. Verbal or corporal abuse of a child is not correction, chastisement or discipline. Fathers are accountable not only for avoiding wrong “discipline,” but for implementing right discipline.
“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverbs 19:18). “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
Notice that God commands children to obey their parents “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1). This means parents must be living up to God’s high standards.
“Honour thy father and mother” is the “first commandment with promise” (verse 2). The word honor means to revere or venerate. It is in the top 10 of all basic spiritual principles governing all human conduct—one whole command is dedicated to children obeying their parents!
[O]ne of the greatest lessons any of us can learn is a deep inner sense of respect for authority. … Children should be taught to look up to the office and authority of their parents. The child who truly loves his parents will be able to experience an even fuller love if he is also taught a deep inner sense of respect toward his parents. This may be evidenced in the manner in which the child answers the parents.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
A child must obey God’s commandment, and his father can make it easier to do so by living honorably. He should also make it easier for his child to honor him by reminding and compelling him to obey God’s command—not for his own comfort or vanity, but in order to obey God. Even fathers using their manly voices to give clear instructions helps reinforce this. Living God’s way, in public and in private, makes it easier for your children to love, respect and honor you—and to keep the Fifth Commandment.
A mother plays a crucial role in upholding the honor of family offices. She must live honorably, making it easier for her children to honor her. Her honor for the father is crucial. When a child sees his mother, a great authority in his life, honoring his father as an even greater authority, the office of the father takes on a more important, more honorable role in the child’s life (see sidebar, “Many Hours a Day,” page 46).
God divides His supreme law of love into two overall commands: love toward God and love toward fellowman. The first four commandments instruct us on loving God. Then God begins the last six commandments with this: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).
When Paul mentions “the first commandment with promise,” he is referring to this promise. He continues in Ephesians 6:3 by saying, “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Here is a definite promise! Obedience to the Fifth Commandment automatically results in building habits and character that will lead to a long, productive life. Ultimately, if that obedience and honor later extends to our spiritual Father, God promises that we will live long on the Earth!
The relationship of children to their parents is an exact type of the spiritual relationship between converted Christians and God the Father. The lessons of honor, deep respect and obedience learned in the parent-child relationship stay with a child for life—even into eternity! In the eyes of a small child, a parent stands in the place of God. A parent is the child’s provider, protector, love-giver, teacher and law-enforcer.
Teach Your Child to Obey
Here is an eye-opening statement Gerald Flurry wrote to ministers in the August 26, 2004, Pastor General’s Report: “Many ministers still tell me they feel that perhaps the biggest problem we have is parents who are afraid to tell children what to do. Rather than telling them and getting results, they’ll try to coax them into doing what they’re told. When the children disobey, they get coaxed into obeying, rather than getting spanked!
“Of course, we should never be brutal. We must love our children most of all, and teach them secondarily, but when they won’t obey, spank!
“It has to be done God’s way. But I think sometimes our brethren can just spank in rituals and not really know what kind of effect it’s having in getting to the minds of those little children made in the likeness of God” (emphasis added throughout).
Spanking the right way means spanking a child out of loving discipline and loving chastisement, not out of anger or frustration! It means spanking for long-term results in character, not short-term relief in forcing a child to stop doing something you find annoying. It means spanking for disobedience and rebellion, not for making childhood mistakes without knowing any better. It means remaining calm, being firm, informing the child of the disobedience or rebellion that necessitated the spanking and giving him or her an appropriate number of swats on the behind where it will not injure but will sting enough to instantly attract the child’s full attention! This type of corporal punishment gets a child’s attention, demonstrates that sinful actions result in immediate and painful consequences, and saves the child, if he responds correctly, from much worse, self-destructive consequences.
Mr. Flurry has said that the greatest weakness of parents in God’s Church is being too permissive. This means that parents need to make sure the boundaries are clearly drawn and firmly enforced.
Remember, your child’s first exposure to authority and government is right inside your home! That is a weighty responsibility for us as parents.
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
[A] constant attitude of negativism—of only saying “No!” and never saying “Yes!”—of only showing a child what he should not do, and never showing him what he can and should do—punishing only in a negative way, will, in the long run, “provoke your children to wrath.”
God always punishes His children in love—never in anger and wrath.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The command in this passage is for children and parents. Parents have a God-given responsibility to bring the children up right. We advocate 100 percent love, made up in the ratio of 5 percent disciplining in love, 10 percent teaching in love, and 85 percent loving!
The Whole Man
Compulsion can accomplish some things, especially when you are raising young children, but you cannot compel a child to ultimately love God and be born into His Family. God does not compel us; He lets us choose. Your training, teaching and love must aim to teach the child to ultimately obey God, not from compulsion but from willing, loving submission!
God will not have a disobedient child in His Family! By the end of our physical lives, we must have learned to willingly choose to submit to and obey God! The first and great commandment is that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and might—willingly! And we must teach our children to do the same.
Mr. Flurry wrote, “Why must you have your children in subjection with all gravity? Is it just to have them under control so they don’t get on your nerves? No. You bring them in subjection with all gravity so you can teach them how to honor God! You can’t teach a child who isn’t in subjection; he won’t listen because he hasn’t been taught to listen! Go to any school, and you’ll see that fact demonstrated clearly.
“But if a little boy and a little girl are in subjection with all gravity, you can teach them so much. You can teach them the fundamental lessons: Why marriage? Why family? Why sex? Does that have anything to do with being born into the Family of God? You’d better believe it does—it was created for that purpose! But unless you have your children in subjection with all gravity, you can’t teach them these things.
“And the main thing you want to be able to teach them is to honor the father. The father is the head. That is God’s way—and it always will be as long as there are families!” (Royal Vision, July-August 2014).
How much faster and how much better young people will develop, and how much more right knowledge they will acquire, if they begin with this right attitude! A young child has almost infinite faith in his parents. They are his main source of protection, sustenance, authority, happiness. He unquestioningly believes his parents’ instruction and teaching, from learning his first word and even before that.
God always intended this to be the case because He wants us to use that awesome position of responsibility to teach our children God’s way! And He wants us to develop that same infinite faith in our spiritual Father.
Satan is destroying that beautiful type of God the Father by ripping apart physical families, by twisting the roles of parents, by forcing both parents to work, by putting young children in day-care centers, through public schools constantly expanding their size and scope, by taking the child away from the parents in whatever way possible—anything he can do to make parents forget that they are the prime educators for their developing children!
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Fear comes first! Then comes learning and doing God’s commandments. That’s true education.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” (Psalm 111:10).
“Parents: How will you prepare your children for God’s Work? You have a major responsibility to get them ready for that: to teach those little children why family, why marriage, why children—to declare the Father to them” (The God Family Vision).
What does having children have to do with the Kingdom of God? It leads directly to the Family of God—which is the Kingdom of God!
Again, from the Royal Vision (July-August 2014): “A little child in a family is the first step toward the Kingdom of God. You recognize how precious that is! You begin to take on God’s perspective, and it reconfigures your entire view of all these family matters!”
Many Hours a Day
Prior to school, a child spends many hundreds of hours under the direct supervision of his mother. In infancy much of his time is spent in his mother’s arms. She coos, talks to, and cuddles him.
As the child grows older, he is with his mother every day while his father is at work. His mother has a tremendous influence on him. She teaches him proper habits, cleanliness, discipline. More than anyone else at that tender age, her supervision over him is of utmost importance. She sets the stage for future habits in his life.
Properly carried out, her discipline can help prepare her child for years to come. Wrong rearing makes it twice as hard for the child later on.
Children will either love and respect their mother and her authority or will come to relegate it to insignificance—or worse yet, despise it.
In later life, a daughter must have the proper example of her mother to follow. A teenage girl must learn how she is to fulfill her place in life in just a few years. “Mother” has to teach her all the basic things she will need to know.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Chapter 3: Shape Your Child’s Human Spirit
Just over 3,000 years ago, King David asked God: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4). David wondered why the great God focused His attention on mankind. The first three verses of this psalm show that David spent considerable time studying and meditating about God. In his youth, he had ample time to do so while outdoors during his days and nights tending sheep. David came to know God as the all-powerful, highly intelligent Creator with big and noble intentions (verse 1). He believed the creation of the Earth, with all the beautiful and living things in it, proved God’s existence and His supreme majesty.
When David looked into the night sky and saw the moon and the stars—all the work of God’s fingers—he wanted to better understand God’s purpose for creating man. Read the second half of verse 4. We see that David also inquired about the purpose for children. The word son in the expression “son of man” is translated from the Hebrew word ben, which can mean son, children or young children. David saw clearly that God also paid attention to children. He wanted to know why.
David’s wise son Solomon wrote in a book years later: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). So David, who surely taught Solomon this profound truth, came to some measure of understanding of God’s purpose for mankind, including children. God’s purpose for mankind demands that children be taught how to achieve that purpose. That training should begin very early in childhood so when a child enters adulthood he does not turn away from his God-ordained purpose.
What Is a Child?
What is a child? We can answer this question in two ways. The Plain Truth About Child Rearing provides the physical answer:
First, he is a human being! He is a miniature copy of yourselves. He probably has, though it is sometimes [indiscernible] at such an early stage, your own looks, your very own nature, your voice and some of your talents. However, he is also an individual with a mind definitely all his own.
Jesus Christ taught the deep spiritual answer to this question.
One day while Christ was speaking to a crowd about marriage and divorce, some parents brought their children to Him so He could bless them. The disciples sternly rebuked the parents, thinking that Christ couldn’t be bothered with children. Seeing the disciples’ actions, Christ became angry and said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:14-15; English Standard Version). Christ taught the disciples a vital lesson about children and their part in His gospel message. He left no doubt that little children are also the building blocks of the divine Family of God.
Your children are potentially God’s own sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). Christ said the Kingdom belongs to them! Then He took the little children into His arms and blessed them. By doing this, Jesus demonstrated to the disciples that they should do everything possible to help children achieve their potential.
When you look into the face of your child, you see a replica of yourself and your spouse. Do you realize that you are also looking into the face of a potential God being? Get this fact clearly in your mind: When you properly train your child, you are helping God reproduce Himself. God needs a huge family to complete His plans for the universe. Your child has a part in this plan. That is the reason God inspired Solomon to write Proverbs 22:6. God has given you as a parent a major responsibility in the creation of something so stupendous it boggles the mind! Godly parenting requires a huge commitment. It is your duty to educate your child in both material and spiritual matters.
Who Can Help You?
All parents—new and not so new—need instruction on how to train children for God. But where should you go for help? Many today assume that psychologists know much about the proper training of children. Is that true? Can a psychologist help you?
“The psychologists who reject the revealed Word of God cannot rightly teach you how to rear children. They do not know what the human mind is. Unless they have the Holy Spirit—and I know of no such psychologists—they are incompetent to teach authoritatively on child rearing,” answered Mr. Armstrong in an October 1984 Plain Truth article, “What Psychologists Don’t Know About Child Rearing.” Mr. Armstrong recognized that psychologists, educators and even religious leaders could not give advice on child rearing. Why? They lack the spiritual understanding of how God created the human mind, and because they do not have God’s Holy Spirit.
Knowing how God made the human mind and seeking instruction from men (and women) who have God’s Holy Spirit are two fundamental ingredients for successful child rearing. However, these two ingredients alone are not enough. Child rearing is hard work—it takes real physical and spiritual effort. Parents are required to sacrifice personal time, expend their energies—sometimes to the point of exhaustion—think rationally and creatively daily, and gain iron-fist control over their emotions in order to handle the job. Child rearing cannot be learned in one day. It takes a lot of day-in-day-out experience to become proficient at child rearing. God-directed child rearing does not have shortcuts!
Children Are Not Animals
After quoting Proverbs 22:6, Mr. Armstrong commented, “[M]any have believed they followed that advice, only to discover when the child became an adult that he (or she) had departed from it completely. They think that Solomon meant training as one would a dog, by teaching a child to do certain things, enforced by a system of rewards for performance and punishment for disobedience” (ibid).
Even parents with the best intentions can get off track in child rearing. Mr. Armstrong saw parents make the critical mistake of assuming that proper child rearing was similar to training an animal how to do tricks. He worked diligently to correct this wrong notion. Teaching mindless obedience is not proper child rearing. Truly effective child rearing is teaching your child’s mind. To do this you must know what the Bible reveals about the human mind. It is vastly different from the brains of animals.
“But what almost no one understands is the difference between a dog’s brain and a child’s mind,” continued Mr. Armstrong. How did he know that the human mind is different from animal brain? He believed and taught what the Bible reveals about the creation of man!
The first chapter of the Bible explains that God made man in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God made cattle after the cattle kind, creeping things after the creeping kind, fish after the fish kind, birds after the bird kind. But God made man after the God kind. God is using matter to reproduce Himself. Astounding!
Man is not an animal. Of course, that statement goes counter to all that is taught in today’s schools, colleges and universities. Thoroughly deceived by the theory of evolution, most of the world’s educated believe that man came from apes. What an insult to God! How demeaning to man! Humanity is a unique creation on the Earth. We are made after the God kind. This is the truth. Evolution is the fiction.
The Spirit in Man
How did God form man? Science and religion do not know. Science believes man is the highest species of animals. Most religious people believe that man is an immortal soul trapped in a physical body. Satan the devil, through our mother Eve, foisted this false teaching onto mankind. Contradicting what God revealed, Satan lied to Eve, telling her that she would not actually die (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:4-5). What is the truth?
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Man does not have an immortal soul—he is a living soul!
The life of man is in the blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11). We replenish our life daily from food, water and the air we breathe. If we do not attain the purpose God has set before us, we will simply die and become as if we had never been. Our flesh will return to the dust from which we were created (Genesis 3:19).
However, God put a spirit in each human. The Bible states, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8).
Mr. Armstrong explained, “There is a spirit in every human being. This spirit is not part of the person—it is something in each human, just as (for illustration) a human might swallow a marble. The marble is something in the person, yet not part of that person. This spirit in man is something that is in him (or her) … throughout this life” (“Your Children—Future Gods?” Good News, September 1979). Mr. Armstrong knew that only a very few understood this important truth. Remember, modern psychologists know nothing about it!
The human spirit is the invisible ingredient that separates man from animals. It is an incredible creation of God. To be truly effective in child rearing, you need to know about the human spirit and how it operates. Mr. Armstrong made it clear for us.
“This human spirit enables the human person to think—to reason—to calculate—to make decisions. An elephant’s brain is larger than a human brain, and designed precisely like it—just as good qualitatively—yet the elephant brain cannot think, reason, calculate, make decisions and choices. Like a dog, an elephant can be trained to do certain tricks, such as people enjoy seeing in a circus.
“Animals are equipped with instinct. A house dog automatically by instinct barks if one approaches the house. The dog does not think, weigh the matter, decide, ‘Shall I bark or shall I keep silent?’ But I suppose that by repeated training a dog could be taught not to bark,” he explained (Good News, October-November 1981). Unlike baby animals, children do not have instinct preprogrammed into their brains. However, children do have the capacity to think and reason. Children make choices. Parents must recognize that children have and use the power of intellect—animals do not. (For a thorough explanation about the spirit in man, read The Incredible Human Potential, Chapter 7, “Bridging the Gap Between Human Man and the Ultimate Spirit-Composed Sons of God.” All of our literature is free.)
Parents Are Teachers
Many young parents panic when they find themselves home alone with a newborn infant. Babies can’t talk to tell their parents what’s wrong nor what they need or want. Yet children are very successful at getting parental attention at 3 a.m. If not careful, parents can assume the role of servant to the child. Certainly parents should serve their children. But the role of parents is much bigger than that of caretaker.
“You know, too often parents think, when they have a new child (a baby is born) they don’t try to teach the child. They just take care of it,” Mr. Armstrong said in a sermon. “They act as a servant of the child, but they certainly aren’t a teacher. If the child does what they think is wrong, they may spat them a little bit (or spank as it grows older), but they don’t teach. It took me some time as a father to learn that I should teach first and only punish when they had done what they knew was wrong” (Nov. 7, 1981).
The human spirit enables a child to acquire knowledge. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). A child can learn things no dog can come to know. Animals live by instinct. A child must be taught how to live. When God created the human family, He intended that parents be the child’s first teachers.
What must parents teach children? Adam and Eve were brought to life instantly as grown adults. But they needed knowledge. God was their Educator. He immediately began to teach them the knowledge they needed to lead successful lives. Do you realize that you are your child’s educator just as God was Adam and Eve’s? Be prepared to educate your child from the moment he or she is born.
Don’t wait for a schoolteacher to educate your child. You should view all schoolteachers as your assistants, not as your child’s primary educators. This can seem to be an overwhelming task for some. But teaching is simpler than you think. Look to God as your example.
What did God teach Adam and Eve? “Adam was made to need knowledge that no animal can know. He was made to need three kinds of knowledge: 1) knowledge for contact and relationship with God, 2) knowledge to have relationship with other people, and 3) knowledge to deal with things—matter,” explained Mr. Armstrong (Good News, October-November 1981). This is meat-and-potatoes teaching and gives the perfect overview, or pattern, for proper child rearing of infants, toddlers, adolescents and young adults.
At every milestone of your child’s growth, be ready to first teach him about God and His ways, then how to get along with others, and then how to deal with things. Keep in mind your child’s age, mental maturity and physical development. For example, it will be a highly frustrating experience for you to attempt to toilet train your child at three months, or to have your 1-year-old memorize the Ten Commandments. Proper child rearing is designed to take time (two decades minimum) and patience.
Pushing a child beyond his natural physical and mental development stage can destroy a child’s confidence, which often causes severe mental and emotional problems.
Not surprisingly, the thrust of this world’s child rearing focuses on how to deal with things—being a success in this life—landing a great career that will produce wealth so one can acquire a lot of things. Our modern educational system has become completely materialistic; it deals primarily with the acquisition of material things. The two most important aspects of child rearing—loving God (expressed through obedience to God) and loving others—are totally neglected.
Modern education has built a world without a need for God. Educators teach youths how to earn a living (usually through getting the best of others) but fail to teach them how to live. What are the results?
Mr. Armstrong explained, “Adam was created with a human spirit by which of himself he could acquire knowledge to deal with things. Man has acquired by himself knowledge to build houses, make and operate automobiles, airplanes, computers. Yet in 6,000 years man has never learned how to get along with fellow man. Husband and wife clash and divorce. Parents can’t understand and properly train children. Children too often resent parents. Family can’t live happily with next-door neighbor. Management and labor clash; races of people clash; nations war against one another.
“And man has not learned—and doesn’t seem to want to know—how to have a close association with his Maker” (ibid). Our society stands on the brink of disaster. The Bible clearly shows that we are very close to the time of the Great Tribulation. Yet God promises to spare individuals and families who look to Him and live His way of life, which is, simply put, outflowing love to God and neighbor.
Prepare Your Child for Conversion
The overarching goal of child rearing for all converted parents is to prepare your children to become converted. This is no small task, considering the world around us. “We live in a time unlike any other in history. World events are moving rapidly toward the end of this age. There is an unseen reason why troubles are intensifying as never before. You cannot understand events without recognizing this truth,” writes Mr. Flurry in America Under Attack.
“An event occurred in 1986 that marked a major turning point in history. It has radically altered everything that has happened since: culture, family, education, religion, science, finance, politics, international relations—everything we do,” he continues. “Yet what is most remarkable is, almost no one even knows it happened. … It is an assault by an invisible force—a force that is very real and deadly dangerous.” This is referring to the fact that Satan was cast down to Earth in 1986, and he is more enraged than ever before (Revelation 12:9-12). This evil being knows that his rule is almost over. So he is on a rampage to destroy nations. His method of destruction involves influencing the minds of adults and children. Parents who sincerely desire to rear their children properly must recognize they have to battle Satan to successfully do the job.
Satan does everything he can to prevent proper child rearing. He knows he can wreak havoc in the world and the Church when children are permitted to grow up disobedient, selfish and undisciplined. Satan is a violent being that lives a life filled with rebellion. In America Under Attack, Mr. Flurry calls this fallen angel “the architect of lawlessness.” This is the only way to explain the lawlessness, rebellion and violence consuming our world.
Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to know God, but they rejected it. They wanted to build a life for themselves apart from God. They wanted life on their own terms! They fell under Satan’s negative influence—were willingly kidnapped by him. What was the result? You can read about it in your newspapers and see it on your nightly news. This world’s suffering is the fruit of their fatal decision! None of this was inevitable. All of our terrible world conditions are the result of human sinful thinking and actions led by Satan the devil.
Your Child Has Access to God
It is every parent’s responsibility to help their children get to know God and resist satanic influence.
“The Creator freely offered His Spirit, which also begets eternal life, to Adam. The Holy Spirit would have imparted to him knowledge for contact and relationship with God—how to get along with his fellow man—how to treat his mate and rear his children. But Adam rejected the Spirit of God (tree of life) and took to himself the knowledge of good and evil. He decided to acquire and produce by himself his own knowledge. But God had not created in him the tools (His Holy Spirit) by which he could decide the right knowledge. Without the addition of God’s Spirit, man with his own mind could only produce selfish, self-centered knowledge. Adam’s mind, as a result, was only half complete. He was not mentally ‘all there’!” wrote Mr. Armstrong (Plain Truth, October 1984).
Adam needed another spirit—God’s Holy Spirit—to make him mentally complete. Without God’s Spirit combined with his human spirit, Adam could not acquire the spiritual knowledge and understanding necessary to have a loving (i.e., lawful) relationship with God and with his fellow human beings. Adam’s choice led to disastrous results for him, Eve and their progeny.
“God’s Spirit in man reveals spiritual knowledge—the spiritual law of God—the way of life to cause peace, happiness, every good result,” explained Mr. Armstrong. “There are, broadly speaking, the two ways of living—exemplified by the two trees in Eden. The one, outflowing love (which is the spiritual law of God). I term this for brevity and simplicity, the way of ‘give.’ The other, the way of ‘get.’ They are the two divergent ways of life, leading in opposite directions, producing opposite effects!” (Why Humanity Cannot Solve Its Evils).
Because Adam rejected God, God cut off Adam and his descendants from Him and His Holy Spirit until after Christ’s Second Coming (Genesis 3:22-24). As a result, nearly all humanity is living the get way. But God reserved the right to call a tiny few humans (known as firstfruits) to receive His Holy Spirit in order to qualify to rule with Jesus Christ in God’s Kingdom. God’s New Testament Church, which forms the lion’s share of all firstfruits, is being trained in living the give way, the way of God’s law—the Ten Commandments.
God expects the children of Church members to be included in that training. Even here parents must be the child’s first teachers. “But when a young man and a young woman—perhaps in their early 20s in age—fall in love—if they are both converted, and they marry, their children come under a special category not fully realized in God’s Church before!” Mr. Armstrong taught in “Your Children—Future Gods?” (Good News, September 1979). Mr. Armstrong was referring to the new revelation given to God’s Church concerning 1 Corinthians 7:14 and the sanctification of children attending God’s Church.
Referring to children with converted parents or guardians, Mr. Armstrong stated, “They are ‘consecrated,’ but that does not mean ‘saved.’ Yet it means they are in a special category where they may be converted when sufficiently mature” (ibid). This is an absolutely wonderful truth.
The children of converted Church parents are not cut off from God. They can be taught about the truths of the Bible. As children positively respond to Bible-based teaching, God will open their understanding to His truth and work closely with them. Their chances of being converted when they are older are greatly multiplied!
This fact significantly increases your responsibility as a parent to properly train your child. However, you can shoulder the weight of responsibility knowing that God partners with you in all of your effort. How encouraging!
Shape the Human Spirit
“Now see where this leads us,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “You train a growing child as you would train a dog or an elephant to do certain things a certain way. In some cases, because it has become habit, he may not change it.
“But [your child] has a mind that can think, reason, decide what to do, and direct his actions differently from parental teaching—especially if an attitude of resistance, hostility, resentment of authority, or prejudice—or if conformity to custom of his peers—causes a change of mind. In later life because of disagreement he may entirely depart from childhood training. …
“Train a child to think and decide according to the spirit and attitude of God’s law—love toward others, consideration for the good and welfare of others—and teach him that Satan’s way of selfishness and jealousy, envy, antagonism toward others, is wrong. Teach a child to honor his parents” (Plain Truth, October 1984).
This is challenging, but it can be done. It takes dedicated, converted parents to practice this kind of child rearing.
However, you cannot do the job alone. Understand that there will be times you will need counsel about child rearing. Take comfort—God’s ministers are willing and able to help you when you hit a challenging spot along the way. Don’t hesitate to seek counsel.
Rear Your Child, or Satan Will
Mr. Armstrong warned members not to neglect teaching and training their children. Too many take for granted the ability of an infant to absorb knowledge, reason and make decisions. But Satan does not. Your children are some of the devil’s biggest targets. He fully understands the human spirit. He knows the incredible abilities of a child’s mind. He consistently, invisibly and stealthily acts upon the minds of children. How?
Mr. Armstrong taught, “How did God cause Cyrus to do what God wanted? God did not speak to him direct. He did not speak to him as to prophets, by a dream or vision. But God ‘stirred up the spirit of Cyrus’ (Ezra 1:1). God is a spirit. God therefore was able to stir up the spirit that was in Cyrus …” (Good News, September 1979). This fact is fundamental to understanding how the human spirit operates. Spiritual forces influence it. If parents are not vigilant, evil spiritual forces can take control of a child’s human spirit.
Satan is a spirit with great power to influence human beings. He broadcasts his negative spirit of disobedience and rebellion. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Paul refers to Satan as the prince of the power of the air. This means that he surcharges the atmosphere with his broadcasts like a radio station broadcasts by radio waves. Every human is tuned in to Satan’s wavelength. But when does Satan begin to broadcast to your child?
You must understand this. Mr. Armstrong stated clearly, “Satan does not wait until humans are mature. As soon as a human baby begins to use the reasoning process—in the very first year—Satan pumps into the child through the human spirit, attitudes of selfishness, competition, strife—the desire to get, to have, to possess. By the time the average child is 15 or 16, in many cases Satan has gotten in his work. That is why such a large percentage of all crimes are committed by teenagers!” (ibid).
While this is reality, there is hope. You as a parent can short-circuit Satan’s efforts. But it is going to take diligent spiritual effort. Here is how.
Since your child has the ability to think, reason and decide what to do, and since your child also has the capacity to direct his or her actions different from parental teaching—especially with the help of Satan—you must arm yourself to do battle with Satan. Prepare your mind to face this battle daily! Pray for God’s strength and wisdom, and He will supply your need. Although you cannot see Satan, you can learn to discern his presence. How?
“In earliest childhood, Satan—the invisible spirit ruler of this world—begins to work on the child’s mind,” warned Mr. Armstrong. “He broadcasts not in words, sounds or pictures, but in attitudes of selfishness, hostility, disagreement, resentment and self-will” (Plain Truth, October 1984). When a young child expresses these attitudes, there is a mental process at work in his mind. Satan is influencing that process along with the child’s emotions. Most parents neglect teaching their children’s minds, so it is easy to overlook what’s happening. No teacher at school can teach your child to resist Satan’s broadcasts of selfishness, hostility, disagreement, resentment and self-will. It is your job!
“But Satan does not neglect your child’s mind! Satan begins broadcasting into it, when only a few months old, attitudes of selfishness and self-centeredness” (ibid). When you see these attitudes in your children, know that Satan or one of his demon cohorts is present.
Satan will strive to influence your child to resist, resent and be hostile against your authority. Satan will also influence peers to influence your child to conform to customs contrary to parental teaching.
Psychologists do not understand or accept this teaching. They cannot help you rear your child. But remember, God’s true ministry can!
Child rearing is a balanced combination of teaching and reinforcing physical habits as well as spiritual values. Both involve teaching your child’s mind.
Teach your children proper routine habits to be done upon command, such as picking up toys, eating properly, coming to you when called. But more importantly, teach your children to think for themselves. To truly help your children, you must teach them how to think God’s way.
Shaping the human spirit is training up a child in the way that he should go.
What Is Your Child’s Attitude Really Like?
By Gerald Flurry and Wayne Turgeon
What is your child’s attitude like? Is he generally a happy and joyful child? Or is he moody and unhappy? Does he honor Dad and Mom?
God is building family government through the physical family as a type of what He is ultimately building spiritually. We as parents have the sobering responsibility of rearing our children to love God’s way and to prepare them for their awesome future as part of God’s Family. A child is a wonderful blessing from God (Psalm 128:3).
We must shape the human spirit in our children so God can work with them as adults. As parents, we have our work cut out for us because of the carnal nature in man (Romans 8:7).
Let’s examine three basic ways to properly develop a child’s attitude.
Love them first as 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” The Father loves us first. It follows that we as parents have to love our children first. You cannot force your child to love you. It is done by loving him first.
As fathers and mothers, do we lead the family by developing a strong bond with our children? There has to be a loving bond between the child and his parents in order to have a successful family relationship.
1 Peter 3 says a wife can win her unconverted husband just by her conduct. And so it is with a child. Your child’s heart can only begin to turn toward you if you love him or her first. The attitude we develop in our child, whether good or bad, will come back to us in the future.
The Bible prophesied of an end-time Elijah whose job was to turn the hearts of fathers and children toward one another: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6). That is a beautiful goal for our families.
If all you do as a parent is discipline your child without love, then you will raise a hostile child who, when grown, will not be turned to Dad and Mom. If the father leads the family in love, then the children are more likely to return that love.
Our children truly belong to God (Psalm 127:3). God has given most of us the privilege of having children. He expects us to raise them so they will turn to Him spiritually when they are grown. To do this, we must make it easy for our children to love us. It all gets back to a loving family relationship, just like the love God the Father and Jesus Christ have for us. This does not mean being permissive. Real love is always based on God’s law. That means government.
In loving our children the same way we are loved, we teach them to look forward to the wonderful World Tomorrow and the marvelous opportunities in store for them (Psalm 45:16). Are we teaching our children about God’s incredible plan for them?
The second way to properly develop a child’s attitude is by teaching through example and instruction.
For instance, when we as adults have a problem, we should go to God and ask for help, seek the answer, and then take action, fervently putting the answer into practice. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Your children receive an excellent example to emulate when they see you take a problem directly to God and ask for His intervention. The biggest problem is when parents won’t seek God’s guidance. How can we expect our children to seek guidance if they don’t see us doing it? Fathers must lead the way in this area.
Do our children see us pray and study every day? Do they see the father as the head of the family with the mother fully supporting her husband? Children can immediately spot hypocrisy. If we set the proper example early, our children will, in most cases, follow in our footsteps. Parents who are most successful in rearing children are those who are closest to God.
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14). If a problem arises in our child’s life, he should be taught first and foremost to take it to God in prayer. Soon it will become automatic.
“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32). Do we teach our children to respect the elderly? Do the older children stand up when an elderly person walks into the room? This is even a lost art for adults today! Our Western society has deteriorated to such a dreadful state that our elderly are pushed aside, shamefully treated and ignored by young people. This should not be so among our children. This world idolizes youth when it should be greatly esteeming the elderly! If our children are taught to respect the elderly, the elderly can share much wisdom and give advice to them.
What about guests, relatives and friends with whom we come into contact? Our children should respect all adults. We need to teach our children to respect authority whether it be a teacher, a policeman or a neighbor. Obviously, if a child is being mistreated by someone in an authoritative position, that is a different situation which may require us to intervene. But more often than not, in this immoral and permissive society, parents intervene when they should not—they “stick up” for their children even when these children have done something terrible. It used to be that if a kid got in trouble at school, he also got in trouble at home that night. Yet today, teachers and other public officials are afraid to properly discipline children for fear of how parents will react. Parents in God’s Church should stand behind and support other authority figures in our children’s lives.
Our children are bombarded with numerous negative influences from our evil society (Galatians 1:4); it’s much worse than when we were growing up. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). When we teach our children, we should teach the how and why of our instruction so they will thoroughly understand it. Rear your children so they will want to choose God’s way.
Placing your children in certain school activities, such as sports or music for example, will help make them well rounded. Find out what your children’s talents and abilities are and then guide them in that direction, as long as it does not violate God’s laws.
When our children are involved in games or sports activities, what is their attitude like if they lose? Character means being a good sport. Certainly we should teach our children to strive to win and do the very best they can. Win or lose, they should have a good attitude about it. Then, as our children begin to succeed, they will become motivated and will continue to seek success later in life.
Teach your children the five most important words of the Bible for them: “Honor your father and mother.” Notice Ephesians 6:1-4: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Tragically, we don’t see this in Western society today. Rather, civilization is falling apart because families are falling apart. Many children speak evil of their own parents and think nothing of it. When they have problems, they inevitably want to blame Dad and Mom. This should not be the case in God’s Church. If we do our part, our children should want to please us out of deep love and respect.
The third way to develop your child’s attitude is by correcting him or her. First, realize that correction, when done right, is love (Proverbs 13:24). So in that sense, this point overlaps with the first one. But correction deserves its own space because we need to know how to administer it to make sure that it is done in love.
When children are young, they should be taught the meaning of the word “No.” This simple two-letter word, in too many cases, is not properly adhered to. You should only have to say no once; if the child doesn’t obey, then that is your invitation to properly train and correct the child. If we fail to react, the child thinks no isn’t a word to fear. This could result in much more serious consequences than if we had punished the child for disobeying. If the child knows that no means no the first time, you may even save him from a life-threatening situation. If a child wanders away and begins running toward a busy intersection, “No!” may be the only thing that can save him. In that situation, the parent would be very thankful that the child had been reared to understand what no meant.
Consistency is the key. When you are inconsistent with following through on the no command, it only confuses the child and doesn’t dissuade him from disobeying because he knows Dad or Mom probably won’t follow through. This will also develop an attitude of resentment and rebellion because the child doesn’t have definite guidelines to follow. Children, like adults, respond better to definite limits, or boundaries.
Rebellion in a child requires you to bring him under the law. If you do not, the child, rather than the father, rules the household. When a child breaks a rule because he resents authority, that is a serious problem that must be dealt with. We live in an age where we see many parents openly challenged by their children. Our young people need parents who care enough to challenge them when their behavior might lead to tragic consequences. Parents have a God-given duty to provide their children the security of clearly established limits in behavior.
Every child will challenge his parents at some point. When he does, you must rise to meet the challenge. Otherwise, the child knows he has won, and the problems will be continuous and ongoing.
The thing to remember, and this is a common mistake, is not to spank for every infraction. Yes, the Bible endorses corporal punishment (Proverbs 29:15), and the main reason we spank is for rebellion—when a child deliberately disobeys the parent.
The so-called experts only report on spanking that is not administered properly. Too many parents, with their hectic lifestyles, are unwilling to take the time to first train their children in the right behavior they desire. Then, if they do spank, it is done in frustration or anger. This kind of punishment is harmful to the child’s development. But proper spanking, when combined with clear teaching and lots of love, is vital in proper child rearing.
We must always make sure the punishment fits the crime. After a child is punished for breaking a rule or disobeying a parent, he should be very repentant for what he did! If he is truly sorry, then you will soon see a happy child. If the child is not repentant after punishment occurs, we must stay with the correction until he does become repentant, no matter how long it takes. When a child’s attitude is still wrong after correction, that child’s attitude of rebellion has not been broken. There is resentment toward authority, either open or subtle, and it must be rooted out. If we can’t get our children to properly fear us quickly, we are in for a lifetime of needless pain and suffering.
Is your child under control? How does he behave at the dinner table? How does he act in other people’s homes? You won’t be invited out very often if your child is unruly. Does your child wear you out? If we have problems in these areas, the first thing we must do is take them to God.
What about silliness in our children? Obviously, we want our children to laugh and have a good time, but it should not get out of hand. When this begins to happen, the parent who is in tune with his child will say, “I want you to settle down.” The child should respond immediately.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). This scripture mentions mother, but it also brings shame on the family name, which is the father’s heritage.
Children left to run wild can also bring shame upon the Church, the mother of us all.
God has given His Church a wealth of instruction on this subject. Seek counsel from one of His true ministers. God has provided us with all the knowledge we need to do it right! Do we diligently seek after God’s knowledge, fully intent on applying it? Or, like so many in this world, are we experimenting with our children, hoping to find some method that will finally work?
We all have our strengths and weaknesses in child rearing. In addition, there may be other contributors to children misbehaving, like allergies or poor health. Other factors and personal weaknesses must not become excuses for our failures in properly rearing our children. As Herbert W. Armstrong said, there is cause and effect. There is a reason why children become rebellious.
Righteous character is the goal. We want to rear our children so they will embrace God’s way of life as they mature. To build holy, righteous character in a child takes diligent effort on the part of both parents. It takes time. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (verse 17).
Rearing children is a challenging and lifelong process. We will make mistakes from time to time. Remember to punish for a wrong attitude—a rebellious spirit. If a child’s attitude is one of anger, pouting, moodiness, disrespect—then deal with it immediately. In 1 Samuel 15:23 we read that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Rebellion comes from Satan (John 8:44; Ephesians 2:2).
To have happy, well-adjusted children with a right attitude, remember to love them, teach by example, and discipline in love. It boils down to 85 percent love, 10 percent teaching by example, and 5 percent correction in love. None of us will ever do it perfectly 100 percent of the time, but it certainly is a goal that God wants each of us to attain.
We are God’s children. He is our Father. God is a Family. Let us strive to administer God’s loving family government in our own homes so that we—husband, wife and children—will acquire God’s own image and character.
Chapter 4: Rearing Young Children— Newborn to Age Five
You may wonder: If God has a high purpose for man, why make him out of dust? Herbert W. Armstrong understood well the reason.
“[God’s] supreme purpose [for creating man] required: 1) that man reject Satan’s way, embracing God’s way of love, based on God’s spiritual law; and 2) that man be made first of matter so that, if he was led into Satan’s way of ‘get,’ he could be changed, converted to God’s way of love, or if he refused to change, his life would be blotted out without further or continuous suffering just as if he had never been,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages. He didn’t make this up from his own reasoning or receive this knowledge from any man. This all-important revelation came from God’s mind.
God’s potter-to-clay relationship with mankind is clearly spelled out in the Bible. “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8). This verse describes how God creates spiritual character in His converted sons and daughters (see also Jeremiah 18:6). God made us from clay so He could mold and shape us (with our consent) to become exactly like Him—with perfect spiritual character. God could not do this had He made us out of spirit.
“Spirit beings, once a finished creation (as were the one third of the angels who became evil characters), could not be changed!” Mr. Armstrong further explained in Mystery of the Ages. “Spirit, once its creation is completed, is constant and eternal—not subject to change. But physical matter is constantly changing.” This is pivotal understanding. God is Spirit, and He does not change (John 4:24; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). Those angels who decided to pursue a life of rebellion cannot change back to a life of obedience.
Lucifer and the angels he ruled rejected God’s law and government. They refused to build godly character by performing their God-given opportunity to finish beautifying the Earth. Their rebellion wrecked God’s plan for all the angels. And as Mr. Armstrong explained, they finished their creation by making themselves evil characters. Lucifer, created to be a light bringer, is now Satan—God’s adversary—and prince of spiritual darkness. What a debacle!
God scrubbed His plan to use angels to assist with finishing the creation of the universe. He now had full proof that only God beings—born sons and daughters—could be relied upon to keep His law of love and government. As Mr. Flurry explains in The God Family Vision, God moved on to “plan B.” Witnessing the catastrophic failure of the angels, God knew that only the God Family had the capacity to complete and preserve the creation of the universe.
A Much Better Plan
Do we see that God’s plan for man is a much better plan? Not only did He make Adam and Eve to look like God, these two perfectly made human beings were created with the potential to become like God in character (1 John 3:9). Created with a limited God-type mind, they could learn to act, think and reason like God. “Man, composed of matter, is subject to change. Man, if called by God, can be made to realize that he has sinned, and he can repent—change from his sin—turn to God’s way. And once his course is changed, with God’s help he can pursue it. He can grow in spiritual knowledge, develop character, overcome wrong habits, weaknesses and faults,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Incredible Human Potential.
Paul’s letter to the Hebrews gives us a concise comparison of the difference in the plans for angels and mankind. “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands” (Hebrews 2:7). Even though man is now made lower than the angels—weaker in terms of power and knowledge—all mankind has the potential to be crowned with glory and honor. Why? “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels …” (verses 8-9). Paul states clearly that mankind is destined to rule the universe. How can we know this for certain? We see Jesus, having been born as a man, resurrected to the right hand of God, above the angels. What was once the angels’ opportunity is now the awesome potential of man.
God confirmed by the life of Jesus Christ what He plans to do with man. God is building a family of sons and daughters using clay. Jesus Christ was born as God’s only begotten Son (Hebrews 1:4-5).
God is also begetting more sons and daughters through the process of conversion. This is the largely unknown factor that makes God’s plan for man the better plan! Angels were never offered the chance to be begotten as God’s sons. Angels can never be born as God’s sons. Yet human beings can! (John 1:12).
Parents Are Also Potters
Are you using all this fantastic knowledge about mankind’s unique creation in your child rearing? It gives sharp clarity to your role as a parent. You are in the position of God to your infant or toddler. Are you following God the Father’s example in your child rearing? You are the potter, and your child is the clay.
Your job is to mold and shape your child so God can continue His creative work within him. “The human mind and body is the most perfectly designed mechanism ever produced from earthly material substance,” wrote Mr. Armstrong in Why Humanity Cannot Solve Its Evils. God has given you perfect material to work with. While there is no perfect parent, all true Christian parents must still strive for perfection in child rearing (Matthew 5:48). A casual or complacent approach to child rearing will wreck a perfectly designed mechanism—sometimes severely. To break a child through parental neglect of proper training is a grave sin against a potential God being.
Know How Children Learn
Your newborn infant is helpless at birth. Human babies must be fed, held and nurtured. Your child is guided by mind rather than by instinct. This means your child must be taught. All infants have awesome mind power but no knowledge. Their mind is a finely tuned instrument ready for learning.
This is critical knowledge many parents fail to recognize. To live successfully, your child’s mind must acquire or be fed knowledge. Your child begins learning almost immediately. As stated earlier, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Doesn’t that make you want to be the most skilled teacher you can be?
To expertly teach your child, you must learn how your child learns. Let’s examine the two foundational ways your child gains knowledge.
Learning by Association
Your child’s mind is a clean slate at birth. He knows absolutely nothing. A newborn baby even has to learn how to nurse or suck from a bottle. New parents are generally amazed by this fact. Nurses at birthing centers teach new mothers how to manipulate the infant’s lower jaw to get him to take in his first liquid. After a few tries, the tiny infant learns how to nurse. Often the mother will need to repeat the same instruction during the next several feeding times. Yet within a few days, the baby will know exactly how to get food.
As a creature of habit, a baby begins to learn at the very instant of its birth. The way in which it first learns is by mere association. But these “associations” begin to form certain habits within the rapidly growing and developing mind of a newly born human baby.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Having only the human spirit, your child’s mind can only gain knowledge through the five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. Unless there is some physical deformity at birth, the five senses begin transmitting information from this new world to his brain immediately. This information is stored in the child’s brain (and human spirit) and is available for future use by the child. It is a truly marvelous process.
Very quickly, the baby becomes accustomed to the smell, the taste and sounds of its own mother. … If the infant of only a very few weeks is hungry and begins to cry for his food, it may be observed that he will oftentimes quit crying the moment he is picked up by his mother, because the sound of her reassuring voice, the feeling of her arms lifting him from his bassinet, and the smell of her own body has begun to become completely associated with the satisfying taste of her milk.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Your child’s ability to learn by association is astounding. It is the interaction of the five senses, the brain and human spirit that makes association possible. This knowledge provides a special advantage in child rearing. Effective child rearing is a balanced combination of rewards and punishment. By making associations, your child will quickly learn which actions bring pleasure and which bring discomfort.
Your child is a creature of habit. It is the association factor that forms habits both good and bad. In a sense, bad habits are taught—either by example, neglect or wrong teaching. This means that it is never too soon to begin teaching your child. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your child is too young to learn. We’ll discuss how to obtain desired results with young children a little later in this chapter.
Learning by Imitation
The second way your child learns is by mimicking, or imitating, others—especially you, his parents! Imitation proves the power of example, both good and bad. Current psychology teaches that all children grow through specific behavior stages put into action by instinct. These fabled stages are often called the terrible 2s, the terrifying 3s, and the frightening 4s. In reality, this widely believed, yet wrong, philosophy is the adult excuse to justify a toddler’s bad behavior. This thinking is proof positive that there is a dire lack of knowledge of the human mind and spirit in our “education”-glutted age.
The Internet is chock-full of parenting advice sites that discuss how to get through these so-called difficult-but-normal behavioral stages. “[Y]ou must always keep in mind that your son or daughter isn’t trying to be defiant, or rebellious on purpose” explains the Terrible Twos and Terrible Threes website manager, working hard to reassure distraught parents at their wits’ end. “They are only trying to express their growing independence and don’t have the language skills to easily express their needs. This is possibly also the reason why your child will get frustrated … and turns to hitting, biting and temper tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants.”
The site suggests that parents living with terrible toddlers learn how to talk with their child using hypnosis and specific speech patterns to control bad behavior. What a wacky solution to such a serious problem!
Parents, face reality! There are no such behavioral stages in children. The terrible whatevers do not suddenly click on the day your child turns 1, 2 or 3 as some experts suggest. All forms of bad behavior in toddlers are built in by the parents and by the environment in which the parent allows the child to grow up.
However, it is true that children do go through physical developmental stages, which can impact child rearing. You could invest in a baby’s first year type of developmental stage book. These helpful books give you a month-by-month explanation of your infant’s physical development. Choose your book wisely. Steer clear of books that go beyond basic physical development. We’ll discuss some of these stages briefly as necessary.
Learning through imitation is so powerful and so thorough that it impacts all of us our entire lives. For example, older children and adults use imitation to learn a foreign language, to paint or draw, to perfect a sport or learn a musical instrument. When we think deeply about it, imitation guides and rules our actions, customs and habits.
Now consider the impact of imitation on the fresh young mind of a little child. It is immense. Imitation is a potent tool for parents to produce positive and permanent results in child rearing. Parents must recognize their weighty responsibility to set the right example for their children.
It should be immediately clear to all parents how destructive imitation can also be. Parents who are rowdy, argumentative and continually emotionally upset should not be surprised when their children are rowdy, argumentative and given to temper tantrums and angry emotional outbursts.
Isn’t it logical that parents with bad table manners, unkempt and unclean personal habits, criminal behavior—including resentment toward law and authority, laziness and coarse language—are exerting a powerful influence over their children to develop these same habits?
It seems to be much simpler for children to acquire bad habits than it is to learn good ones. Hence, it appears that thumb-sucking, throwing silver on the floor, or other habits are acquired after only two or three attempts, while it takes many months to teach a child to stay dry.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
The imitative impulse in children is so strong that it is the leading cause in the development of many child criminals. Parents, take warning! Criminal behavior is learned behavior. Besides setting the best example possible, you must also be aware of the dangerous influence of television, movies and electronic media on your child. It is a capital crime in God’s sight for you to allow your children indiscriminate use of a television, computer or electronic device.
Build Good Habits
There is a truth all parents must accept about how children form habits.
Bad habits are acquired after only one or two experiences! Remember, it’s the pleasurable experience that is most often repeated. A little baby likes the sound of his spoon hitting the floor, and seeing his mother or father pick it up for him. He likes the excitement when he dumps his cereal bowl, or spills his milk, and sees the flurry of motion and sound around him.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
This is vital information for parents with infants and toddlers. Unless you firmly teach your children not to do these things, they will repeat them until they become habitual. They will do it in restaurants, in homes where your family is a guest, and at social gatherings. You can avoid such embarrassing moments by teaching them good habits.
Here is another truth about habits: Good habits are formed over time. Sometimes they take a lot of time. Take heart, though: Once a good habit is firmly formed, it will stick with your child for a lifetime.
Building good habits is advantageous no matter your age. Think about your own life. There are many things you do automatically, by habit. For example, people walk, drive cars, type on a keyboard, and play musical instruments without thinking because they learned the habit of doing them. Good habits are built with repeated practice. The human brain is so powerful that once a habit is mastered, it stores the information, then automatically sends the proper stimuli to the nervous system producing the automatic action, like when driving a car.
By taking advantage of the power of habit, you can teach your son or daughter the correct habits of etiquette, cooperation, cleanliness, truthfulness, good posture, obedience, orderliness, proper eating, appropriate indoor and outdoor behavior, respect for adults and people in general, respect for others’ property, sharing with others, table manners, to be still and sit quietly, and other positive behaviors.
The Earliest Child Rearing
The first few months of a baby’s life are the most critical time for learning. Take advantage of every activity to engage yourself with your child: Bathing, diaper changing and nursing times are opportunities for you to establish the parent-child relationship. At this time, cuddle, hold, hug, talk and sing to, and play with your baby as much as you can. Even though young babies sleep for large portions of a day, when they are awake, stimulate their five senses as much as possible. All of these are teaching opportunities. Even though your child does not yet crawl or demand much attention, all interactions with you will stimulate critical brain development.
Overall you should teach your infant that he or she has been born into a family. If there are other siblings, be sure they also start interacting with the new arrival. After about a month, be sure to encourage extended family members, grandparents and friends to hold your baby. Put in the effort to socialize your baby with people outside your immediate family. The benefits to your child and you are tremendous. For example, interacting with others prepares your baby for you to have a night out with your spouse. You will be able to enjoy your night out knowing your baby is not having a meltdown with a babysitter.
At about two months, your baby’s vision will be better developed—now very aware of you and able to smile when seeing you. At three months, your baby will start giving you really big smiles. You can observe your child developing a personality. Now is the time to introduce age-appropriate toys to your baby.
By four months old, most babies are beginning to lift the head, neck and chest onto their forearms so they can see what is going on. It is also around this time that babies begin to straighten their legs as you hold them upright. This is not only great fun, it is great exercise preparing them to crawl and walk. Be assured, this activity does not make them bow-legged. It is also around this time that your child will gurgle and coo sounds back to you when you talk. Encourage this activity by responding and by talking back to your child. This prepares him for learning language.
No one needs to encourage a child to talk baby talk. But you certainly should not, in the beginning of his speech training, go to the opposite extreme, teaching him to talk like the head of the Supreme Court! Do not try to mold and shape your children merely for the sake of the vanity of the parents.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
By six months, most babies can sit up without assistance. It is around this same time that many babies learn to roll or flip over from their tummies to their backs. Your child is getting ready to go mobile. Six months is a good time to introduce blanket training (see page 94).
Be prepared to do more specific teaching about the world beyond your child’s crib. Depending on the child, at about nine months, your cuddly little infant will become an avid explorer. There will be many things in your home that your child will want to touch and taste—what fun! However, you will need to warn of the dangers and set boundaries for exploration.
This means that in addition to the ample amounts of love and teaching you have shown your baby, there will be times when you will need to use punishment, including corporal punishment, to help your son or daughter learn obedience, respect for authority, and respect for property, as well as to be protected from dangers such as accidents, burns, cuts, drowning, electric shock, fire and poisoning. When done correctly, spankings can have a very positive effect on your child and protect him or her from actual injury.
Spanking—Not a Bad Thing
Spanking is a volatile topic in this 21st century. Academics and a majority of psychologists lead the charge against any use of corporal punishment in child training. This is a shortsighted approach.
For child rearing to be truly effective, spanking is a necessary tool. Yet spanking should not be considered the only, or even main, way to punish. Depending on your child’s age, other types of punishment such as loss of privileges and grounding are also effective means for teaching the vital lessons he or she needs to learn to be happy, safe and successful. (See “What Is Your Child’s Attitude Really Like,” page 65, for an explanation of the 85-10-5 formula for proper discipline.)
Punishment should never be merely negative—but always, without fail, accompanied by positive teaching. The right action, the right method, which is expected of the child, should be clearly shown him—not only the wrong ones.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
It does not matter what most people in society think; you can punish your children—in love!
Many people today see any form of physical punishment or control as psychologically harmful to children. Sadly, there are cases of tragic physical abuse of children. These children are often damaged psychologically. Let’s be thinking people: It is the parents’ wrong use of the method that is damaging, not the method.
Some parents, who are actually unqualified to be parents, are prone to punish their children in the heat of anger, with hardness and cruelty. Rather than instilling into the child the healthy “fear,” which is right and good—not “terror”—these parents do cause children to build up feelings of resentment and anger.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
What typically happens to children whose parents correct them in anger with hardness and cruelty? These children will learn to lie to escape punishment. Many will adopt aggressive behavior and are likely to become child and even spouse abusers themselves. Some even become hardened criminals.
Academics, family experts and psychologists have studied the effects of such child abuse and decided that all forms of corporal punishment produce the same results. That is not the case. “To the extent that the child understands and appreciates genuinely that the child is loved by the parent, and that even though it hurts, the parent’s intent is to help the child—to the extent that the child understands that, the consequences are not negative,” reported Christian Science Monitor Weekly on October 20, 2014. What is so surprising about this statement is that a Duke University family policy scholar, Kenneth Dodge, made it. Most academics are dedicated to eliminating all forms of spanking.
Dodge confirmed that corporal punishment administered with love, in a teaching atmosphere, produces positive results with a child. However, when spanking is done in a fit of anger, the outcome is always negative. “If the child interprets it [spanking] as a parent who is out of control, or a parent who does not love the child—a parent being hurtful and hateful—that is the bad message and the mechanism by which [the negative outcome] happens,” concluded Dodge.
This is quite an honest admission that we must learn from. Spanking can be done properly with very good results.
When to Discipline
Most parents usually punish children only when those children have driven them to it. They are punishing because they are literally trying to “get back at” their children and are angry because their child has done something which has disturbed them.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
This is not the proper way to discipline a child. Punishment meted out in anger to get back at a child because you have been disturbed will never bring about a positive result. If you have been doing this, it is time to get some new understanding.
There is never, under any circumstances, a time to beat a child. A child should never, under any circumstances, be punished in anger! A child should never be bruised or injured!
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Parents, drill this into your thinking. Effective discipline is never a thoughtless, spur-of-the-moment act. Discipline that delivers positive results is a well-thought-out plan with the long-range goal of establishing the habit of obedience, proper self-control, self-discipline, and love and respect for the parents who administer it. The foundational planks of fruitful discipline are teaching and love.
Another danger in punishment is leaving the child to himself immediately after the punishment—and leaving him with the impression that he is still guilty. The positive type of punishment always carries with it the automatic understanding that the child is now forgiven for his wrong action and is now in the good graces of his parents.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
This means that the parents have to take an ample amount of time to explain this to their children—before and after discipline. Parents must explain to the child that they are punishing because they love him. It is also important that before any punishment is administered the child fully understands the infraction. Then, discuss the matter again after the discipline to make sure he is sorrowful of the wrong action, and for you to take the opportunity to tell him that he is forgiven and back in your good graces.
You will be surprised how often a child will thoroughly repent of his wrong action and assure you that he is sorry for his wrong deed, throwing his arms around you and telling you how much he loves you when you punish in an attitude of love and let him know that the punishment carries forgiveness with it.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Punishment, whether physical spanking, deprivation of privilege, or other type, must be given promptly and be equal to the offense. A warning should precede all discipline, without exception. (See page 111, “Tips for Effective Punishment.”)
Your Number One Challenge
It seems that each year a new child-rearing book becomes popular in America. Several years ago, it was Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In 2012, it was Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé. Why did these two books become popular with Americans? Essentially, they discuss how much better the Chinese and French are at child rearing than Americans. Just observe American children in public—their rude behavior, the tantrums, their disrespect of others’ property—and it is obvious Americans do not know how to properly train their children. Or, it is more likely that they simply refuse to do so!
These books’ popularity show that Americans know something is wrong. But merely reading books on the subject is not enough. Effective child training is time-consuming hard work. Enslaved to careers, financial success and the pursuit of pleasure, many Americans will not, or are too tired to, invest the time necessary to train their children. This is one of our nation’s greatest tragedies.
What about you? Are you taking on the demanding rigors of child rearing? If you are a parent, it is your responsibility. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully,” Paul taught (2 Corinthians 9:6). Parental success is measured by the success and happiness of the children we produce. How hard are you working to reap a bountiful harvest with your children? Here is one way you can tell.
Concentrate on Obedience and Self-control
Your greatest challenge in raising young children through age 5 is teaching obedience. The essence of God’s way of life is obeying the laws, rules and standards of the God Family. Parents, this is what God expects you to do. You are your child’s first teachers. One of the important by-products of obedience is self-control, or self-discipline. A child who is obedient to parental commands and instructions naturally develops self-discipline. This benefits him in countless ways throughout his life. Of course, the final objective of child rearing is to prepare your child to loyally follow God’s way of life.
Do you realize that obedience is more important than intelligence in fostering academic achievement? “We used to do a much better job of teaching the rules specific to our culture,” laments Leonard Sax in his book The Collapse of Parenting. “Thirty years ago, kindergarten and first grade in American schools were all about ‘socialization,’ as it was then called: teaching Fulghum’s rules and more. Beginning in the mid-1980s, many American schools decided that the first priority of early elementary education should not be socialization but rather be literacy and numeracy.”
When Sax talks about rules, he is really talking about law and government. Early primary education once focused on teaching young children how to be law-abiding citizens. Obedience to laws, rules and proper social etiquette is no longer taught today. As a result, our schools are now dangerous and violent places. While Sax sees the problem, he cannot explain the cause.
Mr. Armstrong saw and fully understood the cause decades earlier than the 1980s. “Modern education trains students to earn a living in the professions, occupations and vocations—but fails to teach them how to live!” he wrote. “A tree is known by its fruits. A mixed-up, unhappy and fearful world in chaos, divided against itself, filled with heartaches, frustrations, broken homes, juvenile delinquents, crime, insanity and violence, devoid of honesty, truth and justice, now facing extinction by cosmocide, is the fruitage of modern education” (Plain Truth, August 1965). Teachers are trained to teach physical knowledge to your child. Only you can teach your child the fundamentals of spiritual character.
Obedience to laws, rules and your family government is absolutely necessary for your child to become truly educated, build a sterling spiritual life, hold a job, make a successful marriage, and avoid financial difficulties. Poor self-discipline can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, sexual immorality and other criminal behavior.
Is your child immediately obedient? Does your child have good self-control? If your child is guilty of interrupting you constantly, behaving wildly, not following instructions, not controlling his feet, hands or mouth, your child lacks self-control. Psychologists would probably diagnose your child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and put him on Ritalin. But the only effective solution to curbing these impulsive behaviors is learning obedience.
Modern psychologists believe children can learn self-control on their own. Don’t believe them. Self-control is learned with proper child training, parental supervision and practice. Solomon wisely taught that a child left by himself or herself will never develop self-control (Proverbs 22:15; 29:15).
A child furnished with self-discipline has an invaluable tool for meeting life’s challenges. Many relational and personal problems can be avoided, or strongly tempered, when one has self-control.
Following are 12 areas of obedience you should teach your children in their early years.
1. Blanket Training—Teach Your Child to Be Quiet and Not Interrupt
Teaching a child to sit still or play quietly on a blanket during services has been a tradition in God’s Church for decades. This training not only stops noisy interruptions during services, it is the foundational plank for building self-discipline in children.
Some parents in God’s Church today are not blanket training, which makes the teaching of self-discipline only more difficult as children mature.
Blanket training is very simple. It is helpful to have a special blanket set aside for this purpose. Choose a nice blanket you can bring to Church services. Using the same blanket for each training session and at services will help your child associate that it is time to be quiet and sit still. It is a good idea to have your newborn learn to take a nap on this blanket as early as possible. You should start blanket training as early as when your child can sit up by himself (6 or 7 months), but definitely when he can crawl. Effective blanket training assumes that you have already been teaching your child not to make noise during services.
Practice each day by spreading the special blanket on the floor and have your child sit on the blanket quietly for about an hour. You could do Bible study at the same time, so you feel your time is spent constructively. Be sure to sit on a chair next to the child. When your child attempts to move off the blanket or make noise, tell him no—once. Move the child back onto the blanket or give him the hand signal (forefinger against the lips) to be quiet. When he moves off the blanket or makes noise a second time, you must discipline him. Continue the process until he accepts the fact that he must remain on the blanket and be quiet. You should also teach your child to take a nap on this special blanket. This is self-control in action.
2. Teach Your Child to Come When Called
You should start teaching your child to come to you when he is walking securely on his own and you know that he understands you. If you consistently use blanket training, you will know that your child understands you.
Generally, come here training works best for children who are about 18 months old. Set aside an evening to do this to ensure that both parents are present for this important event. Some parents call them come here nights. Depending on the attitude of your child, you may need to allow for an hour or two to complete this training. This may be a tough evening. However, parents, you must win this one!
Once children are up and running on their own, they do not appreciate being interrupted from what they are doing. To command them to come to you requires them to give up what they want to do and do what you want them to do. Children want to be their own authority. To submit to your authority requires self-discipline.
Never, at any age, is there an excuse for children to run away from their parents, or to disobey when told to come when called.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
This is a vital lesson that must be learned at an early age. Your children will find it difficult to submit to God’s authority if they cannot submit to yours. Their physical and spiritual safety depends on obedience to direct commands.
On your come here night, allow your child to be distracted from your immediate attention. Then, from some distance away, command your child to “Come!” or “Come here!” or “Come to Daddy!” Say it only once. Allow him a brief amount of time to hear, think and respond. If there is no action, you should explain to him: “I want you to come to me when I say ‘Come here.’” You may need to go to your child, pick him up, and bring him to where you gave the command to show him what you expect. Then return him to his former location, and you return to your previous location. Tell him again, “Come here!” If there is no action, you should discipline your child. Continue to repeat the process (with discipline) until you receive an immediate response.
Remember, you cannot give in to your child—he must capitulate to you. Be sure to reward him with praise and hugs when he comes to you. Daily repeat the process following your come here night until your child develops the habit of coming to you as soon as you say, “Come here!”
Look for an opportunity to test your child with this command when he is walking away from you to do something else. This is an effective way to save your child in dangerous situations, such as in a parking lot or street.
Teaching your children to come to you at a young age also stops them from yelling, “What?” at you from across the house, parking lot or playground. When called, children should come close enough to a parent so more instructions or further discussion can take place.
“Come here” teaches children that self-control means that there are times when they will be required to give up something they are doing in order to do something else.
3. Teach Your Child to Respond Properly to You
“It is neither ‘old fashioned’ nor wrong to teach children to say, ‘Yes, sir!” or ‘Yes, ma’am!’ to their parents,” states The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. These two phrases are considered by many to be Southern America culture, when in reality, it is a spiritual principle we are talking about. This is what matters most. At Imperial Academy, our students are taught to respond to teachers by saying, “Yes, sir,” or “Yes, ma’am.” This establishes the fact that the child is not on the same level of authority as the parent or teacher. It teaches respect and humility. There can be some variances in other cultures, but the principle should be the same.
You should begin at a very early age, when your child is first learning to put together simple phrases and learning to talk. If you ask your child the question, “Are you having fun?”, your child may respond, “Ye-e-e-es.” You should instruct him, “Say, ‘Yes, sir,’” or “Say, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”
4. Teach Your Child to Respond Positively to Correction
Most children (and adults) don’t like to be corrected. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby,” Paul wrote (Hebrews 12:11). All human beings need to be corrected. Correction, when done properly, always makes children’s (and adults’) lives better. Yet, as Paul said, correction is often hard to accept at first.
Teach your child not to respond to correction in anger or with a bad attitude. Both of these wrong responses require additional discipline and teaching. Correction is a fact of life and, for the people of God, a way of life! You should teach your children to be thankful for correction!
Children must learn to follow rules, directions and instructions that are not their preference. They must have self-control to accept correction and direction from you and other authority figures that are sure to come into their lives.
When you discipline your children, make sure they respond with a repentant attitude and right behavior. Make it your goal to not finish a correction session unless they demonstrate these qualities. This requires love, patience, strong teaching and time—a lot of time—on your part. Remember, according to the 85-10-5 formula for child rearing, 10 percent of your time, even while disciplining, should be teaching. It takes time to educate while disciplining, but it will be worth all your effort. It is important that your children acknowledge that they have done wrong. As Paul wrote, there will be great rewards when you meet this goal. They will be happy and well on the road to real success. Remember, positive response to correction will help them for eternity.
5. Teach Your Child to Sit Still
As your child grows closer to school age, you should begin to train him to sit still at a time other than mealtimes. Age 3 is a great time to begin this training. If you have done a great job with blanket training, this next step in self-control—sitting still in a more confined space—should be easily mastered.
Teach your child to sit still at various times during the day for periods of 5 to 10 minutes, or even longer. On occasion, have your child sit still, allowing him to look at a picture book, or color, or some similar pursuit, for as long as an hour or longer. In this way, you can begin to instill a vitally important habit in your child at a very early age.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Begin by training him to sit still on the living room couch or on a dining room or kitchen chair. You can call this “quiet time.” Again, start small—5 to 10 minutes—then as your child grows older, keep increasing the time until he can be still for an hour or longer. If you practice this at home daily, not only will your life be more peaceful, but your child’s teachers will deeply appreciate the results. This will also help your child to eventually graduate from sitting on a blanket at services to sitting in a chair for the entire service. This habit should be fully mastered by the time your child reaches kindergarten. Remember, practice at home. Perfect practice makes perfect.
6. Teach Your Child Personal Grooming, Cleanliness and Orderliness
Twenty-first century society has greatly degenerated in matters of dress, personal grooming and cleanliness. Casual clothing has become standard in many businesses. People shop at supermarkets immodestly dressed, even in their pajamas. Weird hairstyles with wild colors and half-shaved heads, body piercing and tattooing are commonplace. Many are no longer ashamed to be in public places unwashed, unshaven and in dirty clothes.
High standards in dress as well as personal grooming and cleanliness habits should be instilled in children at a very young age. This does not mean that children should not be allowed to play and get dirty. However, they do need to know what to do when they reenter the home after playing outdoors.
Good grooming and personal cleanliness habits are instilled through the process of daily routine. Parents who follow a daily routine of good grooming and cleanliness will have no trouble teaching these skills to their children; your children will imitate your personal grooming and cleanliness habits. Parents, if you need to improve in this area, do so before your children are old enough to follow your not-so-good example.
Here is the simple way to instill the habits of good grooming, cleanliness and orderliness in your child. A child must be taught daily upon arising to wash the face, comb hair, brush teeth, and dress appropriately for the day’s activities. He must be expected to wash his hands and face after coming in from play. He should be required to wash his hands before each meal. He must be taught to respect the home environment and furniture. (A home is not a gymnasium; the furniture is not a ready-made trampoline.) He must be required to put away his toys, art supplies, projects and books neatly each evening before bed. If he is taught these things, these habits will continue through his school years and into adulthood.
7. Teach Your Child to Eat a Variety of Healthy and Nutritious Foods
This instruction assumes that parents are providing fresh, nutritious, well-balanced food for their children. In many Western countries, including America, family mealtime is a thing of the past. Yet family mealtimes are essential to building family unity (see Chapter 8, “Make Your Family Life Active!”).
For young children, mealtimes are a vital classroom for learning about a healthy diet, for developing the social skills to participate in good conversation, for sharpening effective listening skills, and for developing a sound sense of mealtime etiquette: how to eat with the proper utensils and drink with a glass (cold drinks) and a cup (hot drinks).
At mealtime, very young children should be made to eat all the food placed before them. This assumes you only give them an appropriate amount of food—not too much. It is always better to start with a smaller amount. More food can be provided if a child is still hungry. Of course, a child should never be forced to eat foods that are known to cause illness or allergic reaction. However, he should not be allowed to demand only one kind of food at mealtime. Remember, if your child dislikes certain foods, he is likely following your example. Generally, children dislike foods their parents dislike. If your child hates leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole-grain breads and cereals and will only eat McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, it is probably time to take a good look at your own diet.
Family mealtime provides the perfect opportunity to teach your child table manners. Mealtimes at home are fantastic practice sessions to teach your children how to behave in restaurants and in the homes of friends or extended family. If your child’s behavior in a restaurant or at a friend’s home embarrasses you, then you must face the reality that you are not doing something correctly at home.
You should teach your child how to hold and use a knife, fork and spoon. Start small with infants in high chairs—let him learn to use a spoon first. Perfect practice makes perfect. Then move on to the cutlery that requires more skill.
Mealtime also provides the opportunity to teach your children how to use the important words “please” and “thank you.”
8. Teach Your Child to Control His Emotions
While most people grow up to attain physical maturity, few actually grow up emotionally. “Just what do we mean—emotional maturity?” asked Mr. Armstrong. “Few know the meaning of the term. Do you? Yet it is one of the real secrets of human happiness. … No one is born with it. It must be learned—developed. … And one of the basic things every human needs so vitally to learn is the right use of the human emotions” (Plain Truth, August 1978).
Emotional control and maturity should be taught to young children. It is a matter of true education. “But our emotions need to be understood, taught, trained and controlled by the mind! Our minds were given to us for a purpose!” he continued. Is this expecting too much from a little child? Mr. Armstrong did not think so. “Where is the logical and proper place to begin such training?” he asked. “It ought to be taught to 1-, 3- and 6-year-olds, and in the early primary grades in schools” (ibid).
Mr. Armstrong explained that most elementary school teachers are not qualified to teach emotional maturity because they have not learned emotional maturity themselves. “That means this teaching ought first to be taught by parents in the home,” he stated. “But how can parents teach children when they themselves are still emotionally immature?” God revealed all this to Mr. Armstrong so that parents would learn and develop emotional maturity, and so they could then pass it on to their children.
“Just what is emotional maturity? One author defines it this way: development from a state of taking to a state of giving and sharing,” explained Mr. Armstrong. “There’s also a spiritual principle involved—development from natural impulses and responses of human nature to the principle of loving one’s neighbor as himself. … It is something that must be learned—by the mind—and developed by self-discipline.”
Emotional maturity comes with keeping God’s law. “God’s law is based on the giving principle. Its basis is love. Love is outgoing concern,” Mr. Armstrong taught. However, human beings have human nature, which is “a magnet—a pull—in the direction of self,” he continued. “But the way of God’s law, which is the way to peace, happiness and everything good—ah, that is a way humans must be taught. Giving, sharing, serving, helping have to be learned.
“But humans are equipped with emotions. And from babyhood, all humans are actuated more or less by their emotions. Emotions are feelings—disturbances—departures from a calm state or rational right thinking and acting.” Fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred, grief, sorrow, surprise, desire, elation and joy all have to be controlled by the mind. Children must be taught to recognize and control these emotions. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for parents to teach their children emotional control. It is vital for their happiness. In the long run, it will save you from embarrassment in public places. Most people have experienced others’ out-of-control children on airplanes, in restaurants and shopping malls. Let’s not allow our children to be that disturbance.
Even a young child’s joy can turn into foolish silliness. Effusive silliness will eventually produce bad fruits in your child. Preparing to be born into God’s Family is filled with joy, but there is a deep need to have a sense of urgency and seriousness about human life. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him,” counseled Solomon (Proverbs 22:15). The book of Proverbs is filled with practical wisdom on child rearing. Be sure to take full advantage of this God-inspired source.
“Emotions have a first cousin—our moods. The emotionally immature usually are moody, and have not learned to control their moods,” continued Mr. Armstrong. If your child is often moody, that is a good sign you have work to do to help your child control his emotions. But you must first educate yourself about emotional control. Are you often moody? Then it is time to examine your own emotional maturity. With God’s help—through prayer, Bible study, fasting and spiritual counsel from a minister—you can help yourself and your child.
Keenly observant parents soon learn when their 3-to-6-month-old infant begins to voice anger or resentment in his cry. Generally, this scenario happens around bedtime. Many very young children resist going to bed. This is the perfect opportunity for parents to begin teaching emotional control.
Parents, as your children grow up physically, you must be on the lookout for the emotions discussed in this section, and then teach them to control their emotions by living according to God’s law of love.
9. Teach Your Child to Give and Share With Others
Teaching children to give and share with others is easiest when there are siblings in the home. Sharing a bedroom, clothing, food, toys and parental attention should be a natural part of home life. These elements of sharing must be taught and, when necessary, enforced. Parents must remember that all children have carnal human nature. One of the first words a little child learns when beginning to talk is “MINE!”
It is not wrong for children to have toys or clothing special to themselves. But it is important that parents establish situations where sharing can be taught. Obviously, sibling gender matters when sharing toys and clothing.
It is vitally important that parents play with their young children. Playtime provides you the best opportunity to teach your children how to share and learn to give to others. Playtime can and at times should be family time with all siblings involved. But it is vital that the newest additions to families get time alone with both Dad and Mom.
Single-child families should set up play dates with other families to give their only child the experience of sharing with other children.
Be sure to provide age- and sibling-appropriate toys for your child. Gender—being male or female—must be taught. (See Chapter 6 for more details on the sex issue.) Cars, trucks and tools are great toys for boys. Kitchen sets, tea sets and dolls are wonderful toys for girls. Remember, a sister could serve her brother tea when playing. A brother could invite his sister to play cars from time to time.
God’s holy day seasons provide the perfect opportunity to teach children how to give. Not only should parents teach their children to give God a freewill offering at a young age, parents can provide little gifts for their child to give to other children during the holy day seasons.
It is truly rewarding to see little children’s excitement when they learn the rewards of giving and sharing.
10. Teach Your Child to Respect Others’ Property
The simplest way to teach your child to respect the property of others is to teach him to respect yours and his own property.
As soon as your children are adept at crawling, realize they will be fast-moving, highly investigative, touching machines. Take control of this potentially home-wrecking situation by taking them to dangerous areas of the home first and begin teaching them not to touch, play with, or chew on electrical cords, not to stick fingers in electrical outlets, and not to touch hot stoves. It would be wise to lock any cupboard that holds cleaning chemicals.
When your child begins to crawl and can pull himself up to inspect a coffee table’s contents, it is time to teach boundaries—to prevent injury and to protect your furniture. It is at this time that you must establish the command “No!” or “No, don’t touch.”
Both parents should agree on what other things in the home are not touchable for the child. Here is a suggested list: tv remote controls, coffee table figurines, pottery, house plants, standing lamps, table lamps, desk drawers, standing televisions, stereos, cupboards, pet water and food dishes, floor standing wine racks, bedroom dresser drawers and closets—to name just a few. Here is where you continue teaching the word no. Remember, you should only say “No” once. If your child doesn’t respond right away, discipline must follow immediately.
As your children grow up physically, teach them how to take care of carpets, floors (tile and wood), furniture, walls and windows. Set rules for behavior inside the home. Our homes should be peaceful, not indoor playgrounds or sports fields. Bursting enthusiasm, cheering, gymnastics, jumping, loud talking, running, etc, should be reserved for outside.
Teach your children to take care of their own things, such as art supplies, bedroom, bicycle, books, clothing, sports equipment and toys.
When you commit yourself to teach these habits, you will never have to worry about your child mistreating other people’s property.
11. Teach Your Child to Respect All Adults
Young children must be taught to give honor to and hold high respect for men and women who are older and wiser than they.
Showing honor and respect for older people opens up great benefits not only to children, but also to parents, neighborhoods, states and even nations.
“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord,” God commanded the Israelites (Leviticus 19:32; esv). Younger people should have such deep respect for an older person that they immediately stand up when a gray- or white-haired person enters a room. Why?
Contrary to modern thinking, older people are not “washed up,” but are an invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom that can only be acquired through life experience. Study this verse carefully. Let it sink in, especially the last part. Showing honor and respect to old men and women is fearing God! One of God’s names is the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:9). Compared to God, the oldest human being alive is just a newborn! Unfortunately today, many consider God to be washed up.
Toddlers, children, teens and even young adults have to be taught to honor and respect older people—it doesn’t come naturally.
12. Teach Your Child to Know and Obey God
Teaching a child about God is one of the most important responsibilities God places on parents. Parents should never be embarrassed to talk about the living God or His ways with their children.
It was an Israelite tradition for parents to teach their children about God (Deuteronomy 6:1, 7). How much more important is it then for parents of the spiritual nation of Israel to do so? The Israelites, enslaved by Egyptians who were steeped in worship of false gods and perverted by pagan values and ideas, had no knowledge of the true God. After coming out of Egypt, they had to get to know God. Moses introduced them to God at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:17). This had to be an exciting day for Moses.
After the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness, Moses, just like a responsible parent, taught the next generation of Israelites about God. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord,” Moses explained (Deuteronomy 6:4). He made sure that generation was not misled by the Egyptian concept of God.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” he continued (verse 5). He not only taught the young Israelites about God, he also made sure they understood that God desired an intimate love relationship with them. The Hebrew word ‘ahab (love) used in this verse frequently describes the love between human beings; for example, love between father and son. Yet Moses ratcheted up his instruction one more notch.
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (verses 6-7). Moses left no doubt with this young generation that they were bound by law to teach their children about the true God and how to have a relationship with Him. Their parents’ history with the Egyptians showed them that if they didn’t teach their children true religion, someone else could pervert them with false religion.
Family Bible study is the essential classroom for instructing your child about God. There is no better day than God’s Sabbath day to conduct these meetings. Your Bible studies should match your child’s age. For young children the simplest study is reading The Bible Story. As your child grows up physically and mentally, your family Bible studies should address questions they may have about God and His way of life. You could also give additional explanation of a subject they heard at Church services. Above all, you should teach your child the Ten Commandments. Once you commit to conducting family Bible studies, the ideas for studies will flow when you pray to God about them. Even your personal discussions with your child should give you ample ideas for these studies.
Teaching your child how to pray is all-important to help him build a relationship with God. The most effective way for you to teach your child to pray is for you to pray with him daily. The amount of time you devote to prayer time with your child should increase as he grows. Use the prayer outline Jesus Christ gave the disciples as the foundation of your instruction (Matthew 6:9-13). Also be sure you allow your child to see you studying the Bible and praying—he will want to imitate your example.
Remember that obedience is the primary character trait your child must have to be a success in this life, in the wonderful World Tomorrow, and as a born son of God. Obedience in a child will produce the fruit of self-discipline. Teaching obedience is a noble cause. And it requires you to remain consistent, committed and relentless. There will be battles along the way. You must win every one of them. By age 5, you will see good fruits for all of your effort. Guaranteed!
What tremendous benefits you will bestow on your child! And your diligent work will not go unrewarded. In the process, you will become more obedient and self-disciplined yourself.
Tips for Effective Punishment
Resist the urge to punish a child because his behavior has disturbed you or made you angry. Many parents today only punish their children when they have been driven to it. This is not proper punishment and will never bring the right result. Effective punishment is never a temporary event. It is not about quieting a child or stopping an annoyance. Effective punishment is a small part of an organized plan to help your child put his best foot forward in life. Remember, your ultimate goal in child rearing must be to develop the habit of obedience, proper self-control and self-discipline. It requires you to invest years (nearly two decades) in personal study and practical application. Below are several important tips to help you carry out effective punishment.
Types of Punishment
In our insane liberal world, corporal punishment of children is considered taboo because most authorities associate it with child abuse. But the Bible teaches that corporal punishment is a necessary part of successful child rearing. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him,” wrote King Solomon (Proverbs 13:24; rsv). Solomon is second only to Jesus Christ as the wisest man to ever live. He viewed spanking as an expression of true parental love. But spanking is not the only form of punishment that can be used effectively with children. Study your child well to know what forms of punishment produce the best results. Here is a brief discussion of the top four.
Denial of privileges: This is an effective form of punishment for older children and teens. Banning the use of computers, iPods, iPads, tvs and other electronic devices, as well as favorite activities—playing with friends, swimming, bike-riding, skating—for a period of time is effective. For teens of driving age, denying him use of the family automobile can also get great results.
Face the consequences: Requiring a child of any age (generally 2 years and above) to face the consequences of certain actions is a very effective means of punishment. Children should be made to understand that wrong actions not only can harm themselves, but also others (e.g., throwing rocks). Children should be made to make restitution for damage to their own property (e.g., a bicycle not taken care of properly) and the property of others (e.g., a neighbor’s broken window because of throwing rocks; damage or loss of sports equipment, such as a baseball, golf ball, etc).
Grounding: Grounding can also be used as a “face the consequences” type of punishment. This is effective with school-age children and teenagers. It involves restricting your child to a certain place, usually the home or bedroom, as punishment. For example, “ground” your child on a Saturday night as punishment for breaking curfew during the week.
Spanking: This form of corporal punishment is most effective with younger children. Parents should view corporal punishment as a necessary but short-term measure that is used the most with infants and toddlers, and is gradually used less and less through the school-age years. Spanking should be unnecessary for teenagers.
Remember, habits must be formed. Corporal punishment, done in discretion and love, must take the place of higher motives when the child is too young to really know the difference between right and wrong.
When the child is entirely too young to discern right from wrong, good from evil, his parents have the God-given responsibility to make his decisions for him.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
To fulfill God’s incredible purpose for your child, you must recognize that punishment is necessary—including corporal punishment. But how should you administer corporal punishment?
Generally, it is best to use the hand. However, there are still many cautions necessary. Let’s begin with a few don’ts.
Don’t spank a child with your whole hand through his diaper. Corporal punishment should be felt. You are more likely to injure your child’s back than provide the sting necessary for effective punishment.
Never slap a child on the face or thump his head. Never box his ears.
The only areas where you should spank your child are the back of the hand (especially when reaching for a forbidden object such as a hot stove or something he could pull down), high on the backs and sides of the legs, and directly on the buttocks.
Parents are especially cautioned to be extremely careful to ensure punishment is appropriate and not severe for children below 1 year of age. Two or three fingers of the hand should be used for a very young child, and first tested on your own forearm or thigh to test the severity to ensure you are not overdoing it.
When an implement is necessary to administer corporal punishment, a wooden spoon or a light ping-pong paddle on the buttocks is very effective. Never use the old-fashioned methods of a razor strap or buggy whip.
Remember, spanking should be felt. But it should not cause bruises or other injuries. Use common sense. Punish your child in love. Stay calm. Never spank in a state of angry emotion, then you need not fear overdoing it!
Never beat a child! Remember, spanking is only one type of punishment. Depending on the circumstance, spanking may be a last option. Proper spanking is not a weapon to be wielded to abuse a child.
There is never, under any circumstances, a time to beat a child. A child should never, under any circumstances, be punished in anger! A child should never be bruised or injured!
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Never Leave Children to Themselves Immediately After Punishment
Remember that proper punishment is more about teaching and less about spanking. Both are important. This requires a major time investment on your part. Unless you spend time talking positively with your child before, during and after punishment, you will leave the dangerous impression that he is still guilty. Be sure to explain fully the error of your child’s actions and how he can change it. Follow the example of Christ, who said, “Go and sin no more” (John 5 and 8). You should give him a few minutes to think about his actions. After this brief period, be sure to let him know that you know he can do better.
God is quick to forgive His children upon repentance. Parents must learn to do the same with their children.
The positive type of punishment always carries with it the automatic understanding that the child is now forgiven for his wrong action …. Only by parents carefully explaining this to their children, and showing that they are punishing in love, with judgment and wisdom, using great discretion, will they avoid some of [the] dangers in punishment.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
You may be surprised at how your child responds to your focused and loving attention. He is certainly more likely to assure you that he is sorry for his wrong action and will graciously hug you and thank you for your loving punishment. Be sure to respond with hugs and affection of your own.
Punishment Must Fit the Offense
Any type of punishment, whether a physical spanking, deprivation of privilege, or other type, must always suit the offense. It must, at all costs, be prompt, and must never be done unless preceded by a warning. It must never be done in anger—but it must always be felt.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
**The Church recommends that adults be well acquainted with the relevant local, state or provincial, and federal laws regarding child rearing where they live. The Church never promotes unreasonable or excessive discipline in raising children. Reasonable methods of parental discipline that avoid physical and mental harm to the children are supported and encouraged—but abusive practices are not condoned and are absolutely forbidden according to Scripture. Abuse of minors includes acts of omission as well; therefore, the principles defined in this book, along with considered, prayerful application of discipline, are recommended to help immature young people develop in a controlled environment to become responsible adults (Proverbs 22:6).
The Bible on Spanking
“Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee” (Deuteronomy 8:5).
“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish” (Proverbs 12:1).
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24; rsv).
“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverbs 19:18).
“Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart” (Proverbs 20:30; nkjv).
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
“Don’t hesitate to discipline children. A good spanking won’t kill them. As a matter of fact, it may save their lives” (Proverbs 23:13-14; Today’s English Version).
“Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14; nkjv).
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (Hebrews 12:6-7; nkjv).
Train Your Children to Behave During Services
God wants the Sabbath to be a “delight”—even for our children (Isaiah 58:13). Quietly sitting still and doing nothing for hours won’t be a delight to even the most mild-mannered child. Be sure to provide appropriate ways to make this weekly holy time special and enjoyable for them, whatever their age. Spend extra time with them. Read together. Talk. Walk together. Make Sabbath meals special.
Prepare to make Sabbath services interesting even for your infants. Set aside special quiet toys, dolls, books or activities that they can use only on the Sabbath. Supply a nice backpack, handbag or briefcase for their supplies for services.
When you have very young children, your first goal is to ensure that you can receive the messages during services with as few interruptions as possible. Blanket training is your best tool to make this happen. (See page 94 for instruction on blanket training.)
As you do your “homework,” you will reap the benefits of fewer and fewer interruptions during services. Every child is different, but by around six to seven months your baby’s sleep schedule will be more regular and she should be able to nap during part or all of services—depending on circumstances, such as long drives to attend services. It takes consistent effort, but the rewards are immeasurable in terms of your being able to drink in the Sabbath messages.
Remember, don’t expect a child to sit still quietly, with nothing to do. Make sure he has silent toys, little snacks and a sippy cup to keep him occupied.
Train your children not to distract you or demand your attention while the minister is speaking. Enforce a no-talking rule. Whispering can easily get out of hand and should be avoided except in real emergencies.
Keep an eye on what’s happening in your children’s world. Anytime you notice their behavior during services slipping and beginning to impinge on your attentiveness to the messages, then be prepared to put in more “homework.”
As children grow closer to school age, your goal will shift toward preparing them to receive the messages at services. (See page 98, “Teach Your Child to Sit Still.”)
By age 3, your child should be able to sit in a chair through the sermonette and announcements at Church services. At Church headquarters in Edmond, potty-trained 3-year-olds sitting in the theater are expected to sit in their seat for the entire service. In the field, your child should be able to sit in a seat through the entire service by age 5 to 6. This difference takes into consideration that four Sabbaths a month include a Bible study and a service. (At headquarters, the Bible studies are held the night before.)
Throughout this time, also keep your children involved in the other aspects of services. Be sure they bow their head and keep their eyes closed during the prayers. Get them involved in the song service, pointing to the words in the hymnal as they are sung, encouraging them to sing along—or at least to make a “joyful noise.”
Once children begin reading and writing, you should gradually challenge them to apply these skills within Church services, in using the Bible and taking notes.
Be alert to the time when children will appreciate and be able to care for a Bible, probably sometime in first or second grade. Teach them the books of the Bible. Make a game of it as you help them practice finding scriptures that you call out.
Teach your children to take notes during services first by having them copy scriptures and key phrases from your own notes. Start by having them do it during the sermonette. Gradually increase your expectations: writing more of their own notes for longer stretches.
As much as possible, find ways to reward your children for progressing and doing things right, rather than punishing them for failing to meet your expectations. Again, you are teaching them that the Sabbath is a delight!
Depending on their academic ability and maturity, sometime between third and fourth grade is probably a good target for your children to be able to listen and take notes for the duration of services.
As your children grow, establish a habit of going over the messages together. Assess how much they’re learning. Reinforce important points. Train them in the way of being attentive to what God teaches, and when they are old, they won’t depart from it.
Chapter 5: Rearing Children—Ages Six to Twelve
For decades, an increasing number of news reports have revealed that our elementary- and middle school-aged children are in serious trouble. Bullying, disrespect for authority, drugs, gender confusion, promiscuous sex (even with teachers), suicide and bloody, murderous violence have invaded our public and private school systems. Who or what is to blame for this horrendous crisis?
We could point the finger at many things: our failing school systems, perverse music and entertainment, drug pushers, pornography, violent video games or other modern maladies. But the stark truth is that the main cause for troubled children is troubled parents. Parental neglect is a root cause of children’s problems today.
Too many parents are so self-absorbed and caught up in their own personal crises that they can’t focus on the proper rearing of children.
To save our children, parents must take on their God-given responsibility to nurture, love, lead, teach and discipline their children.
Mr. Armstrong warned of the damaging effects of parental neglect. He wrote over 20 years ago, “Family life has undergone a radical revolution! Teens have sex games at home in bed while Dad and Mom are at work. Children do not eat with parents. They seldom go to movies with parents. Parents have their lives, associates and friends apart from the children. Parents never think of teaching children, being with children, maintaining a family relationship! Parental responsibility is totally neglected. In due time parents are going to be brought to account for this neglect of basic responsibility” (The Missing Dimension in Sex). Admitting responsibility for child neglect is difficult for any parent. Yet it is the only means to an effective solution for our child crisis.
Parents, take hope. With concentrated study, effort, prayer and focused time with your children, you can reverse a negative situation and make a good situation better. Here is how.
The fundamental principles outlined in the previous chapter are made apparent here, especially if you are just beginning to work with an older, preteen child. The 12 skill sets of Chapter 4 will help you evaluate the true state of your child’s obedience and your own child rearing.
During a child’s earliest years, parents should focus on developing obedience and character. As your child matures through school age, puberty and teenage years, a heavier emphasis should be placed on giving your child an excellent scholastic education.
Parents! God holds you—not your child’s teacher—responsible for your child’s schooling. Today’s educational systems—elementary, middle school, high school, college and university—are degenerating rapidly. Effective parents are fully aware of their child’s school, school administrators and their policies. If a child’s school situation is full of adversity, don’t allow him or her to remain in a bad situation.
For families that can afford it, private schooling may be a good option. Homeschooling is growing in appeal and popularity for many parents. Before jumping on this bandwagon, however, carefully consider what is required. Analyze the costs, financial and otherwise. Top quality homeschool curricula, books and supplies can be expensive. Teaching children at home requires strict discipline on the part of the parents and the child. A parent may have a sincere desire to homeschool, but not every parent is qualified to do the job. The decision to homeschool should be made with ministerial counsel. It is also important that you educate yourself about federal and state requirements for your location.
Here are seven areas of character development and education your children need to be successful in their preteen years.
1. Teach the God-Ordained Sex Roles
There is an aggressive movement today to indoctrinate all young children to accept homosexuality, gender fluidity and transgenderism. The transgender movement is rapidly growing in acceptance and influence. For parents with elementary-age children, it is already knocking at your child’s classroom door—and you may not know it! You should be alarmed, aware and ready to take action to protect your child.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, or questioning, (lgbtq) community and its supporters want your children to embrace their point of view. They have been very successful in bringing their indoctrination programs into local libraries and the public school system. They want your child to believe that transgenderism and cross-dressing are normal. This lifestyle is anything but normal.
Here is the reality that concerned parents must face: In any U.S. government-funded school, when lgbtq rights are involved, parents’ concerns or disagreements will not matter. Schools are not required to inform the parents of transgender instruction. So what can you do to protect your child from transgender indoctrination? Be informed about what is going on in your child’s classroom. If you discover a transgender instruction is planned, your best option may be to keep your child at home for that day.
Perverted adults and some teachers are indoctrinating children to believe that sex—being male or female—is “fluid.” These adults encourage children to experiment with gender. Boys are encouraged to wear dresses and high heels. lgbtq leaders proclaim that a girl brain could be trapped in a boy’s body. This thinking is based on Satan’s lie that humans are an immortal soul trapped in a human body. This happiness-destroying deceit is inspired by Satan and his host of demons.
The majority of the most-respected researchers, psychiatrists and pediatricians know that it is not possible to have a girl brain trapped in a boy’s body or vice versa. “Having an authority figure teach the myth that a child can be trapped in the wrong body can potentially lead to the fear that they aren’t the sex their bodies clearly indicate,” states Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians.
Teach your young sons to love being boys. Provide them opportunities to become strong physically, mentally and spiritually. Remind them continually that their God-given role is to be a loving, hardworking, servant-leader for a future wife and family.
Teach your daughters to love being girls. Provide them with ample opportunities to become strong physically, mentally and spiritually. But emphasize that they are not in competition with boys. Give them ample opportunities to learn homemaking skills, to be a servant to others, talents which will prepare them to be a loving companion for a future husband and a mother of children.
2. Encourage Your Child to Take On Challenging Activities That Build Self-discipline
As your child begins school, get him or her involved in athletics and music lessons; these require self-discipline. Sports and music are a major part of the curriculum of both Imperial Academy and Herbert W. Armstrong College.
Which sports should you encourage your child to participate in? The overriding principle to follow is simply stated: Avoid the sports that could lead to catastrophic bodily injury, as well as those athletic activities where the intent is to do someone harm. True, it is not uncommon that participating in athletics will lead to some injury: ankle sprains and pulled muscles, for example. But some sports are inherently dangerous.
Mr. Armstrong established that our boys should not play tackle football because of the potential for serious bodily harm. There is a competitive and violent nature to American football that seeks to do harm to others. Many teenage football players have been paralyzed for life because of neck and spinal-cord injuries.
Bull riding, bungee jumping, sky diving, and motorcycle racing are a few examples of other sports that can cause serious bodily harm. These and others like them should be avoided. Pastor General Gerald Flurry has determined that adolescents should also avoid sports such as boxing, karate and kickboxing because of the intent to do harm to others. He has also determined that sports like Ultimate Fighting should not even be watched because of its brutal and violent intentions.
There are many favorable athletic activities that help build a young person’s confidence, physical agility, strength, skill and overall health. Here is a short list: baseball, basketball, cycling, golf, gymnastics, ice skating, roller skating, running, snow skiing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. You should teach your child to be physically active. Exercise is fundamental to good health.
3. Teach Good Sportsmanship
When observing most professional sports games, it is easy to see that good sportsmanship has become a lost art. It can be embarrassing to watch how many highly skilled sports professionals act during games. Well-known players storm off playing courts or fields, yell at officials, and fight with other players when the game doesn’t go their way. In a similar vein, when a team makes a goal, the one who scored the goal will perform a victory dance in self-exaltation. It is clear that people today believe that winning is all important.
How should God’s people view the purpose of sports? Is an athletic event about winning at all costs? The answer is an emphatic no. Your job as a parent is to recapture the true value of good sportsmanship. Athletics and team sports, when done right, build character. A true sportsman views athletic contests and sports as a character-building exercise.
Teach your children the major elements of good sportsmanship. They are to develop the skills to excel in their sport; be consistent in practice; perform at their personal best at an athletic event; encourage their own team as well as the opposing team; respect coaches, officials, team members and the opposing team; avoid trash talk; be unselfish during play, allowing all teammates to participate; always play fair and be honest; maintain humility in victory; keep a positive perspective after a loss; resolve to do better at the next event.
Parents should be wary of allowing adolescents to emulate today’s sports icons. Some sports leaders still exhibit good sportsmanship, but they are rare.
4. Teach Your Child to Follow Instructions
One of the most serious problems that many corporations face with new hires is that a large portion of them do not follow instructions. Why? Children over the last several decades have been permitted to do their own thing. The current child-rearing philosophy espouses that making children obey rules, standards and instruction harms creativity. In reality, the opposite is true.
Children desperately need to learn to follow rules, standards and instructions. A child with a well-developed habit of following instructions is more capable of releasing his creativity. All of today’s truly successful creative artists, musicians and writers had to learn to follow rules, standards and instruction.
Parents must be willing to take the time to teach—to provide the instructions necessary—for their children to successfully complete a task assigned to them, whether it be taking care of a pet, personal grooming, keeping their personal space neat and clean, or doing chores around the home.
Most importantly, parents must continue to teach their children, preteens and teenagers to know God better through daily prayer, obeying His commandments, and living His way of life as outlined in the Bible. These are eternal instructions that ensure a successful, eternal future.
5. Teach Your Child to Work
Working requires self-control. The work you assign your child should be age appropriate. Be creative. Preschoolers can take care of pets. Elementary schoolchildren can do chores inside the home and outdoors in the yard. Young people should be taught to clean their bedrooms and keep them clean. Jobs and chores teach children responsibility. Responsibility is doing the right thing when no one else is watching. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat,” wrote the Apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Working hard and productively is a godly principle that must be taught to children.
Be sure your child follows a daily schedule. This is critical during the school year and even during the summer months. Teach your children to prioritize their time. Prayer and Bible study should always be scheduled as the most important activity each day. Teach your child to plan his after-school time, allowing time for play and homework.
During the summer, parents should help their children fill their days with productive activities. Be sure your child does not waste his summer. Summer is the time for chores, more education, outdoor athletic activities, and fun events with other children. Be sure to emphasize to your children the need for ample sleep—going to bed early and rising early. Many children battle parents to stay up late during the summer. Parents, win that battle and get them in bed. Going to bed on time and getting up on time is effective teaching for developing the habit of self-discipline.
6. Teach Good Manners and Etiquette
It is essential for all parents to capture the vision of your child’s incredible future potential. Ultimately, your job is to prepare your children to rule in God’s Kingdom. They will hold high offices of service. It is important that your children know how to conduct themselves with grace and decorum. The rules of good manners and etiquette are critical training for your princes and princesses. (Please read and study page 23, “Your Children Are God’s Royalty.”)
Your home is the perfect classroom for instructing your children on good manners and etiquette. Manners are a person’s outward bearing or way of behaving toward others. Good manners are a matter of courtesy. Etiquette is the standard of polite behavior. The foundation of good manners and etiquette is showing respect for others. Teaching good manners is a critical component of true education!
The primary way parents teach good manners is by setting the right example. If you do not feel secure with your own conduct, then put in the effort to learn good manners as you teach your child. All adults today would benefit from a refresher course in these areas. There are several great books available on manners and etiquette that you can obtain at little cost. Sheryl Eberly’s 365 Manners Kids Should Know shows how parents can teach manners on a day-to-day basis. Modern Manners by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler explains some of the more advanced rules of etiquette. Here are some key areas to get you started.
Teach your child to wait his turn. Our thoroughly selfish society teaches young people to be assertive and get what they want. Being assertive can be an excellent trait if used in the right context (for godly leadership); however, assertiveness should never override politeness and good manners. Instruct your child to wait his turn. Within a group of people who are talking, your child needs to learn to wait his turn to speak, and not interrupt others. The same is true for food and event lines. Rushing to be first, or even worse, jumping ahead of someone already in line, is the epitome of selfishness.
Teach your child to say please and thank you. Meal times are the perfect setting to teach children the use of the two most courteous phrases in the human language—please and thank you. “May I please have some more milk,” or “Please, pass me the salad,” should naturally roll off of every child’s tongue at mealtime. Of course, all parents should be using the same expressions. Once the action requested is completed, then “Thank you” should follow immediately. Children should also be taught to say thank you when complimented by an adult.
Teach your child to develop an outgoing personality. Downtrodden, sullen and moody children are often the result of parental neglect. Be sure to spend ample time with your children to teach them how to express enthusiasm for education, physical activity, work and fellowship with others. Teach your children to cooperate with other children and adults. Mr. Armstrong taught that God’s Family is a team. Be sure your child participates in projects with other children. Teach your child to be friendly to other children and adults. Be sure your child maintains a positive, happy approach to life, especially during the trials of life. A major aspect of an outgoing personality is enduring hardship with grace.
Teach your child proper table manners. Elements of etiquette are often considered out-of-date and unnecessary. Not so! One of the most important ways to show respect for another person is to maintain polite conduct while eating. Here is a short list of skills parents should teach older children for proper table manners: how to use a napkin, how to hold utensils, how to cut food, how to season food, how to remove unwanted food from your mouth, not speaking while eating, excusing yourself from the table, use of cell phones and other electronic devices. Modern Manners gives details on table and dining etiquette.
7. Teach Your Child Honesty
Ours is not a truthful society. Leaders in government, business, education and religion knowingly lie many times each day. They are not alone. Most people admit that they lie often. Straying from the truth is an accepted way of living. Many believe there are good lies, or “little white lies,” and bad lies. Some would never consider lying in a court of law but then feel no remorse at giving false information on a job application. Some people believe that lying is necessary to keep things running smoothly in international relations, businesses, marriages and friendships.
In this age of lying, it is so important to teach your children the virtue of honesty. This is both a spiritual and practical matter. The Bible states that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). This evil spirit being is also the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). And he is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), which means he broadcasts his policy of lying as a way of life to unsuspecting human minds. Parents must be sure to teach their children to always tell the truth. A lying child is under the heavy influence of Satan.
Living honestly is also a practical matter. It is a major part of having good moral character. Children must learn not to lie to parents or school authorities, nor to cheat on tests or in athletic events. From a young age, your child must be taught to give an accurate description of events that take place in their lives. Children learn early to present themselves and their actions only in a good light. Parents must be on the lookout to ensure their child always presents his actions in the most truthful manner. It is so easy to blame poor behavior on the dog, cat or the next-door neighbor. Teaching a child to be honest does him a great service. He learns how to take responsibility for his actions. This enables him to make positive and necessary changes in his life.
It is vitally important that you set an example of truthfulness for your child. Never lie to your child. If you promise your child something, keep your promise. Always let your child see you keeping your word. It will go a long way toward him wanting to follow your good example.
To get results in these seven areas, remember to be patient, positive and consistent. Sterling character, like a beautiful building, is built over time with planning and diligence. God has instilled in your child the right raw materials for you to work with. Your child was created with a mind to think and reason. God created your child with a human spirit that can be shaped and molded. Remember, your goal in these formative years is to prepare your child to have a relationship with God. That is God’s number one desire for your child. What an awesome responsibility God has given parents—to help Him re-create Himself in a child. As you do your part, you can be assured God is doing His.
Mind Your Manners
Here, summarized from Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette, first published in 1952, are some things we should not do at the table:
Sit down to a meal unwashed and uncombed or improperly dressed.
Tilt our chairs or push them back from the table with all our body weight on them.
Tuck in a napkin, or suck our fingers instead of wiping them on a napkin.
Lounge on the dinner table, including putting our elbows on it or sitting back on our spines. (It is acceptable to put elbows—preferably one—on the table between courses.)
Put more than a manageable mouthful in our mouths at one time.
Chew with our mouths open or with obvious noise or lip-smacking.
Speak unnecessarily loudly, or chatter incessantly.
Behave noisily and conspicuously.
Burp, belch, sneeze or cough without attempting to turn away from others, and then only behind a cupped hand or a clean handkerchief.
Scratch, pick the teeth, spit, comb the hair, or tend the nails.
Pull our finger joints, drum our fingers, or indulge in any similar irritating little habits that set people’s teeth on edge.
Leave a spoon in a cup, or eat with a knife.
Interrupt a conversation—except for an important reason and then only after asking permission to speak.
Paintball, Laser Tag and Other Such Activities
Should people in God’s Church participate in activities such as paintball, laser tag or other similar games? Should they allow their children to engage in activities that involve pointing a gun at another person?
[P]erhaps no toy will excite the imagination of little toddlers (especially boys!) as a gun.
Today’s toy stores display dozens of models and varieties, all the way from a tiny replica of a cowboy’s six-shooter right up to a deadly looking submachine gun that “shoots real bullets.” Complete with some of these sets will come even electronic gadgets such as real-life targets in the shape of a man, which will fall over when struck, and then spring back up to be shot at again.
And what a pity! What a pity it is that naive and gullible parents seemingly take for granted or carelessly assume whatever is manufactured and produced, and therefore offered for sale designed “for children,” must be all right for their children to use. …
Today the gun ranks as the biggest seller of the toy line! Matched six-guns of the cowboy and Indian era are often slung low on the hips of a 4-year-old outfitted in a space helmet holding a death-ray gun leveled at your midsection. Most popular was the fad of secret-agent weapons of the 007 ilk. Transistor radios, fountain pens, attaché cases suddenly transformed into fantastic death dealers at the touch of a kiddie’s finger.
Guns are for killing. If you don’t intend to kill, don’t use a gun—the real thing or an imitation! …
It is, believe it or not—and shocking though it may sound to many of us in this “modern world”—absolutely wrong for children to play war! To see a little child pointing anything, whether real gun, toy replica or a simple piece of wood he picks up, at another person, and pretending to shoot him is a heinous act. It’s wrong. It should be stopped by parents who have any sense of love and responsibility toward their children.
Further, the source of such play, such as the tv and magazines that inspire it, should be removed or strictly controlled. Then, the parents should really explain God’s principles regarding killing. They should impress upon the child the dead seriousness of ever even playfully pretending to point a gun at someone.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Just months before Mr. Armstrong died, Dexter Faulkner wrote the following:
But we in God’s Church are supposed to be living a different way—a way that leads to peace, happiness and every good thing. Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has taught us that we are the Kingdom of God in embryo. We should be living a way of life that is an example of what God’s Kingdom is like.
Each succeeding generation under the government of God and His Church should be better than the one before it, because a better foundation should have been laid.
Our children are sanctified. They have a better starting place than many of us did. We should be able to help our children avoid the pitfalls that caused us so much grief in the past by teaching them a better way.
In the Millennium, swords will be turned into plowshares. If a remnant of war is found in a field, it will be formed into a useful instrument. A father then would use this opportunity to describe to his children the time when men fought and killed each other. He would explain how Christ returned to change that way of life so people could live in peace with each other.
Then, he would involve his children in turning the rusty rifle barrel or other “sword” of destruction into a useful tool. Mr. Armstrong has a watch made from a cannonball given to him by King Leopold in recognition of Mr. Armstrong’s efforts toward peace. It’s during the Millennium that “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13; nkjv).
—Worldwide News, Aug. 5, 1985
Therefore, we should not participate in any activities, including paintball and laser tag, that involve pointing a gun at another human being—even though the gun is not real. As The Plain Truth About Child Rearing says, we “should impress upon the child the dead seriousness of ever even playfully pretending to point a gun at someone.” If older teens and singles participate in these types of activities, younger children will want to follow their example.
Nerf guns can be acceptable if they are used for target practice and the like, but they should not be pointed at other people.
Similarly, some “water guns” are made to look very realistic—like a real pistol or machine gun. These should not be used and pointed at each other. However, some water guns are made in the shape of a soaker, obviously designed to project water. Some are designed to look like a fire hose or even animals. These types of devices can be used and enjoyed within the spirit of God’s law.
Notice another quote from that 1985 article: “My boys were taught as they grew up that guns are not toys. I explained to them that when they were old enough I would teach them the proper and safe use of guns. Later, when they were in their teens, their grandfather could take them hunting with him, knowing they knew how to responsibly use the rifles they carried” (ibid).
This is the right spirit that should be followed when discussing guns with our children and teaching about their proper use. There is a proper and safe use of guns, such as target practice, hunting for food, and even killing other animals that may cause problems or danger in some way. With this in mind, there is nothing wrong with a child having a BB gun, 22 rifle or other guns once they are mature enough and properly taught so that they know how to carry and use the gun. But be sure to always emphasize that guns are not toys and they must be handled and carried responsibly—never pointing them at another person.
Chapter 6: Build a Moral Teen
Taken from The Missing Dimension in Sex, Chapter 12
By Herbert W. Armstrong
Dating procedures have undergone radical changes in the past 75 years. But has it been beneficial progress—or has dating become a lost art?
What about “going steady”? What about “necking,” “petting,” premarital sexual experience?
It’s time to come truly up to date—with the facts and with the truth!
Let’s have reasons, for or against, that are rational and that make sense!
First, look at today’s teenage world. Realize how it has changed!
Not only is a moral revolution in cyclonic progress around the world. There also is a teenage revolution. It is, of course, a large part of “the New Morality” as a whole.
Are Today’s Teens Really Worse?
There are those who, in their self-confident uninformed optimism, assure us that today’s adolescents are no different—and certainly no worse—than those of past generations. But the facts prove otherwise.
Human nature is the same. But we simply live in a different world today. The emergence of the phonograph, the automobile, the motion picture, radio and television and other productions of the machine age have brought new influences and changing customs. Human nature, adapting to changing times, expresses itself very differently today.
Some would hush up the naked facts. But the welfare of our youth is at stake. The adolescents, drifting with the immorality tide, are speeding past their elders in the downward plunge. There is a trend. It is an immoral trend. It is speeding up at accelerated pace. It is only natural for young people to follow the trend. They want to belong. It’s time to face the facts squarely.
People are like sheep. They all follow the leader to the slaughter. But they don’t know they are being led to the slaughter. They are just a little stupid. Yes, quite a little! But they still want to belong! It’s natural to just go with the group.
From Chaperons to ‘Loving Up’
Look how times have changed—and moral standards with them!
When my mother was of dating age, in the middle 1880s, chaperons were in vogue. She wore long sleeves, high necks and skirts that dragged in the dust. Young men didn’t know what girls’ legs looked like. In her embarrassment, my mother, I remember as a boy, called them “limbs.” When a young man began dating a young lady it was called “courting.” There was little or no caressing—only when the young couple could give the chaperon the slip. It was then called “spooning” or “sparking.” And even on such rare occasions, the very proper young ladies quickly drew the line.
A generation later, when I arrived at adolescence, the chaperons had disappeared. But in the earlier years of dating—after age 16—this caressing, today called “necking,” was not yet the general practice. Or if it was, I must have been highly ignorant.
I distinctly remember one incident—after I had passed 20. A girl I frequently dated and I were being driven to her home by a young man with his girl friend. In those days all cars were completely air-conditioned—they were open cars. It began to rain. We buttoned on the side-curtains. To hold the curtain down, on my girl friend’s side, I was obliged to stretch my arm over the seat behind her. I shall never forget the difficulty I experienced in keeping my arm far enough to the rear to avoid any contact with the back of her neck. I was terribly afraid she would think I was “fresh” if any part of my arm touched her!
Today’s bold young people will get a real laugh at this. Yes, indeed—times have changed!
Later I knew of an experience involving a young man about 21 whom I knew very well. He and a 21-year-old chum were double-dating two girl chums. The other couple had begun “loving up” as the younger generation then termed it. So this friend of mine began to fear he would be considered “slow,” or behind the times. “Loving up” was then beginning to be considered the thing to do, after the first two or three dates. So this fellow began cautiously putting his arm around this girl’s shoulder. She didn’t shove it back. A date or two later, he worked up enough courage to kiss her. She made no objection. He remained very proper, otherwise.
The girl’s father was dead, and her stepfather was a dealer in Buick automobiles. He and his wife often took the young couple out on Sunday afternoon rides. Very few families owned automobiles in those days. The young people sat in the back seat, and his arm usually was around the girl’s shoulders. There was no objection from her mother or stepfather. It seemed to be accepted as normal.
One night, sitting in a front-porch swinging seat, the girl began to tell this young man how much money her father had left her. It was not a fortune, but a few thousand dollars. She began suggesting what they might do with it.
“Wait a minute!” he suddenly exclaimed. “Just what are you getting at?”
“Why,” she replied, “I thought we ought to begin to plan what we will do after we are married.”
“Married!” he exclaimed, in sudden alarm. “Who said anything about getting married?”
“Why,” she came back, equally surprised, “what have you been loving me up for, if we’re not going to be married?”
The flabbergasted young man then explained that he had never indulged in “loving up” before, but had begun to feel out of date, supposing it was expected. The girl burst into tears, jumped up and ran into the house, slamming the door behind her. Next day the boy tried to contact her by telephone. Her mother answered the telephone.
“Lucille told me all about it,” said the indignant mother, icily. “She never wants to see you again.” And she never did!
But in those “loving up” days, prior to World War i, girls were kept “decent.” Actual sexual intercourse was “unthinkable.” The girl who did submit to it “lost her honor.”
Have times changed?
The question sounds ridiculous today. Full premarital coitus is the rule—except the word “premarital” is a little out of date. Even marriage is on the way out.
The Teen Influence
Few people stop to realize to what extent the teenagers have taken over. They pretty well dominate the world picture.
Isaiah foretold this day. Here is a portion of the prophecy: Speaking of our people—today—in these very last days—God says: “And I will make boys their princes [Moffatt translates it, ‘I will make mere lads their leaders’], and babes shall rule over them. … [T]he youth will be insolent to the elder, and the base fellow to the honorable. … My people—children are their oppressors …. [T]he daughters of Zion are haughty, [we continue with Moffatt] holding their heads high as they walk, and ogling with their eyes, walking with their mincing steps …” (Isaiah 3:4-16; rsv). And this latter expression, about ogling eyes, when properly translated, actually refers to painted eyes—makeup on the face, and sensuous manner of walking to arouse boys.
Now look at the facts!
Why do so many radio stations turn to a “rock-and-roll” or disco format today? Because the rating agencies will show that they have the highest “ratings”—that is, the largest listening audience. But who is listening? Nearly altogether just “kids” in the lower or middle teens. But the rating agencies do not show the time-buyer WHO is listening—only how many! Big business and local “little business” consequently spend billions of dollars for radio time on the stations with the “highest ratings.”
But then, they say that these youths pretty well dominate the nation’s consumer spending!
Who determines what is “popular music” today? The “teens.” Even the radio stations who do not go to rock and disco music, in the main, play what is called “popular” music. But is it music? Or is it a moan, a groan, a wail, a dirge, and a screech?
Why did 10-, 12-, and up to 15-year-old little girls go virtually insane, and actually invite demon-possession, over the British “Beatles”? That could never have happened 50 years before.
Adolescents determine dancing trends, motion-picture themes, radio formats, and even advertisements and most fields of entertainment!
What many do not realize is that this teenage influence on the whole society is predominantly sexual influence. There is much more intense preoccupation with sex during these years than in later maturity.
Therefore sex became the basic formula for motion pictures—along with violence and crime, including murder.
In the past 20 or 30 years teenagers have come to recognize that there are advantages in organization and numbers. Actually it started back in the ’20s, with the sheiks, the flappers and the Charlestonites. Then came jitterbugs, bobby-soxers and then actual sex-clubs and gangs. In Britain, there were the Teddy-boys, succeeded by the “Mods” (Moderns), and the “Rockers” (Rock-and-Rollers).
In many communities, police and citizens alike have been shocked at the exposure of existing “non-virgin clubs.” Many disguised themselves as “teenagers’ social clubs.” They played “sexual games.” In some clubs, partners were drawn by lot. Club rules required illicit relations not less frequently than once a week. Girl members were initiated by sacrificing their virginity in a “ceremony” witnessed by all members.
There have been teenage drinking-and-sex parties. Also, marijuana or “pot parties”—where drugs and “free sex” are passed around. There have been hippie rock festivals and “love-ins” where nudity and sex are commonplace.
Teenage morality and respect for decency have plunged to an all-time low. Many youths express the attitude that there is nothing wrong with illicit or promiscuous sex.
Take one typical example. A 19-year-old boy had been in a certain town only six months. He named to police 11 girls with whom he had engaged in illicit sex. Many from “the best” families. “You can ‘make’ almost any girl in town, on your first date,” he said. In this particular scandal, which got into the newspapers, revealed facts were significant.
Of all involved, not one had received any formal sex education—boys or girls. Every boy had engaged in premarital sex before age 15. Not one was close to either father or mother. The police chief exclaimed that it was too bad he was unable to take a horsewhip to the neglectful parents!
One of the mothers whitewashed herself of blame, saying: “You can’t blame me for Janie’s predicament! Why, you can rest assured she never learned a thing about sex in my house. The word was never even so much as mentioned!”
Teen Sex and Violence Worldwide
The fast-growing surge of teenage immorality, drugs and violence is worldwide! Accompanying sexual promiscuity, news dispatches pile up an avalanche of reports of wreckage, destruction of property—especially schools—pillaging, arson, violence and often murder!
There are facts and statistics on teenage immorality and juvenile delinquency to fill this entire book many times over.
But why? What is the cause?
The world doesn’t want to hear the true answer!
The world refuses to face the tragic truth!
The true answer is this: Something has been taken away from this Earth that sorely needs to be restored! That “something” is knowledge of, respect for and obedience to the government and the law of God!
But will any like that answer? Most want to go on rebelling against their Maker, trying to find some other solution to their problems. There is no other!
Once there was peace, happiness, orderliness, joy on this Earth. You don’t have to believe it, but it’s true. Angels inhabited the Earth. The Almighty God had placed a top-ranking archangel, Lucifer, to administer the government of God on the Earth. Lucifer was a brilliant cherub. He sealed the sum total of wisdom and beauty. It went to his head. He became vain. Vanity gripped him. His mind swelled with resentment because he ruled only this Earth—a mere speck in the universe—while God ruled all the universe.
A third of the angels followed him in warlike aggression to knock God off His throne, and take over the universe rule. But they were driven back to the Earth. Physical chaos struck the Earth as a result of this stupendous mutiny. In six days God restored the Earth, and created mankind upon it (Psalm 104:30).
God made man mortal, of material substance. But He gave man mind power. When man chose to disobey God—to do evil, his mind became hostile toward God. He imbibed Satan’s attitude of self and rebellion. This became human nature. Human nature includes the attitude that had become Satan’s (Lucifer’s name now changed to Satan). Human nature is a pull, like the power of gravity, in the direction of vanity, greed, self-love, and spirit of competition, hostility, indifference, resentment or hatred, toward others. That is man’s natural attitude and tendency. It is a constant pull on man in that direction. It is the way that comes naturally. Because a subtile Satan, still on Earth’s throne, begins injecting that attitude during the first year of infant life.
Human Nature—Minus Purpose!
Let’s understand the real basic reason for these present problems. Basically, it is simply human nature.
Yet God endowed man with mind power, capable of recognizing the error of this way, if willing. Adam could have obeyed God, resisted Satan and qualified to replace Satan as Earth ruler, administering the government of God. But Adam disobeyed God, succumbed to Satan. His children have done so ever since.
Jesus Christ obeyed God, kept God’s commandments, resisted Satan, never allowed what we call “human nature” to enter Him. He conquered the devil, and qualified to administer the world-ruling government of God. Then He ascended to heaven to officially receive this world rule. The heavens have received Him UNTIL—notice it, Acts 3:19-21, only “UNTIL the times of restitution of all things”—that is, the restoring of what had been taken away—the government of God!
That time is almost upon us now! This very outburst of universal violence is one of the signs! “As it was in the days of Noah,” said Jesus, “so shall it be,” just before the days of Christ’s return to restore the Kingdom of God, and bring us peace! Just before the Flood, there was illicit sex and violence! It was not thus 60 years ago. It IS a time of illicit sex and violence today!
Can’t we see the handwriting on the wall?
Why all this violence—this immorality?
Here is the cause! Human nature—which is vanity—without any purpose, and absence of parental training and discipline!
There is no sense of purpose today. We are told we must adjust to living in a world of problems with no solutions! Nuclear war—the erasure of human life from the Earth—appears to be just around the corner—liable to strike us any second.
Young people today are given nothing to live for! No hope! No future! They are more prosperous than ever before. They are BORED! They are rebellious. The spirit of revolt is in the air! They resent all authority!
Yet vanity within them seeks to exalt itself!
Why did Lee Oswald shoot and kill President Kennedy? Frustrated vanity! He sought status. He sought it the wrong way. America turned him down. Russia turned him back. He was a little man, incapable of greatness, yet he desperately craved to do something that would make him stand out in history—make the world take notice of him!
Even the Warren Commission could find no other motive!
Why do aimless, purposeless, bored, yet prosperous teenagers resort to violence? Says an article in Reader’s Digest: “Boys explode into violence to prove they are grown up. Some, unable to succeed in school … seek status through hooliganism.”
There it is—“to seek status”—plain vanity, but minus any constructive or healthy purpose!
Their parents have failed!
One father said of his boy in police trouble: “It isn’t my fault! Why, I’ve always given him everything he wanted. I can’t understand why he did this terrible thing!”
Yes, this father gave him money. But he failed to give him right teaching, training, a purpose in life, proper discipline, instilling in this boy a sense of responsibility and respect for authority! And he probably denied him love and true father-son companionship! Also he failed to teach him the truth about sex!
Teenagers Need Factual Instruction
It is not exactly a paradox that millions of teenagers have had considerable sex experience, and yet possess little sexual knowledge. It is largely because of ignorance—or lack of right instruction in the right manner at the right time—that adolescents seek to satisfy curiosity by experience. And, of course, they are “sheep,” and when it becomes a trend—when “it’s being done”—human nature wants “to belong.” So they go with the crowd—and parents know nothing of it.
Even when growing children and adolescents do receive some formal sex education, it is always presented from the physical, the material, and therefore the sensual approach.
If teenagers had been properly taught what they needed to know about sex, from the very first and second years of their lives, by informed and loving parents, the frightful tragedies of teenage and premarital sex would have been reduced to the barest minimum.
Today, if you tell a teenager that “necking” is wrong—that it ought never to be indulged in—that it is a definite sin—that it robs their future marriage of much of its possible joys, delights and blissful happiness—the young man or woman will probably look at you rather pityingly, wondering how you could be so naive!
He would probably reverse the truth and exclaim: “Oh, you poor, ignorant jerk! Why, where have you been, that you don’t know the facts of life yet? Why don’t you grow up? This is the 20th century!”
Actually, it is the adolescent who is naive, ignorant and untaught in the truth about the facts of life!
The basic cause of today’s immorality, of course, is human nature. Human nature is the basic cause of all violence, war, crime—all our troubles in this present evil world!
But, as stated in the beginning of this chapter, human nature expresses itself in different ways, and adapts itself to changing times.
Human nature is, simply, the subconscious pull of a definite attitude of mind. It is the attitude that became Satan’s. It is the natural attitude implanted from infancy by the invisible Satan. It is the attitude of vanity—of self-concern—of lust and greed. It is the attitude of hostility to others, and resentment of authority over it. Of course, the self, as explained before, expands into the “empireical self”—which includes those with whom individual self is associated, or connected. This may include one’s family, his club, his gang, his church, his country.
Patriotism is an example of the “empireical self” expanded to include one’s country. But patriotism is expressed in the form of loyalty to country, as opposed to other countries. It includes an automatic hostility toward other countries—either passive or active. The Bible (Moffatt translation) classifies this as “party-spirit” (Galatians 5:20) and one of the “deeds of the flesh”—as opposed to the “fruit of the Spirit.”
The natural tendency to want to belong is merely the expression of this phase of human nature. This leads to the desire to want to go along—with those one accepts as his peer group, team, gang or whatever. This nature expresses itself in young people by the natural pull to want to go along with the teens, as opposed to their elders. If the teens have a new custom, frowned on by their elders, then self associates with the teens, and feels automatic and natural (from human nature) hostility and resentment toward the opposing elders.
Now what about “going steady”? This started several years ago as an American custom. The custom spread. It is a new way started by those in the middle and late teens. But when 18- and 19-year-olds began “going steady,” 16- and 17-year-olds desired to emulate (Galatians 5:20) and to go along. Then 14- and 15-year-olds responded to the pull to go along, and today even the 12- and 13-year-olds are beginning to “go steady.”
Going steady brings familiarity, and familiarity breeds a certain contempt—in this instance, contempt for chastity, virtue and honor.
This going steady is simply the natural response to the pull of human nature. Human nature is essentially lazy. When a boy or girl goes steady he feels assured of dates. The boy is spared the embarrassment of asking new girls for dates, and the possible humiliation of being turned down. The girl feels a sense of security, knowing she will have dates.
The very familiarity of steady dating makes it easier for the boy to make bolder advances in “necking,” and then going on further into sexual intercourse. It makes it more difficult for the girl to say “No.” It tends to lower bars of resistance, and increases the temptation to carry intimacies to the limit.
The fruits of going steady are definitely not good!
It is one of the most difficult things in the world to convince an adolescent of the wisdom of doing what he ought to do, instead of what he wants to do. But yielding to what one wants to do is surrendering to human nature. It is traveling the road to sin. And sin is man’s greatest enemy, inflicting on him every pain, heartache, suffering and anguish he ever experiences. It inflicts unwanted penalties. But, again, it is hard for people to understand why they can’t put their hands on a red-hot stove and not get burned!
If a parent has not taught his child basic rules of character from infancy, it is a little late, by age 14, 15, or 16, to convince him he ought not to “go steady.” He is now too big and set in his ways to listen readily, and his mind is still too young and immature to recognize truth. But “going steady” is not good—for those who do it!
Now what about “necking”?
Is ‘NECKING’ Wrong?
To even ask the question “Is ‘necking’ wrong?” would sound rather silly to the average adolescent today.
Because of ignorance! Because of wrong teaching, and a lack of right teaching! Because there are some of the facts of life they have not yet learned!
Is the Bible an out-of-date book? If it is, how does it happen that it so accurately foretells today’s world news—so understandingly pinpoints human nature? It says, “The carnal mind is hostile toward God.” And that is certainly true. Where God says, “Remember,” everyone immediately forgets! When Jesus said, “Think not I am come to destroy the law,” everyone proceeded to think He did destroy it! If God, in the Bible, said, “Observe Christmas, New Year’s and Easter,” then nobody would!
God created humankind male and female. God blessed humans with the wonderful God-plane marriage and family relationship. God designed sex, to bring indescribable delights and joys with His blessing, in marriage! In His great wisdom, God created men so that sex arousal and desire often takes place more rapidly than in their wives—and He designed women so that they are not physically or mentally prepared for actual coitus until arousal is brought about by the love embrace—by caressing—by the love-talk and endearing words of the husband! In other words, by “necking” and “petting.”
There was vital purpose in this!
Had God made women to be aroused by the same means and the same quickness as their husbands, sexual intercourse in marriage would seldom—if ever—be that supreme expression of love that God intended—in order to bind and hold together the marriage and the home and family! Marriage would be robbed of its blessings—of its supreme joys!
But when boys and girls engage in premarital love-making, called “necking,” “petting,” and even “heavy petting,” it is not the love that binds more firmly that which God has bound for life. It is mere sensual gratification. It is lust, no matter what you wish to call it! It cheapens, tarnishes, corrodes the entire, wonderful experience God intended as a repeated lifelong experience in marriage! And it detracts from and robs the participants of the full happiness they might have had in a future marriage!
This lovemaking—this “necking” or “petting”—this caressing—is all a part of, and actually the most important part of, sexual intercourse in marriage!
A Capital Sin!
Therefore, when indulged in prior to marriage—or outside of marriage—IT IS A CAPITAL SIN!
Teenage custom does not determine what is sin!
College-campus practices do not define right and wrong!
Acceptance by society does not decide what is sin!
God Almighty has already determined what is sin!
God does not allow humans to decide what is sin—but He forces us to decide WHETHER to sin! He has called me to lift up my voice and show people what is sin. That is what I am doing here. I did not devise that law, or set it in dynamic, living, if invisible motion—GOD DID!
How can you prevent the tragedy of a premarital pregnancy? How can you prevent the disgrace and terrible predicament of venereal disease? By knowing when to stop? NO! By simply not starting the “necking” in the first place!
If it were good for young people, God would have instructed them to engage in it. But sin is not good for people—sin HARMS people!
How people are drawn into sin is explained in James 1:14-15: “[E]very man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
The temptation is not a sin. Sin is when the mind harbors the temptation—retains it—keeps thinking of it—keeps desiring it, until the desire conceives into the action of sin. How does one avoid sin? By not retaining the desire! By pushing it out of mind immediately!
But to start in the action of sin, and think you can “draw the line”—that you know “when to stop” is to commit sin!
The time to prevent sin is before it starts!
This world’s society and its customs are based on human nature—which is to say, on Satan’s ways—and are diametrically contrary to God’s ways!
Go along with the crowd, and you are stumbling along with the other dumb sheep to the slaughter! Why be one of the crowd? Why not stand out from the crowd of ignoramuses and weaklings, as one who has knowledge, wisdom and character? Any old dead fish can float downstream but it takes a live one to swim against the current!
This is not prudish talk. It is not “old-fashioned” talk. It is intelligent, rational understanding, based on the instruction of the Creator!
What a shame that the adolescents of today were not taught properly by their parents from babyhood!
It is the God-required DUTY of every parent—a responsibility for which parents will be held accountable in the judgment—to properly teach and inform their children of the facts of sex.
This teaching ought to begin while children are still small.
Dating a Lost Art?
Has dating become a lost art? It would certainly seem so. Certainly there is no “art” to the manner of dating today.
It seems young people no longer know what to do with themselves on dates. Perhaps most dates today are spent either in a car, parked by the roadside in a dark and secluded spot, where the time is spent in “necking,” or in sexual intercourse, or else in a darkened motion picture theater letting their minds drift with a ready-made daydream.
Dating is no longer stimulating mentally, upbuilding socially and intellectually beneficial. It tends not to build but to destroy character.
Some dating, of course, is spent at various kinds of dances. Some of these may be invigorating physically and at least somewhat mentally. Some are downgrading and morally and mentally harmful—depending on environment and character and quality of participants.
In my dating days, I had a “system.” I was unconverted, and the motive undoubtedly, in part at least, was vanity. But I did try to date only top-level girls. Of course we sometimes went to the theater, occasionally to the motion pictures (it was during the “silent” days), occasionally to a dance—but never to a public dance. Public dances, then, were not in good repute.
But usually our date involved a walk, a scintillating and enlightening conversation, and possibly a soda or sundae at an ice cream parlor. I devoted considerable time in public libraries, in the philosophical, or travel, or biography departments, acquiring knowledge for interesting conversation.
On a first date I analyzed and sized up the girl. I didn’t know how a fellow “fell in love,” but I supposed it might happen unexpectedly in some mysterious way. And I didn’t want it to happen to me in the case of an unqualified girl. If my first-date appraisal of the girl indicated definitely that, should I “fall” for her, she would be unsuitable as a wife and the mother of my children, there was never a second date.
I was taking no chances on “falling” overboard with the wrong girl to the point I might be so blinded by love I would be unable to see it!
I remember one girl, pretty, attractive, good conversationalist. She got a second date. But then I discovered she was lazy, would not help her mother with dishes, making beds and housework. I never dated her again.
I dated two or three girls, frequently but not regularly or like “going steady” in any sense, who had absolutely no “sex appeal” for me whatsoever. There would have been no temptation to “neck” as teens call it today. Of one I said I would as soon have my arms around a cold iron lamp post. Yet I dated her on occasion because she was an unusually fine girl whom I respected highly and an interesting conversationalist.
Dating can, and ought to be made a real art. Some thinking and planning ought to go into the preparation for a date. A date should be an event which adds to the mental, social, moral and spiritual character development of both boy and girl. Such a date is so much more rewarding, and leaves a far more palatable feeling afterward. In today’s warped and perverted thinking I suppose that suggestion seems very old-fashioned and naive. But for those who have a little sense and understanding, it would be wise to heed it.
Dating should be made interesting. But a date can be both interesting and at the same time stimulating, uplifting and a contribution to the very purpose of life—character-building.
If my “system” did nothing better, it protected me until the Eternal God brought the finest little woman in the world and me together. Our dates were stimulating, challenging, dynamically interesting. They still were, more than 49 years later!
Instructing Small Children
Sex instruction should begin as early as little minds begin to show curiosity about little bodies—and that might be as early as age 2 or 3.
The “birds and the bees” method has been ridiculed—but it is a sensible way, nevertheless. To little children, explain first about God. Explain about creation. Explain how God created the plants, the flowers, the birds, the bees and the animals.
Then explain how God is a Spirit Being, who looks like a man—who has a face, eyes, ears, nose, mouth—who has a body, and hands and feet—only God is composed of spirit, and His eyes are like flames of fire; and His face shines as brightly as the sun—so bright no human could look at Him without having his eyes blinded by the great light. God has all power, and so He caused all these things to come into being.
Then explain how God decided to make man in His very own likeness—not like animals, or birds, or plants—and to give us minds like His—only He made us out of matter, and so we do not know as much as He, or have as much power. But, just as all plants and animals were created to be male and female, and to reproduce their own kind, so God made humans male and female so we could have little babies who become children and grow up to be just like Daddy and Mommie.
Then explain how wonderful it is that even a little baby starts from a tiny “seed” or “egg” which is kept, as it grows, where the mother can best protect and watch over and nourish, as it develops. You’ll be able to fill in the details—I won’t attempt it here. And show how humans can be a loving family, like God—and how a baby has a home, and a mother and father to love it—and not have to be out all by itself, like baby animals. Connect it all with God, and with love, and with family relationship.
And above all, explain to your child that YOU will answer all his questions, and instruct him to come to you with all questions, but never to talk about this very wonderful but private subject with other children.
Of course you cannot tell a 2- or 3-year-old more than a small part of sex knowledge. But as the child grows older, explain more from time to time. Keep ahead of the “gutter.”
Child Discipline—A Parental Responsibility
One of the greatest sins, crimes, tragedies of this world’s society, is that great sin of omission—the neglect of parents to teach their children.
Not only about sex. Most parents neglect to teach their children—period!
But first, before you attempt to teach your children—especially about sex—educate yourself! (There is no better way to do this than with The Missing Dimension in Sex, which we will gladly send you a free copy of upon request. After you have finished it, go back and read it all again!)
Always give your children an abundance of love. Show your affection. Then, from tiniest infancy, by loving but unquestionable insistence, bring your child to absolute recognition of your authority—and before he reaches the end of his first year! If spanking is necessary, use it—always being careful not to injure the child, yet making it smart enough to get results. Most mothers spank too lightly—that may do harm rather than good—especially psychologically.
Some fathers spank, beat or paddle too hard. Make it hurt—enough to accomplish the purpose—but without injury. The main point in spanking is to apply the principle of the adage that “the stitch in time saves nine.” Do not spank your child into obeying you.
One mother couldn’t understand why her spanking never got results—she spanked only in final desperation—to force the child to do what he was told. She told her 4-year-old boy it was time to go to bed. He didn’t want to. She threatened to spank. That was her first mistake. She should immediately have spanked him for disobedience. Instead, she threatened. He was accustomed to the threats, and knew by experience she probably would neglect to carry it out. Ten minutes later, she threatened again, a little impatient—a little angry. Then, another 10 minutes and it was repeated. Finally, half an hour after her first command, she forcibly spanked him into bed. And wondered why this spanking had to be repeated so often!
Never spank in anger. Always be sure your child understands your command or instruction. If this is made sure, then spank—crisply enough that the child doesn’t want it repeated!—for disobedience to authority. The parent who hesitates is lost! Do it immediately! First be sure the child understood! Second, be sure you teach—get in the lesson—make plain, and in love, why you are spanking! Third, spank without delay!
Don’t say, “This is going to hurt me more than it will you.” Make it hurt him enough (without injury) that he won’t want to disobey again—but make him understand he made you do it—not because you wanted to, but because he made you. Don’t be afraid of what the crackpot child psychologists fear—to make him feel “guilty.” When a child disobeys, he is guilty, and must be made to realize it!
When we disobey God, He tells us plainly, in the Bible, that we are guilty! Yet God loved us enough to give Christ to die for us, that the sin may be forgiven, upon repentance.
So let the child know he is guilty—but he can be forgiven upon repentance—which means to change from the spirit of rebellion to an attitude of willing obedience.
But, don’t humiliate your child—especially before others! The most cruel thing one person can do to another is to make him feel whipped, or to cause him to lose all confidence, or induce an inferiority complex. True humility is required for right godly character—but one can be humble and still properly confident. True confidence is not self-confidence, but faith in God.
Space does not allow more along this line in this work.
Instructing About Puberty
Never lie to your child. Never refuse to answer questions about sex. Never say, “You’re not old enough to know that yet.” Always find a way to give a right explanation in a right manner, and within the understanding and capacity of your child.
Never reproach your child for asking questions about sex, by accusing him of interest in “indecent” things. Be sure you represent sex, as God ordained its right uses, as decent, good and actually something sacred and pure—and to be kept that way! Make your child understand, early enough, that good things may be put to sinful uses.
When the little child asks his mother, “Where did I come from?” tell him the truth. Let the mother say, “You grew into a baby inside of me, here under my heart,” and she can point.
In teaching little children to keep pubic regions covered, never talk about it being “indecent,” in a way to give the impression sex is indecent. But explain it is not proper to be exposed to others—sex is something God wants kept private. If a little boy and his little sister ask about sex differences, it’s certainly time to begin instruction about sex, and why God made it so.
Answer! Don’t tell your child the “stork” lie.
One little fellow said to another little boy: “I found out that all that stuff about the stork bringing my little sister, and about Santa Claus, isn’t true—and so now I’m going to look into this Jesus Christ story, too!”
Doctors report cases of 12- and 13-year-old girls being brought to them by distraught parents, on the occasion of their first menstruation. The parents didn’t know how to explain. And it was too embarrassing!
This should never be! If children have been properly instructed about sex, gradually as they grow up, all girls should have been fully instructed about menstruation before they reach the age of puberty.
Any mother can and should completely explain the physical details of the reproductive system (thoroughly explained in Chapter 9 of The Missing Dimension in Sex), in a manner to cause her daughter to consider with reverence and awe how wonderfully God has designed her body and its functions—especially of the marvelous “laboratories,” the ovaries. If the mother is dead, the father should have no difficulty in explaining this with the help of The Missing Dimension in Sex.
Every boy should be completely instructed before he reaches the age of puberty. And the proper explanation is found in Chapter 9—especially the middle portion.
A boy reaches puberty when he discharges semen in his sleep. Every boy should be fully and properly instructed about this before he reaches this stage of physical maturity. He should be made to understand that night emissions—termed nocturnal emissions—are natural and normal—the natural “safety valve” which God designed to eliminate the excess semen as it develops, so that neither masturbation nor premarital sex experience is necessary—and neither should ever be resorted to.
Truth About Masturbation
Nearly all books about sex—produced by the medical doctors, psychiatrists and others from the purely physical approach—assert that masturbation is not harmful. They ARE WRONG!
WHY must humans—even the “professionals”—always go to one or the other extreme, as far from truth as possible?
On the one hand, many boys have been told, falsely, that masturbation causes insanity, loss of virility, sterility, pimples, etc, etc. This is not true. Scaring boys with lies is not the thing to do!
On the other hand, masturbation is a form of perversion. It is a sin! It does harm the boy—or the man—physically, over a period of 12 to 24 hours by dulling the mind, even causing a partial blurring of sight, and acting as a partial anesthetic to the memory. Often a boy will experience absent-minded proclivities following masturbation.
It is harmful psychologically! The mind is on self—on sex—not on a lovely wife. Invariably it produces a guilty conscience, and destroys normal confidence. Sex experience belongs in marriage! The mental attitude is the all-important factor. God intended it to be that sacred and wonderful relationship of expressing love in that most intimate and personal of all human physical and psychological experiences, which binds husband and wife together truly as one flesh! When sex is expressed in any other way, it robs one of a portion of that blissful, delightful and truly wonderful God-ordained experience! Remember love is giving—an outgoing concern—as well as sharing. Masturbation is neither.
Masturbation is either plain lust, or else a desire for relief. But God provided for relief, through the means of nocturnal emissions during sleep. If such natural relief is needed, the boy or man may induce it by sleeping on his back.
Most boys and many girls get into the habit of masturbation at an age so young they simply cannot remember its beginning after growing up. It is a nasty habit, often almost impossible to break. There is no greater plague!
Even a baby may discover a pleasurable sex sensation. It could and often does happen accidentally. Even before 1 year old, some babies may discover this and start masturbating. The parent should be constantly on guard. Treat it, in infancy, in the same category as thumb-sucking, or putting a finger in his nose. Teach the child that he should not play with parts of the body. Do not frighten him. Do not lie to him. Just tell him his thumb, or his penis, or his nose, was given him for a different purpose—and he must not misuse it. And back up your teaching with discipline—and punishment if necessary!
And don’t assume that only boys and men masturbate. It is a perversion practiced by girls—and grown women—also. The difference in sex is only relative. A higher percentage of males practice it, but more females are guilty of it than commonly realized.
This will require constant vigilance! Don’t neglect it! It is a serious parental responsibility!
Teach Your Teen to Say Hello
Why is it that so many of our youth do not know how to say hello or relate one-on-one with others? The answer is simple: They are not being taught these important skills. This kind of education must begin early in life, and parents must be the educators.
Here is how to ensure your teen will say hello!
Go Against the Flow
Children, tweens and teens need to have a strong relationship with their parents, founded on emotional warmth, touching and verbal communication. That’s far more involved than shoving a cell phone into their hands and saying, “I’ll text you later.”
In March 2012, Good Housekeeping reported that recent medical studies show “the more hours teenagers spend using a computer or watching tv, the weaker their emotional bonds with their parents.” Quoting a 2010 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the article reported that most adolescents average 25 to 30 hours per week watching tv and using computers. Many parents insist they limit screen time, but even their children disagree.
We no longer live in the age when restricting media use means simply turning off the tv in the den. Most tweens and teens have smartphones, laptops, tablets and iPods with them 24/7. It is growing more difficult to even measure the screen time tweens and teens are getting. Adding up the total time young people spend on their electronic devices, experts believe the numbers are staggering. The average American ages 8 to 18 spends over seven hours a day looking at some kind of screen, a Kaiser Family Foundation study reports. Five years ago, when that same study was conducted, its coauthor Donald Roberts believed children’s screen time couldn’t rise any higher. “But it just keeps going up and up,” he now says.
Don’t let television and gadgets bring up your children.
Your children need your love. They need you to be deeply involved in their lives. This is the first and most important step in the social education process: Children learn how to relate to others from parents who spend a lot of time with them.
If you provide all the latest computer gadgets for your child, you will limit valuable companionship time with your child.
Youths Need Activities
Parents should take the responsibility to provide an affordable, exciting and interesting social life for their children. Youth need to be actively involved with other young people and adults. During a child’s infant years, his or her social life is very simple: playtime with Dad and Mom. When parents play frequently with their children—having fun, laughing, talking and teaching—children develop a positive outlook, social confidence and competence. Children who experience consistent parental involvement are warm and friendly to other children and adults, making the establishment of future relationships easy.
As a child grows through the adolescent years, parents must widen his social experience. This means getting your child involved with other children. What are some of the best social activities to provide your child? Team sporting activities top the list. It is becoming uncommon for many children to be outdoors playing, let alone doing team sports. Too many children are indoors playing computer games, texting their friends or watching television. This is one of the major reasons why so many of our young people are unhealthy and overweight—and why their social lives are equally unhealthy.
Of course, if you want your children to be active, you need to be active yourself.
Encourage your child to participate in team sports. This will open up many practical opportunities for developing social skills. Team sports teach, emphasize and reinforce vital social skills such as cooperation, following directions, leadership, sharing and teamwork, skills that greatly enhance a child’s success in life. When learned early, they are even more valuable.
Other group activities will also help your child socially: musical ensembles, various clubs, scouting—the possibilities are numerous.
Choose Friends Wisely
Getting your child involved in social activities does not mean that you can step out of the picture. In fact, when your child gets involved with other children, you will need to be even more involved. This becomes most important in the teen years. When your teen interacts with other teens, challenges and difficulties are sure to arise.
There is no one better for your child to talk things over with than you. All youth, especially teenagers, need to know that their parents have a special interest in them. Give your son or daughter ample time to talk with you about what is going on in his or her life. Give constructive guidance on how to get along with others. Be sure to discuss with your child the personal weaknesses he must overcome in himself. Above all, show him his strengths and how he can build on them. When you show this kind of real interest in your teen, you may be surprised how readily he will turn to you when he needs help.
When teens are actively involved with other teens, parents must provide guidance on how to choose friends wisely. This is so much better when your child knows them in person: Making new friends on the Internet is really a dangerous activity—especially for children, tweens and teenagers. Who has not been thoroughly disgusted by news reports of young people being kidnapped, abused and murdered by a sexual predator posing as another child on the Internet? Parents must monitor carefully all online chatting. Insist that your teenager only make friends with those young people you both know.
Fully involved parents not only know their children, they know their children’s friends. In fact, involved parents help their children choose their friends.
Besides attending your child’s activities, the best way to get to know your child’s friends is to have them into your home for an activity. As you get to know your child’s friends, be sure to teach your child to associate only with teens who have high goals and good character. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33; esv). Another teen’s bad character could do significant harm to your teen.
Sponsor Coed Activities
One enjoyable in-home activity you could sponsor is a board-game night. If you plan a game night for your tween or teen, provide a mixture of boys and girls. This will ensure that your child learns how to communicate with, relate to and respect members of the opposite sex.
When choosing a game, look for one that will get all the players actively involved. Find a game that challenges the participants to think, to exchange ideas—in other words, to talk. Prohibit all cell phones, smartphones, iPods and iPads.
Be sure to give your full attention to any activities involving mixed company. Allowing a group of teenagers to hold activities on their own can lead to real trouble. Drinking, abusing drugs and illicit sex can do far worse than mar an evening—they can ruin an entire life.
During these group activities, take the time to notice how your child relates to his or her peers. Then be sure to talk about the activity when it has ended. If your child was shy, mention it. If the child was domineering, discuss that as well. If your child did not work to get along with everyone present, show how that impacted the other teens. Teach how to be loving and giving to others. Make it your goal to have your children be respected and liked by their peers—for all the right reasons.
Practice Inside the Family
It is important that parents teach their tweens and teens how to greet and converse with adults. Young people must be taught how to be warm and friendly with adults. Many teens today will hardly look at an adult, let alone talk with one.
Your children can practice conversation skills with adults they feel most comfortable with. Sadly, because there is such a criminal element in our society, the safest way to do this is to begin the education process with grandparents, aunts and uncles—adults you know well.
Besides talking about their day with you, your children should be able to discuss the events of their day with other adults. When asked, “How was your day?”, your child should be able to respond with more than a one-word sentence. He should be able to engage in small talk, telling what happened to him at school or at a sporting event. He should feel at ease telling another adult what he is excited about. You should encourage your child to talk with other adults often.
Such conversation skills are more valuable than most people realize. They will greatly add to your children’s success in their future careers. They will develop their character and help them grow to become contributing members of society. The stability of any culture hinges on the ability of its people to relate to one another in mature, responsible ways.
The best environment for teaching social skills to children is inside the family. Children cannot learn these vital skills on their own. God charges all parents to nurture their children to become successful members of society (Proverbs 22:6). To become successful, your child has to know how to say hello.
Chapter 7: Prepare Teens for Adulthood
From The Missing Dimension in Sex, Chapter 13
By Herbert W. Armstrong
Ignorance about sex is not, of course, the only cause of unhappy marriage and divorce. Many causes contribute.
Religious difference is one. The Roman Catholic Church is very emphatic in restraining its members from marrying non-Catholics.
Neither should a truly converted Christian ever marry a non-Christian. God commands Christians: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
That fellowship of a Christian with unbelievers should be avoided, even in dating. For dating too often leads to marriage!
What About Dating?
In different ways, according to varying customs, dating has been practiced as far back as history records. But, as in all things, dating has a right and a wrong use. The right kind of dating has become virtually a lost art today—especially in America.
Enough has been said in regard to the almost universal modern custom of “necking,” “petting,” “heavy petting” and premarital intercourse. These immoral practices dominate modern-day dating. Most dates consist of either this sort of thing, or a ready-made daydream watching a motion picture.
Enough, also, has been said about “going steady.” This should not be done by teenagers. After one is mentally, emotionally and spiritually mature, and qualified to assume the responsibilities of marriage, steady dating with the most likely choice for an engagement to be married becomes a different matter.
But until then, avoid “going steady.” Date different ones. Let the dates be on a higher mental, intellectual and ethical plane. Let the dates be upbuilding, contributing to mutual self-improvement.
When I was a young man, a date was a challenge. My effort was to make the date mentally stimulating, and enjoyably beneficial. Of course, some of them included dances, the theater, an occasional “movie.” But often they included ice-skating or other such interests, and often simply going walking—with a scintillating conversation.
In Ambassador College we encourage dating. But we very definitely discourage “going steady”—until the middle of the senior year.
And remember this: It is God who joins together in marriage a husband and a wife. Therefore it ought to be—in your own interest—God who selects for you the husband or wife you are going to marry! And God will do this, if you ask Him, and then refrain from getting in a hurry and taking it into your own hands! This may require self-restraint and patience, yes, and also faith. But if you rely on God, He will not fail you. And if He selects your lifelong mate, you’ll have the right one!
I didn’t realize this before I was married. Yet I have always known that, in His mercy, God did select for me the young woman I married. And now, more than a half-century later, I am more sure of it than ever before!
If you are a parent of one or more teenage children, should you try to force your children to date only converted young people—or those of your choice? You’ll drive them directly the other way, if you do! Your responsibility is to teach your children the truth—and teach them, as they grow up, gradually to assume more and more responsibility themselves. Of course, this teaching ought to begin during their first year of infancy. For many of our readers it will be too late for that, now. Then use tact. Your children may now be past the age where you can guide their lives. They have minds of their own. But, in sympathetic understanding and tact, try to induce them to be willing to counsel with you in regard to general principles and truths. But never try to pick for them the one they are to marry. If you have a choice, above all, never let them know it—unless they voluntarily ask your counsel and advice. Otherwise, you’ll drive them the opposite direction!
But, in my nearly 50 years of counseling in the problems of unhappy marriages and divorces, the overwhelming majority of cases involved couples who married too young.
Thousands have asked us, “What is the best age for marriage?” An article on this subject has appeared twice in the Plain Truth. The answer to that question is so vitally important, it simply cannot be omitted from this book. Therefore, it is here reprinted to complete the remainder of this chapter.
Too Young to Marry!
Some 20 years ago I officiated at a wedding in stately Memorial Hall at Ambassador College in England (now closed). My next-to-youngest grandson, Richard David Armstrong ii, then age 2½, thought the ceremony so very nice, he said:
“Mommie, I want to get married!”
“Well!” answered his mother, a little shocked—a little amused, “and whom do you want to marry?”
“Karen,” replied little Dicky promptly.
“But Karen has just been married. She can’t marry anybody else, now.”
“Well then,” decided Dicky, “I’ll marry Sheila.” Sheila is a very nice Irish colleen, and was then a student in the college.
“But Sheila is grown up now, and in college,” protested “Mommie.” “What if she won’t have you?”
“Then I’ll marry you, Mommie,” came the quick decision.
Marriage Is Not for Children
We may smile at the idea of a 2- or 3-year-old’s getting married. It would be a bit irregular! Marriage is not for children! Marriage is for adults. Marriage is pretty serious business!
Marriage entails the assuming of very serious responsibilities. Children do not realize this, of course. Marriage is a lot more than romance. It is more than daydreams about a “Prince Charming,” or floating around on “cloud nine,” or being in a lover’s arms.
But when do we become adults?
Are not boys and girls adults at around age 14? No. Far from it! Let’s understand why!
Age for Acquiring Knowledge
Human beings know nothing at birth. We have to learn, or be taught—everything! Without any knowledge, or with erroneous knowledge, we are helpless—as newborn babes. But there are some things many fail to learn. One of these is the right age for marriage.
Whatever an adult knows, true or false, has come into his mind since birth.
It may sound surprising or incredible, but a person actually learns more during his first year of life than in any succeeding year. If a 1-year-old baby could talk plainly with complete and adequate vocabulary, you’d be completely amazed at how much he has learned that first year!
The second year he learns a trifle less than the first, and the third year a little less than the second. Gradually, his capacity for learning decreases year by year, if only slightly. This is hard to believe for the simple reason that a 2-year-old adds his second-year acquisition to what he learned the first year, the third to that, and so through the years his total store of knowledge increases continually.
But a person past 60 cannot learn something new in a field new and strange to him as readily as a young person of 22 or 23. Does this mean that a well-educated man of 60 knows less than a young man of 22? Of course not. Other things being equal, he knows significantly more—because he has accumulated knowledge of all those years since age 22 added to what he knew then—and he has learned much by experience. That is one reason wisdom comes with age!
But a 2½-year-old cannot delve very deeply into the study of advanced mathematics, philosophy, nuclear fission, business administration, economics or child rearing. He would have very different ideas on the latter than he probably will have when he becomes a parent!
The first five or six years of life are, so we believe from experience, most profitably spent in learning the basic things of infant and child learning—how to walk, talk, eat, run and play—knowledge about lots and lots of things. The little child learns what an automobile is—an airplane—he learns about animals—many things.
He may even be taught to count, and part or all of the alphabet. However, the kind of knowledge taught in school (kindergarten excepted) seems most effectively taught beginning age 6. At that age the child can learn to write, to read and to spell simple words. In some countries he begins to learn a second language at that age. For the next 10 years he acquires gradually all the foundational elementary knowledge, and during the last two of the 10 perhaps a bit of preparatory knowledge for higher education.
All these years the normal individual has been learning rapidly. There is a great deal to know before maturity, and he is not mature yet! Many, in their own minds, know more than Dad or Mom. You see, what they do not yet know, they don’t know that they don’t know! But there is still much to learn.
But by age 16 the average normal young person of good mind is ready to begin a little more advanced study into more solid fields.
When Bodies Mature
But along in these early and mid-teenage years, usually 12 to 14, the physical body suddenly speeds up its growth and development. The teenager at this point sprouts up much taller within a single year, with bodily changes from child to man or woman.
Suddenly the young person feels “grown up”—adult. He usually does not realize that at this stage the body makes a rather sudden leap toward maturity, while the mind makes no corresponding advance! The mind continues on at only the same year-to-year gradual development. The mind is still more child than adult. Its interests are still mostly “having fun,” games, entertainments. Sexual maturity is suddenly reached, long in advance of mental, emotional and spiritual maturity.
A human being is not a mere body. The married state needs maturity of mind, emotions and spiritual qualities as much as physical adulthood.
A boy or girl is physically able to become a father or mother years before he or she is qualified to assume the responsibilities of parenthood.
But, suddenly becoming taller and physically developed, the boy or girl feels mature. A new awareness of the opposite sex is present. What the child of this age does not yet know, I repeat, he usually fails utterly to realize.
The attraction of the other sex acts as a magnet. The girl dreams of her Prince Charming; desire is awakened in the boy to hold an attractive girl in his arms.
The girl often falls in love with love, a certain boy being the focal point of her fantasy. Of course she only sees this particular boy as she imagines him to be, not as he really is. She is dead sure she is in love. And no one can awaken her from this entrancing dream. There are many facts of reality about this puppy-love affair of which she is totally unaware.
But, again, what she doesn’t know that her parents see so plainly, she simply doesn’t know that she doesn’t know! She simply has to outgrow it! The very fact that she is not mature enough to recognize her immaturity is proof that she is still too immature for marriage.
At this stage, the parents have a problem on their hands, and need great wisdom to deal properly with it.
I repeat, marriage is not for children.
The Preparatory Years
But when does a child become an adult? When is one ready for marriage?
Marriage is in itself a career. One is not ready to enter upon any profession or career until after full preparation. This preparation may be divided, roughly, into three stages. First, that of infancy, preparing the child for school. Second, elementary and preparatory schooling prior to, thirdly, more advanced education and specialized training for the adult life’s work.
There are really three stages, roughly, of mental development that parallel these stages of preparation. First, the change from babyhood to boyhood or girlhood around age 6. Then the mind, as a rule, has absorbed enough elementary and semi-mature knowledge, by age 16, to begin more mature thinking and learning. Age 16 is a crucial year in mental development.
Prior to age 16 the average youth has little awareness of the seriousness of life, of world conditions, of human problems or the purposes of life. In our American public school system, he enters senior high school, or the last two years of preparatory school at about this age.
But the mind does not really become mature, on the average, until age 25. At age 25 a more definite adulthood of mind, attitude, interests, is reached. The mind becomes more “set” in its ways.
The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—whether it be business, profession, occupation or marriage. Before age 16, the mind has not acquired the basic elementary knowledge needed as a foundation for entering more advanced study—and the mind has not developed in serious comprehension to the level of advanced knowledge. After age 25, the mind which has stagnated since age 16 finds it difficult to enter upon more mature study.
Before age 16, the mind simply is not mature. At age 16, it is merely prepared to begin acquiring the more mature preparation for either career, business or marriage.
It should be borne in mind, I am speaking of average ages. There are, of course, exceptions—but in my experience about 99 in 100 follow this pattern.
Another stage of maturity seems to be reached at about age 30. I have noticed that, although most young people reach a certain mental maturity at age 25, a far more complete maturity of mind, personality, performance and influence on others is reached at age 30.
By age 30 the man or woman has added five years of practical experience, in addition to further study, to the preparatory knowledge and final reaching of mental maturity attained at 25. Prior to 25, the young man is often called just that—“young man”—by older men. I can remember how, in my carnal preconversion vanity, I smarted under being spoken to as “young man” by business executives I dealt with. This expression simply meant they did not accept me, yet, as a fully mature man, and I knew it.
Somehow, the vanity in a young man of 18 and older makes him want to be considered mature—as a completely adult, fully experienced man. He wants to be considered older than he is. But as soon as young women are past 20 to 25, female vanity usually causes them to want to be considered younger than they are!
The Best Age for Marriage
The fact that a man attains a more complete maturity of personality, leadership and influence by age 30 seems fully recognized by the Eternal God. In ancient Israel the Levites were ordained to full priesthood at age 30—although they were put into military service at age 20.
Jesus Christ, our example, did not begin His active ministry until age 30. All years prior to that were years of learning and preparation.
Yet in ancient Israel men began actual service, adult work, and even military service, at age 20. This, however, does not mean that they were fully and completely educated at that age. Actually, their first years of service were those of apprenticeship—training, preparation. They probably were not accounted fully prepared for adult responsibilities until 25, though the exact facts are not given.
Apparently God has not given specific and direct instruction or command as to the proper age for marriage. God did not even count people in the census, as adults, until age 20. While there appears to be no punishable prohibition against marriage prior to age 20, there is every indication that on God’s instruction juveniles were considered children until 20. At 20 they were considered “of age.” This by no means implies they were expected to marry by age 20! Rather that they were expected not to marry until at least 20—or more.
Based on actual experience, my judgment is—and I think it is sound judgment guided and approved by God—that until out of the “teens” a boy or girl is too young to marry! And it is also my judgment—and I think it is sound and approved by God—based on lifelong experience counseling on marriage problems of hundreds of people—that even 20 is too young to be the best age for marriage.
Two factors are the major causes of broken marriages, or of unhappy problem marriages, in the hundreds of cases that have come to me for advice and counsel: sex ignorance and marriage prior to age 20. Quite often these two are merged in the same case. A great majority of all unhappy or broken marriages that have been brought to my attention were those of people who married too young!
Only too well I know that teenagers who think they are in love will not listen or heed. That very FACT proves they are too young for the responsibilities of marriage. Marriage is so much more than romance, necking, lovemaking and immature emotional bliss. Thousands of young people have gone ahead heedless, and been sadly disillusioned to learn that lesson—too late!
But in my judgment, except in rare cases or circumstances, even 20 is too early an age for marriage. I can only give my judgment. But it is based on experience. It is based on facts and knowledge. It is based on what biblical revelation God has given us. It is based on hundreds of case histories.
But here it is, and young people will do well to heed it—and later be glad they did! The best age for a man to marry is around 24 to 26, after he has devoted those top aptitude years between 16 and 25 for mature education, experience and preparation—after he has acquired the knowledge, preparation and preliminary experience to assume adult responsibilities—after he is able to assume the responsibility of supporting a wife—and family! And the best age for a girl to marry is between 23 and 25 when she has utilized those top aptitude years for preparation, and is prepared to assume the duties of wifehood and motherhood—the responsibilities of planning, decorating, arranging a home, keeping it, and being a help and inspiration to her husband.
I sincerely believe, in view of what God has developed, that He brought about circumstances and influences to shape my early life, and also my wife’s, as a preparation for a very great worldwide work He willed to accomplish. I believe I was steered and guided by His unseen Hand in ways I did not realize then. And Mrs. Armstrong and I were married when we were both 25. We were mature enough to assume the responsibilities.
Our marriage was most happy, and blessed beyond words to describe. And, after all those years during which God blessed us with four fine children, equally fine sons- and daughters-in-law, and 11 fine grandchildren, our marriage was still happy beyond words to describe. In fact it was happier then than ever before, because it had grown constantly more and more happy. What a blessing!
Wouldn’t you like yours to be equally so? Then heed! Use wisdom!
Marriage in Later Life
What has been written above applies to a first marriage on reaching adulthood. Marriage was ordained by God “until death do us part.” My first marriage was broken only by the death of my beloved wife after 50 years.
But what about a second marriage of a widower or a widow? In such a marriage age is not an important factor. It is not so necessary to be like-aged as to be like-minded!
One in God’s Church should never marry outside the Church. There should be like-mindedness spiritually and secularly. There should be physical appeal and harmonious companionship.
Chapter 8: Make Your Family Life Active!
When your children are grown, how will they look back on their childhood in your home?
Rearing children—besides training good behavior, imparting constructive habits, teaching respect for authority, and building strong character—is also about creating a positive environment in which your children flourish. It’s about showing that God’s way is rich, productive and fun. It’s about living a shared life of cooperation and harmony, activity and joy, one that prepares each member for the abundant life that God’s Family will relish for eternity!
God is a family, and God is love. Family is connection. It is shared experiences.
Yet in the modern world, many families find time together difficult to come by. Whereas in the past more families lived on farms, and parents and children often worked together, now one or both parents usually work outside the home. Activities, homework, errands and other responsibilities can consume additional hours in the evenings. Many families get caught up in individual pursuits and spend little to no time doing things together. “Family time,” if it occurs, is little more than people collecting in a common location and following their separate self-interests. Too many families simply don’t live as family!
There was an age when “family time” meant devoting time and attention to each other. It meant gathering at the dinner table each night—without gadgets, television, toys or the newspaper—and swapping stories, probing minds and sharing counsel. It meant engaging one another. It meant talking, touching, tickling, playing ball, walking along the creek—no earphones or smartphones—teaching children about nature. It meant playing cards and board games, telling jokes, reading books and teaching about the Creator. It meant putting the family before yourself.
You need to reclaim this kind of “family time” in your own home! Family supplies the most precious relationships we have. But weaving a family into a unified team—interdependent, mutually helping and caring for one another—doesn’t happen automatically. It takes time and effort. As parents we want to provide our children with regular experiences that help them to truly love family life. They should genuinely enjoy spending time and being together with the family. The right experiences will motivate them to build strong families of their own and, more importantly, to fully embrace their family calling from God.
Evaluate your own home. Take proactive steps to build a family life that prepares your children for that future. Make your family life active!
To build an active family life, a good starting point is to regularly share meals. This may be common sense to some, but eating together as a family has become a rarity today. There are plenty of reasons. The modern world has ushered the stay-at-home mother into the workforce. It has replaced her home-cooked meals with ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, convenience snacks, fast food, frozen dinners and take-out. Parents are working longer hours. Sports and other extracurricular activities can pull teens away in the evenings. Kids have grown used to foraging to satiate the munchies at all hours in lieu of real meals. Many families thoughtlessly eat while gazing at a television screen. Personal technology has many family members retiring to their own worlds, even when under the same roof.
This is a terrible loss. Perhaps nothing builds the bond of family like the daily rhythm of joining together at the table. When a family breaks bread, its members are nourished not just by the food but also by the company they share.
Yes, family meals take effort. You have to prioritize them and make them happen. You have to coordinate your schedules. You have to forgo competing claims on your time and attention. And ideally, you have to procure ingredients and cook some food.
Difficult as it is, this effort will have many wonderful benefits.
For starters, a homemade family meal tends to be healthier than what you would otherwise eat. One study from the Harvard Medical School didn’t even note what kind of food they consumed, and still found that people who eat dinner with the family “most days” or “every day” are 15 percent less likely to be overweight.
But what a tremendous advantage has the family with an in-house, educated nutritionist who is also a skilled cook! A woman who devotes herself to providing food that will truly nourish her family is a priceless treasure. Can you possibly measure the benefits in foregone sickness, increased energy, improved health?
And the nutritional benefits are only a starting point. Even amid the busyness of your day-to-day routine, your evening meal in particular should be a welcome coming together of family members. This creates a sense of connection and belonging, of emotional grounding and balance, that can stabilize the lives of all members, particularly the younger ones.
This value is measurable. One Columbia University study found that teens in families that almost never eat together are 72 percent likelier than the average teen to use illegal drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Those who eat dinner with their parents fewer than three times a week are likelier to smoke and drink than those who eat with their parents six times a week.
Clearly there is a great blessing in how family meals enable parents to get involved with their children and build a strong bond that children can lean on for the rest of their lives.
Do everything you can to sit down together, as a family, for dinner—and even breakfast—every day you possibly can. It can work wonders in building closeness. Even making a short 20 to 30 minutes together a regular—preferably daily—occurrence can make a huge difference.
The Most Important Ingredient
If a family dinner is the most important meal of the day, what is the most important ingredient at that dinner? Love. As Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it” (rsv). Even a meager dinner is enjoyable when it comes with loving company.
Far too many families, if they do eat together, do so in front of a television, with hardly a word exchanged. When both parents go to work and children go to school, dinnertime provides a much-needed opportunity for the whole family to gather and converse about the day. It is your chance to connect, to share, to listen, to laugh, to strengthen bonds of unity and love. It’s an occasion for your spouse and children to each see that he or she is a part of something bigger and greater.
It is also a chance to grow in conversational skill, and to learn to give and contribute to a lively discussion. Come to the table with interesting, useful topics in mind—don’t let the conversation be stale or stilted. Encourage your children to come to dinner with some points of discussion at the ready: a joke, a story about something that happened during their day, a question, a current event, a point from their personal Bible study, and so on. This will help your family grow more accustomed to thinking of things they can share with the family over dinner. It will help them learn to think of others and keep the family in mind throughout the day.
While this exercise can improve your skill at conversing, it can also do something more wonderful: help you learn to enjoy each other much more. You will begin sharing yourselves more, laughing together more—even learning how to poke fun in love and to laugh at yourselves more, to not take yourselves so seriously. It can help you begin to discuss more plans and do more things together.
The family dinner represents communion. The warmth of fellowship associated with “breaking bread” is found in the New Testament. That phrase is used to represent the fellowship enjoyed by the members of the first-century Church (e.g., Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7). God Himself loves “family dinners.” Our great God wants to “break bread” with us! We are God’s Family, and the Father and Son want to dine together with us. Christ tells us in this Laodicean era, “[I]f any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Sup refers to enjoying the day’s principal (or evening) meal. But it’s not just eating. Thayer’s Lexicon says it is “to share in … most intimate and blissful intercourse.” Christ comes into us and dines with us, and we with Him, in intimate and happy communion!
The Bible has some beautiful examples showing how God has always earnestly desired this special fellowship with His chosen people. After God delivered Israel from captivity in Egypt, He brought them to Sinai and gave them His law (Exodus 20-23), then sealed His marriage covenant with Israel (Exodus 24:3-8). What did He do next? He hosted something like a marriage supper for 74 of the leaders of Israel. “And they saw [a vision of] the God of Israel …. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink” (verses 9-11). This feast that accompanied the confirmation of the Old Covenant points us forward in prophecy to that spectacular meal we will enjoy with our Husband at the consummation of the New Covenant: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
So savor those family dinners! There’s quite an exciting vision wrapped up in them. Make them a vital part of your family life.
The most important of these family dinners are those you have on the Sabbath. The Friday evening meal going into the Sabbath provides a uniquely wonderful opportunity. God tells us the Sabbath should be a delight (Isaiah 58:13). Doing your best to make Friday evening the most special meal of the week can really help to make it just that. It becomes something the whole family looks forward to throughout the week. And that meal sets everything up beautifully for the whole Sabbath.
Set the table in a special way, perhaps setting up some decorations for a centerpiece, placing nice napkins in a lovely fold. Wear nicer clothes; put on soothing, fine music; light candles. Savor the meal. Keep the fellowship Sabbath-quality. Have dessert.
All these specialties become even more special when you forgo those indulgences throughout the week. If you simplify your diet and avoid the sweets the rest of the time, then the opportunity to enjoy something more sumptuous is a genuine treat.
The Sabbath pictures the abundant life of the World Tomorrow. It is like a mini-Feast of Tabernacles at the end of every week. So it is very appropriate to make your Sabbath meals more Feast-like. God builds this natural rhythm into our lives that keeps the millennial vision alive.
The changes need not be elaborate—even to small children, an ordinary meal can become extraordinary just by lighting a candle. But, coupled with the small amount of deprivation through the week, they can have a wonderful effect, not just on the kids, but also on the parents: It really can help you look forward to the Sabbath all week.
Yet another benefit—not just of nice Sabbath meals but of all family dinners—is that it gives you the opportunity to teach your children, by training and by example, to eat properly. The need is certainly great. Just watch schoolchildren eat among themselves, or even with adults present: They tend to engage in some pretty unrefined behavior. Manners at the table are a small but significant part of politeness, respectability and civility. Children—and adults—need the reinforcement of good table manners that can occur only when a family eats together regularly. And when you make your Sabbath meal more formal, your children have regular practice at feeling comfortable dining in a more refined setting.
A Family Sabbath
Speaking of the Sabbath, what is it like each week in your home? What do your children think of the Sabbath? Is it really a “delight”? With Dad home and Mom less busy, the Sabbath does give a unique opportunity for family time. Still, it requires effort to make it a real delight for your whole family.
Perhaps you feel you don’t have as much family time as you would like on the Sabbath. Can you remedy this? Are there tasks you find taking up time on the Sabbath each week that you could do beforehand? On Thursday evening or before Friday sunset, try assembling the things you’ll take to services, getting your clothes ironed and shoes polished, making plans for Saturday evening—any of those details that would eat into God’s holy time. This can even be a time to teach your children. As they clean their rooms on Friday or do other chores, help them understand they are preparing for God’s Sabbath, which is special time when we don’t work.
Now, how to make best use of your time together as a whole family? We’re to refrain from finding our own pleasures on the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13). How can we ensure that this holy time isn’t just a day of “thou shalt nots”? How can we make it the highlight of the week for us and our children?
We are to teach our children on the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 6:7). During the week, plan active Sabbath-learning situations, matched to your children’s ages. Get a biblical coloring book, and color and talk about the content of the page. A Bible story book with pictures can be a great teaching tool; read portions of The Bible Story. Play a Bible trivia game, use Bible flash cards, play a word game like Scrabble using only biblical words. Have a family Bible study—perhaps explain a proverb to your children, or read about a hero in the Bible. As your children age, those studies can become more and more important, addressing the issues they are dealing with in their lives. Use a Sabbath morning walk as a teaching time, talking about creation with your children. Hold “Prince and Princess School,” teaching manners and etiquette and talking about being God’s royalty.
With some imagination, you can even find ways to use productively the time in the car ride to services. At services, as they are capable, teach your children to listen and take notes; buying them their own Bible and a special notebook may help them value the opportunity more. Praise them for their progress. After services, involve them in your conversations from time to time—that too can be instructive for them. And, where possible, go out of your way to provide opportunities for them to spend time with children their age in the Church.
The point is, the Sabbath offers the privilege—and the responsibility—to be involved with our children and family in a unique way. Make it positive and uplifting—a time of blessings—a day of extra opportunities, not missed opportunities. Teach your family to love the Sabbath! If we put forth the effort to make each Sabbath special, God will bless that, and it will be a delight for the whole family.
Other Time at Home
How much time does your family spend together in the evenings? It is easy, given fatigue after a workday, to want to retire and withdraw. After dinner, you may be tempted to check your e-mail or flip on the tv. Spend this time instead with the family. The evening hours are precious. Make the best use of them that you can.
Connect with your children. Play with them; teach them; help them. Learn what they have been up to. Talk about what they are learning and doing at school. Help them with homework; stay actively involved in their education. Children’s academic success strongly correlates with their parents’ involvement. In fact, studies have shown that the more time that young people spend with parents—not just at meals and with homework or reading, but even at leisure activities away from home like picnics and sports—the better their grades tend to be.
Discuss progress on goals for each child and for the whole family.
Conversation is crucial for the members of a family to get to know each other. Know your children, and be sure they know you. They should be very comfortable talking and sharing with you. Many young people are likelier to discuss their problems and challenges with their peers than their parents. That should not be. Really listen. Learn what their attitudes and thoughts are. Know who their friends are. Be sure you really know your own children! And help them to get to know you. Share your experiences and thoughts. Talk about your work. Expand their world by sharing your own.
Perhaps you want or need to work on a project around the house. Bring your child along. Involve him or her, even if it is only to ineffectually tap a wrench against a fixture or to watch you from the porch as you mow the lawn. Where safety allows, the more involvement, the better. Bringing your daughter with you to repair the shed door will probably take you more time to finish the job, but the effect on her will be worth it.
Think of useful, constructive skills you can teach your children. Give them the opportunity to do a little more than you think they are capable of. As they age, regularly working together can be a tremendous help in teaching them a good work ethic. Show them and teach them how to embrace physical challenges, to exert themselves rigorously to get a job done—outside in the yard landscaping, inside performing home repairs. Involve the whole family in day-to-day tasks such as keeping up the yard, raking leaves, maintaining the home, washing the cars, preparing for the weekly and annual sabbaths, planning family goals. Families grow close when they are involved in projects.
Selfless parenting is key to raising grounded, successful children. “Don’t just give your family things,” author and family advocate Rebecca Hagelin wrote. “Give yourself” (30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family; emphasis added).
It is natural to get into a rut. Make a deliberate effort to break out of that. Find ways to add sparkle and life to your family life. Greet each other with a smile and a hug first thing. Take one morning to get everyone up a half hour earlier than usual and make a special breakfast together. Invest the extra energy into making your time together more joyous and fun.
Your family is like a beautiful garden. It won’t flourish by neglect, happenstance and accident. It needs plenty of diligent work, attention and care: watering, cultivating, pruning, weeding out wrong practices and habits, dressing and keeping it so it is a delight.
Do Things Together
Children should be taught and encouraged to “think family.” Ideally, the family environment should be the most enjoyable place for a child to be, the most interesting and satisfying. If it is not, then he will seek satisfaction and activity elsewhere. All children need regular activity. Parents should recognize this and work to provide the right kind of exciting, interest-filled environment for them. Rather than the child being “left to himself” (Proverbs 29:15), cut adrift, he should be able to find an outlet for his energies within the context of family. This takes time and effort, but it is crucial.
Plan joyous occasions and activities. Plan regular activities with the whole family—generally weekly at least. Special opportunities do not have to be expensive or even outside of the house—there is plenty you can do right at home.
Having a weekly routine can help. One excellent practice is to schedule a weekly family night—time for a special activity together. Discuss ideas of what to do, and give your children opportunity to provide input and have their say. Make it something everyone will really look forward to each week. The possibilities for family nights are only limited by your imagination. The main thing is, learn to do things together as a family.
Make the dinner something the children will love. Have a cookout. Look through recipe books, go shopping and make a meal together as a family. Play board games. Play more physical games like hide-and-seek or wrestling matches. Enjoy an evening making music together. Hold a dance in your living room. Undertake a building project. Learn a new hobby together.
Make your family time interactive. This means controlling your media use. Even time spent together looking at a screen is usually squandered. It rarely builds up the family. As Mr. Armstrong wrote—before the advent of the Internet, streaming services, personal computers, tablets and smartphones—“The movies bring ‘pleasures’ through the sense of sight and of sound. Kids spend hours a day before the ‘one-eyed monster.’ It provides a ready-made daydream. And misuse not only dulls the mind, television has been a prime medium by which the anti-family conspiracy has injected its deadly poison into juvenile and adult minds” (The Missing Dimension in Sex). If you do choose to have a family movie night, make sure it is worth the precious minutes and hours it eats up.
So many children today would rather sit inside and watch movies or play video games than go outside and run around, go fishing, climb trees. Urbanization has turned yesterday’s open woods into housing developments and strip malls, so the real world has shrunk for most young people. At the same time—thanks to television, movies, video games and the Internet—the virtual world has dramatically expanded for young people: a noisy, hyper world that requires no imagination and no activity.
A couple of books written in the 1880s are filled with crafts for young people. One of these books, The American Boy’s Handy Book, describes how to make knives, how to rear wild birds, how to build boats. Some of its chapter headings are “Homemade Hunting Apparatus, Etc,” “Practical Taxidermy for Boys,” “Snowball Warfare.” The second book, The American Girl’s Handy Book, includes instruction on how to make plaster casts, how to reseat a chair, how to paint china, how to transform old furniture into new. A chapter on “How to Make a Hammock” reads, “It is not difficult to make a hammock; anyone can soon knit one that is strong and comfortable, and it should not cost more than 50 cents. The materials required will be one hammock-needle about 9 inches long (this can be whittled out of hickory or ash, or purchased for 10 cents); two iron rings 2½ inches in diameter, which will cost about 5 cents each; two mesh-sticks or fids, one 20 inches long and 8 inches wide beveled on both sides: the other 9 inches long and 2½ inches wide, beveled on the long edge; these you can easily make yourself from any kind of wood.” Wow! Children in the 1880s were a different breed! Today, we are simply less capable because we are used to having everything handed to us.
We must be determined to provide our children with regular stimulating challenges. Hunt down opportunities to keep them active, to engage their imaginations, to work their hands, to show them what they can do if they only make the effort. Set an example in how to engage vigorously in real-world activity—to do whatever their hand finds to do with their might.
Go out for the evening. Visit a local park and go for a walk or a run as a family. Exercise together. Play sports. Take the family to a ball game. Visit a nearby lake for a swim. Pitch a tent in the backyard for a simple campout. Go on a drive through the countryside for a picnic. Take a Sunday to enjoy a family hike. Save up and take a trip to the coast.
Invite your children’s friends over to join your family night from time to time. Coordinate with another family or two for a friendly soccer or softball game. Go to the extra effort of having other families over for dinner. Bring the extended family together for Thanksgiving.
Get involved in group activities together through your congregation, school activities or events you organize with other individuals or families: picnics, swimming, family sports, hiking, fishing. Be aware, though, that often at a group activity, your family members can be separated doing different things. Be sure that if this happens, you’re not using it as a substitute for private family time where you can really be together.
When spending that time together, look for and seize opportunities to point your children toward God, and the God Family way of life. Look again at Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and 11:18-21, and get a picture of just how active and interactive God wants us to be with our children—and how God-centered those interactions should be. We are to teach our children about God in everything we do. Note that Moses wrote “when,” not “if.” We are to teach our children when, not if, we are sitting in the house (such as during those family meals!) and walking by the way—doing things together!
Yes, God commands us to teach our children while we are actively doing things with them! Time spent in private with your family provides an excellent opportunity to teach them the true values of life. There is no substitute for that time with the whole family involved.
Within a family, traditions can be marvelously useful, providing stability, comfort, rhythm and connection. Traditions can be like guardrails, keeping you on the right path.
A tradition is “an inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior; the handing down of information, beliefs and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another,” or “cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs and institutions,” according to Merriam-Webster. God established many traditions in His chosen nation Israel. Family traditions do a lot to build tight bonds within your family.
“[W]hether you have realized it or not, there are really only two courses of action to take,” the Plain Truth of October 1984 stated. “Either build meaningful and lasting traditions in your family, or drift into nontraditions that will cause your family to split farther and farther apart from one another.”
Many things can be made into family traditions. It could be as simple as having a yearly camping trip with the family, or perhaps a regular family reunion. Getting together with the extended family is a great way to enhance unity.
It is especially important for your children to have a good relationship with their grandparents. God intends children to grow up with several generations watching out for them, teaching them, reminding them about the old ways, instructing them in history, showing them the family traditions. He intended a family’s legacy, heritage and history to grow richer with each passing generation.
A family tradition can be a trade or a hobby that a father passes down to his son. It could be a culinary skill that a mother teaches to her daughter. At the very least, such traditions will give the child something to remember their parents by when they grow older.
Some families will already have deep-rooted traditions. Maybe yours does not. Either way, family traditions should not be ignored.
Think of the cycles of life—the weekly Sabbath, the annual holy days, the seasons. Figure out something that the whole family would have fun doing or could learn valuable lessons from, something that could become a regular event like a trip to a national park or another sort of vacation. Your family will be stronger for having and holding on to such bonding experiences.
Use family traditions not only to draw your family in tighter, but also to teach your family about God and His wonderful law of love.
The Opportunity Is Yours!
Do you have happy memories from your childhood? You might remember picnicking at a lake, visiting your cousins, winning a game, learning to ride a horse, or taking that vacation to Yellowstone. For children, these fond recollections are memories of family, friends and fun. What children do not realize is that these occasions usually only came about because of parents’ intentional decision and effort to make them happen. Your father had to leave work early to bring you to the state fair. Your parents had to save for months to bring your family to visit your cousins in the mountains. They had to prioritize to attend your recital.
Your parents enjoyed these experiences along with you, but they also had to invest planning and resources to make them possible. If they hadn’t focused on your interests instead of their own, or on your development instead of their “daily grind,” these happy occasions never would have happened.
Now you are the parents. It’s your turn to create opportunities for joyful moments for your family. Take time to do things together. Plan time to be together, and plan time in both quality and quantity—because these things don’t just happen. You must make them happen.Give of yourself—your time, your energy, your money, your resources—to be with your precious family. Work to provide a wealth of experiences that cause your children to truly love family life! It will do so much to help them look forward with anticipation and joy to life in the God Family forever!
Seven Steps to Protect Your Child From the Misuse of Technology
Remember, the basic principles of child rearing are love, nurture, involvement, interest, instruction, frank discussion and discipline. Here are some specific ways to apply these principles to counter the negative effects of technology in your children’s and teens’ lives.
1. Carefully consider the potential consequences before equipping children and teens with a smartphone and instant messenger accounts. Understand the high level of freedom you grant your children by giving them their own personal devices of mobile communication. It is unwise to allow adolescents a high level of trust considering that a majority of adults have trouble resisting the temptation to visit inappropriate websites so prevalent on the Internet. Frequent news reports have shown that many teens share undressed photos of themselves through instant messaging sites. If your children need a cell phone, consider providing them with a flip phone.
2. Only allow your child to use an electronic device in a highly visible area. This list should include computers, iPads, iPods, smartphones and any other electronic device that can access the Internet. Mr. Flurry has strongly encouraged this for many years. On November 1, 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics (aap) stated the same thing: “The aap also recommends that parents do not allow their children to have televisions or Internet access in their bedrooms, for some research has found a link between kids who have tvs in their bedrooms and obesity, as well as kids who have disrupted patterns of sleep. However, as a mother of three children under the age of 10 points out to me, ‘When content is available on all kinds of mobile devices, you don’t really need a tv or Internet access for kids to be viewing entertainment media in their bedrooms—or anywhere at all!’” (Huffington Post).
3. Install and use parental control software. Great parental control applications and programs are bundled with your system or your device’s operating system. Other third-party programs can provide additional protection. Be sure you apply these protections on all devices, including mobile devices, notebooks, desktops and gaming consoles. These programs and applications should help protect the environment your children experience while using technology. Take time to research how to apply these controls, and learn which ones are most effective.
4. Schedule any time they spend using technology. Computers are usually more beneficial to students when they have to schedule the time to go to the machine to use them, rather than having a laptop within arm’s reach 24/7. When you have a predetermined purpose and time for using a computer—writing a paper, editing photos, etc—you tend to carry out that objective instead of wandering mindlessly around the Web or checking social media. In other words, help your children know what they are going to do and when they are going to do it—and then ensure that is what they do!
5. Get involved with your children. Don’t be afraid to invade their privacy. This is your job! When your child does use technology, be involved! There are choices that children, including teenagers, simply aren’t old enough to make. In many cases, you will need to determine what access they should have for their own benefit and protection as they mature into people capable of judging what is right and what is wrong, what is dangerous and what is not. If you are in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask a minister what to do in specific cases. And if your child is already having a problem with overusing or misusing some form of modern technology, he or she really doesn’t have to use it at all outside of specific classroom instruction and assignments. For more information, see the Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety (www2.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/pguidee.htm).
6. Replace indoor activities with outdoor ones. Get your children involved in social activities, sports programs and physical, outdoor jobs. Aim to develop a balanced lifestyle for them. A day full of challenging activity will break a desire to spend time on an electronic device.
7. Be firm, honest and factual about your concerns about electronic devices and Internet use. Foster an atmosphere of openness and honesty in the home. There can be no better influence on your children than your positive example. Examine your own use of electronic devices and the Internet. Do you need to make changes? If so, do so! Explain to your children why you are concerned about mobile devices and Internet access. Help them to understand you have a responsibility before God to rear them His way. Your children will more likely make a change, and put their hearts in that change, when they understand your concern and see your example.
Ephesians 6:4 states that parents must bring up their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” God tells us to go on the offensive. We must take action now while we can.
Successful Single Parenting
The number of U.S. children living in single-parent homes has nearly doubled since 1960. Today, about one third of American children—approximately 15 million—are being raised without a father. Five million more are being raised without a mother. The number of children living without a father in the home is especially alarming. Concerned experts recognize that this has a significant negative impact on the mental, social and emotional development of these children.
The most difficult part of being a single parent is simply accepting that fact and fully embracing your responsibilities as a parent—both a dad and mom. You do not have time for complaining, self-pity or whining. Be positive and recognize that you are not alone! Child rearing is a daunting task even for two-parent families. All parents need help at times in their child-rearing career. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to admit when you need help.
When others help you, recognize that the love, teaching and discipline your child needs has to come from you! God expects that you properly and successfully rear your own children. Take God on as your partner! If you are a single mother, never forget that with God, you have a Father and a Husband. If you are a single father, realize that God, as your Father, will direct you how to discipline and nurture your children (Ephesians 6:4). With God’s unflinching support, you can be an exceptional single parent!
Consider the following two foundational scriptures. Assuming you have been and are living right spiritually, God would not have allowed you to be in your present situation if you could not do it. Read, study and meditate on 1 Corinthians 10:13. This scripture proves to you that God is faithful to and full of love for you. He would never put you in a situation that will break you spiritually.
Also, read, study and meditate on Romans 8:28. All things work together for your good and the good of your children when you love God—which means fully obeying Him—and are called according to His purpose. God is building His only Family. You and your children are a significant part of that Family. When you stay close to God and teach your children to do so, miraculous things will happen for you.
Here are some practical steps you must take to be successful as a single parent.
Put God First
It is tough being a single parent. Sometimes it is even tougher to be a parent with a non-member mate. Many things—jobs, budgets, shopping, household duties and your children’s needs—will pull you in a multitude of different directions. Although you are a single parent, never forget that you are a Christian. Your first daily priority must always be to seek God, His Kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). Whether you have become single recently, or have been single for some time now, you must establish the habit of getting up early to get your prayer and Bible study in before you begin your day. If you fail to do this, you will be on your own!
Through the Bible, Jesus Christ lovingly warns us that Satan is now working against us in a feverish-hot rage (Revelation 12:12). If we are not drinking in spiritual power through prayer and study, we will be easy targets for satanic attacks. You must begin each day fully armed to battle our common enemy, not only for yourself, but your children too.
Ask God to guide and bless your day. Ask Him daily to protect you and your children from accident and illness. Most of all, ask God to give you the power to fight discouragement.
Focus a portion of your Bible study on God’s clear promises to supply your needs as a single parent (Philippians 4:19). There are special promises you can claim.
For example, “The Lord … relieveth the fatherless and widow …” (Psalm 146:9). This is God’s promise to help carry the burdens of single parents. God is not limited as to what He will do. This promise includes spiritual, financial, emotional and social needs. Psalm 68 states that God is a “father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows” (verse 5). This verse means that God will protect you and your child from all harm when you truly look to Him. Psalm 10 states that God is “the helper of the fatherless” (verse 14). Wise King Solomon wrote, “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee” (Proverbs 23:10-11). God is the mighty Redeemer of widows and orphans. He will use all His might to defend and sustain you. In the short run, you may suffer as all humans do, but in the long run, God always takes care of things—even if some try to mistreat you.
Put God and His way of life first in your life. Trust God to provide for you. Seek God’s guidance in every situation you encounter. Ask God for extra help to face your problems—head on—with courage. When you go to God, expect God to bless you—for that is exactly what God plans to do.
Seek Ministerial Counsel
Single parents need sound advice. All people do. However, being the sole disciplinarian can be difficult for the single parent—male or female. Men tend to be too hard; women too soft. It takes a lot of thought, education and experience to achieve the right balance in discipline for a single parent. Solomon declared, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). The value of wise counsel is priceless. Those who stubbornly go it alone without counsel often suffer unnecessary hardship.
God has set His ministers over the Church to help His people (Hebrews 13:17; 2 Corinthians 1:24). This certainly includes single parents. God’s ministers know how to help you be a great parent; they also know when to seek help from their superior when your problem is serious enough. However, be sure to seek out the ministry for help before problems get really tough. Positive ministerial instruction—continually—is a lot less painful for you and your child. For example, single mothers with sons need instruction on how to guide the rambunctiousness of boys. Single fathers of girls may have trouble relating to the emotional temperaments of their daughters. It is good to talk regularly about these types of issues. God’s ministers are excellent sounding boards for you to express your concerns and challenges.
Seeking regular counsel from God’s ministry sets a sterling and necessary example for your children. They need to seek your counsel, and counsel from the ministry as well. When you seek counsel, they will follow your example.
Call On Family
Being a single parent is like having one arm tied behind your back. Don’t hesitate to seek help from your extended family and friends. Ask for help when you truly need it. It could be a simple matter of asking someone to babysit your kids while you get some personal time to think. The most successful single parents are the ones who keep in touch not only with their minister, but also with family and friends.
If there are reasons you cannot obtain help from your own family, seek help from your spiritual family. That is what God’s Family is for!
Truly giving and caring members are always on the lookout to help single-parent families. Make sure you are willing to accept their help when offered.
Keep company with solid Church members who are successful with child rearing. You can learn a lot simply by observing them. You need a fully developed support system. Lean on the help of strong, godly families. Many families are happy to include you and your children in activities.
Sometimes a simple chat with an understanding ear is all you need to get up and running again. Trusted, spiritually oriented members who listen without forcing their advice or opinions on you are a precious treasure. When you find such a friend, seek his or her help. The solutions for many difficulties often come while simply sharing your feelings. Always tell your friend how thankful you are for his or her understanding ear. Don’t forget to return the favor.
You may also need to get help outside of family and friends. For example, working single mothers and single fathers with small children may require the help of a housekeeper—someone to help cook and clean. Of course, this adds to the family budget and may not be feasible. Older children and teens should be expected to help with household chores. Befriend your child’s teachers. Teachers often observe things in your child you may have difficulty seeing. If you are a single parent as the result of a divorce, you may need a lawyer. If you are a single parent as the result of the death of a spouse, you may need the help of a financial adviser. Be wise. Seek the help of the best professionals. In general, child discipline problems require you to seek the help of your minister only.
Set a Family Schedule
The roles of a single parent are many. Being a mother, father, homemaker, breadwinner, bookkeeper and nurse can pull you in many different directions all at the same time! The key to your effectiveness lies in organization.
Single parents suffer from the tendency to allow life to get out of control. Control your life. Get organized! If you have not done so, set a schedule for yourself and your children. Get the whole family involved. Start by making a daily list of things to be done. Be sure to set realistic goals. Then set priorities. Remember, your schedule is a guide. Be sure to allow for unplanned occurrences that can divert planned activities. But work at sticking to the schedule. A schedule will give your family structure and direction. Both attributes create an environment of security.
The easy way to set a schedule is to write it down on an inexpensive calendar. Note the assigned activities for each family member. Get your children to help with the cooking, cleaning and laundry. This will not only take the burden off you, it will help them learn responsibility and feel needed and useful. When your children learn to do house chores well, it will free you up to do other things.
Organize your records. Develop a simple filing system for your important papers, bills, letters, insurance policies, etc. Be sure to schedule office time for yourself to keep your filing system in good working order. Make a financial budget and stick to it. An out-of-control budget—meaning no budget—will lead to disaster.
Keep your home environment in order. Because of a harried life, some have the tendency to allow a home to fill with clutter. Although it may be a real challenge, give away, sell or simply throw out those items you don’t need or don’t use. Find a storage place for everything and then be sure to put things away when finished with them. Two scriptures to keep in mind here: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints,” and “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).
Build Family Closeness
The major way to offset the difficulties of a single-parent family is to build family closeness. Closeness comes by spending time with the children. Scheduling time together must be a top priority.
Be aware that the loss of a parent can cause your child to crave your attention more than normal, especially at first. All children experience feelings of insecurity when a parent dies. All children experience rejection when parents divorce. You will need to develop real empathy for your children. By supporting them, you will teach them to support their siblings and eventually other people. In time, each member of a strongly united family grows to give and receive emotional and moral support. When one is down, the others step in to provide strength and encouragement. How do you build this kind of closeness?
Single-parent families must share regular meals together. Few families in this world eat any meals together. Mealtimes provide family togetherness, security and time for communication. Mealtime communication is a lost art in our society. Turn off the television, tablets, smartphones, etc, during meals. Use the time wisely to share thoughts, feelings and concerns. Talk about positive things like goals and how God has intervened during the course of the day.
As the parent, lead all discussions. Draw out your more reserved children. Ask specific questions: What was the most exciting part of your day? What good thing happened to you? Tell your children how your day went. If you are open and honest, your children will learn to be the same way. Be sure to let your children tell you what is on their minds. Learn about their interests. Then guide and align all interests to be in concert with God’s laws and ways.
Listen carefully for problems at school. Problems can be related to studies or other students. You can help prevent poor grades by spending time with your children while they do homework. All children need remedial help at times. Don’t be ashamed to seek help if you see problems. If you have built a good working relationship with your child’s teacher, he or she can be an extra arm for you to provide positive help for your child.
Attend as many school activities as possible. Your personal involvement will greatly encourage your children. In addition, there is no better way to get a good view of your children and their friends. Learn about your children’s friends. Make your home a center for youth activity. Allow your children to invite friends home when you are present, and monitor all activities. Direct your children away from associates who can have a negative effect on them. Teach your children to choose friends wisely.
Maximize your weekends with your children. The Sabbath is the ideal time for family Bible study and prayer. Of course, during the week you should also take the time to teach your children about God and to pray with them. However, the Sabbath allows you time for concentrated effort.
Encourage your children to participate in all Church-sponsored youth activities. Even though we are scattered, each region hosts activities to help inspire and uplift the youth of God’s Church. All teens should be encouraged to attend Philadelphia Youth Camp. The Church also plans special activities for young people at each Feast site. Don’t miss these opportunities.
Sundays are ideal for family time. Work together around the home. Take care of missed cleaning chores, or use the day for grocery shopping and preparing for the week ahead. As time and budget permits, use the day for family recreation and fun. All children need their parents to spend relaxing and fun times with them. This is even more necessary for single-parent families. Family picnics, hikes and sporting activity add a refreshing diversion from family stress and strain.
Besides personal family closeness, do not forget that you and your children need to be close to God’s Family. Be sure to attend Sabbath services regularly. Spending time with God’s Family each week will strengthen and encourage you and your children.
Be sure to serve others. God has called all of us to a life of service—even widows and single parents. Remember that God used a widow and her son to serve the great Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:9-24). God blessed this widow richly by sustaining her food supply and bringing her son back to life after a fatal illness. Whenever possible, volunteer to help God’s Work. Encourage your children to help as well according to their age and ability.
Learn to serve and help others. Invite others over for a meal or some games. Be sure to include both singles and families. Some couples may actually have more serious problems than you. There are times they need someone to lean on. Focus your attention on your guests. When you generate warmth and happiness, this will set a wonderful example for your children. When you get into the habit of thinking about others, your own problems will shrink into a proper perspective.
Realize there are two ways to approach your situation. You can be positive. This is obviously the best way. Being positive will energize you to meet all the challenges you face. Or you can be negative. Being negative only makes a tough situation more difficult. It will destroy your happiness and your children’s as well. Being negative will sap your strength when you need it most.
Bitterness is the threat to your success as a single parent. No matter what the cause of your single status—death, separation or divorce—don’t succumb to anger, envy or resentment. You are not the first single parent. In this present evil world, you will not be the last. Others before you have done a truly marvelous job in raising balanced and stable children. You can do the same.
Go after the challenge of single parenting. When you do, you and your children will discover the fulfillment, happiness and peace that only family can deliver.
For Further Reading
To access these articles, go to www.pcog.org and search for each article using the search bar.
“Age of Confusion—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 1,” by Ron Fraser
1 | Hannah’s Vision
“Motherhood: The Untold Story,” by Stephen Flurry
“How Feminism Harms Families,” by Dennis Leap
“Recapture Value in True Womanhood,” by Dennis Leap
2 | Fathers Rule the Family Well
“Lost Boys,” by Stephen Flurry
“What a Real Man Looks Like,” by Stephen Flurry
3 | Shape Your Child’s Human Spirit
“Child Rearing and the Greatest Vision in the Bible—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 2,” by Ron Fraser
4 | Rearing Young Children—Newborn to Age Five
“Understanding the Method—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 3,” by Ron Fraser
“Train Up a Child—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 4,” by Ron Fraser
“Yes, Sir,” by Joel Hilliker
“The Fruits of Spanking,” by Stephen Flurry
“A Child Left to Himself,” by Stephen Flurry
“By Myself,” by Dennis Leap
“The Character of Clothing,” by Gareth Fraser
5 | Rearing Children—Ages Six to Twelve
“How to Love Your Children,” by Ryan Malone
“Educate Your Child—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 5,” by Ron Fraser
“Childhood: The Elementary Years—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 6,” by Ron Fraser
“Five Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Public School,” by Wayne Turgeon
“Guiding Your Child’s Development—The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 7,” by Ron Fraser
“Your Family’s Most Important Textbook,” by Joel Hilliker
“Is Your Child Being Bullied?” by Dennis Leap
“How to Give Your Child Wisdom,” by Stephen Flurry
“Tea and Biscuits With Aunt Mable,” by Dennis Leap
“Loyalty Begins at Home,” by Dennis Leap
“The Leap Family Nonaggression Pact,” by Dennis Leap
“Don’t Waste Your Time,” by Stephen Flurry
“Giving Your Child an ‘Imperial’ Music Education,” by Ryan Malone
“Before and After Services—Still Holy Time,” by Joel Hilliker
“The 30-Plus Program,” by Stephen Flurry
6 | Build a Moral Teen
“Daddy’s Girl,” by Stephen Flurry
“Modesty: The Solution No One Will Talk About,” by Joel Hilliker
“Youth Culture,” by Stephen Flurry
“If I Were the Devil,” by Stephen Flurry
“Parents Wake Up: Teen Sexting Linked to Risky Sexual Behavior!”, by Dennis Leap
“Your Brain Is Being Hacked,” by David Vejil
“Upholding God’s Standard in Dress and Appearance,” by Stephen Flurry and Amy Flurry
7 | Prepare Teens for Adulthood
“Take Time to Save Your Teen,” by Dennis Leap
“Build a Tougher Teen,” by Dennis Leap
“Seven Ways to Help Your Teenager,” by Wik Heerma
8 | Make Your Family Life Active!
“Teen Time With Dad Critically Important,” by Dennis Leap
“Family Feast Traditions,” by Joel Hilliker
“The Stranger in Your Home,” by Joel Hilliker