Greetings everybody. Today we will continue with our series of programs on cultivating true values in the family. Last time, we went through Part 1. Today we’re going to go through Part 2. If you’ll go get your Bibles and follow along, that’ll be an ideal thing. Let’s turn to Proverbs 22:6. We’ll start there. Proverbs 22:6, it says:
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Now a better translation of that is this: Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old, he will not depart from it. There are a lot of things built into that verse. In fact, we could have a whole series on that verse and that verse alone. The word train involves a lot of things, and we’ll talk about that as time goes along.
But today I want to focus on one aspect of what it says in verse 6 regarding training up a child in the way he should go. This involves teaching right from the get–go, and then continues throughout life. And as your children mature, your teaching matures and your teaching grows along with your children as they grow.
In other words, when your child becomes a teenager, you relate to them differently than when you related to them at two years of age. And when your child becomes an adult, you relate to them differently then than you did when you related to them as a teenager. There are still some similarities, but you grow along with your children in terms of teaching them.
And I want to talk about one aspect of teaching today as we train up our children in the way they should go. And that aspect of teaching is teaching by example—by example.
The first thing that children will do right at birth is they’ll begin to watch what you do. You can talk to them all you want to and they won’t understand the words that you are speaking. But they will watch you and they will notice you and they do know if you’re Mom and they do know if you’re Dad. They begin to figure that out. And then later on they begin to understand the words you’re teaching them. And then later on they begin to understand how to apply the words that you’re teaching them. But the first thing they do is they watch what you do. So that’s what we have to do right from the beginning. We have to begin teaching our children by example.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, you may be familiar with some of his poems and some of his writings. He said this, “What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.” You can even take that a little bit further and you can say, “What you are speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.” Because what you are is what you’ll end up doing. But we’re talking about example. We’re talking about teaching by example.
Now I want to go into this book that I went into last time called, The Family. It’s put out by the Royal Bank of Canada. It’s a collection of letters and studies written by experts in the field of human behavior and family matters. And of course, I do not agree with everything in this book. We have to sift the wheat from the chaff. But much in here is very valuable and very useful and very true. I want to start by turning to page 52. I want to read several points that focus on this matter of teaching by example:
Hugh Christie, warden of Canada’s largest prison, said…in an address to a Management Association that his institution is filled with spoiled children.
—His institution being the largest prison in Canada. And the warden said this prison is filled with spoiled children. Now children weren’t born spoiled. But they became spoiled because of the way that parents reared them.
Now, I want to go over here to pages 53-55 and read some information from Commissioner George B. McClellan of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He put it this way when addressing the Empire Club in Toronto:
It is not juvenile delinquency I want to speak about—it is parental delinquency—because, in my humble opinion, the group which is creating the troubles I have referred to is, for the most part, a product of irresponsible homes and irresponsible parents. I think the trouble begins in the home, and ultimately it will have to be corrected in the home.
Very often,’ said the Commissioner, I’ve heard the cry of an anguished or bewildered parent say this, “How did my child get to be this way?” Well, the seed for good or evil is in all of us, and the fruit of it depends on its cultivation.”
Now, this man in the past has been the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. That is a highly regarded police force actually around the world, and this man has a lot of good information regarding how children turn out well and regarding how they turn out not so well. And I want to go through 10 points that he passed on to this group that he was speaking to. And these points are under the heading of:
Rules for raising misfits
Instead of giving the usual catalogue of virtues to be cultivated, Commissioner McClellan sharpened his lesson by listing 10 effective methods to use so that a child will become an antisocial misfit.
So he points out problems that will produce problem children and we can learn from this by doing the opposite of the problems that he mentions. But we can still learn from reading these points and seeing that, you know what, cause and effect once again—whatever you sow, you reap.
Point 1. [The Commissioner says this] Do not have any rules for child behavior or obedience in the home. This will ensure that the child has no clear concept of right or wrong.
You know, there are “experts” in the field of child psychology today who try to peddle the garbage that you don’t need to give any guidance to your children. Just herd them around and let them be who they want to be and do whatever they want to do, and this way they will blossom and bloom into wonderful creative children. Don’t put any restrictions on them. Don’t give them any rules. Don’t require anything of them. And of course, that is a formula for disaster in this matter of child rearing. The Commissioner says,
Do not have any rules for child behavior or obedience in the home. This will ensure that the child has no clear concept of right or wrong.
That’s what will create a misfit. And so, really, the lesson here is, we must have rules for child behavior so that they will understand the difference between right and wrong, and where are they going to learn this from? Where are they going to get this information from? Well, it has to be in the home. It has to be from parents.
The second point that he talked about was this:
Point 2. If you have any rules, enforce them intermittently. Ignore them when you’re in good humor and knock the kid silly if he breaks the rules when you are tired or out of sorts. This will confuse him thoroughly. He won’t know what is expected of him and will eventually resent all discipline.
You know, I found that one of the most important aspects of child rearing and one of the most important principles of rearing happy, wholesome and successful children is this matter of consistency. You have to be consistent. They have to know what you stand for. They have to be able to predict what your response will be, because it is consistent. When you do this, this and this, things work out well. When you do this, this and this, things don’t work out well. And consistently and diligently they know that’s the kind of rules and regulations you’re going to require of them. Then they don’t end up being confused and they don’t end up resenting discipline.
In other words, what you say today, you say tomorrow and you say the next day. You expect this today, you expect that tomorrow, and you expect that the next day. Whether they’re tired, whether you’re tired, whether it’s raining outside, whether it’s a beautiful weather outside, whether or not everything went well today or whether they didn’t—right is right and wrong is wrong, and that’s still going to be the path and the rules that they are to apply in their lives and that you will uphold in the home. And that’s the point that we should get from number 2 in this list of 10.
Now let’s go to number 3.
Point 3. Air your domestic disputes right out in front of the child, preferably with a little name–calling. This will ensure that he has no respect for either of his parents.
Now, of course, I could mention several examples of experiences that I’ve had in this matter right here. I know of cases where parents will start arguing and calling one another names and even using bad language right in front of the children, and the children sit there and see the whole spectacle.
I also know of instances where as soon as the husband goes off to work, the wife or the mother relaxes all the rules and the children can do whatever they want to do while she’s busy doing whatever she wants to do. And then when the dad comes home at night to spend time with the family and expect that things are going to be done according to a set rule of conduct, and he tries to implement that, after being free to do whatever they want to throughout the day, there’s a problem.
I’ve also known of cases where when the mother goes off somewhere, the dad undercuts the mother. And instead of upholding the mother, he will dispute and disagree and contradict with the mother, or the mother will do the same with the dad.
Now, of course, there are going to be disagreements between mother and dad, but those disagreements should be discussed in private. They should be settled in private, not in front of the children. And when parents are dealing with children, they should have a united front. If a particular parent doesn’t agree with a particular thing, he or she should be quiet and then discuss it in private, not in front of the children. That way, the children don’t have to deal with facing these issues— “Who’s right? Is Dad right or is Mom right? Because both of them are not agreeing. One believes one thing and one believes the other. One requires one thing and one requires the other. And so now, I don’t respect either one of them and I’m not going to do what either one of them say.” That’s the outcome of handling things that way in the home as parents.
Air your domestic disputes right out in front of the child, preferably with a little name– calling. This will ensure that he has no respect for either of his parents.
That’s what not to do.
Point 4. Never give a child any chores or regular duties around the home. This will convince them that you and the world owe him a living, without effort on his part.
And once again, I know parents who have done that. They wouldn’t require the little darlings to work or lift a finger to do anything. The kids just lay around eating chips and drinking Coke and calling people on the cell phone or staying in front of the computer or watching television while mom and dad wait on them hand and foot. All that does is cripple the children. All that does is ensure that when they become adults, they are not going to be able to fit into society. They’re not going to be able to hold down a job. How are they going to work somewhere? How are they going to go to work on time, work all day, earn their pay and please their boss? They haven’t been taught to do that. They’ve been taught to do the opposite. They don’t need to know how to work. They don’t need to know how to be responsible. They’re my children. I’ll do all of that. And then when you are gone or when you are dead and when they are out on their own, they’re going to be in big trouble.
The thing to learn from point 4 here is, early on, give our children responsibility. Early on, teach our children how to work. Early on, teach our children how to be responsible—how to prepare to do a job, how to do the job and how to clean up after the job. Mothers and fathers need to teach sons and daughters the work ethic, and they do it by example. Do it by example. Let them see how you work. Let them see how you accomplish. Let them see how you handle responsibility and then show them how they can begin to learn how to do that. It’s one of the most wonderful things parents can do, preparing them for adulthood and earning their own way.
Never give a child any chores or regular duties around the home. This will convince him that you and the world owe him a living, without effort on his part.
A deadly, deadly way to do it, and all too many people are increasingly handling children and work, and preparing them for work, exactly like that.
Point 5. If he is disciplined at school, always go to the school and tear a strip off the teacher or the principal in front of the child. This will create an excellent contempt for authority at any level.
Well, of course, teachers can make mistakes and do, but what we always did with our children was we would go down and get to know the teacher and let the teacher get to know us. And then as a team, we would together work at educating our children. The teacher primarily would do it at school, and we would follow up on it at home. If there was a problem at school, we would go down and solve it. If it was a problem with the teacher, we would do that in private. If it was a problem with our children, we would do that at home. And sometimes there were mistakes made that had to be corrected, but it’s a matter of how it’s handled.
But when he is disciplined at school, or she, and you go down there and you take your child’s side and you attack the teacher and you do it in front of the children, this is going to undermine the attitude that your child will have for authority at any level.
I would dare say that a lot of you right now could sit down with a piece of paper and write down the name of every single one of the teachers you’ve ever had. If I put my mind to it, I think I could start in the 1st grade, go all the way through the 12th grade and tell you the names of all the teachers I’ve had, and then tell you the names of all the professors I’ve had in four years at college. You know why? Because I was taught to respect the teachers. I was taught to listen. I was taught to learn and I was taught to appreciate them and their position. Some of them were grouchy. Some of them were friendly. Some of them were pleasant. Some of them were not so pleasant. But they were still the teacher, and I was taught to respect that office and I’m glad I was, because I believe I learned more as a result of that. And we can teach our children. How? By example.
How do we relate to authority? How do they see us relating to their teachers? How do we talk about their teachers? They learn from that. They learn the right or the wrong by the example we show them in that particular situation.
Point 6. Later, when he has trouble with the police, which is most likely, bawl out the officer, or, better still, the Chief, being always sure to refer to the “dumb cop”. This procedure will earn the child a diploma in contempt for authority.
You know, anybody in authority should be spoken of with respect, and if we can’t respect them, then why not just not even talk about them. Or if they’re a bad example, we can point out where they were wrong, but still respect the office they’re in. Because I’ll tell you, if children are not taught to respect proper authority in the right way—not if the authority tries to get them to do something wrong, but proper authority in the right way—and they are telling us to do something at work, and we may not like the job they’re giving us to do but we do it anyway because they’re the boss and we’re the employee, so we’re going to respect the office the boss is in—if we can teach our children early on to have that kind of respect for authority, it’ll carry them a long way. And we can do that by showing them how to do that.
But what do they hear us say around the table regarding our boss? What do they see us say to a policeman if we have any kind of dealings with them? How do we talk about the President of the United States, etc.? See, it’s by example that we teach proper respect for properly constituted authority, or tear it down by wrong example.
Point 7. When you’re out driving with the family, exceed the local speed limit, but slow down when you see a police car. Be sure to speed up as soon as the police car is out of sight. This will show the child that the law is to be observed only if there’s any danger of being caught.
You know, it’s really nice if we can develop the habit of driving the speed limit and when we see a policeman sitting over there with his radar gun, we can just wave at him. But if we are exceeding the speed limit and on the look out for radar or for helicopters or for speed traps and then as soon as we suspect one, slow down real quickly, look at the double standard and the duplicity that that teaches our children.
I recall a family, the mother and dad are dead now, but they had five children. The dad loved to speed. I mean, he would go way over the speed limit. That’s just the way he did it, and he brought up his five children to be lookouts. He would have them looking out at different positions in the car or the station wagon and as they’re driving along the road, he’s got one looking out for a helicopter and one looking out for an unmarked police car and they’re all kind of a squad of police detectors, so that if they spot something that looks like a policeman is anywhere around, then he slows down, and then when they say it’s all clear, then he speeds up.
I don’t think I need to tell you how that family turned out when it comes to police and authority and speeding on the road. They turned out not very well. They simply followed the example that their dad showed them to follow when it comes to exceeding the speed limit.
We are to obey the laws of the land. We are to drive in a way that’s responsible, and as our children see us doing that, they’re way more likely to be drivers like that when they are adults. But if they see us disregarding safety and they see us driving recklessly and they see us trying to get away with things and playing games with the police and driving fast when they’re not around and slowing down when they are, that’s teaching them to observe the laws only if there’s any danger of being caught. If there’s no danger of being caught, forget laws and rules and regulations.
Point 8. If you’re stopped by the police for speeding, if yo’re actually speeding, always deny flatly that you were exceeding the speed limit. Make a big fuss over it. Your child will then know that cheating and lying are acceptable procedures.
And I know of cases where this has happened and the policeman will pull dad over and then they get into a big fight. And dad loudly proclaims he was not speeding and he loudly confronts the police officer. When, in fact, he was speeding and everybody in the car knew he was speeding and the children knew he was speeding. And so then therefore what example is that showing the children?
It’s showing the children that dad cheats and lies and tries to get out of the truth. And so therefore they grow up with that chiseled into their mentality and chiseled into their psyche and chiseled into their character. “Your child will then know that cheating and lying are acceptable procedures.” How will they know that? Well, that’s what my dad and mom do, so that’s what I can do. That is not the way to be a loving and successful parent.
Point 9. If you have managed to chisel a few dollars on your income tax, be sure and tell the family at the dinner table that night how smart you are. This should convince the youngsters that stealing is all right [sic] if you can get away with it.
Now, nobody likes to pay taxes, and all of us have to pay taxes. And some people gripe and complain and grumble and try to figure out a way to get out of paying it. And sometimes they do figure out a way to cheat and lie their way out of it and then sometimes they do brag about it and sometimes the kids hear them. Well, that is not a good example. That’s showing a bad example.
You know, you can even read in the Bible where Jesus Christ Himself said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” And so therefore, in this beautiful country we live in with all these wonderful opportunities and blessings and freedom—that all comes at a cost, and part of that cost is paying taxes. And so if we, as a good citizen carry out our duties and pay the taxes and don’t gripe and complain or figure out a way to get out of it, but rather show our children that as citizens, we have responsibilities and duties and this is how to carry them out, then our children will be much better citizens as a result of that.
But if we do it the other way and brag about chiseling and cheating and getting away with stealing, whether it’s from the government or any place else, our children will grow up thinking, “Okay, maybe I can get away with it.” What a pathetic example.
Point 10. Never check up on where your youngsters are in the evening. Never mind what time they get home. Never, never, try to learn anything about their friends. This one is almost sure fire.
You know, he’s not saying and neither am I, that parents ought to hover over their children, micromanage their children, snoop on their children, butt in on our children. But we ought to keep track and we ought to lead and we ought to supervise and we ought to know what they’re doing and we ought to know where they are and we ought to know who they are with and who are their friends, and require that they be home at a certain time. That’s being responsible parents. If you just turn them loose and hope they make it, they may not make it.
I used to hear this philosophy which I never agreed on: “Throw him out in the water and let him sink or swim.” Well, what if he can’t swim and he sinks? The best way to do it is get out in the water with him or her. Teach them how to swim, and as they get to swimming better, back off. And when they’re really getting good, get up out of the pool, and then they’re really good swimmers.You can let them swim with other people and you might not even need to be there. That’s how we teach children to live life in a way that’s successful.
But in order to do that, we have to set the example. We have to show them, and that means we need to show them how to choose friends and we need to show them how to send bad friends packing. For all you know, if you don’t know who the friends are that your children are with, they could be with friends that smoke marijuana, that drink and get drunk, that have all kinds of horrible habits. They maybe have one or two good friends and three or four bad ones. You need to know that. And if you find that some of their friends are good and some aren’t, then you need to talk to them and tell them, “The friends you have that are trying to do the right thing, that’s great! The friends you have that are involved in drugs and all these other things, no more time with them.” If you don’t know that, how are you going to deal with it?
And so, what he’s pointing out here is something that we need to be aware of and correct if it’s a problem. But too many people never check up on where their youngsters are in the evening. They never mind what time they get home. They never, never try to learn anything about their friends. That is a formula for disaster. We should, as parents who are responsible and loving parents, conduct ourselves in the opposite way to that.
These suggestions of the wrong way to raise children to be decent citizens were made by the man who, of all others in Canada, because he was at the time head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, knows most about what enters into the making of law–breakers.
Young people need rules to guide them and standards by which to judge themselves. The home takes its rightful and eminent place in preparing children for life when basic principles are quietly and firmly announced and lived up to. The final test is not how amenable young people are to compulsion of the law, but how far they can be trusted to obey self–imposed law.” In other words, to govern themselves based on the right rules and regulations.
A family is a project in group living in which the thing to do and the thing not to do are absorbed through precept, through example and through practice.
Well, today, we’ve concentrated on teaching the right precepts by example—by showing and doing the right thing. We have to lead by example. Show what is right and how it is done by doing it. So as parents, we must lead by example. This will not work: “Don’t do as I do, but do as I say.”
I had a football coach one time that did that, and he didn’t stay in shape and he broke all the rules, but he lectured us on making sure that we did what he said and not what he was doing. Well, we didn’t win very many football games. And then they hired another football coach who told us, “You do as I say and do as I do.” And by his example, he got us turned around so that we won all of our games.
We have to practice what we preach and practice what we teach. Otherwise, we’re hypocrites. And two things that children will spot, about as quickly as anything else, is a hypocrite and inconsistency. We have to show what is right and how it is done by doing it, if we expect our children to do what is right.
Let’s consider this. Parents are the greatest influence in every child’s life, especially in the early formative years, but that influence continues right on through into adulthood on our children. By example, we can continue to influence our children all our lives and all their lives. This is not a burden, rather this is a thrilling opportunity to shoulder and succeed in one of the most noble, exciting, and rewarding experiences in life, that of being a successful parent—successful parenting based on love and diligence and setting the right example.
Until next time, this is Charles Bryce with the Enduring Church of God.
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