Cultivating Family Values - Part 3

by Charles E. Bryce

Hello everyone. We are going to begin today to wrap up our series on Cultivating Family Values. This will be Part 3.

So if you’ll go get your Bible and follow along, that will be very helpful. I believe that’s the way to study these subjects—to have your Bible there and then you can look up the verses and prove them for yourself.

Proper discipline is one of the most important things you will find in any happy, successful home and family. Without it, you won’t be able to permanently instill in your children the vital core values of life. You can teach them and you must, but they won’t become ingrained, these values. They won’t become ingrained as habits and practiced unless they are enforced by loving discipline.

To spank or not to spank, that’s the big question. Some say, you should never spank your children, under any circumstance. I have a quote here from a man named, Ben Stein. He gave this on the CBS Sunday Morning program as a commentary. I’m breaking into a thought here, and this is what he said:

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self–esteem. We said, an expert should know what he is talking about and we said, okay. Now we are asking ourselves why our children have no conscience? Why they don’t know right from wrong and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves? Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with—we reap what we sow.

I think Mr. Stein has some good points there. Of course, when it comes to spanking as a part of discipline, others say you should spank but, always in the proper manner.

I want to quote pretty extensively from a book entitled Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson. Dr. Dobson is certainly an expert in the field of family and in the field of child rearing. And in this book he has many wonderful quotations, principles, values, practices, solutions to problems. Dare to Discipline, it’s a wonderful book. I cannot go through as much of it as I would like to for lack of time, but I want to hit on a few high points especially in the area of spanking.

Notice what Dr. Dobson says here on page 7.

At a recent psychologists’ conference in Los Angeles, the keynote speaker made the statement that the greatest social disaster of this century is the belief that abundant love makes discipline unnecessary. He said that some of the little terrors who are unmanageable in the school classroom are mistakenly believed to have emotional problems. They are referred to the school psychologist for his evaluation of their difficulty, but no deep problems are found. Instead, it becomes obvious that the children have simply never been required to inhibit their behavior or restrict their impulses. Some of these children came from homes where love was almost limitless.

Now it does take love. But the point here is, it takes more than love. And as a matter of fact, proper discipline and spanking IS an act of love. But more than love in the form of just giving them things and in the form of just letting them do what they want.

Now, over here on page 21, under point 2, Dr. Dobson has a heading that says:

2. The best opportunity to communicate often occurs after punishment.

Nothing brings a parent and a child closer together than for the mother or father to win decisively after being defiantly challenged. This is particularly true if the child was “asking for it”, knowing full well that he deserved what he got. The parent’s demonstration of his authority builds respect like no other process, and the child will often reveal his affection when the emotion has past. For this reason, the parent should not dread or shrink back from these confrontations with the child. These occasions should be anticipated as important events, because they provide the opportunity to say something to the child that cannot be said at other times. It is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely. After the emotional ventilation, the child will often want to crumple to the breast of his parent and he should be welcomed with open, warm, loving arms. At that moment, you can talk heart to heart. You can tell him how much you love him, and how important he is to you. You can explain why he was punished and how he can avoid the difficulty next time. This kind of communication is not made possible by other disciplinary measures, including standing the child in the corner or taking away his firetruck.

Now, over here, a quote on page 22:

Parental warmth after punishment is essential to demonstrate to the child that it was his behavior, and not the child himself, that the parent rejected.

There are just so many wonderful principles, but I am going to keep moving along. Here is a problem that comes up from time to time that Dr. Dobson addresses. This is under “Questions and Answers”(pages 36–37).

Question 1. My son will obey me at home, but he becomes difficult to manage whenever I take him to a public place like a restaurant. Then he embarrasses me in front of other people. Why is he like that? How can I change him?

Dr. Dobson goes on to say this:

Many parents do not like to punish or correct their children in public places where their discipline is observed by critical onlookers. They’ll enforce their good behavior at home, but the child is safe when unfamiliar adults are around. In this situation, it is easy to see what the child has observed. He has learned that public facilities are a sanctuary where he can act anyway he wishes. His parents are in a corner because of their self–imposed restriction. The remedy for this situation is simple: when little Roger decides to disobey in public, take him by the arm and march him out of the presence of your observers. Then respond as you would at home. Roger will then learn that the same rules apply everywhere, and that the sanctuaries are not really too safe after all.

And now, one other point on page 45, question 11. And I’m just going over here to point 4 under question 11. Dr. Dobson says:

(4) The spanking may be too gentle. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not worth avoiding next time. A slap with the hand on the bottom of a multi–diapered thirty–month old is not a deterrent to anything. It isn’t necessary to beat a child, but he should be able to feel the message.

Well, those are wonderful principles and there are many more, but that is the start in delving into the right approach to this matter of spanking, by someone who truly is a balanced expert in the field. Now, some parents spank too much and for the wrong reason and at the wrong time. There has to be proper discipline.

I want you to notice what God’s Word says about parental correction. Let’s turn over here to Proverbs 22:15. Let’s see what God’s Word says. I mean, if there’s anybody who has love, it’s God. And certainly He has tremendous love for all human beings including little children. So what He gives in the way of instruction is certainly given in love. Look what He says here in Proverbs 22:15.

15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; —

It’s just that way. No matter who they are. Your precious little beautiful daughter, your wonderful little happy son–and all of that is great. But there’s mischievousness and there’s foolishness—just by nature. It’s bound in the heart of a child. Sooner or later, it’s going to come out.

15 — but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Now, when it says the rod of correction, it doesn’t mean a steel rod or a pole, or a club. It’s simply talking about your hand or a paddle, or something that will not injure him in any way. And the spanking of correction shall drive it far from him, is what it’s saying. Done properly, this is actually love in action. And frankly, sometimes nothing else will do but a spanking.

Let’s notice now over here in Proverbs 13:24 and see some more wisdom from God’s Word. Proverbs 13:24.

You know, it does not say anywhere in the Bible, spare the rod and spoil the child. So many people quote things from the Bible that aren’t even there. But here’s what it does say in Proverbs 13:24.

24 He that spares his rod hates his son: —

That’s even stronger.

24 — but he that loves him chastens him betimes.

That’s how important that part of discipline called spanking is. It’s not the only thing having to do with discipline, but it’s an important part. And if it’s done properly, it’s an act of love. And if it’s not done when it ought to be done, God says right here in verse 24—

24 He that spares his rod hates his son: —

Spares the spanking.

24 — but he that loves him chastens him betimes.

Which just means promptly. In other words, you do not make it wait. When you need to spank, you spank at the time the infraction was committed. And the spanking matches the infraction. He chastens him promptly. That’s genuine love.

Now, when we spank (I want to mention a couple of things by way of caution), we should never injure the child. There should never be any bruises at all. There should never be any punching. We should never leave a mark on our children when we spank them. I’m sorry to tell you, I’ve seen all these mistakes made. And they must not be made! You should never ever kick or pinch your children to try to get them to change. Never thump their ears or slap them in the face, or pull their hair, or scream at them.

I want to especially emphasize this point. We should never ever shake them. This can cause severe injury and frankly, has even caused death—from the violent shaking of a little child. We should never ever do that.

And another thing we should not do is, we should never bite them. There was a man who had 12 children and he came up and wanted to talk to me. And he told me that he knew a lot about child rearing. And he said, “For instance, one of the things I did with my son is: he got into this habit of biting people so I just started biting him back.” Well, that’s not the way to take care of the problem. He bites and you bite back? What does that teach? Well, it teaches violence. It sets the wrong example. There’s a different way to handle that problem. He found out it backfired on him.

And another thing, we should never spank in anger. We should never beat our children. When we spank our children properly, knowledgeable experts on the subject including Dr. Dobson, always recommend that we spank them on their bottoms.

Now, let’s turn to Proverbs 19:18, while we’re here. Notice it says right here.

18 Chasten your son while there is hope, and let not your soul spare for his crying.

Now, if a child can get you not to spank them by crying, they’ll start crying before you spank them. Or if they can get you to stop by yelling and crying, then they’ll cry to get you to stop.

As Dr. Dobson said, the crying should be genuine, and the message should be sent and received loud and clear.

There’s no injury involved here. But there’s some pain, and that pain goes a long way. And yes, there’ll be crying. But that doesn’t mean you should not spank. And that doesn’t mean you should even stop spanking. Spanking properly will produce crying, and the spanking will make the point in spite of the crying. And you might spank for a little longer even though there’s crying there.

Proverbs 19:18

18 Chasten your son while there is hope, and let not your soul spare for his crying.

You probably have heard of the principle, as the twig is bent. As the twig is bent. In other words, if you will get involved in proper discipline with your children early on, you will be able then to guide them in the right direction. If you wait too long, it’s going to be harder to begin to guide them in the right direction, because they will start to get set in their ways.

You’ve seen this principle ( I’m sure some of you have) in this matter of working with shrubbery and plants. We planted a tree out in our yard and I could see where it was beginning to grow crooked. And we went out there and pulled it up straight while it was young. And we put a post by it and tied it to that post. Now it’s growing straight and tall. We can remove the post this coming summer and it will be straight and tall. We got it early before it grew crooked and it was too late to pull it back where it belongs.

Well, when it comes to behavior in children, the sooner you begin to guide and direct them —and that’s going to involve teaching, it’s going to involve example, it’s also going to involve discipline and spanking— the sooner the better.

I want to read a couple of quotations here from a book on “The New Morality”, written by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, who knew a lot about families and child rearing. He says here on page 275:

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… Most parents neglect to teach their children—period. But first, before you attempt to teach your children… [you need to] educate yourself. To enable parents to do that is a major purpose of this book.

Now continuing,

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.

That’s not what we spank for. We spank for attitude and we spank to teach what is right and wrong.

He goes on to say on page 276,

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 does not 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.

He goes on to say,

Make it hurt him enough (without injury) that he will not 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, as the crackpot child psychologists warn against, to make him feel “guilty”. When a child disobeys, he is guilty, and must be made to realize it!

Not to the point to where he has a guilt complex, but to the point to where he knows he must not ever do that again.

So there are some more words of wisdom from someone who knows a lot about—or did know before his death— a lot about family and about child rearing. Now, discipline involves much more than spanking, of course. Strong verbal correction given in love—sometimes that’s enough. Taking away privileges and opportunities can also teach many lessons and values. But they must learn, your children, they must learn to respect you and obey you as their parents. Sometimes that will require spanking to drive that attitude home and to make that requirement clear.

This is a Godly practice, this matter of discipline—and even of spanking.

I want to turn over here to a scripture in the New Testament, Hebrews 12:9. Here’s an analogy drawn between how God rears and trains and disciplines and corrects His children, so to speak, in His family, and how we should in our family.

Here in Hebrews 12:9.

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them respect: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; —

That’s a poor translation. The proper translation is this, “as seems best to them.”

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us —

As best they could or as seemed best to them

10 — but He —


10 — for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening —

Or discipline

11 — for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are —

Trained or

11 — exercised thereby.

That’s right from God’s Word. And as you do this, the results, if done properly, along with so many other parts of discipline, will yield fantastic and wonderful results. We can teach them what works and what doesn’t work, what’s right and what isn’t right.

You know, some people just let their kids run wild. There’s never any restriction. And sometimes even in crowds, and they knock elderly people over and they run through. And it’s like it’s gym class. It’s like it’s the soccer field. And it’s in a meeting or it’s in the post office, or it’s where other people are. Well, we can teach our children not to do that. You can sit your children down in front of a child’s program on television, and they’ll sit there for an hour, hour and a half or 2 hours. Well, they can certainly sit at a meeting without having to jump around and run all over the place. And afterward they do not have to either. You can have them a book to read there. They can be occupied with something that’s worthwhile. You might have to take them to the bathroom and bring them back.

But so many parents, once the meeting is over, they don’t even know where their children are. And so often they are running in the halls or running up and down the isles or running all over the place. With proper training and discipline at home where they are taught to sit quietly and sit still for long periods of time and then they can get up and go play out in the yard or wherever—if they’re taught that at home, then that’s what you can require of them in public and they will obey you.

Now, as we have already said, all discipline—including spanking—it all includes love, affection, hugs and kisses and encouragement to your son or daughter when the point is learned. And there are lots of rewards and benefits afterwards. They always follow for doing the right thing. Those are not bribes, that’s appreciation. Those are rewards. Those are incentives. That’s showing that the right way pays off. It’s also showing that the wrong way does not.

I will tell you something, sometimes this proper kind of discipline—where they will do what you tell them to do and they will obey you when you tell them not to do something or to do something—sometimes it can keep them from being hurt. And frankly, it can even save their lives.

I want to tell you about a family who were friends of ours many years ago and they had wonderful children and happy children, bright, sparkling, enthusiastic children filled with intellectual curiosity and personality. But those children were obedient because they were taught to do what they were told, and sometimes it was enforced with loving and proper spanking.

Now, here’s an example where it paid off. One time, Dad was at work and Mom was at home and she decided she would take her little boy for a walk out in front of the house along the street. One of the first mistakes she made was she allowed him to take a soccer ball with him. So here he is walking down the sidewalk with his soccer ball, and you know what kids will do, pretty soon he has dropped it and he is kicking it along the sidewalk. And as they went down the hill and as they started on the sidewalk down the side of the street (which was a hilly street), the soccer ball got away from him and rolled across the street and landed on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Well, this little boy promptly decided he would run over and get it. And about that time, his Mom heard a rumble and a roar behind her and looked around, and here was a cement truck cresting the hill and heading down the hill straight for her son who was about to run across right in front of that cement truck to get that soccer ball that was laying on the other side of the street.

Now, his Mom did not have time to negotiate with him. She did not have time to explain why she was telling him he could not do that. She did not have time to argue with him. She did not have time to explain anything about the pros and cons regarding him going across the street and getting that soccer ball. She had time to do one thing and one thing only, “No, don’t move.” When she said that, because you see, she was not close enough to grab him. When she said that, he stopped in his tracks. Why? Because his Mom told him to stop and because he had been trained for years up to that point. He stopped in his tracks and that truck roared by. If that driver had put every break on he had on that truck, he couldn’t have stopped it. He would have run right over that little boy. That truck swept on by. And the Mom ran down and grabbed the boy and then when everything was safe, they went across the street and got the soccer ball and came back.

Of course, she learned many lessons. Not to walk along the street with her son and a ball because it can end up in the street. But another thing she had reinforced is: you know what: loving kind, diligent, consistent training and discipline really pays off! Not just in situations like that. It can save their lives in situations like that. But it pays off throughout their lives. So before you dismiss this and go with the authorities that completely and totally disagree with any form of spanking, you might give some thought to what God’s Word says and give some thought to what more and more pediatricians and psychologists, and experts in the field, like Dr. James Dobson, are saying.

There is a time for spanking in this whole picture of proper discipline. It has to be done properly but it has to be done when it’s needed. And it is love when it’s done properly.

As your children learn and grow, they will require less and less spanking. By the time they become teenagers, if you started in the right way and early, they are going to be happy. They are going to be full of life and vim, vigor and vitality. And they are also going to highly respect you and listen to your advice. And they are going to do what you tell them to do, because they have had it reinforced with proper discipline.

They are going to require less and less spanking. They are going to start learning to practice self restraint and learn to practice self discipline. They will start to realize that there is a law in effect that always brings about consequences for our actions. Every time and without exception, there are always consequences for our actions. And that’s a great thing!

I want to turn to one last scripture, right over here in Galatians 6:7.

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.

If he sows good things and lots of it, he reaps good things and lots of it. If he sows bad things, he reaps bad things and maybe a lot if he sowed a lot of bad things.

8 For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

So sowing what you reap is a good law. Children will begin to understand: You know, when you do the right thing, it really pays off with rich dividends. When you do the wrong thing, it is not so pleasant. There’s some pain involved.

And so as they get on into their teenage years and then on to their adult lives, that law can guide them through the minefield of life and can save them a lot of grief. They will realize: Hey, I’m not going to do that because the consequences are not going to be good. I will do that, however, because the consequences are going to be excellent.

And so, that’s a good point to always teach your children right from the beginning. And discipline helps to teach responsibility and consequences. Therefore, when they learn that principle—because of your loving and proper discipline—they will live their lives more and more as responsible young adults. And then they will grow into mature successful adults who carry out their responsibilities well, and who teach their children the same core family values that you taught them.

Now, parenting does take time. It does take hard work. It does involve a lot of love and sacrifice and diligence. But the joy and fun you will have along the way with your children and the happiness you will experience as you see your children happy and well and on the way to becoming successful, well–adjusted and well–rounded responsible adults, will more than make up all of the time and effort you put into it. It will more than make it worthwhile.

Take heart if you have some bad days. That’s all a part of it. You keep on with diligence and you keep on with perseverance and you’ll have more good days than bad days. And finally they’ll all be good days, when you’re dealing with your wonderful family.

And don’t ever water down or back off from cultivating true values in your family. Keep those true family values at the center of your home. Keep those true family values at the center of your family. And you will always be glad you did. You will always be glad you did whatever was necessary to establish them, to cultivate them, to live by them, and to require your children to live by them. And then realize: later on as adults, they will continue to live by them. And then you know what they will do, they will begin to teach their own children to live by them.

This is when your family continues to develop higher and further than you were. That is what effective parenting does. It helps children go further and higher than the parents. And the generation that follows does better. That’s what good parenting, done in love involving example and teaching and discipline, will produce in a family and in a generation.

Rather than what we see, all too often around us today, where the cycle is downward. It’s in a mode of degeneration. Instead of getting better, it’s sliding into a situation that ’s worse. Instead of being more successful, failure begins to be the modus operandi and the result. And no loving parent wants that to happen to their family. They don’t want that to happen to their precious little children that grow into teen years and then to grow into adult years. They want the opposite to be true. Well, for the opposite to be true—the opposite of failure and misery and loss of purpose—there has to be effective parenting that involves cultivating core family values. Take the time to do it and you will always be glad you did.

This is Charles Bryce with the Enduring Church of God.

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