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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 5, 2012
Proverbs on the Family, Part 11: Principles of Parenting, Part 3
This morning we are going to continue our study of the Principles of Parenting. I am well aware that this subject may not be of great interest to those of you without children or have already raised your children, but it is still a subject to which you need to pay great attention for several reasons. As I pointed out last week, most of you will have a direct effect upon children through your interaction with them, and all of you will have some influence on them through your example. The importance of your influence is heightened by the fact that more than a third of all children in United States are now born into single parent homes. Over half of them will live in a single parent home during at least part of their upbringing. There are a lot of single parents who are doing a great job in raising their kids – there are some here. However, God’s design was for a mother and father to be there, so you are working from a deficit and having other godly adults influence them is a great help to you and a huge blessing to your children.
Your godly influence is needed to encourage those who are becoming parents or are in the active years of parenting. Our society has become a very negative influence on families. The parenting philosophies advocated in our society are devastating to the effort to raise godly and respectable children. Many of those who end up with rebellious children because of this then become complainers who discourage parents and newly weds even before they start.
I recall when Jonathan was born I had someone comment to me that though he was cute now, it was too bad that in 18 years he would be a rebellious teen. Jonathan was two when David was born, and we received all sorts of unsolicited comments about how bad two year olds were and how terrible it would be trying to take care of an infant at the same time. One woman even told Diane that she would not have children if she could do it over again. We felt sorry for her children having to grow up with such a callous, insensitive and selfish mom. No wonder they were problems. Then when we were expecting Jimmy two years later, we had people question our sanity. I am sure that those of you blessed with more children have even more such stories.
Psalm 127:3-5 is clear that “children are a gift of the Lord . . . How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them . . . “ Why then do some people have such scorn for parenting and consider children a curse? It goes back to the basics of their parenting philosophy and practices that fostered their children into being brats when little, rebellious when adolescents and curses on society as adults. If you walk in the counsel of the ungodly, then you cannot be surprised when the fruit of it is ungodliness. We need to be diligent to get godly counsel and follow it. That is the great need for all parents, single or couples. All of you, parents and non-parents alike, need to be well equipped to give such godly counsel and encouragement.
Eighteenth century philosopher Jean Jaques Rousseau sowed the seeds of today’s problems in parenting. Rousseau was gifted in words, but not in virtue. He certainly had no love for children. All five of his children born to his mistress were taken at birth and disposed of at the Hospital des Enfants-trouves, a death mill that received 3,000 abandoned infants a year. Two out of every three died within the first year, and only 14 out of 3,000 would make it to maturity. Rousseau did not name any of his children or record their dates of birth. He didn’t even take the time to see what sex they were.
Years later, the deist Voltaire, publicly condemned Rousseau for his acts of practical infanticide. In a defensive response to that criticism, Rousseau put forth the view that “instead of being evil by nature, man is born originally good, not naturally capable of evil thoughts or acts . . .” Children “remained righteous and innocent until contaminated by traditions and beliefs of adults. Parents and teachers, not nature, direct the child toward evil tendencies.” Therefore, he argued, children would be better off raised by the State.
Rousseau’s arguments were fallacious and without justification for his actions, but his idea that children are born good and then corrupted by the parents took root. Nineteenth century philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, brought this idea to America by teaching that each child is “born in nature” and should be encouraged to continue to live a free and uncommitted life reflective of nature. Thoreau taught that the natural way was good and beneficial and that parents who try to alter the natural way of a child will corrupt the child.
Arnold Gesell, founder of the Yale Clinic of Child Development, expanded upon these thoughts saying that a child was naughty because his or her natural goodness was perverted by a restrictive, and what he called an undemocratic environment. He advocated giving a child unlimited freedom of expression, equality, and parental friendship.
Rudolf Dreikurs added to this humanistic idea that the absence of equality fosters innate feelings of inferiority within the child resulting in naughty behavior as the child attempts to become equal or superior. He believed that every child has “the right to decide for oneself, to be self-determining, to refuse to submit to coercion and domination by others,” such as parents and teachers. His damaging influence increased by providing a structured program for training parents and teachers in this philosophy. Programs such as Active Parenting, Parent Effectiveness Training and Systematic Training in Effective Parenting, all stem from or are similar to his ideas.
Psychiatrists such as B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, Eric Erikson and others added to these ideas. Skinner, the behaviorist Psychiatrist, viewed man as just an animal that responds to its environment. He advocated the removal of all boundaries to avoid conflict, or if not the removal, at least the manipulation of them. Conflict is negative and should be avoided. Freud said that early childhood is the source of adult emotional problems and developed the idea that the unconscious controls behavior. Erikson divided the life of man into 8 stages according to major developmental problems. Infancy = trust vs mistrust. Toddler = Autonomy vs shame or doubt. Pre-school = initiative vs guilt. School age = industry vs inferiority. Adolescence = identity vs role confusion. etc.
Few people read the actual writing of these men, but their ideas are widespread and have radically changed the general philosophy of parenting within America. They are advocated in the popular parenting and children’s Magazines. The so called “experts” write about it in their newspaper and magazine columns. The shelves in the bookstores are full of the writings of those touting their particular version of putting these philosophies into practice. The general model includes teaching that man’s nature is innately good, or at worse neutral. Parental authority is bad, so it is replaced by parental suggestions and family democracy. Restr
ictions are harmful, so children are given freedom of expression with little or no restraint. Conflict is bad, so conflict avoidance is good. Unfulfilled desire is detrimental, so children are given immediate gratification from birth.
It is no surprise that children raised under such philosophies and practice become proud and selfish adults who lack the skills to live respectable lives and be blessings to others. All of these are the opposite of godly wisdom – and reality.
1) Man is not innately good, he is innately sinful and foolish as I have pointed out from Proverbs 22:15 in previous sermons, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”
2) Both Parental authority and restrictions are not only good, they are necessary in order to keep the foolish bent of children from harming themselves and others. Proverbs 23:13-14 even speaks about the necessity of parental discipline in delivering the soul of the child from Sheol – death.
3) Deferred gratification is necessary to teach self control, and any worthwhile skills or achievements require self-control. Everything from potty training and coloring between the lines to earning a degree or winning an Olympic medal require self-control. Proverbs 25:28 warns that a man who has no control over his spirit is like a city that is broken into and without walls. It is a Characteristic of the godly man (Titus 1:8) for it is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23).
4) Conflict is normal in a sin cursed world, so conflict resolution is good. Conflict avoidance leads to either manipulation or self induced oppression. God set the example for us by resolving man’s greatest conflict – sin. He paid the price Himself in Jesus Christ so that we can be reconciled to Him, be forgiven and adopted into His family.
Parenting starts from the negative position that our children come to us sinful and foolish. God has given to the parents the responsibility to train their children to overcome that innate foolishness and become wise adults by loving God themselves and then being diligent to teach their children about God and His commands in all the common situations of life (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). We are to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The goal of the Christian parent is to lay the foundation for their children to become Christians. We teach them about God and His commands, our sinfulness and what Jesus has done for us by His death and resurrection so that they might repent and place their faith in Christ for salvation from sin. The goal of every parent should be to raise children of high character and virtue so that they will be responsible adults that will be blessings to everyone around them.
We must raise our children in such a way that they will be able to stand firm and walk in righteousness even in the midst of an unrighteous society. Last week we began to examine what parents will need to do in order to raise children who will be able to have such a character. This topic could be approached in several different ways, but I have purposely chosen to frame it in terms of the responsibilities you are to teach your children since God will hold them accountable for keeping His commandments. He has placed on parents the responsibility for training their children, and He has placed on the children the responsibility to learn the lessons and apply them to life.
We have already covered Responsibility to God and started on the first part of Responsibility to Family which is duty to parents. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 2) This morning we are going to complete talking about that. In the weeks to come we will examine obligations to siblings and the extended family, then continue on to responsibilities to society, which includes the subcategories of authorities, peers and others, and then responsibilities toward property and nature.
In terms of responsibility toward God, we again go back to the principles set forth in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to love God ourselves and then diligently teach our children about Him and His commandments in all the situations of life. Proverbs 3:1-12 sets forth succinctly what godly parents strive to do in teaching their children about God and His commandments. In this section a father tells his son, “My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you. 3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones. 9 Honor the Lord from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. 11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.”
In terms of family responsibilities, the first responsibility of parents within the family is fulfilling their God given roles as husbands and wives. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 1) The first family responsibility toward the children is teaching them to obey (Ephesians 6:1; Exodus 20:12, etc.). As I explained last week, obedience is to be the first time, right away and with a happy face. This is a serious matter for failure to teach them to obey in this manner is teaching them to disobey for which they will incur the wrath of God.
Proverbs is full of statements calling on children to obey their parents. There are 31 Proverbs which are directly addressed to “my son” giving advice, admonishments or warnings such as: “hear your father’s instructions,” “receive my sayings,” “accept my sayings,” “give attention to my words / wisdom,” “observe the commandment,” “keep my words,” “listen and be wise,” and “do not” – “forget,” :reject,” “depart from,” “my teaching,” “my sayings,” “the discipline of the Lord,” etc. The wise and godly child will be an obedient child.
Let me now expand further on this issue
Responsibility to Family: Parents
Ephesians 6:1-3 states, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” Verses 2 & 3 are a quote from Exodus 20:12, the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Obedience is the first responsibility of children toward their parents as part of honoring them. Obedience is focused on the action of complying to instructions and commands, but honor goes beyond just obedience. Honor encompasses both the proper actions of deference in showing courteous regard to parents and the proper attitude of respect.
The particular ways in which honor is shown will vary from culture to culture, but the respectful attitude in performing those actions should be the same regardless of culture. That is not to say that it is always easy to have a respectful attitude and give such honor, but it is what the Lord requires. Following the Lord’s command in this brings His blessings and a long life. To reject it and dishonor your parents invites the Lord’s judgment as expressed in Exodus 21:15,17 and Matthew 15:4. Proverbs 15:5 states that those who reject their father’s discipline are fools. Proverbs 20:20 states that “He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.” Proverbs 3
0:17 adds, “The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.”
For many of us this is an easy commandment to obey because we had good parents. They were loving and were respectable people. I am grateful that is true of my parents. It is a joy for us to honor our parents. We like to be with them and so it is easy to do all the required demonstrations of respect and to go much beyond that because of our high regard for them.
However, for many of you that is not true. One or more of your parents was not loving or respectable. They may have even been abusive, neglectful, or absent. For you, honoring your parents is a joyless duty done simply because God commands it based on their position, not their character. Though a godly man despises a reprobate (Psalm 15:4), yet you are still to show them honor simply because they are your parents.
How is that done and what does this have to do with raising your children? First, remember that your example will greatly influence your children. In some ways, it will have a greater impact than what you say. Second, by understanding what you need to do in honoring your parents, you will also know what you need to teach your children. In my discussion of honoring parents I will be intertwining three different areas. 1) You honoring your parents. 2) You teaching your children to honor you. 3) Teaching your children to honor grandparents and other older adults.
How do you honor your parents? It begins with how you speak to them. It includes not only what you say, but the manner in which you say it. Start by both addressing them and referring to them with whatever terms show respect in your culture or subculture. It could be a formal title or terms of endearment such as mom, dad, papa or mama. Terms such “the old man” or “the old lady” are not respectful. Be respectful in your speech to them and about them. That includes your tone of voice. It should be obvious that you do not yell at them, call them names or curse them, though that is becoming increasingly common in our society. Neither should your parents be the butt of your jokes and sarcasm against them is in appropriate. There are a host of scriptures that address the topic of speech and the accompanying attitudes. Proverbs 10:31 gives a good summary, “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out.” At minimum, nothing unwholesome should come out of your mouth as you speak the truth in love with graciousness in order to build up the other person according to the need of the moment (Ephesians 4:15, 29; Colossians 4:6). Proverbs 21:23 admonishes us, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”
Do not allow your children to speak to you disrespectfully in words or tone. Do not allow them to use inappropriate words or names, to curse or swear. Do not allow them to yell, scream, sass or talk back. Defiance in words and tone is disrespectful and leads to disobedience in action. Require them to speak clearly with appropriate words and appropriate voice and tone.
However, requiring obedience and respect, parents also need to heed the warnings given in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 about provoking the children to anger or exasperating them. Parental decisions that seem arbitrary, contradictory or oblivious to the thoughts and feelings of the child can certainly do that. What then can be done so that the children can be respectful even when a parent’s commands are exasperating or provoking? The solution is to set up an appeal system so that when there is legitimate reason, a child can ask a parent to reconsider a command. The child respectfully requests to appeal the parents’ instructions. If this is not respectful, the appeal is automatically denied. If the parent agrees, the child gives more information for the parent to consider in making a final decision. We did this and it was a tremendous help in keeping us from exasperating our children or provoking them to anger.
Adult children on their own have no obligation to obey their parents, but they do still need to be respectful of them. You may not want their advice or like it, but listen to it graciously anyway – you may even still learn something. And even when you have a disagreement with them, you are to be respectful. You can discuss matters and present your arguments without being disagreeable and fighting. But you say your parents can be obnoxious? That may be true, but you do not have to follow their lead and join them in it. Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Graciously excuse yourself and leave. The tragedy of such parents is that they estrange their children to the point that they only receive the minimum honors due them for they have destroyed the closeness that should be in the relationship.
We are to be respectful to our parents in speech and tone. We are also to show honor by actions that demonstrate respect for a person’s position. The specific ways in which this is done will vary from culture to culture. Here are few of the things that are common to general U.S. culture, or at least they used to be common. These honors are generally given according to age from oldest to youngest.
*Give an appropriate greeting. It does not have to necessarily be a formal greeting which includes standing when they enter and going over to them, or if you enter the room, going over to them to greet them. This was based on the principle given in Leviticus 19:32 in which the aged are honored by rising up before them. But if there is not a formal greeting, there should be at least be an acknowledgment by name. It is rude and disrespectful to ignore them or just grunt. And for those that wear hats, it is appropriate to take off or at least tip your hat when you greet someone. Teach this to your children by both your example and instruction. Role play it including how to give formal introductions and then require it of them. Don’t let your children be disrespectful to you or others. And let me quickly add, don’t allow your children’s friends to be disrespectful either. If they are ignorant, then teach them. If they should know better, give them an appropriate rebuke.
*Offer parents the better place to sit, which includes your seat. This should be done wherever you may be – your home, in a car, bus or train, at a restaurant, in a theater. Teach this to your children by both your example toward your parents and instruction about what you expect from them.
*If food or something else is being served, it is offered to the parents and other adults first. If it is a buffet line, they go first, or someone goes and gets what they would like and serves them. Our society has become so child centered that is common to see young children and their parents demanding to get served first under the excuse that they cannot wait. Yes they can. They will not die. They will not even get sick, and for those with a rare medical condition in which the child may have to eat quickly, it is up to the parents to make sure they have a snack with them to hold the child over long enough until it is their turn. Reduce your child’s innate selfishness by teaching them to wait respectfully for those who are older to go first.
*This same principle applies to any kind of line you may have to get in. Your parents are offered the front of at least that part of the line you can control. You and your children should come after your parents whether it is waiting for a bus, train, getting into or out of a room or building. I realize that there can be a safety issue and you generally want your children to be in front of you in a line so that you can see them. Where safety is a concern, it is best to sandwich the kids between adults, or at least between the eldest child and the adult.
*In group conversations, their thoughts are sought. Job 12:12 declares that “Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding.” That is why Elihu waited until t
he older men had ceased talking before he spoke (Job 32:7). I like kids and I like to talk with them, but that does not mean I want a child to enter into the conversation of adults like they were a peer. That is rude to the adults and detrimental to the child’s development for it builds up their pride to be wise in their own eyes. Teach your children the lost art of listening. They certainly can speak if they are spoken to, for it would be rude to do otherwise, but they should refrain from offering their thoughts and opinions in such a setting. They can talk over what they heard with you later.
I realize that as people get older that hearing problems can develop that make it difficult for them to participate. That is even more of a reason to show them respect and seek to bring them into the conversation. I can recall my grandfather, who was very hard of hearing, usually being several subjects behind at family gatherings. It would have been easy just to ignore him, but if you paid attention to him, he would have some of the most interesting stories and thoughts.
*Remember & acknowledge days that are important to them with a visit, a phone call or a card. Depending on the individual, this could include birthdays, various anniversaries, holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. This can be a special joy if you had good parents, and a difficult duty if you did not, but it is still a way in which you can honor them for their position. Include your children in the effort. Even young children can draw a picture that can be included in a card.
*Provide for their real needs. 1 Timothy 5:8 states that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” He then goes on to talk about the care of widows, so we know the household spoken of here includes extended family. Honoring your parents includes caring for them and their real needs. For good parents, this may be done with joy even if at great sacrifice. For irresponsible parents, this is a depressing duty.
Let me quickly expand on this a little for those who may have irresponsible parents. You do not have to cater to their whims, nor support them at a standard of living you cannot afford, nor subsidize their irresponsibility. Your minimum obligation is only to make sure they have a means of survival with food, clothing and shelter. If they refuse what you can offer, then they continue on their own until they are willing to accept it. What do I mean by that? Don’t send money to an alcoholic, addict or spendthrift. You might give them good food and other necessities, but no money. Perhaps you can offer them a room in your house, but can’t pay their bills for them, or it could be the opposite. If they refuse the room, don’t feel obliged to pay their bills, though you might help as you can. Perhaps you arrange for their care, but they refuse it, then all you can do is leave the offer on the table for when they may want to reconsider it.
Remember, your children are watching how you honor your parents to know how they should honor you as they grow up. Be a godly parent to them and teach them to be respectful. Do all that you can to ensure that your children can honor you with joyful hearts and not as a depressing duty.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down the scripture references and look them up later 2) Count how many times child / children are mentioned. 3) Discuss with your parents how they honor their parents, and how you can honor them.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What influence do you have on children? Why is that important? Why do so many people now consider children to be a curse instead of a blessing? Explain the importance of each of the following men in the development of the general model of parenting now dominant in the United States: Jean Jaques Rousseau, Henry David Thoreau, Arnold Gesell, Rudolf Dreikurs , B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud & Eric Erikson. What are the four major elements underlying most parenting practices in the U.S. today and why are they the opposite of godly wisdom and reality? Is the starting point of parenting positive or negative? Explain. What is the primary responsibility God has given to parents concerning this? What is the parents’ responsibility toward God in raising their children? What is the first responsibility of parents within the family? What is the first family responsibility parents have toward their children? What is the relationship between obedience and honor and how are they different? What are the consequences of dishonoring your parents? Does the command to honor parents apply if the parents are reprobates? Why or why not? Explain how you can honor your parents by your speech? What should parents do if their children are disrespectful in words or tone of voice? Why is that important? How can a parent provoke his child to anger or exasperate them (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21)? How can an appeal process prevent that? Explain how that process would work. How can adult children show respect to their parents? What if those parents are obnoxious? The following are actions that are honoring. Explain why each is honoring and how you can do it your life in practical terms: Give an appropriate greeting; Offer parents a better place to sit; Serve the parents first; Let the parents be first in line; Seek out the thoughts of parents; Remember and acknowledge dates important to them; Provide for their real needs. What should you be doing now to ensure your children will be able to honor you out of joy instead of duty?
Sermon Notes – 8/5/2012
Principles of Parenting, Part 3
You will have an effect upon ____________ , either direct or indirect
Your ___________ influence becomes more important as our society continues to decline
Children are a gift and a blessing – but bad parenting results in them becoming ____________
Jean Jaques Rousseau introduced the view that children are born _________ but corrupted by parents
Henry David Thoreau added the idea that children should live ___& uncommitted lives reflecting nature
Arnold Gesell taught that a child’s natural goodness is perverted by a _______________ environment
Rudolf Dreikurs taught that every child as the right to be self-determining and _____parental commands
B.F. Skinner viewed man as just an _____________ responding to its environment
Sigmund Freud taught adult emotional problems were due to ____________beliefs from early childhood
Eric Erikson used these humanistic __________to divide the life of man into eight developmental stages
The general model and practice of parenting in the U.S. now follow these _______________ ideas
1) Children are ________ innately good, they are sinful and foolish (Proverbs 22:15)
2) Parental authority is and restrictions are
not bad, they are good and necessary to ___________children
3) Deferred gratification is not bad, it is good and necessary to teach ________________
4) Conflict avoidance is not good, children must be taught how to ____________ conflict
God has given ______the responsibility to train their children to overcome foolishness and become wise
We strive to raise our children to be able to stand firm and walk in righteousness in a crooked ________
The first responsibility within the family is for the husband and wife to fulfill their God given ________
The first responsibility toward children is teaching them to _____- first time, right away, with happy face
Responsibility to Family: Parents
Honoring good, loving and respectable parents is easy and a __________
Honoring bad, abusive, neglectful or absent parents is a joyless ____________
Honoring your parents begins with proper ___________- address them and speak to them with respect
Do not allow your children to speak to you ________________________ in word or tone
Do not provoke your children to anger or exasperate them with _________ commands and decisions
Set up an _______system by which they can respectfully give more information / express their concerns
Adult children on their own are not obligated to obey their parents, but they are still to be ____________
If your parents are obnoxious, reprobates or hot-tempered – ______________ like them
Give an appropriate ________________
Offer parents / grandparents the better place to ___________
_________ parents / grandparents first
Put parents / grandparents at the ____of the line (Sandwich kids between adults where safety is an issue)
Seek out the thoughts of the __________ in group conversations (Job 12:12; 32:7)
Teach your child to __________ to adults and become wise, not act like a peer and become proud
_______________ & acknowledge days that are important to them with a visit, a phone call or a card
_______________ for their real needs – 1 Timothy 5:8
For irresponsible parents, ensure a means of ____________ with food, clothing and shelter
Do not give ___________ to alcoholics, addicts, spendthrifts – only the actual tangible necessity
If they refuse what you offer, your obligation is met, but leave the ___________ on the table
Be a godly parent teaching your children to be respectful so they can _________you out of joy, not duty
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