Here is a VITAL article in our series on personal development. Here is the way to JOY, happiness and STABILITY in your home. Here is the way to promote SUCCESS in the sons and daughters who will bear your name.
"MY son is a good boy. Why are you bothering us at this you bothering us at this hour?" the father stormed and fumed at the sheriff's officer making the call. "Does he need some money to get out of trouble? Let me know and I'll send it along. But quit pestering us at this time of night!"
Parents Just Don't Care!
Was the father worried that his 15year-old son had been out half the night and was in trouble with the police? No. He was upset because his own drinking party and poker playing had been interrupted. For throughout much of America, Britain and the English-speaking world, our youth are going absolutely WILD. They are mixed-up, rebellious, crazed and almost insane at times in their insatiable thirst to get more thrills and "kicks" out of life. They have been given NO PURPOSE for life, no real training, no discipline, and precious little love, attention and interest from their parents. Yet they are YOUR CHILDREN — or your neighbor's just down the way. They live on your street, in your city — now! They will certainly affect your future — for they are the leaders of tomorrow. And all too often — as the grisly crime statistics indicate — they are the murderers, the muggers and the rapists of today. Increasingly, law enforcement officials have come to realize that the parents of these lawless children are often the chief culprits. A sheriff's officer said: "The real trouble here is that too many parents don't know — or don't care — where their children are at night." In an article on juvenile drug addiction in the Reader's Digest, the authors stated: "Virtually every official we talked with emphasized that the ultimate cure for the teenage drug menace lies in the home, the neighborhood, the community... Lieutenant Norbert Currie, head of the San Francisco Narcotics Squad put it succinctly: 'We are never going to lick this pill and glue stuff until PARENTS really care about the youngsters.' " (Emphasis ours) It's time parents everywhere WOKE UP! If you are a parent, then you have a God-given RESPONSIBILITY to teach and train your children. You also have the opportunity to make your family life a thing of JOY and productivity — enriching your own life immeasurably and preparing LEADERS for the World Tomorrow!
The Abundant Life Should Be FAMILY-Centered
The great GOD of creation inspired the Psalmist to write: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it..." (Psalm 127:1). This teaches us that our homes are to be built GOD'S way, not man's way — otherwise it is "in vain." The Psalmist continues: "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate" (Psalm 127:3-5). Our Creator is telling us here that children are a BLESSING — not a curse! Yet, all too often parents feel frustrated and "bothered" that they have to take time to play with, to give attention to, and to teach and train their darling children. At least those children should be "darling" if their parents have given them right attention at all! For God says the man is "happy" who has his quiver full of them. Again, in Psalm 128:1-3, God says: "Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways... Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." This certainly should be an uplifting and inspiring picture! Here is the father with his lovely and submissive wife by his side, surrounded by the clean, wholesome uplifted faces of their darling children — the fruit of their bodies and of their lives. Here is pictured a miniature "kingdom" — with the father as the king and the mother as the queen over this small — but very happy and productive — kingdom. For every family based on God's WAY should be just such a kingdom! It should have laws and a definite way of life based upon the revelation of the Creator. It should reflect a balanced, warm, dedicated and giving and serving atmosphere. It should be an extremely happy place and filled with JOY. Jesus said: "I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Your Bible reveals that this happy and abundant life should be centered in your family and in your home! For the most deeply joyful, peaceful, uplifting and rewarding experiences should either be experienced in your home and family life, or at least be shared deeply and fully with your wife and children in the home and family situation. Jesus said: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Mat 7:18, 20). The "fruit," the PRODUCT of your marriage and child-rearing practices certainly show up DRAMATICALLY in your children! They are the ones who display the kind of character you really are. They are the ones who are going to carry your name on in this life and, probably, into the World Tomorrow. In view of this, it certainly behooves every one of you to cultivate a balanced and happy home. It is most important to avoid loud, jangling, discouraging family arguments. Yet in how many families do the husbands and wives fight, argue and "pick at" one another continually in front of their children? One of my close friends once cited an example of a boyhood chum who began stuttering uncontrollably during the violent quarrels his father and mother had when he was a child. This stuttering habit continued right on through his teen years, and affects this young man's personality even to this day! How deep and LASTING these hurts can be. You need an active campaign to teach your family and children God's kind of abundant life!
Husbands and Wives Must Be a "Team"!
In bringing about the right kind of happiness, training and balance in your home, it is certainly important for the husband and wife to be completely united in their approach to this problem. Husbands and wives must learn to cooperate and get on the same "team." Your Bible teaches in Ephesians 5:22-28: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the HEAD of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." To have the deep happiness and JOY in your home, you wives must learn to be the "help" to your husbands which God Almighty intended. You must learn to respond to your husband gladly and willingly as long as it is within the will of God. You must learn to make your husband's decisions work! Remember that there is always more than one way to "skin a cat." Yet, when a husband decides on something with which the wife disagrees, how often does she balk and try to subtly make his decision fail? This is absolutely WRONG! A truly Christian woman will try to cooperate, to back up and support and make her husband's decisions work! She will not talk back or undermine her husband in front of the children or in ANY OTHER situation. She will lovingly and gladly get on HIS "team" — looking to him as the quarterback and director, and being sincerely thankful and appreciative for his love, protection and support. This passage continues: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:25). Just as Jesus Christ cares for, protects and gave His life to save the Church, so every husband should love, protect and nurture his wife — even as his own body (verse 28). He should be considerate of his wife's wishes — thinking always of the larger good of the entire family in any decision he makes. He must display outgoing concern and LOVE for his wife, and encourage and inspire her to her full development as a Christian woman and do everything he can to bring about her fulfillment and happiness in every way. Together, then, the husband and wife should teach and train their children in a home based on love, warmth, a spirit of mutual helpfulness and service, and sincere Joy in living the abundant family life! Notice this inspired instruction: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). From infancy, children should be taught and trained. But they should also be loved, protected, and nurtured. Your willingness to spend TIME with your children — to love them, to play with them and train them is a tremendous responsibility. It will usually make the difference between their having a great feeling of warmth, love and respect for you — or a "distant" unresponsive attitude toward their own parent. If a husband and wife are willing to spend the proper time and effort with each other, and with their children, they will certainly have an extremely happy "family kingdom." This little unit will teach them lessons of love, happiness and self-discipline which will carry on over into the very responsibilities for which God has placed us on this earth — having a part in His Kingdom in the World Tomorrow. Here, then, are seven steps to having a truly happy family kingdom:
I. Make Family STUDY a Habit
Teach yourself to sit down regularly with your children — at least a few times each week — and study with them and explain to them important principles of successful living. Read to them sections of the Bible and explain the lessons of life there. Read chapters of the Proverbs — explaining how to apply the wisdom contained in these pages. Go over basic articles from The PLAIN TRUTH magazine with them and inspire them to want to make a success of their lives and build the very character of God. Have father-son or mother-daughter talks with them, telling them about your past life experiences and lessons which you hope they will not have to learn personally by suffering as you did. Teach them positively, also, principles of success and happiness. Teach your children basic things — honesty and integrity, the value of hard work and productivity. Teach them NEVER to lie nor be deceitful. Teach them to respect and VALUE human life — to be CAREFUL in their own playing, swimming and driving so that you will never have to have a funeral ceremony for your own child! Explain this to them heart-to-heart — and make it meaningful. Teach your children — as they get up toward the fourth, sixth and eighth grades — to read newspapers and magazines, to be aware of what is going on in the world. Teach them to read worthwhile books — books on geography, history, the biographies and autobiographies of great and successful men, etc. Inspire the right kind of ambition and desire for SUCCESS in your sons and daughters! Take time to go over with them certain outstanding articles in various magazines and newspapers you may read regarding principles of life and success which you want your children to know. Teach them wisdom and BALANCE in applying these things. Remind them, for instance, that many multimillionaires would give all they had simply to have one happy marriage! Teach them that the grasping, clawing, greedy, competitive way of getting ahead is NOT the real way to permanent happiness and true success. But do — in right balance — inspire them to develop their minds, bodies, personalities and characters so that they may be productive human beings and LEADERS as God directs their lives! Your little children will never FORGET this kind of teaching, training, love and inspiration. It will be a help and have an impact upon their lives which will last not only through this age — but through eternity. And that is a FACT.
II. Make Family Prayer a Habit
Teach yourself to lead your family in getting on its knees before the Creator God daily. Ideally, this may be done either in the morning before school and work, or in the evening before going to bed. Teach your children to talk to God as a Father. Do NOT stress memorized prayers or stiff, formal approaches to God. Rather, teach your children to talk from their hearts to the one that they can increasingly feel is a "Father" — the One who has made them, loves them, protects them and has in mind their everlasting good. Follow the approach of Jesus' outline of prayer — falsely called the "Lord's Prayer" — given in Matthew 6:9-13. Help them to learn to ask God for their daily needs, for strength and wisdom and for His blessing and guidance in their daily lives. And in all their praying, teach them to be THANKFUL for living in the blessed circumstances which most of us in the Western World do! At mealtime, set the example by giving sincere, heartfelt, nonmemorized thanks for the blessings of food and shelter from the Creator God. Occasionally, the mother may wish to have the children themselves lead in prayer at mealtimes — guiding their prayer if they falter. Then, in the morning or evening family prayer sessions, the father should take the lead and talk to God about the blessings that have been given to the family. Ask Him for help and guidance in the problems and activities that the family faces. And ask also for God's guidance in world affairs, in your nation and for its rulers, and for His special blessing on His Work and His true ministers preparing for the Kingdom of God. Then, the mother should briefly pray and add those things which are fitting, from her heart, and then on to each child in turn — with the father concluding with a brief summary prayer at the end. In all of this, teach your children the REALITY of the true GOD OF CREATION! Read and go over with them in the family study periods Mr. Ted Armstrong's articles exposing the ridiculous stupidity of evolution and showing the wondrous beauty, design, interdependency and love expressed by God in His creation. Then teach them the spirit of dedication and service — and to talk from the heart to the Creator as their own Father.
III. Make Family WORK and CHORES a Profitable Habit
Millions of modern children grow up without ever being exposed to the discipline of work and productivity. In their idle hours they develop countless wasteful and foolish habits. And they never develop the habit of work and SUCCESS in this manner. Teach your children, therefore, the habit of work. Even in the city, children can be given many things to do if you properly organize them. Your boys can mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow, carry in wood and kindling for the fireplace and even help with the vacuuming, washing and scrubbing of the floors. Your girls can regularly help do the dishes, clean the house, polish the furniture and other similar chores. Each child should be taught to keep his own room clean, to make his own bed daily, and to be responsible for putting things back where they belong and organizing his things throughout the house. This will give each child a sense of responsibility and accomplishment — and may help more than you can imagine in the future success of your children.
IV. Make Family FELLOWSHIP a Habit
Warm and loving family fellowship is a major key in the development of a child's sense of security, a balanced personality and positive approach to life. Every family should talk, laugh and share their lives with each other at all times — and especially at mealtime. Having "family" meals is certainly a great asset in the development of your children. In fact the 128th Psalm, cited earlier, gives the picture: "Thy children like olive plants round about thy table." Here, indeed, is an opportunity to talk over with the children the events of the day. Ask Johnny: "What did you learn in school today?" And show yourself interested in his answer, in his analysis of the events of his life! Learn to know WHO your children are associating with and what kind of people they are! In a positive way — NOT picking and nagging — guide your children to choose right companionships, to play games in a positive manner without fighting and quarreling, and to develop habits for success in their future lives. Learn to listen to your children talk! Notice their voice inflection, their personality and the enthusiasm — or lack of it — which they convey. Then try to guide and encourage them toward further development — making sure that you set the example above all else. For children will follow your example more than anything else. Learn to laugh with and love your children deeply. Share with them the knowledge of their origins — the type of people their great-grandparents and grandparents were, how you yourself grew up, and things that will give their lives a sense of continuity and purpose. Although you should always retain proper dignity as the parent and leader of the child, you can certainly joke and laugh with the child and bring out his personality and give him confidence in the family situation more than in any other!
V. Make Family PLAY and OUTINGS a Habit
Beside just visiting and fellowshipping at the table and around the house, build the habit of playing regularly with your children and sharing with them many hours of good times. Often, children will deeply and long remember the fact that their father used to take them "piggyback" and laugh and romp with them on the floor. This type of activity — kept in right balance and without undue roughness — can establish a sense of rapport and closeness with your children more quickly than almost any other type of activity. Having family card games, Monopoly, croquet, ball games — these are all things to introduce as the children's ages permit. Then, on weekends and vacations, family picnics, hikes, hunting and fishing trips, camping out or going to the cabin will be an experience your sons and daughters will always remember! In my own life, the dozens of times my father and mother took me down to our cabin on a small river — or on picnics or outings — stand out in my mind as some of the happiest moments of my childhood. You fathers need to teach your sons to do masculine things — to hunt, to fish, to take care of themselves in the woods and in many other circumstances. Teach your sons to keep their voices low and speak like a man! Teach them to think like a man and to work hard, perspire, accomplish and produce, and not be a coward. Teach them to be self-reliant — not pantywaists or effeminate creatures and candidates for some type of institution! If you orient your children's play and activities around the family — allowing them to bring in one or two other children of good character on occasion — this alone will prevent a great deal of the tendency toward carousing and juvenile delinquency into which so many unattended children fall. And you will be establishing a closeness and contact with your very heritage which will enable you to guide their lives for many years in the future.
VI. Family TRAINING and DISCIPLINE are Indispensable
Many people train their dogs FAR MORE than they train their own flesh and blood! They will spend literally hours teaching their dog to sit, to heel and to respond to commands. Yet practically no time is given to teaching their own children similar habits of obedience. In His Word, the living GOD instructs: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). As a parent you have both the responsibility and the opportunity to teach your children not only obedience and the respect for the rights and property of others, but to teach them personality development, proper culture, and the importance of self-discipline and study. You have in your own hands potential LEADERS of the World Tomorrow! It all depends upon how much time and effort you are willing to put into training them. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). Here God shows us that all children are potentially juvenile delinquents! It is a matter of training and teaching them the right way — then, with complete restraint and self-control, spanking them when they disobey explicit commands and instructions. This does NOT mean to unmercifully BEAT a child in anger. But to quietly, calmly and with complete self-control spank him, in the place which Almighty God provided, until his little mind is truly sorry for his foolishness! This kind of LOVING correction is something that gives a child — all psychologists and psychiatrists to the contrary notwithstanding — a deeper sense of security and balance in his mind and personality than he will ever get by ANY OTHER method! For a further explanation of this tremendously important subject, write immediately for our free booklet: The PLAIN TRUTH About CHILD REARING. This booklet will give you priceless information on disciplining your child GOD'S way. So be sure that you make this matter of family training and discipline an important part of your family's life. Teach your children not only to control themselves physically but to control their tempers — control their thoughts and guide them away from competition, greed, violence and envy, and from foolish daydreaming and lust. Teach them to think positively, to live positively and to have the GOAL of fulfilling their Creator's purpose and preparing for the fantastic life ahead in the World Tomorrow!
VII. Build Family LOYALTY and LOVE
Many months ago, you may have read in your newspapers the account of the young American who left his family, left his home, and left all of the blessings of this society he had always known to go some 8,000 miles away from America to seek and search for his brother who was supposedly taken prisoner or killed by the Viet Cong. I do not know the exact details of this case, but I do know that I was touched by the example of this man's LOYALTY to his lost brother. For this example — at least as far as it goes — is a GODLY thing, and altogether too much lacking in our society today! For your Bible reveals that God Himself is a FAMILY. There is the Father, and the firstborn Son, Jesus Christ and then all of us have the fantastic opportunity to become born sons of God in the future! Your Bible shows that the Father and the Son deeply LOVE one another — that they share all things together — that they are "one" in mind, personality and character. So then, as long as family loyalty and love is subordinated to the love and obedience we should give to God Himself — it is a good thing.
Teach Children to Love
Teach your sons and daughters to love one another, to help each other and to remain LOYAL to any member of the family in the way God would have us do. This does NOT mean to take up for a rebellious criminal or to support a sinner against God Himself! But it DOES mean that — even when a brother's attitude is wrong — you will still "help" him by having concern, by praying for him, by appealing to him to listen to reason and wake up while there is yet time. It means that in the event of physical danger or hardship, all the other brothers and sisters should go to the rescue of the one in trouble! This kind of esprit de corps BINDS a family together in the right way — and protects and preserves the family character and integrity in the way Almighty God intended! A striking example of this is found even in the life of the "father of the faithful," the prophet Abraham. The account in Genesis 14:1-16 reveals that when Abraham's nephew, Lot, was taken prisoner by some enemy kings of city-states, Abraham came to his rescue. "And when Abram heard that his brother [technically nephew] was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan... And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." Yes, Abraham organized his own private army and charged out to the RESCUE of his young nephew, Lot, and saved his life and his goods (Gen. 14:14-16). For, as Abraham had said, they were brethren — they belonged to the same family — and they had a deep-seated feeling of loyalty and LOVE. So tell your children this story! Tell the older boys and girls to watch out and take care of the younger. Teach all of them to go to the rescue of the others. And then show them that this concern, kindness and LOVE can grow and overflow to others as well as members of their own family. But this love must be learned first of all and most of all in the home and in the family! In conclusion, I will point out that the above points provide a MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY — through family training, study, prayer, work, play and fellowship, loyalty and LOVE — to prevent mental sickness in your children, to insure that they will NEVER become juvenile delinquents or criminals, to give them the keys toward genuine SUCCESS in this life, and the basic guideposts and inspiration to achieve the only real and final success — eternal life and a position of RULERSHIP in the Kingdom of Almighty God! Remember: "Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His WAYS... Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table... Yea thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel" (Psalm 128:1-6) The great Creator of the heavens and the earth is CONCERNED about your opportunity to build stability and JOY into your home and family life. He has revealed to you "HIS WAYS." Be sure you do your part and USE THEM — always.