Train Up a Child (The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 4)

To this point we have studied just how God thinks about His Family, about the marriage of His own firstborn Son to the Son’s affianced Bride, about how He deals with His Family. Now we must dig deeper and seek how to apply the specific method that our heavenly Father employs in rearing up sons for His Family to the rearing of our own offspring to enhance their opportunity to become His future children.

In our parenting and in our marriage and family relations, we need to understand how to work at the human level by comprehending how God works at the spiritual level. God created the parent roles. He is the supreme Father. When we find out how He works with His children, we comprehend how to work with our children.

We must grasp the vision of man’s awesome,eternal potential. As we grow in understanding of that God Family vision, we grow in our ability to bring that vision into living, daily reality in our own lives and those of our children.

One vital truth we must grasp, and grasp very firmly: It is impossible for good to produce evil! That is a living, vital, dynamic law of God. The converse applies. It is impossible for evil to produce good!Train up a child in the way that he should go, and he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). That’s the undergirding law of child rearing. Fail in any single respect in submission to this law and you and your children will live the results. Fail in any aspect to train up your child to submit to God’s law and you as a parent may rue the day that you failed in applying the particular aspect of God’s law that your child has difficulty with later in life.

But thank the Eternal God that our sins of omission and commission against our children, as very human parents, may be forgiven upon repentance and forsaking those sins. Christ died for those sins too (Romans 5:6). It is but through God’s mercy and active faith in His law that we can succeed as godly parents, led by His Holy Spirit. As Alexander Pope said, “To err is human. To forgive divine.”

We all live in an imperfect environment. None of us are anywhere near being perfect in character. Though we strive to attain godly perfection, our human nature, the surrounding society and the “prince of the power of the air” all combine to pull us down into rebellion against and disobedience to God’s law. So let’s face it. Try as we may to be perfect parents rearing perfect children, we are as naturally prone to failure in this area of our daily lives as any other. But our great, loving and merciful Father is, in His innate perfection, all wise and all understanding. If we put the caring, loving, merciful, patient work into rearing our children His way, despite our natural weakness and our proneness to failure, He will carry us through to a right and positive result! Our job is to keep the goal of perfection in mind (Matthew 5:48) and to strive to work daily, prayerfully, in faith, with total commitment toward this ultimate goal. He will supply Christ’s faith (Galatians 3:22), the ever present help (Hebrews 4:16), the miracles and divine intervention to guarantee us a right result.

What is that result in your offspring’s life? The same, in principle, as that of your heavenly Father in rearing you as one of His offspring—to maximize your potential to make the right choice! God gives us, His firstfruits, every opportunity, all necessary knowledge and all the intervention, correction and help that we need to encourage us to make the right choice (Deuteronomy 30:19). Our responsibility as a human parent simply parallels that. It is to maximize our offspring’s opportunity to choose the right alternative—to choose, independent of their parents, when they have matured to the appropriate age, God’s way! To choose to transfer that obedience from you as a loving parent, which you have inculcated in them, to their supreme Father—the Eternal God. That’s successful child rearing!

We must live with our humanness in this life, but strive as parents to overcome our natural tendency to compromise with God’s law (Malachi 2:8). We must place our faith and confidence in God, not leaning to our own understanding in our parenting. If we follow God’s methods in rearing our children, He will see us through to success. Do this and both you and your children should live to rejoice forever in the results!

Now! Let’s really learn how to live by God’s immutable laws of parenting! How can we apply God’s method of parenting to maximize the chances for our children to fulfill their incredible human potential?

Begin With Obedience

Where does God begin with the training of His children? “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

In verse 15, Jesus Christ simply declared that the time had come, with the commencement of His earthly ministry, for God to build His Family: “The kingdom [family] of God is at hand.” And how do we qualify to enter that Family of God? “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” So God’s method of rearing His own begotten children starts with repentance from all that is not God’s way of doing things and replacing that with the “gospel” knowledge, the knowledge which builds the Family of God. The same principle applies in our child rearing.

It is natural for the human being to sin. It is natural for the human child to rebel and seek its own selfish, carnal, lustful ways. Oh! you say. But this little baby is just so innocent and harmless. Yes, that may appear to be so.

That little baby is also born totally dependent on you the parent for everything! That’s the very state of mind an adult must reach, in type, in order to commence being trained by God, His way, to enter His Family. “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). Not only is that little baby totally dependent upon you for everything pertaining to sustaining its life, he is born naturally teachable—but, by virtue of his carnal nature, prone to rebellion.

What is your sole right, before God your heavenly Father, in this life? Only to obey Him! (Acts 5:29). What is your child’s sole right, before you, his earthly father and mother? To obey you! (Ephesians 6:1). Thus, the foundation of our child training is simply to teach willing, cheerful obedience to parental authority, as a preparation for willing, cheerful obedience to the Eternal Father’s authority in adulthood.

Behavior Training Your Infant

Many a parent will be surprised to read that by three months, on average, an infant is old enough to begin to be taught right behavior by right and proper training techniques.

Let’s get very basic here. Any infant is capable of letting his parents know when he’s hungry, when he’s wet or uncomfortable, when he’s in pain, and, believe it or not, when he wants his own will, rather than the parents’ will. He does so by rather loud and vociferous objections to the present discomfort by simply wailing away at the top of his lungs. Most mothers can discern, by the volume and style of crying, just what that baby is demanding at any given moment. The point is, to become an acceptable member of civilized society, the child must be taught that he must modify his behavior. Can you imagine what sort of a world it would be if the 6 billion people who populate this planet never changed their personal habits from babyhood? The world would be a whole lot noisier and messier than it presently is!

Children simply have to be taught how to control their bodily appetites and functions. This takes time, diligence of effort, patience and consistency. Do it right and do it early in the infant’s life, and they and their parents, mothers in particular, will live a lot calmer, contented, peaceful lives. This will reflect upon the whole household.

Loving, Caring Discipline

How do we do it? Loving, caring discipline!

Shock! Horror! You mean we adult parents have to impose our will on the helpless little infant? Yes! That’s God’s way!

Many woolly-headed male “experts” and their feminist sisters of academia will recoil at the notion. Aren’t children individuals in their own right? Haven’t we been taught since the “enlightened” 1960s that children have rights and that they must be given free reign to express themselves in whatever manner their immature little minds see fit, no matter how many adults they drive crazy in the process?

Well, yes, we have been taught that. We’ve been taught it for the past 40 years. And what has been the result? The highest levels of child violence in the documented history of mankind! That’s the fruit of the stupidity of much of modern child psychology! The plain results of which are readily available for all to see! In 50 years of studying the behavior of children, we have spoiled whole generations through the theories of child psychologists—some of whom, such as the late Dr. Benjamin Spock, have admitted, upon seeing the results, that they were wrong—and we are now entering an age of chemically controlled kids!

“An astonishing 126,500 English schoolchildren are receiving one particular mind-control drug now. That drug is methylphenidate—Ritalin. … In America, 3 million children now take it, and it is one of a range of psychiatric drugs (including Prozac) increasingly prescribed for children as young as 2. Ritalin was developed for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a name which describes a pattern of behavior that not all doctors accept as a medical condition, and many believe is too frequently diagnosed” (Spectator, March 11, 2000).

The most sensible practitioners recognize the increasing tendency of ignorant parents seeking to replace traditional methods of child rearing, which have worked for millennia, by mind-controlling chemicals! “Joseph Coyle, chairman of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, points out that the behavior of many 2- or 3-year-olds is hard to distinguish from abnormal hyperactivity. … But it is easier to control them with drugs such as Ritalin than to find out what makes them behave as they do and then do something about it” (ibid).

You can skew the statistics any way you want. The plain fact is that violent, angry, irresponsible children become violent, angry, irresponsible adolescents. Violent, irresponsible, angry adolescents become young crooks, and young crooks become hardened criminals.

That’s reality! Do you want that for your child? Or do you want your child to become a responsible member of society, with a life brimful of opportunity to fulfill his or her incredible human potential? It’s your choice! The parent is the one in the driver’s seat. If you refuse to carry out your God-commanded responsibility to train up that infant into habits of goodness from the earliest possible opportunity, you, your child, your family and the members of society your child comes into contact with are in for a rough ride. And the more you put it off, the rougher the ride.

The solution? Start behavior training early!

“Beginning in the ’60s, parenting ‘experts’ began telling parents to direct their energies toward nurturing something they called ‘self-esteem.’ I’ve been a critic of this notion …. The world would be a better, steadily improving place if adults concentrated on simply teaching children to be responsible—to have compassion and respect for others (social responsibility), to do their best (task responsibility), and to do the right thing even when no one else is watching (personal responsibility)” (Arkansas Democratic Gazette, Oct. 13, 1999).

Most legitimate studies of children agree that by three months of age, the infant is very much aware of how to get its own way. For an average child, this is an appropriate time to start behavior training. By this age the average caring, loving parents will have established a strong and loving relationship with their infant.

Notice we stress parents, plural. Both parents produced the child. It is God’s design that the female parent carry the child within her until birth, then nurse and care for the baby’s basic physical needs through the first few years—thus giving the man, as head of the family (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:23), the freedom to go about his God-given business of bread-winning for his family (1 Timothy 5:8). But, fathers, do not neglect your fatherly responsibilities that start from the time that conception is confirmed!

Your loving, tender care of your wife during pregnancy, your presence at her side when she’s giving birth, your holding of the little infant for the first time, your occasionally relieving your wife of some of the routine of bathing and changing the baby, of comforting the little one when he’s in pain or rocking the baby to sleep, will have a three-way benefit. It will strengthen the bond of love and tenderness that your wife should naturally feel for you, as she sees you willingly giving her welcome relief from the daily routine of mothering. It will deepen your bond of love with your little son or daughter. And it will strengthen the feeling of love in your child for his or her father. This will prepare you, the father, the head of the wife, and of your family, to lead in the behavior training of your child.

In today’s society, too many modern fathers are wimps! Too many women have been conditioned to seek a wimp for a husband so they can carry out their feminist-conditioned behavior of dominating their husband. If not dominating, then certainly competing with him. What’s a wimp? Your dictionary says it’s a feeble or ineffectual man. Does your wife rule you and your household? If so, your children may end up ruling you. That’s upside-down government.

God placed you, the male, as the head of the woman (Ephesians 5:22, 24, 33) and the leader of your family! God’s way of parenting starts with a loving leader! God is a Father, the supreme loving leader of His Family! You parents are created in His image (Genesis 1:26). You mothers are created to be the embellishment on your husband’s leadership in governing the family! (1 Corinthians 11:7-9). It’s time for each of you to accept and carry out those roles! Request our booklet Conspiracy Against Fatherhood for real enlightenment on this vital subject. Also request Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The Missing Dimension in Sex for a full understanding of the meaning of the family relationship. All of our literature is free.

A Word of Caution

Here we must pause to issue a strong word of caution! We live in a society where cruelty and violence are escalating at alarming rates. Wife bashing, husband bashing, child bashing—these are all symptoms of a degenerating, morally sick society. The best of us are incapable of not being naturally influenced by this all-pervasive moral sickness and depravity in society. It leaps out at us from billboards, newspapers, magazines, the celluloid cinema, the violent video and the omnipresent Internet. It takes constant, daily prayer, the daily study of God’s Word and constant meditating upon it to negate these powerful negative influences on our human nature. These negative societal trends have produced an innate subliminal anger—a hardness of the heart in whole national populations (Hosea 4:2).

Thus, we caution, you must understand the true meaning of God’s inspired instruction in Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

The rod is analogous of government! When Christ returns, He shall rule the nations of the world with “a rod of iron.” Does that mean that He is going to beat them over the head with a bar of iron? Actually beat them into submission? No! Remember, God gives us free choice. He puts right and wrong, life and death, before us and simply says you choose! But He guides us into submission to His perfect law of love (1 John 5:2-3). The rod is synonymous with that law. It’s simply God’s nature in action in our lives (1 John 4:8).

That’s the rod to apply in your godly parenting. It’s just that, with a little child, the simplest way for him to learn the penalty of disobedience to the law of love is with the sting of carefully balanced physical punishment in proportion to the offense.

Recognize and accept that God gave you the authority to teach and train up your children and to hold them in loving submission to that authority until they are of an age to transfer that type of submission to Him as the supreme, loving Father of the whole God Family.

God trains the behavior of His Spirit-begotten offspring thus: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). This is the godly way to train behavior—to instill right habits into a mature spirit-begotten adult and eliminate wrong habits.

Remember, we work from the spiritual level down to the physical. This knowledge is of God. It is spiritual in nature, it is eternal! It is the pure Word of God. There is the letter and the spirit of the law. Ultimately, God’s rod of correction is spiritual in nature. It is simply His law (1 John 5:3; 3:4). All things are measured by this rod. We are not talking about beating your child with a physical rod of wood! God’s law is a law of love. To encourage us to obey it, our Father provides loving, caring correction to the daily course of our lives, using the rod of His law to measure our behavior.

God simply says if one of His offspring grows up without correction, he is denied acknowledging God as his Father—he is disinherited by God! “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8).

You want to rear your children God’s way? Then heed His divine instruction: “If ye endure chastening [correction], God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (verse 7).


God’s law defines sin (1 John 3:4). God chastises His sons through applying penalties for infractions of His law, i.e. unacceptable behavior. As parents, we follow the godly pattern of correction for unacceptable behavior in our children. Before the “politically correct” gurus fiddled with Western society, corporal punishment was part of a parent’s right and obligation.

With parenting our children, carefully balanced corporal punishment is part of the formula. The word translated “rod” in Proverbs 22:15 can mean scepter (sign of government) or physical implement. Both are implied here. The scepter is the rule of law. The implement can be the physical means of punishment used for breaking the law. We have always understood in the Church of God, in respect of correcting child behavior, that this means a light instrument that stings when applied but does no physical damage. Mr. Armstrong used the table-tennis paddle as an example of an implement that will do no harm to a child when applied with care and in love. But even that should never be used till the infant is around 2 or 3 years of age. Light, stinging taps first with fingers on the backside of an infant, then, as the child grows, carefully, with the hand, should suffice till then.

But remember our word of caution. God is perfect. When He chastises, when He corrects, He does it perfectly. You are human! Subject to the weakness of the flesh. That means you can so easily strike in anger! Don’t do it! If you catch yourself about to swat that little backside in angerdon’t! Immediately pray to God and ask Him to diffuse your anger and replace it with a right and calm spirit. It is the history of too many ignorant parents lashing out in anger, borne of their own frustrations and tensions, misusing physical correction on a child, that has enlivened the left-wing, liberal-socialist, feminist agenda to influence governments and the judiciary to legislate against the parents’ right and obligation to correct the behavior of their children by careful, balanced corporal punishment.

Increasingly, the laws of man, in our politically correct societies are being changed from their original foundation upon the Ten Commandments, and from the godly statutes that extend from that law of God, to reflect the weak-mindedness of modern thought on moral standards and values. Some states have banned the corporal punishment by parents of their own children. But God’s law supersedes and transcends man’s law. Christ adjured us to obey man’s law except when that is superseded by God’s law (Matthew 22:21). God’s law states that correction is mandatory for godly parenting.

In a recent court decision in the Palestinian nation of Israel, the national home of the ancient tribe of Judah, charged with protecting God’s laws and statutes, a supreme court judge sought to remove the God-given authority of parent over child. The supreme court justice declared, “Punishment that causes pain … is completely forbidden and is a hold-over from an educational and social philosophy whose time has passed.”

That court is undermining the authority of the parents in the family! And it is in such cases that we must accede to God’s judgment over that of man. Remember, this society is committed to blindness—they cannot understand and apply God’s law (Romans 11:32). But converted, godly parents are different. They have the means to understand and apply God’s law: His Holy Spirit (John 16:13).

Teach Government

So! Father, you’re about to take the lead in giving your infant his first lesson in behavior training. Mother, you’re at father’s side to submissively back him up with wise and loving, motherly, wifely advice and counsel.

Lesson number one is, teach the child government! That’s where it starts. Who’s boss around here? Up to the second or third month, the infant gets what he wants usually when he’s good and ready to get it, by simply demanding it! But, comes the time when he demands, doesn’t get, and reacts angrily! Generally parents should be able to determine an angry baby’s cry. It’s time for baby to learn that angry demands are not acceptable.

Our great God, in His infinite wisdom, supplied two masses of muscle each side of the posterior end of the spine for a special purpose in addition to supplying comfort when seated. Called in the Latin the gluteus maximus, this cushioning muscle mass is known in English as the buttocks. It cushions us when we sit. But for the infant and the child it has another marvelous function. In addition to its cushioning purpose, it is sensitive to touch. Put the two proclivities together and you’ve discovered the one area on the body which, when used correctly, is the target of physical correction. Physical correction? The rod? Oh no! Not the rod! Oh yes! The rod of correction!

Try as the truly converted mind of the parent will, it simply can’t wrest the simple words of God’s basic principle of child correction contained in the book of Proverbs to mean any more than they simply do: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). That is the Word of God. We accept it as an article of faith. That is how our merciful Father deals with the family of mankind—His family. The way He will ultimately deal with His universal Family is revealed by the way He is presently dealing with His firstfruits Family (James 1:18; Revelation 12:5).

Another word of caution—never spank in public! Choose a very private situation. Ideally, proper, caring, loving correction applied, in balance, in private, in the home, will yield results that will eliminate the need for correction in public.

How to Start

With physical correction, spanking, start with “the two-finger method.” A couple of swats with two fingers on the bare bottom of an infant will produce startling, cacophonous results! A look of shock will arrest the crying infant’s face. The split second of shocked silence will be rent with a roar as the infant vents his anger at father or mother deigning to cause him hurt. That’s a heart-melting, anxious moment for Dad and Mom. You feel like a brute! How could you have done such a thing? Well, you’re learning God’s way of rearing children, aren’t you? And this is simply the way it’s done.

God knows how heart-rending it is to Him to have to chastise His rebellious children (Luke 13:34). That’s why He gave you another principle to adopt in your parenting: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). Look beyond the infant’s cries. Stick with it! Look to the future. You are just beginning to train this little life in the hope that he will ultimately choose to live responsibly for eternity!

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverbs 19:18). Remember what you are doing. You are starting to condition that little mind to accept government—willingly! You are training that little life to feel pain, physical pain, in a harmless way, when he rebels, so that as he matures, he will not reap the hurt of heavier correction due to an ingrained habit of rebellion. The ultimate correction is that which takes your life to teach the lesson! Half of God’s end-time Church has chosen that way! Don’t you choose it, and don’t wish it upon your children! Resolve now, through caring, loving, tender, kind, compassionate yet authoritative correction, to drive rebellion far from your household and your family.

It is important to begin early to associate a simple one-syllable word with the act of behavior that you desire. Start with one of the shortest commands of all—No! For example, when your child becomes mobile and reaches for that precious piece of chinaware, say very firmly, “No!” If he persists, swat the offending hand. This will associate the command “no” with a painful experience. This is simply conditioning the child’s mind to associate unpleasantness (penalty) with going against government (i.e., the command of his parent).

It’s important that there is minimum delay between the command no and the swatting, so as to associate instant punishment with the infant’s refusal to obey his parent. Persist with this, in patient, caring love, without compromise, and you will gain positive results early.

Now, another word of warning. Once you’ve started, keep on! Every time you notice rebellion, say no very firmly. That’s both a parental command and a warning. If the child persists in rebellion, swat! Repeated warnings without an applied penalty for rebellion will just promote further rebellion to the limit that you leave off warning and finally punish. It is important to warn once only for any given infraction. Then if the child persists in disobeying you, swat that bottom!

Remember the sixth law of success—perseverance! Stick to it! This is a binding rule of successful parenting. A well-balanced, happy, contented, well-adjusted, bright, outgoing child is a testimony to loving parents who determined to persevere in training rebellion out of their offspring.

It’s willing, happy obedience you are seeking, not reluctant, truculent, forced obedience! Put the emphasis on obtaining cheerful obedience, not resentful submission. If you, as a godly parent, are cheerfully obedient to your heavenly Father, chances are your children will learn by that example when you are teaching them to obey you. This is just training and preparation for their chance to choose to cheerfully obey God when they mature to adulthood.

The Church of God is littered with the legacy of parents who just would not stick to it when it came to carrying out God’s instruction on training children to behave in a manner acceptable to God. Too many weak parents just threw up their hands after a feeble attempt at godly child training and declared, It doesn’t work. That’s akin to calling God a bald-faced liar! God’s way works! Rebellion against it, refusal to heed and rightly apply God’s own instruction on the way He parents His children, not putting those same laws and principles into action in our physical families, is guaranteeing failure!

God curses for disobedience and rewards magnanimously for obedience. That’s our guide as parents. The curse for rebellion in a child is physical punishment, in balance, where it hurts most but does least damage! The reward for obedience might be the child seeing the simple glow of joy and approval on Dad or Mom’s face. It might be a warm hug or a playful session of fun. It could be a cookie or a cake. In the interest of your child’s health, let alone your dental bills, try to avoid the sugary sweets. That sugar can too easily become addictive, destroying the sensitivity of the child’s taste buds.

The point is, there is a right formula that, if followed, will guarantee the results of Proverbs 22:6—acceptable and responsible behavior, maximizing the child’s potential to make right choices in adulthood.

A Proven Formula

Your infant can begin to understand simple commands within its first few months of birth. Use words of one syllable in short sentences when teaching basic behavior and associate the simple command with the act of behavior required. For example:

  • Sleep: “Go to sleep” or “Head down.”

As the child grows and gains progressive control over his motor functions, progressively teach him the fundamentals of responsible physical behavior.

  • Eat: “Eat up.”
  • Control elimination: (Your choice for this one.)
  • Sit: “Sit down.”
  • Stand still: “Stand up” or “Stand still.”
  • Come: “Come here.”
  • Stop: “Stop!” or “Stay!”

Train your infant in these seven simple steps to responsible behavior early, and you will have a good foundation upon which to build knowledge in the child’s mind as he moves into the stage of formal eduction. Generally by age 3 and certainly by age 5, your basic behavioral training of the infant should be complete to the point of having these seven basic behavioral patterns well established.

Remember, you are teaching disciplined, controlled, responsible behavior. An undisciplined, uncontrolled child will have great difficulty adapting socially and in concentrating on his education. It’s so important to teach these seven basic behavior patterns early in the infant’s life. But remember, all children differ in their progressive rate of learning. Tailor your behavioral training to the observed rate of development and comprehension.

The key to success in achieving these goals is to start training early. Use incentives to encourage the infant to work to achieve the desired goal. The ministers of God are admonished to be “helpers of the joy” of God’s children (2 Corinthians 1:24). Become a helper of your child’s joy! Give him the security of firm boundaries, but don’t fence your child in with onerous negative restrictions. Give him freedom of expression within the secure bounds of acceptable, responsible, godly behavior.

One thing to be aware of is that the earlier you train the infant in these behavioral habits, the safer your child will be. Teaching your infant to “Stop” on command when he is tottering toward the brink of the swimming pool may save him from a scary situation and you from an unwelcome plunge, fully clothed, to rescue him. Teaching him to stand and sit still can save him from a whole range of mischief. Teaching him to sit still prepares him to concentrate his senses to receive education, to focus his attention on taking in knowledge.

Blessings vs. Cursings

As you continue to consistently train up your infant in these basic desired patterns of behavior, the little one will soon learn to associate reward (blessing) with obedience and approved behavior. He will learn to associate punishment (curse) with disobedience and unapproved behavior. Always reward for obedience and responsible behavior. Always lovingly correct for disobedience and irresponsible behavior, in balance, in proper proportion to the extent of the infraction.

It is important to note that you cannot reason with a young child. To reason with a human being, that individual must have his intellectual faculties developed to the point where he is capable of the process of logical deduction (i.e., be persuaded to a course of action by discussion or argument). This is not possible for an infant. In addition to their intellectual faculties not being developed to possess the capacity to reason effectively, they simply lack the knowledge and experience to evaluate and compare two alternative courses of action and make an appropriate judgment as to which course of action is best. That’s your job as a parent. In the spiritual sense, that is the Eternal Father’s job as our parent. “Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5).

If only we’d refrain from trying to reason around God’s ways, and submit to His perfect reasoning, we’d all be the happier for it (Isaiah 1:18-19). It’s similar with your child. You do the reasoning for him or her. The child’s responsibility is to accept and put into action—to submit to—your reasoning as his loving parent. In the process he develops a proven ability to reason against repeating unacceptable behavior. Usually that will be around age 12, but it is a progressive process. Remember, some children mature earlier or later than others.

The Formula

There’s a God-given formula that you find threaded through God’s Word, which, if consistently applied, will guarantee godly results in your parenting:

Warn first.

Correct if the warning is unheeded.

Explain why you have corrected.

Teach the blessing of obedience.

Demonstrate love—associate the teaching with blessings. Always show love and affection following correction.

That’s the way God dealt with the family of Israel. He constantly warned them of the cursings for disobedience. He always corrected them when they disobeyed Him. He spent a multitude of hours teaching them the blessings of obedience. He always showed the greatest of patience and mercy in the deepest of love for them. But He never compromised in applying His law.

That’s our heavenly Father’s perfect formula for training His children to right and acceptable habits of behavior. Use it, and you and your children will rejoice in the results.