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Little Billy was allowed to sit in his father’s place at the dinner table one evening when his father was absent. His slightly older sister, resenting the arrangement, sneered, “So, you’re the father tonight. All right, how much is two times seven?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Billy replied nonchalantly, “I’m busy. Ask your mother!” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A young mother, feeling sorry for herself because of her many responsibilities as a parent, saw this sign on a local day-care center: “Attention all mothers-Let me love your children, while you work.”

After seeing this, the mother went away grateful for the opportunity she had to love her children herself. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Neglect is one of the most devastating ways a parent can abuse a child. O. Henry, in one of his short stories, tells of a little girl whose mother had died. When the father would come home from work, he would fix their meal, then he would sit down with his paper and pipe, put his feet up on the hassock, and read. The little girl would come in and say, “Father, would you play with me?” And he would say, “No, I’m too tired, I’m too busy. Go out in the street and play.” This went on for so long that finally the little girl grew up on the streets and became what we would call a streetwalker, a prostitute. Eventually she died, and when, in the story, her soul appeared at the gates of heaven, St. Peter said to Jesus, “Here’s this prostitute. Shall we send her to hell?” Jesus said, “No, no; let her in. But go find the man who refused to play with his little girl, and send him to hell.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Parental Encouragement

Evangelist Bill Glass asked a group of a thousand prison inmates, “How many of you had parents who told you that you would end up in prison one day?” Almost every one of the inmates raised his hand. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Parental Encouragement

When he was a young boy the great painter Benjamin West decided to paint a picture of his sister while his mother was not at home. He got out the bottles of ink and started, but soon had an awful mess. His mother eventually returned and of course saw the mess. Instead of scolding him, she picked up the portrait and declared, “What a beautiful picture of your sister!” Then she kissed him. Later in life he said, “With that kiss I became a painter.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A little boy, frightened by a thunderous lightning storm, called out one dark night, “Daddy, come. I’m scared.”

“Son,” the father said, “God loves you and he’ll take care of you.”

“I know God loves me,” the boy replied. “But right now I want somebody who has skin on.”

It is the role of the father to be and demonstrate God, with skin on. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A little girl followed her father as he carefully stepped through a new garden. She stepped exactly where he stepped and said, “Daddy, if you don’t get mud on your feet, I won’t get any mud on me!” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Failure of Father

The story is told of a young man who stood before a judge to be sentenced for forgery. The judge had been a friend of the boy’s father, who was famous for his books on the law of trusts, “Young man,” said the judge sternly, “do you remember your father, that father whom you have disgraced?”

“I remember him perfectly,” the young man answered quietly. “When I went to him for advice or companionship, he would say, ‘Run away, boy, I’m busy.’ Well, my father finished his book, and here I am.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Failure of Father

Family-life specialists Delmer W. Holbrook and his wife have been lecturing and conducting surveys across America. In a survey of hundreds of children, the Holbrooks came up with the three things fathers say most in responding to their kids.

“I’m too tired” took first place.

“We don’t have enough money” was second.

“Keep quiet” was third. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Parents’ Duty to Children

"A child's mind is like a bank--whatever you put in, you get back in 10 years, with interest." -- Frederick Wertham


Parental Influence

A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful.  If only Dad, 55% remain faithful.  If only Mom, 15%.  If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful.  The statistics speak for themselves - the example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the church and Sunday school. -- Warren Mueller, Homemade  May, 1990


Parental Weaknesses

Who is responsible for what decisions around the home? A USA TODAY survey asked 4,500 men and women.  The answers:

   Women are responsible for:

      * Deciding what's for dinner and then preparing it

      * Managing the household budget

      * Raising the children

   Men and women share the responsibilities for deciding:

      * Where to go on vacation

      * How much to spend on major purchases

      * How much insurance to carry and where to buy it

   Men are responsible for:

      * Deciding what to watch on television.

"That's it?  That's it.  Virtually all other decisions are made jointly or made by the woman.  Really." ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A small boy invaded the lingerie section of a large department store and shyly presented his problem to a woman clerk in the lingerie department. “I want to buy s lip as a present for my mom,” he said. “But, I don’t know what size she wears.”

“is she tall or short, fat or skinny?” asked the clerk.

“She’s just perfect,” beamed the small boy. So the clerk wrapped up a size 34 for him.

Two days later, Mom came to the store by herself and changed the slip to a size 52. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A London editor submitted to Winston Churchill for his approval a list of all those who had been Churchill’s teachers. Churchill returned the list with this comment: “You have omitted to mention the greatest of my teachers-my mother.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Tips to help teenagers understand parents:

        1.Don’t be afraid to speak their language. Try using strange sounding phrases like, “I’ll help you with the dishes” and “Yes.”

        2.Try to understand their music. Play Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” on the stereo until you are accustomed to the sound.

        3.Be patient with the underachiever. When you catch your dieting Mom sneaking salted peanuts, don’t show your disapproval. Tell her you like fat Moms.

        4.Encourage your parents to talk about their problems. Try to keep in mind that, to them, things like earning a living and paying off the mortgage seem important.

        5.Be tolerant of their appearance. When Dad gets a haircut, don’t feel personally humiliated. Remember, it’s important to him to look like his peers.

        6.Most important of all: If they do something you consider wrong, let them know it’s their behavior you dislike, not themselves.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Some children walk the high road

        While others tread the low;

        A parent’s life determines

        Which way a child will go.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



In order to love my children, I must remember that (1) They are children. (2) They tend to act like children. (3) Much of childish behavior is unpleasant. (4) If I do my part as a parent and love them despite their childish behavior, they will be able to mature and give up childish ways. (5) If I only love them when they please me (conditional love), and convey my love to them only during those times, they will not feel genuinely loved. This in turn will make them insecure, damage their self-image, and actually prevent them from moving on to better self-control and more mature behavior. Therefore, their behavior is my responsibility as much as theirs. (6) If I love them unconditionally, they will feel good about themselves and be comfortable with themselves. They will then be able to control their anxiety and, in turn, their behavior, as they grow into adulthood. ── Dr. Ross Campbell, How to Really Love Your Child.



No man is poor who has had a godly mother.

Abraham Lincoln.

An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.

Spanish proverb.

When Robert Ingersoll, the notorious skeptic, was in his heyday, two college students went to hear him lecture. As they walked down the street after the lecture, one said to the other, “Well, I guess he knocked the props out from under Christianity, didn’t he?” The other said, “No, I don’t think he did. Ingersoll did not explain my mother’s life, and until he can explain my mother’s life I will stand by my mother’s God.”

James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972, p. 381.

Motherhood and Compassion.  A few days ago I made a marvelous discovery. In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament the word for “compassion” comes from the root word, “womb.” The picture is of a birthing. Something new is being born. If I apply this in a human experience, it means that my compassionate acts always give the other person another chance. I do not hold past failures against them. I offer a “fresh start.” I want this for myself from others. Am I willing to give it to the other person? Such compassion will dramatically change the way we relate to each other.

Brooks Ramsey, Pastoral Counseling and Consulting Center, Memphis TN.

Parent's Influence.  When parents understand the source of joy, when they decide to let Christ rule in their home, they have chosen the way of joy that will never disappoint them. Billy Graham’s parents were both committed Christians. Although he was a businessman, his father had at one time felt a desire to preach. The way never seemed opened for him. After Billy entered the ministry, the father said, “I prayed for years for a way to be opened. But never once was there the slightest encouragement from God. My heart burned and I wondered why God did not answer my prayer. Now I feel I have the answer. I believe that my part was to raise a son to be a preacher.” Imagine the joy that thought brought to him and to his wife.

Proclaim, Father’s Day Sermon: Joy in the Home, June 18, 1989.

Ilion Jones writes that "On the great biographer Ida M. Tarbell's 80th birthday, someone asked her to name the greatest persons she had ever met. She responded, 'The greatest persons I have ever met are those nobody knows anything about.'

"Once the New York Times was asked to help a group of club women decide on the twelve greatest women in the United States. After due consideration, the editors replied, 'The twelve greatest women in the United States are women who have never been heard of outside of their own homes.'"

Jones concludes, "I ask you, who was greater, Thomas A. Edison or his mother? When he was a young lad his teacher sent him home with a note which said, 'Your child is dumb. We can't do anything for him.' Mrs. Edison wrote back, 'You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself'. And she did, with results that are well known.

Morning Glory, January 8, 1994.

Over one hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton asked: "Can anyone tell me two things more vital to the race than these; what man shall marry what woman, and what shall be the first things taught to their first child?" Chesterton goes on to comment that: "the daily operations surrounded her with very young children, who needed to be taught not so much anything but everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, a woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't...Our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world....But when people begin  to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean....If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge (at his work)....But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless, and of small import to the soul, then I say give it up...."

How can it be an (important) career to tell other people's children about mathematics, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?...A woman's function is laborious...not because it is minute, but because it is gigantic. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle, Multnomah Press, 1991, pp.113-114.

Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny baby in her arms, when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard. She never reached her destination and when the blizzard had subsided her body was found by searchers beneath a mound of snow. But they discovered that before her death, she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it about her baby. When they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well. She had mounded her body over his and given her life for her child, proving the depths of her mother love. Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, became prime minister of Great Britain, and, without doubt, one of England’s greatest statesman.

James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972, p. 375.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had 4 sons and they were all preachers. Someone once came into the drawing room when all the family was there. They thought they would see what Howard, one of the sons, was made of so they asked him this question: "Howard, who is the greatest preacher in your family?" Howard had a great admiration for his father and he looked straight across at him and then without a moments hesitation he answered, "Mother."

A. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Eerdmans, p. 139.

I cannot tell how much I owe to the prayers of my good mother. I remember her once praying, "Now Lord, if my children go on in sin it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold on Christ and claim Him as their personal Savior."

Charles Spurgeon.

Grandma, on a winter's day, milked the cows and fed them hay, hitched the mule, drove kids to school...did a washing, mopped the floors, washed the windows and did some chores...Cooked a dish of home-dried fruit, pressed her husband's Sunday suit...swept the parlor, made the bed, baked a dozen loaves of bread...split some firewood and lugged it in, enough to fill the kitchen bin...Cleaned the lamps and put in oil, stewed some apples before they spoiled...churned the butter, baked a cake, then exclaimed, "For goodness sake!" when the calves ran from the pen, and chased them all back in again...Gathered eggs and locked the stable, back to the house and set the table...cooked a supper that was delicious, then washed and dried all dirty dishes...fed the cat and sprinkled clothes, mended a basketful of hose...then opened the organ and began to play: "When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day..."

Reminisce, premiere issue, 1991, pp. 46-7.

A teacher gave her class of second graders a lesson on the magnet and what it does. The next day in a written test, she included this question: " My full name has six letters. The first one is M. I pick up things. What am I?" When the test papers were turned in, the teacher was astonished to find that almost 50 percent of the students answered the question with the word Mother.

Source Unknown.

Our minister's wife told of filling out a form in her pediatrician's office. Beside the blank marked "occupation" were these words: "If you devote the greater part of your time to loving, caring and making a home for your family, put a big star in this space."

Bonnie Miller.

Legally, a husband is the head of the house and a pedestrian has the right of way. Both are perfectly safe and within their rights as long as they do not try to confirm it!

George E. Bergman.

Lorne Sanny of The Navigators once wrote of his mother: "My mother gave birth to me in a frontier house on a Midwestern prairie. On the kitchen counter she placed a list of the ingredients necessary for my formula. At the top of the list was 'prayer,' and that remained at the top of her list for me throughout her life...I have her to thank for firmly establishing my spiritual roots."

Today in the Word, January, 1990, p. 23.

A teacher asked a boy this question: "Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven of you--your parents and five children. What part of the pie would you get?" "A sixth," replied the boy. "I'm afraid you don't know your fractions," said the teacher. "Remember, there are seven of you." "Yes, teacher," said the boy, "but you don't know my mother. Mother would say she didn't want any pie."

Bits and Pieces, June, 1990, p. 10.

A little boy forgot his lines in a Sunday school presentation. His mother was in the front row to prompt him. She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Her son's memory was blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, "I am the light of the world." The child beamed and with great feeling and a loud clear voice said, "My mother is the light of the world."

Bits and Pieces, August, 1989.

It is in the home that we first develop our sense of who we are. Every child has aright to a secure, happy home life. Every child has a right to the love and nurture of his or her parents.

Akin to identity is the question of self-worth. Dr. James Dobson, author of several excellent books on raising children cautions us that, “A child can learn to doubt his worth at home even when he is deeply loved by his parents! Destructive ideas find their way into his thinking process, leading him to conclude that he is ugly or incredibly stupid or that he has already proved himself to be a hopeless failure in life.”

The famous Psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Adler had an experience when a young boy which illustrates just how powerful such a belief can be upon behavior and ability. He got off to a bad start in arithmetic and his teacher became convinced that he was “dumb in mathematics.” The teacher then advised the parents of this “fact” and told them not to expect too much of him. They too were convinced. Alder passively accepted the evaluation they had placed upon him. And his grades in arithmetic proved they had been correct. One day, however, he had a sudden flash of insight and thought he saw how to work a problem the teacher had put on the board, and which none of the other pupils could work. He announced as much to the teacher. She and the whole class laughed. Whereupon, he became indignant, strode to the blackboard, and worked the problem much to their amazement. In doing so, he realized that he could understand arithmetic. He felt a new confidence in his ability, and went on to become a good math student.

We need to encourage our children. We need not only to surround them with love but we need to help them feel competent as persons.

Source Unknown.

I wish every one of us had inscribed on the walls of our home the words of Dorothy Law Nolte’s work, “Children Learn What They Live,” and then kept this constantly before us in our daily activities.

If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
He learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

A sermon called The Divine Family, author unknown.

Susannah Wesley's Rules For Raising Children:

1. Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul.
2. Teach him to pray as soon as he can speak.
3. Give him nothing he cries for and only what is good for him if he asks for it politely.
4. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, but never allow a rebellious, sinful act to go unnoticed.
5. Commend and reward good behavior.
6. Strictly observe all promises you have make to your child.

Susannah Wesley.

The love of a mother is never exhausted. It never changes--it never tires--it endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world's condemnation, a mother's love still lives on.

Washington Irving.

The most creative job in the world involves fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, romance, cuisine, literature, art, economics, government, pediatrics, geriatrics, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, law, religion, energy and management. Anyone who can handle all those has to be somebody special. She's a homemaker.

Richard Kerr quoted in Homemade, February 1989.

Women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time, says Susan Lang, author of Women Without Children. If that figure seems high, remember that the average mother spends 3.5 more hours a week doing housework than would a woman without children, plus 11 hours a week on child-related activities. This adds up to an additional 754 hours of work every year--the equivalent of three months of 12-hour, 5-day work weeks.

Signs of the Times, May, 1992, p. 6.

Bob Greene (in the Detroit Free Press) cited a study by attorney Michael Minton on the monetary value of a wife's services in the home. First he listed the various functions she performs: chauffeur, gardener, family counselor, maintenance worker, cleaning woman, housekeeper, cook, errand runner, bookkeeper/budget manager, interior decorator, caterer, dietitian, secretary, public relations person, hostess. Using this impressive list of household duties, Minton figured the dollar value of a housewife's work in today's (1981) labor market. He came up with the amount of $785.07 a week. That's $40,823.64 a year!

Bob Greene, Detroit Free Press.

Eight common challenges faced by mothers of young children: 1) Low self-esteem, 2) Monotony and loneliness, 3) Stress from too many demands 4) Lack of time with husband, 5) Confusion about discipline, 6) Home atmosphere, 7) Need for outside role models, 8) Training of children.

Susan A. Yates, And Then I Had Children, Wolgemuth & Hyatt.

Percentage of mothers of infants (children less than 1 year old) who are employed or looking for work: 51. U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey.

American Demographics, December 1988.

A four-year-old and a six-year-old presented their Mom with a house plant. They had used their own money and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, "There was a bouquet that we wanted to give you at the flower shop. It was real pretty, but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said, 'Rest In Peace,' and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest."

Source Unknown.

The mother of three notoriously unruly youngsters was asked whether or not she'd have children if she had it to do over again. "Yes," she replied. "But not the same ones."

David Finkelstein, Reader's Digest.

Had I Been Joseph's Mother

Had I been Joseph's mother
I'd have prayed
protection from his brothers
"God, keep him safe.
He is so young,
so different from
the others."
she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison, too.

Had I been Moses' mother
I'd have wept to keep my little son:
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water
of the Nile.
Had I not kept
him for her
nursing him the while,
was he not mine?
--and she
but Pharaoh's daughter?

Had I been Daniel's mother
I should have pled
"Give victory!
--this Babylonian horde
godless and cruel--
Don't let him be a captive
--better dead,
Almighty Lord!"

Had I been Mary,
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried
as never mother cried,
"Anything, O God,

With such prayers importunate
my finite wisdom would assail
Infinite Wisdom.
God, how fortunate
Infinite Wisdom
should prevail.

Ruth Bell Graham, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, 1991, Focus on the Family Publishing, p. 69.

A Mother's Influence

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still
It moved and yielded at my will.

I came again when days were past,
The form I gave it still it bore,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child's soft and yielding heart.

I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more.

Source Unknown.

(see also MOTHER)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,  But a woman who reveres the Lord will be praised. 

Proverbs 31:30.

Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) first suggested the national observance of an annual day honoring all mothers because she had loved her own mother so dearly. At a memorial service for her mother on May 10, 1908, Miss Jarvis gave a carnation (her mother's favorite flower) to each person who attended. Within the next few years, the idea of a day to honor mothers gained popularity, and Mother's Day was observed in a number of large cities in the U.S. On May 9, 1914, by an act of Congress,

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. He established the day as a time for "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." By then it had become customary to wear white carnations to honor departed mothers and red to honor the living, a custom that continues to this day.

Pulpit Helps, May, 1991.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the loving God, who was born of the promise to a virgin named Mary..

I believe in the love Mary gave her son, that caused her to follow him in his ministry and stand by his cross as he died.

I believe in the love of all mothers, and its importance in the lives of the children, they bear. It is stronger than steel, softer than down, and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside. It closes wounds, melts disappointments, and enables the weakest child to stand tall and straight in the fields of adversity.

I believe that this love, even at its best, is only a shadow of the love of God, a dark reflection of all that we can expect of him, both in this life and the next.

And I believe that one of the most beautiful sights in the world is a mother who lets this greater love flow through her to her child, blessing the world with the tenderness of her touch and the tears of of her joy.

An Affirmation from John Killinger's, Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise.

A Sermon Opener:

This is a Mothers’ Day sermon. I’m preaching without apology and with appreciation for that time—honored institution without the benefit of which we wouldn’t be here!

Every Mother’s Day sermon I’ve run across starts with an explanation —— this one’s no exception. As ministers, we’re reminded not to get too sentimental about motherhood because:

(a) for some, motherhood is an accident, and not always a welcome one;
(b) for some, biological motherhood isn’t possible;
(c) for some, mothers weren’t all that nice;
(d) for some, motherhood under the very best of circumstances is still less than abed of roses and a primrose path.

If I can take some liberties with poet Wilhelm Busch’s words, I’d have to say: “(Mutter) werden ist nitch schwer; (Mutter) sein dagegen sehr.” (To become a (mother) is not so difficult; on the other hand, be-ing a (mother) is very much so!)

So, with all those qualifications, why bother with Mothers’ Day at all? I’ll tell you why —— because for all its stumbling blocks, pitfalls and broken dreams, for all the soiled diapers, soiled wallpaper and spoiled plans, we’re talking about a beautiful ideal, a natural part of God’s creative plan to bring love and caring to light. Motherhood is a constant demand for the gift of love and caring.

Proclaim, “A Mother’s Day Sermon,” May 14, 1989.

Make a list of 31 things your wife does for you and the family which you seldom thank her for. Make a point of thanking her specifically for one on each day of the coming month. On each day of the following month pay her a new compliment on one of her good attitudes, character qualities, habits or talents. And be prepared for a better relationship than you've enjoyed in quite a while.

Source Unknown.

No one deserves a special day all to herself more than today's Mom. A cartoon showed a psychologist talking to his patient: "Let's see," he said, "You spend 50 percent of your energy on your job, 50 percent on your husband and 50 percent on your children. I think I see your problem."

Source Unknown.

What NOT to Buy Your Wife: Although the only person a man usually shops for is his wife, the whole experience is a stressful one. Many a man has felt extreme frigid temperatures for a long period based on a poor present decision. As a veteran of these wars, I'm still not sure what to buy my wife, but I'll pass on what not to buy her:

1. Don't buy anything that plugs in. Anything that requires electricity is seen as utilitarian.
2. Don't buy clothing that involves sizes. The chances are one in seven thousand that you will get her size right, and your wife will be offended the other 6999 times. "Do I look like a size 16?" she'll say. Too small a size doesn't cut it either: "I haven't worn a size 8 in 20 years!"
3. Avoid all things useful. The new silver polish advertised to save hundreds of hours is not going to win you any brownie points.
4. Don't buy anything that involves weight loss or self-improvement. She'll perceive a six-month membership to a diet center as a suggestion that's she's overweight.
5. Don't buy jewelry. The jewelry your wife wants, you can't afford. And the jewelry you can afford, she doesn't want.
6. And, guys, do not fall into the traditional trap of buying her frilly underwear. Your idea of the kind your wife should wear and what she actually wears are light years apart.
7. Finally, don't spend too much. "How do you think we're going to afford that?" she'll ask. But don't spend too little. She won't say anything, but she'll think, "Is that all I'm worth?"

Herb Forst in Cross River, NY, Patent Trader, in Reader's Digest, p. 69.



In the 1950s a psychologist, Stanton Samenow, and a psychiatrist, Samuel Yochelson, sharing the conventional wisdom that crime is caused by environment, set out to prove their point. They began a 17-year study involving thousands of hours of clinical testing of 250 inmates here in the District of Columbia. To their astonishment, they discovered that the cause of crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression. Instead, crime is the result of individuals making, as they put it, wrong moral choices. 

In their 1977 work The Criminal Personality, they concluded that the answer to crime is a "conversion of the wrong-doer to a more responsible lifestyle." In 1987, Harvard professors James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein came to similar conclusions in their book Crime and Human Nature. They determined that the cause of crime is a lack of proper moral training among young people during the morally formative years, particularly ages one to six.

Christianity Today, August 16, 1993, p. 30.

According to a recent study, young men with high self-esteem shared some common childhood influences. There were three major characteristics of their families. (1) The high-esteem group was clearly more loved and appreciated at home than the low-esteem group. (2) The high-esteem group came from homes where parents had been significantly more strict in their approach to discipline. By contrast, the parents of the low-esteem group had created insecurity and dependence through their permissiveness. Their children were more likely to feel that the rules were not enforced because no one cared enough to get involved. (3) The homes of the high-esteem group were also characterized by democracy and openness. Once the boundaries were established, there was freedom for individual personalities to grow and develop. Thus, the overall atmosphere was marked by acceptance and emotional safety. 

Dr. James Dobson,  Focus of the Family Bulletin, July 1994.

Undoubtedly, the most stressful time for any couple is parenthood. Carolyn and Philip Cowan, psychologists with the University of California, Berkeley, found that 92 percent of new parents report more conflict and lower satisfaction. Pennsylvania State psychologist Jay Belsky, who has just completed a seven-year study of 250 sets of new parents, finds that only 19 percent say their marriages improved after the birth of a child. Couples usually look forward to the birth of a baby as a time of closeness, but Belsky found that nearly all new parents grew more polarized and self-centered in response to the fatigue and strain.

Difficult transitions like parenthood are also the times when spouses are most vulnerable to an extramarital affair, find psychologists Tom Wright and Shirley Glass. But more often than not, Glass and Wright find, having an affair says more about the individual than the marriage. Spouses with loving marriages but with an excessive need for admiration or thrills are notorious for extramarital dalliances. But even for more regular folks, taking on new roles makes one ripe for philandering. "Even given a rich, happy marriage, it's often easier to form a new image in the eyes of someone new," says Glass. "Trying to change your identity inside a marriage is akin to the new CEO of a major company visiting his parents, only to find they still see him as the baby of the family."

An affair is arguably the most shocking blow to a marriage. Yet study after study finds that wayward spouses are quite happy with their love life at home, both the quantity and quality -- as happy, in fact, as their faithful counterparts. Psychologists are divided about the ramifications of an affair. "I liken an affair to the shattering of a Waterford crystal vase," says Gootman. "You can glue it back together, but it will never sing again." But Glass and Wright, currently studying couples recovering from affairs, find that not only do two thirds decide to stay together, but many report a newfound richness and closeness gained through conquering the ordeal together.

Perhaps the best ideas about what keeps a marriage alive through thick and thin come from couples who, after decades of marriage, bask in blissful unions. Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson is now in the process of studying pairs who have been together 40 years or more. So far, reports from the front indicate that these couples are masters in soothing one another and preventing each other's distress during conflict. These enduring couples also display a distinctly mellowed approach to marital differences, with far less conflict and far more pleasure than younger couples. And as a couple ages, gender differences appear to fade away, replaced by a more unified view of marriage and life. A nice ending to a bumpy ride.

U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1994, pp. 68-69.

Columnist Ellen Goodman wrote a powerful editorial on this topic, a portion of which follows:

Sooner or later; most Americans become card-carrying members of the counterculture. This is not an underground holdout of Hippies. No beads are required. All you need to join is a child. 

At some point between Lamaze and PTA, it becomes clear that one of your main jobs as a parent is to counter the culture. What the media deliver to children by the masses, you are expected to rebut one at a time. But it occurs to me now that the call for "parental responsibility" is increasing in direct proportion to the irresponsibility of the marketplace. Parents are expected to protect their children from an increasingly hostile environment. Are the kids being sold junk food? Just say no. Is TV bad? Turn it off. Are there messages about sex, drugs, violence all around? Counter the culture.

Mothers and fathers are expected to screen virtually every aspect of their children's lives. To check the ratings on the movies, to read the labels on the CDs, to find out if there's MTV in the house next door. All the while keeping in touch with school and in their free time, earning a living.

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, a research associate at the Institute for American Values, found this out in interviews with middle-class parents. "A common complaint I heard from parents was their sense of being overwhelmed by the culture. They felt relatively more helpless than their parents."

"Parents," she notes, "see themselves in a struggle for the hearts and minds of their own children." It isn't that they can't say no. It's that there's so much more to say no to.

Without wallowing in false nostalgia, there has been a fundamental shift. Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition.

Once the chorus of cultural values was full of ministers, teachers, neighbors, leaders. They demanded more conformity, but offered more support. Now the messengers are Ninja Turtles, Madonna, rap groups, and celebrities pushing sneakers. Parents are considered "responsible" only if they are successful in their resistance.

It's what makes child-raising harder. It's why parents feel more isolated. It's not just that American families have less time with their kids, it's that we have to spend more of this time doing battle with our own culture. It's rather like trying to get your kids to eat their green beans after they've been told all day about the wonders of Milky Way. Come to think of it, it's exactly like that.

Ellen Goodman, "Battling Our Culture Is Parents' Task," Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1993.

Focus on the Family Newsletter, February, 1994.


With divorce and dual careers, parents spend 40% less time with their children than parents did a generation ago. 

Charles Colson, Christianity Today, March 7, 1994, p. 80.

Concerned that his students were not really learning the material, an algebra teacher sent a note home to parents, asking them not to do any to the homework assigned to their children. The next day, one student turned in a reply from his parents: "Dear Mr. Wood, we are flattered that you think we could."

Source Unknown.

Americans are so shaped and stamped by their legacy of individualism that the concepts of community virtue and moral obligation have been discredited In our popular culture, adulthood is too often defined as doing what you want to do, not what you are supposed to do. Making a baby is a sign of status, while caring for one is not. Right and wrong are old-fashioned, politically incorrect concepts. And sin? Forget it. The problem doesn't end with ghetto kids getting pregnant and going on welfare. Half of all Americans who marry and have children eventually divorce. For many, marriage is more like a hobby than a commitment, a phase instead of a trust. We are becoming a country of deadbeat dads who don't pay their bills and dead-tired moms who work two jobs to pick up the slack. Even many parents who pay for their children don't pay attention to their children. In so doing, they miss out on some of life's greatest joys: hearing a small giggle or holding a small hand. As Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders notes, it is easier for many children to find drugs "than it is for them to find hugs." Probably the best thing that society can do for its toddlers is to make "parent" an honorable title again. No job is more important, yet no job is more often taken for granted. We teach work skills but not life skills, how to change a carburetor but not a diaper, how to treat a customer but not a kid. Becoming a parent should be the result of love, not just sex; a sign of a lasting relationship, not just a passing infatuation; a source of pride, and not remorse. Only then will our children be safe. 

Steven V. Roberts, U.S. News and World Report, April 25, 1994, p. 11.

Owne Wister, an old college friend of Theodore Roosevelt, was visiting him at the White House. Roosevelt's daughter Alice kept running in and out of the room until Wister finally asked if there wasn't something Roosevelt could do to control her.

"Well," said the President, "I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both." 

Bits & Pieces, December 9, 1993, p. 16.

In his recent book The Future of the American Family (Moody, 1993), George Barna noted the following, "According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times in 1990, most parents (56%) feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children" (p. 171). In the same chapter Barna noted, "A study in 1991 by the National Commission on Children reported that six out of ten parents want to spend more time with their families" (p 172).

George Barna, The Future of the American Family, pp. 171-172.

"Father, what is sex sin?"

My father turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

"Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

"It's too heavy," I said.

"Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied -- wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions -- but now I was content to leave them in my father's keeping.

Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place.

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it.

"I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.

"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.'

"Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly."

"I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'"

Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 13-14.

When the 10-year-olds in Mrs. Imogene Frost's class at the Brookside, N.J. Community Sunday School expressed their views of "What's wrong with grownups?" they came up with these complaints:

1. Grownups make promises, then they forget all about them, or else they say it wasn't really a promise, just a maybe.

2. Grownups don't do the things they're always telling the children to do--like pick up their things, or be neat, or always tell the truth.

3. Grownups never really listen to what children have to say. They always decide ahead of time what they're going to answer.

4. Grownups make mistakes, but they won't admit them. They always pretend that they weren't mistakes at all--or that somebody else made them.

5. Grownups interrupt children all the time and think nothing of it. If a child interrupts a grownup, he gets a scolding or something worse.

6. Grownups never understand how much children want a certain thing--a certain color or shape or size. If it's something they don't admire--even if the children have spent their own money for it--they always say, "I can't imagine what you want with that old thing!"

7. Sometimes grownups punish children unfairly. It isn't right if you've done just some little thing wrong and grownups take away something that means an awful lot to you. Other times you can do something really bad and they say they're going to punish you, but they don't. You never know, and you ought to know.

8. Grownups are always talking about what they did and what they knew when they were 10 years old--but they never try to think what it's like to be 10 years old right now. 

J. A. Petersen (Ed.), For Families Only, 1977, p. 253.

I gave you life,

but I cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things

but I cannot make you learn.

I can give you directions

but I cannot always be there to lead you.

I can allow you freedom

but I cannot account for it.

I can take you to church

but I cannot make you believe.

I can teach you right from wrong

but I can't always decide for you.

I can buy you beautiful clothes

but I cannot make you lovely inside.

I can offer you advice

but I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love

but I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you to be a friend

but I cannot make you one.

I can teach you to share

but I cannot make you unselfish.

I can teach you respect

but I can't force you to show honor.

I can grieve about your report card

but I cannot doubt your teachers.

I can advise you about friends

but I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex

but I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you the facts of life

but I can't build your reputation.

I can tell you about drink

but I can't say NO for you.

I can warn you about drugs

but I can't prevent you from using them.

I can tell you about lofty goals,

but I can't achieve them for you.

I can teach you kindness,

but I can't force you to be gracious.

I can warn you about sins

but I cannot make your morals

I can love you as a daughter or son

but I cannot place you in God's Family.

I can pray for you

but I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus

but I cannot make HIM your Saviour.

I can teach you to OBEY

but I cannot make Jesus Your Lord.

I can tell you how to live

but I cannot give you Eternal Life.

Source Unknown.

- Day care during infancy is associated with "deviations" in the expected course of emotional development.

- Infants placed in twenty or more hours of day care per week avoid their mothers and are insecurely attached; some have attachment problems with both mothers and fathers.

- Children placed in day care receive less adult attention, communicate less, receive and display less affection, are more aggressive, and are less responsive to adults.

- Compared with children who were cared for by their mothers as preschoolers, third-graders who were placed in day care as preschoolers are viewed more negatively by their peers, have lower academic grades, and demonstrate poorer study skills.

Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 105.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the first African Secretary General of the United Nations, has more than a passing interest in politics. His grandfather, Boutros Ghali, the only Christian prime minister of Egypt, was shot by an assassin in 1910. Cairo crowds hailed his Moslem killer, but the family did not intend anyone to forget the grandfather. They adopted his given name, Boutros (Peter), and anointed the new grandchild with the same given name. The family then built a church in Cairo to honor the martyred patriarch. "On his tomb were the words 'God is witness that I served my country to the best of my ability,'" says Boutros-Ghali. "For a boy to grow up with such things creates an impact. I felt I would betray the tradition of our family if I didn't play a political role." 

Stanley Meisler, Reader's Digest.

A group of expectant fathers were in a waiting room, while their wives were in the process of delivering babies. A nurse came in and announced to one man that his wife had just given birth to twins. "That's quite a coincidence" he responded, "I play for the Minnesota Twins!" A few minutes later another nurse came in and announced to another man that he was the father of triplets. "That's amazing," he exclaimed, "I work for the 3M company." At that point, a third man slipped off his chair and laid down on the floor. Somebody asked him if he was feeling ill. "No," he responded, "I happen to work for the 7-Up company."

Source Unknown.

Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering. I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn't handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, "All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!" 

Our Daily Bread. 

Why do toy makers watch the divorce rate? When it rises, so do toy sales. According to the analyzers, four parents and eight grandparents tend to compete for children's affections, so buy toys. 

L.M. Boyd, Spokesman Review, March 15, 1993.

You can have a brighter child, it all depends on your expectations. Before you're tempted to say, "Not true," let me tell you about Harvard social psychologist Robert Rosenthal's classic study. All the children in one San Francisco grade school were given a standard I.Q. test at the beginning of the school year. The teachers were told the test could predict which students could be expected to have a spurt of academic and intellectual functioning. The researchers then drew names out of a hat and told the teachers that these were the children who had displayed a high potential for improvement. Naturally, the teachers thought they had been selected because of their test performance and began treating these children as special children.

And the most amazing thing happened -- the spurters, spurted! Overall, the "late blooming" kids averaged four more I.Q. points on the second test that the other group of students. However, the gains were most dramatic in the lowest grades. First graders whose teachers expected them to advance intellectually jumped 27.4 points, and the second grade spurters increased on the average 16.5 points more than their peers. One little Latin-American child who had been classified as mentally retarded with an I.Q. of 61, scored 106 after his selection as a late bloomer.

Isn't this impressive! It reminds me of what Eliza Doolittle says in My Fair Lady, "The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated." You see, how a child is treated has a lot to do with how that child sees herself and ultimately behaves. If a child is treated as a slow learner and you don't expect much, the child shrugs her shoulders and says, "Why should I try, nobody thinks I can do it anyway!" And she gives up. But if you look at that child as someone who has more potential than she will ever be able to develop, you will challenge that child, work with her through discouragement, and find ways to explain concepts so the child can understand. You won't mind investing time in the child because you know your investment is going to pay off! And the result? It does!

So, what's the message for parents? Just this: Every child benefits from someone who believes in him, and the younger the child, the more important it is to have high expectations. You may not have an Einstein, but your child has possibilities! Expect the best and chances are, that's exactly what you'll get.

Kay Kuzma, Family Times, Vol. 1, No. 3, Fall, 1992, p. 1.

The fame and popularity of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen rested largely on his children's fairy tales, written over a period of some 37 years and translated into scores of languages. Andersen was well aware of this fact -- so much so that late in life, he told the musician who was to compose a march for his funeral, "Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps."

Today in the Word, January 15, 1993.

Property Laws of a Toddler

(Evidences of Original Sin)

Test this on the toddlers in your home or church this Christmas!


1. If I like it, it's mine.

2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.

8. If I saw it first, it's mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If it's broken, it's yours.

Deb Lawrence, Missionary to the Philippines with SEND International, quoted in Prokope, November/December, 1992, p. 3.

Prevention is better than correction, suggests an English study of criminal behavior, and the key may be better training for parents. The Cambridge Study of Delinquent Development tracked 411 London males from ages 8 to 32. It found that a man was most likely to be convicted of criminal behavior if he'd experienced the following between the ages of 8 and 11:

- a broken home

- low family income

- poor housing

- antisocial parents and siblings

- poor parental supervision

- harsh, erratic child-rearing behavior

- delinquent friends

- problems in school

The study suggests that better training for the parents of young boys, as well as improved preschools, might go a long way toward reducing future crime rates. 

YouthWorker Update, Signs of the Times, November, 1992, p. 6.

No Time to Play

My precious boy with the golden hair

Came up one day beside my chair

And fell upon his bended knee

And said, "Oh, Mommy, please play with me!"

I said, "Not now, go on and play;

I've got so much to do today."

He smiled through tears in eyes so blue

When I said, "We'll play when I get through."

But the chores lasted all through the day

And I never did find time to play.

When supper was over and dishes done,

I was much too tired for my little son.

I tucked him in and kissed his cheek

And watched my angel fall asleep.

As I tossed and turned upon my bed,

Those words kept ringing in my head,

"Not now, son, go on and play,

I've got so much to do today."

I fell asleep and in a minute's span,

My little boy is a full-grown man.

No toys are there to clutter the floor;

No dirty fingerprints on the door;

No snacks to fix; no tears to dry;

The rooms just echo my lonely sigh.

And now I've got the time to play;

But my precious boy is gone away.

I awoke myself with a pitiful scream

And realized it was just a dream

For across the room in his little bed,

Lay my curly-haired boy, the sleepy-head.

My work will wait 'till another day

For now I must find some time to play.

Dianna (Mrs. Joe) Neal.

That Age-Old Question

by Phil Callaway

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon, and my 5-year-old son, Stephen, and I are sprawled across the couch. I'm reading aloud from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and my boy is lapping up every word. With each page, he studies my every inflection. Ah, quality time.

"Daddy," my blond son interrupts. "You're getting old."

"What did you say, Stephen?"

"You kinda look like Grandpa," he replies.

My son's blue eyes are scrutinizing me, searching for signs of age.

"What do you mean, I look like Grandpa?" I try to remain calm, but inside I'm losing it.

"You have lines on your head."

"No, I don't...Do I?"



"Here, Here and here. You're getting old."

Oh, boy. I didn't need to hear this.

"Do you think I'm going to die soon, Stephen?"

"I don't know. How many are you?"

"I'm 30 years old. Remember? I just blew out 30 candles on my cake -- or at least, most of them?

"How many is 30?"

"Well, it's this many three times," I say, showing him my hands with all the fingers outstretched.

His blue eyes are really big now. "Yep, you're old."

Now, I realize it doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that the crown of my head bears a striking resemblance to a mosquito landing zone. But until now, I thought I was doing all right. After all, 40 years is old, not 30. No way. As I straighten up on the couch, the sad truth begins to sink in: I am 30. Three-oh, no longer a kid. No longer do the neighborhood children call me "Phil." To them, I'm "Mr. Callaway." The college and up-and-coming pro athletes aren't my contemporaries. They're kids.

What do I have to show for three decades on plant earth? It's not incredible wealth. We have a car that's paid for, but the house is a rental. Like most folks, we're just plugging along. Now that I'm "old," I realize wealth is not measured in things you can touch. Fame never got anyone to heaven. What is worth leaving is my faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, Stephen, that is what I want to leave you. We are rich, my son. Rich in relationships. Rich in memories. Rich in fun. I may not look that good in the will, but for someone approaching retirement age at light speed, it's worth smiling about. 

Phil Callaway, Focus on the Family, September, 1992, p. 13.

Some Minimum Daily Requirements

by Charles White

Your child's journey from 4 to 14 is very short. Christian parents need to put God into each day during this impressionable time. As a father of five foster children and a preschool teacher for 10 years, I'm convinced that the following practices -- instilled early -- can teach children to hold onto God during the difficult adolescent period:

- Hang a picture of Christ in each child's bedroom. Children are often quicker to respond to pictures than to words.

- Teach your child how to pray. By the time a child is 5, he should be able to speak one-sentence prayers with a parent. By the time he's 6, he should be looking for answers to his prayers. But avoid correcting a child's prayers. They are between him and God.

- Bless your child each morning. If you want to see sudden dramatic improvement in your family and young children, try this. I admit it sounds formal, but it's been a miracle for many. Place one hand on the shoulder or head and repeat a blessing from Scripture, such as one of the following: "May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace" (Num. 6:24-26) or "May God strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith" (Eph. 3:16). You can also choose your own words. The spirit of the blessing impresses even the youngest children. Giving a blessing can also renew a parent's heart.

- Take short walks. Get outside to God's world as much as possible. You can identify trees, capture bugs and look at scenery. Let creation declare the glory of God.

- Purchase Scripture cards from your Christian bookstore and leave them on the kitchen table. Reading from God's Word as part of the mealtime prayer is a great way to remind the family of God's presence.

- Display your child's Sunday school lesson. Letting a youngster's efforts die a painful death on the car floor can leave hurt feelings.

Of course, none of these efforts is a guarantee that your daughter or son will know God. But incorporating some of these ideas will be a daily reminder of His presence and love. 

Charles White, Focus on the Family, September, 1992, p. 13.

I would love my wife/husband more. In the closeness of family life it is easy to take each other for granted and let a dullness creep in that can dampen even the deepest love. So, I would love the mother/father of my children more and be freer in letting them see that love.

I would develop feelings of belonging. If children do not feel that they belong in the family, they will soon find their primary group elsewhere. I would use meal times more to share happenings of the day instead of hurrying through them. I'd find more time for games or projects which all could join.

I would laugh more with my children. The best way to make children good is to make them happy. I see now that I was, many times, far too serious. I must always be careful that I do not communicate that being a parent is a constant problem.

I would be a better listener. I believe that there is a vital link between listening to children's concerns when they are young and the extent to which they will share their concerns with their parents when they are older.

I would do more encouraging. There is probably nothing that stimulates children to love life and seek accomplishment more than sincere praise when they have done well.

I would try to share God more intimately. We are not whole persons when we stress only the physical, social and intellectual aspects of life. We are spiritual beings, and if the world is to know God and his will, parents must be the primary conveyors. For my part, I would strive to share my faith with my children, using informal settings and unplanned happenings as occasions to speak of my relationship with God.

John Drescher, Content The Newsletter Newsletter, August, 1990, p. 3.

The man in the supermarket was pushing a cart which contained, among other things, a screaming baby. As the man proceeded along the aisles, he kept repeating softly, "Keep calm, George. Don't get excited, George. Don't get excited, George. Don't yell, George."

A lady watching with admiration said to the man, "You are certainly to be commended for your patience in trying to quiet little George."

"Lady," he declared, "I'm George."

Source Unknown.

There's an old story about two young children who were standing on the corner, bragging about who had moved from state to state the most. One little boy said, "My family has moved three times in the last three years." "Hey!" said the other little boy. "That's nothing. My parents have moved five times this year -- and I found them every time!" It's safe to say that this second boy came from a home without a strong sense of belonging. 

G. Smalley and John Trent, Ph.D., The Gift of Honor, p. 89.

Harry S. Truman:

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.

Reader's Digest.

Percentage of American teens who say they want to be like their parents: 39% 

Charis Conn, (Ed.), What Counts: The Complete Harper's Index.

Children today average 17 hours a week with Mom and Dad--40 percent less time than children spent with their parents in 1965. And they spend more than 25 hours a week watching television.

Los Angeles Times, quoted in Signs of the Times, May 1992.

Women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time, says Susan Lang, author of Women Without Children. If that figure seems high, remember that the average mother spends 3.5 more hours a week doing housework than would a woman without children, plus 11 hours a week on child-related activities. This adds up to an additional 754 hours of work every year--the equivalent of three months of 12-hour, 5-day work weeks. 

Signs of the Times, May, 1992, p. 6.

'Twas a sheep, not a lamb, that strayed away in the parable Jesus told.

A grown-up sheep that had gone astray from the ninety and nine in the fold.

Out on the hillside, out in the cold, 'twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought;

And back to the flock, safe into the fold, 'twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.

And why for the sheep should we earnestly long and as earnestly hope and pray?

Because there is danger, if they go wrong, they will lead the lambs astray.

For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know, wherever the sheep may stray;

When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long till the lambs are as wrong as they.

And so with the sheep we earnestly plead, for the sake of the lambs today;

If the sheep are lost, what terrible cost some of the lambs will have to pay!


Source Unknown.


Writing for the New York Times Magazine, Mauren Dowd and Thomas L. Friedman describe a conversation that once took place between Secretary of State James Baker and President George Bush. With Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak due to arrive for a state visit, Baker hurried into the Oval Office to brief President Bush, telling him what the sore spots were, what favors would be asked, and what aid would be sought. "Mubarak is going to ask for money," Baker warned Bush before the Egyptian leader entered. "You're going to have to say no." 

"You tell him he can't have any money," the president replied. "Turning down money is dirty work. That's your job, Jimmy. I want to do the good stuff."

Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, Jan, 1992, p.21.

In his men's seminar, David Simmons, a former cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, tells about his childhood home. His father, a military man, was extremely demanding, rarely saying a kind word, always pushing him with harsh criticism to do better. The father had decided that he would never permit his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments, reminding him there were always new goals ahead. When Dave was a little boy, his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with the command that he put it together. After Dave struggled to the point of tears with the difficult instructions and many parts, his father said, "I knew you couldn't do it." Then he assembled it for him. 

When Dave played football in high school, his father was unrelenting in his criticisms. In the backyard of his home, after every game, his dad would go over every play and point out Dave's errors. "Most boys got butterflies in the stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my father was more stressful than facing any opposing team." By the time he entered college, Dave hated his father and his harsh discipline. He chose to play football at the University of Georgia because its campus was further from home than any school that offered him a scholarship. After college, he became the second round draft pick of the St. Louis cardinal's professional football club. Joe Namath (who later signed with the New York Jets), was the club's first round pick that year. "Excited, "I telephoned my father to tell him the good news. He said, 'How does it feel to be second?'" 

Despite the hateful feelings he had for his father, Dave began to build a bridge to his dad. Christ had come into his life during college years, and it was God's love that made him turn to his father. During visits home he stimulated conversation with him and listened with interest to what his father had to say. He learned for the first time what his grandfather had been like--a tough lumberjack known for his quick temper. Once he destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn't start, and he often beat his son. This new awareness affected Dave dramatically. "Knowing about my father's upbringing not only made me more sympathetic for him, but it helped me see that, under the circumstances, he might have done much worse. By the time he died, I can honestly say we were friends." 

Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 171.

Even when families remain intact, moral instruction is not automatic. A public school survey in Maryland showed that parents spent an average of 15 minutes a week in "meaningful dialogue" with their children--children who are left to glean whatever values they can from peers and TV. 

Senator Dan Coates, Imprimis, Vol. 20, #9, September, 1991.

I learned the idea of Quality Time was an evil lie. Some experts pushed the idea that successful overachievers, those we call Yuppies today, could have children and be guilt-free about the little time they were able to devote to them. The remedy was Quality Time. Sort of like one-minute parenting. It went like this: Be sure to make what little time you are able to spend with your child is Quality Time. What garbage. I've seen the results of kids who were given only Quality Time. The problem is that kids don't know the difference. What they need is time--all they can get. Quantity time is quality time, whether you're discussing the meaning of the cosmos or just climbing on dad. 

Jerry Jenkins, Hedges, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989, p. 125.

In an article in Moody Monthly, Craig Massey told about being in a restaurant when he heard an angry father say to his 7 year old son, "What good are you?" The boy, who had just spilled his milk, put his head down and said, "Nothing." Years later, Massey said he was disgusted with his own son for a minor infraction. He heard himself ask what he called "the cruelest question a father can ask." He said, "What are you good for anyway?" His son replied, "Nothing." 

Immediately he regretted the question. As he thought about this, he realized that the question was all right but the answer was wrong. A few days later when his son committed another minor offense, he asked, "What are you good for?" But before his son could reply, he hugged him and kissed him and said, "I'll tell you what you're good for. You're good for loving!" Before long, whenever he asked the question, his son would say, "I'm good for loving."

Craig Massey.

John Barrymore once played the role of a father who disapproved of the man his daughter planned to marry. In one scene, the daughter had to ask Barrymore what he thought of her fianc? who had just exited. Barrymore was supposed to answer, "I think he's a dirty dog." One night, when the bridegroom-to-be walked off stage, he accidentally tipped over a pitcher of water. Barrymore watched in fascination as a puddle formed. A moment later, his daughter asked, "What do you think of Tom, father?" "I think he's a dirty dog," Barrymore answered. Then he ad-libbed, "And what's more, he isn't even housebroken!" 

Bits and Pieces, December 13, 1990.

How to Train Your Child to be a Delinquent

1. When your kid is still an infant, give him everything he wants. This way he'll think the world owes him a living when he grows up.

2. When he picks up swearing and off-color jokes, laugh at him, encourage him. As he grows up, he will pick up "cuter" phrases that will floor you.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and let him decide for himself.

4. Avoid using the word "wrong." It will give your child a guilt complex. You can condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up after him--his books, shoes, and clothes. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.

6. Let him read all printed matter he can get his hands on...[never think of monitoring his TV programs]. Sterilize the silverware, but let him feast his mind on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in his presence. Then he won't be too surprised when his home is broken up later.

8. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. Every sensual desire must be gratified; denial may lead to harmful frustrations.

9. Give your child all the spending money he wants. Don't make him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you did?

10. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They're all against him.

11. When he gets into real trouble, make up excuses for yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him; he's just a bad seed."

12. Prepare for a life of grief.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 105-6.

The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.

Source Unknown.

A father of three won a shouting contest with a roar louder than a passing train. "If you want a war, you go!" Yoshihiko Kato shouted. The sound meter registered 115.8 decibels, louder than the racket of a train passing overhead on an elevated railroad. For that winning shout, Kato won the $750 grand prize of the 10th annual Halls Year-End Loud Voice Contest. Kato admitted that he probably built up his loud voice shouting at his children. 

Resource, Jan/Feb 1991.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this child that I call mine; not my possession but my sacred charge. Teach me patience and humility so that the best I know may flow in its being. Let me always remember, parental love is my natural instinct but my child's love must ever be deserved and earned; That for love I must give love, That for understanding I must give understanding, That for respect, I must give respect; That as I was the giver of life, so must I be the giver always. Help me to share my child with life and not to clutch at it for my own sake. Give courage to do my share to make this world a better place for all children and my own.

Source Unknown.

In a 6-year survey at a West Coast university, it was found that self-confident, successful people had three things in common: They were loved and valued at home; their homes were democratic; their parents were not permissive. 

Homemade, July, 1990.

Best recipe for high-achieving and confident children: strong direction and support--not freedom. The latest study found that children who grow up with high control and high support are more confident and better achievers than those raised with high support and low control, or low support and high control, or low support and low control. 

Dr. Diane Baumrind, in Homemade, May, 1990.

An author for Reader's Digest writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, "Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?"

Reader's Digest.

How to bake a cake:

Preheat oven; get out utensils and ingredients.

Remove blocks and toy autos from table.

Grease pan, crack nuts.

Measure two cups of flour, remove baby's hands from flour, wash flour off baby, re-measure flour.

Put flour, baking power, and salt in sifter.

Get dustpan and brush up pieces of bowl baby knocked on the floor. Get another bowl

Answer doorbell

Return to kitchen, remove baby's hands from bowl. Wash baby.

Answer phone.


Remove one-fourth inch salt from greased pan. Look for baby.

Grease another pan.

Answer telephone.

Return to kitchen and find baby. Remove his hands from bowl.

Take up greased pan and find layer of nutshells in it. Head for baby, who flees, knocking bowl off table.

Wash kitchen floor, table, walls, dishes.

Call baker. Lie down.


Source Unknown.


Socrates once wrote: "Could I climb to the highest places in Athens, I would lift up my voice and proclaim; Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of the children to whom you must someday relinquish it all?"


A born loser is the father whose child appears last in a three hour piano recital.

Source Unknown.

Your home is the number one influence in the life of your child. The average church has a child 1% of his time, the home has him 83% of his time and the school for the remaining 16%. This does not minimize the need for churches and schools, but it establishes the fact your home is 83% of your child's world and you have only one time around to make it of maximum benefit.

Howard Hendricks.

Catch the child being good. Tell the child what behaviors please you. Respond to positive efforts and reinforce good behavior. An observing and sensitive parent will find countless opportunities during the day to make such comments as, "I like the way you come in for dinner without being reminded; I appreciate your hanging up your clothes even though you were in a hurry to get out to play. 

Youth Guidance.

I was two or three years old, sitting on the floor of my bedroom trying to get a shirt over my head and around my shoulders, and having an extraordinarily difficult time. I was grunting and sweating, and my mother just stood there and watched. Obviously, I now realize that her arms must have been rigidly at her side; every instinct in her had wanted to reach out and do it for me.

Finally, a friend turned to her and said in exasperation, "Ida, why don't you help that child?" My mother responded through gritted teeth, "I AM helping him." 

Harold Wilke.

In a survey parents were asked to record how many negative--as opposed to positive--comments they made to their children. Results: they criticized 10 times for every favorable comment.

Another survey revealed teachers were 75% negative. It takes four positive statements from a teacher to offset the effects of one negative statement to a child. 

American Institute of Family Relations, Homemade, August, 1990.

Two Harvard researchers, Dr. George Vaillant and Caroline Vaillant, report that success in adulthood is more related to a child's capacity to work than to his intelligence, social status or family background. Their study involved 456 men, mostly from Boston working class immigrant families, interviewed periodically from their adolescence up through age 47. The Vaillants discovered that those who worked hardest as children developed into the best-paid and most satisfied family men. Their work as youngsters had usually consisted of household chores, part-time jobs, sports and studies. The least hardworking as youths later encountered more unemployment and unhappiness as well as a higher death rate. 

Parade, in Homemade, April, 1988.

Training children to obey: In Genesis 2:16 God first outlines the perimeters within which there is freedom. Then he specifies the restriction. Finally he states the consequence of disobedience.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learn to be self- confident.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learn to be patient.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with recognition, he learns to have a goal.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns what justice is.

If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is.

If a child lives with sincerity, he learns to have faith in himself and those around him.

If a child lives with love, he learns that the world is a wonderful place to live in.


Source Unknown.


The loving mother teaches her child to walk alone. She is far enough from him so that she cannot actually support him. She holds out her arms. Her face beckons like a reward, an encouragement. The child constantly strives toward a refuge in her embrace, little suspecting that in the very same moment he is emphasizing his need for her, he is proving that he can do without her. 

Soren Kierkegaard.

There are two things in life we are never fully prepared for; twins.

Source Unknown.

I took a piece of plastic clay

And idly fashioned it one day,

And as my fingers pressed it still,

It moved and yielded to my will.

I came again when days were past--

The bit of clay was hard at last;

The form I gave it, it still bore,

But I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay

And gently formed it day by day,

And molded with my power and art

A young child's soft and yielding heart.

I came again when years were gone--

It was a man I looked upon;

He still that early impress wore,

And I could change him nevermore.


Source Unknown.


Economist Lawrence Olson cited some shocking figures about how expensive it is to raise children. He estimated that the average cost, taking into account low-income and high-income families, to feed, clothe and educate a firstborn son is $226,000. And if that baby happens to be a girl, the expense would be $247,000! Reflecting on those figures, Steven Cole commented, "If you had $200,000 to invest, wouldn't you do some careful research in advance, and then watch that investment very carefully over the years? How much time, study, thought and watchfulness do you exercise over those precious lives in which you invest $200,000?" 

Daily Bread, quoted in Homemade, Vol. 11, No. 4, April 1987.

Novelist Pearl Buck told her 16-year old daughter that she wouldn't allow her to attend a party of mixed teenagers where there would be no adult supervision. The girl wailed, "You don't trust me!" Mrs. Buck's reply was, "Of course, I don't trust you. I couldn't trust myself at 16, 17, 18, or as much farther as you care to go! When you face the fact that you don't trust yourself in a situation, the only wisdom is to be careful not to put yourself into that situation." 

Homemade, May, 1989.

Schoolteachers were asked in 1940 to describe the top seven disciplinary problems they faced in the classroom. The problems:


chewing gum

making noise

running in the halls

wearing improper clothing

not putting waste paper in the waste paper basket.

In the 1980s, educators were asked the same question by college researchers. Here are the top seven disciplinary problems that modern-day teachers must put up with:








Focus on the Family, March, 1987.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported that 30 years ago, the greatest fears of grade school children were: 1) Animals, 2) Being in a dark room, 3) High places, 4) Strangers, 5) Loud noises. 

Today, kids are afraid of the following: 1) Divorce, 2) Nuclear war, 3) Cancer, 4) Pollution, 5) Being mugged. 

Back to the Bible Today, Summer, 1990, p. 5.

A parent's responsibility is not to his child's happiness; it's to his character. My father would not have been particularly interested in a book about fathering, although he did like to read. One day when he was reading in the living room, my brother and I decided that we could play basketball without breaking anything. When I took a shot that redesigned the glass table, my mother came in with a stick and said, "So help me, I'll bust you in half." Without lifting his head from his book, my father said, "Why would you want twice as many?" 

Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, Doubleday.

Parents rarely know what's going on with their kids. Some 36% of parents surveyed said they thought their child had taken a drink, while 66% of students admitted they had...14% of parents thought their child had tried cigarettes, while 41% of students reported they had...5% of parents thought their child had used drugs, while 17% of students actually had. 

Louis Harris Survey, Homemade, March, 1990.

Often parents say "no" only because it simplifies matters. I've made a practice of saying "yes" when the consequences are not far-reaching. Then the important "no's" are considerably easier for teens to accept. Think about why "no" is best, and back up your decision with a logical reason. 

Sally Stuart.

Generational tension is not a phenomenon which erupted in the 60's and 70's of our century. It is as old as the trouble Adam and Eve had with their two boys. Parents need to remember that. For example, when did this conversation occur? An angry father asks his teenage son, "Where did you go?" The boy, trying to sneak home late at night, answers, "Nowhere." "Grow up," the father chides him. "Stop hanging around the public squares, and wandering up and down the street. Go to school. Night and day you torture me. Night and day you waste your time having fun."

Was that sharp rebuke administered last night by an irate dad to a defiant juvenile? No, it comes from Sumerian clay tablets 4000 years old. 

Dr. Vernon Grounds in Homemade, Dec 1984.

90% would still have children if they "had it to do over again.

Psychology Today, quoted in Homemade, Feb, 1985.

A recent survey by America's most popular teen magazine revealed that only 4.1% of the teenage girls in America feel they could to go their father to talk about a serious problem. Even more recently, USA Today published the eye-opening results of a study of teens under stress. When asked where they turn to for help in a crisis, the most popular choice was music, the second choice was peers, and the third was TV. Amazing as it may sound, moms were down the list at number thirty-one, and dads were forty-eighth. 

Joe White in Homemade, Nov 1989.

The average young teenage American girl views 1500 references to sexual acts on TV annually, according to a study at Michigan State University. Boys of that age view an average of nearly 1300 such and attend 17 R-rated movies annually. According to the teens studied, parents "never" or "not often" limited their TV viewing. There's little indication that parents exercise any control, positive or negative, over TV viewing. 

Homemade, March, 1989.



There is a stage in a child's life at which it cannot separate the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter. I have been told of a very small and very devout boy who was heard murmuring to himself on Easter morning a poem of his own composition which began 'Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen.' This seems to me, for his age, both admirable poetry and admirable piety. But of course the time will soon come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity. He will become able to distinguish the spiritual from the ritual and festal aspect of Easter; chocolate eggs will no longer seem sacramental. And once he has distinguished he must put one or the other first. If he puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They will have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.

C. S. Lewis

Charles Francis Adams, 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly. 

Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, September 1987. 

A group of expectant fathers were in a waiting room, while their wives were in the process of delivering babies. A nurse came in and announced to one man that his wife had just given birth to twins. "That's quite a coincidence" he responded, "I play for the Minnesota Twins!" A few minutes later another nurse came in and announced to another man that he was the father of triplets. "That's amazing," he exclaimed, "I work for the 3M company." At that point, a third man slipped off his chair and laid down on the floor. Somebody asked him if he was feeling ill. "No," he responded, "I happen to work for the 7-up company."

Source Unknown.

In her book, First Lady from Plains, Rosalynn Carter told of the "wonderfully odd" things she learned about White House history while a resident there. It seems that the children of President James A. Garfield rode large three-wheelers around as they carried on pillow fights in the East Room. Teddy Roosevelt's five children slid down the staircases on trays stolen from the pantry, walked the halls on stilts, and once took a pony into a second-floor bedroom after riding up on the president's elevator! 

Today in the Word, September 6, 1992.

A small child is someone who can wash his hands without getting the soap wet.

The trouble with children is that when they're not being a lump in your throat, they're being a pain in your neck.

Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.

A child is a person who can't understand why someone would give away a perfectly good kitten. 

Doug Larson.

You cannot teach a child to take care of himself unless you will let him take care of himself. He will make mistakes, and out of these mistakes will come his wisdom. 

H.W. Beecher.

Celeste Sibley, one-time columnist for the Atlanta (GA) Constitution, took her three children to a diner for breakfast one morning. It was crowded and they had to take separate seats at the counter. Eight-year-old Mary was seated at the far end of the counter and when her food was served she called down to her mother in a loud voice, "Mother, don't people say grace in this place?" A hush came over the entire diner and before Mrs. Sibley could figure out what to say, the counterman said, "Yes, we do, sister. You say it." All the people at the counter bowed their heads. Mary bowed her head and in a clear voice said, "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food." 

Bits & Pieces, May, 1990, p. 10.

Men are generally more careful of their horses and dogs than of their children. 

Wm. Penn.

Almost every child would learn to write sooner if allowed to do his homework on wet cement.

Statistics and Stuff

Property Laws of a Toddler: Some might say that this is evidences of Original Sin

1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.

Source Unknown.

Nineteenth century Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar asked 253 Christian friends at what ages they were converted. Here's what he discovered:

Under 20 years of age - 138
Between 20 and 30 - 85
Between 30 and 40 - 22
Between 40 and 50 - 4
Between 50 and 60 - 3
Between 60 and 70 - 1
Over 70 - 0                             

Daily Bread.

In a Harvard study of several hundred preschoolers, researchers discovered an interesting phenomenon. As they taped the children's playground conversation, they realized that all the sounds coming from little girls' mouths were recognizable words. However, only 60 percent of the sounds coming from little boys were recognizable. The other 40 percent were yells and sound effects like "Vrrrooooom!" "Aaaaagh!" "Toot toot!" This difference persists into adulthood. Communication experts say that the average woman speaks over 25,000 words a day while the average man speaks only a little over 10,000. What does this mean in marital terms? . . . On average a wife will say she needs to spend 45 minutes to an hour each day in meaningful conversation with her husband. What does her husband sitting next to her say is enough time for meaningful conversation? Fifteen to twenty minutes--once or twice a week! 

Gary Smalley and John Trent, Husbands and Wives.

When the 10-year-olds in Mrs. Imogene Frost's class at the Brookside, N.J. Community Sunday School expressed their views of "What's wrong with grownups?" they came up with these complaints:

1. Grownups make promises, then they forget all about them, or else they say it wasn't really a promise, just a maybe.
2. Grownups don't do the things they're always telling the children to do--like pick up their things, or be neat, or always tell the truth.
3. Grownups never really listen to what children have to say. They always decide ahead of time what they're going to answer.
4. Grownups make mistakes, but they won't admit them. They always pretend that they weren't mistakes at all--or that somebody else made them.
5. Grownups interrupt children all the time and think nothing of it. If a child interrupts a grownup, he gets a scolding or something worse.
6. Grownups never understand how much children want a certain thing--a certain color or shape or size. If it's something they don't admire--even if the children have spent their own money for it--they always say, "I can't imagine what you want with that old thing!"
7. Sometimes grownups punish children unfairly. It isn't right if you've done just some little thing wrong and grownups take away something that means an awful lot to you. Other times you can do something really bad and they say they're going to punish you, but they don't. You never know, and you ought to know.
8. Grownups are always talking about what they did and what they knew when they were 10 years old--but they never try to think what it's like to be 10 years old right now. 

J.A. Petersen, ed., For Families Only, Tyndale, 1977, p. 253.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported that 30 years ago, the greatest fears of grade school children were: 1) Animals, 2) Being in a dark room, 3) High places, 4) Strangers, 5) Loud noises. Today, kids are afraid of the following: 1) Divorce, 2) Nuclear war, 3) Cancer, 4) Pollution, 5) Being mugged. 

Back to the Bible Today, Summer, 1990, p. 5.


Father, hear us, we are praying.
Hear the words our hearts are saying.
We are praying for our children.

Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril.
Father, hear us for our children.

From the worldling's hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father, Father, keep our children.

Through life's troubled waters steer them.
Through life's bitter battles cheer them.
Father, Father, be thou near them.

And wherever they may bide,
Lead them home at eventide.

Amy Carmichael.

CHILDREN, raising

All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting to encounter yourself.

Gore Vidal

Parents were invented to make children happy by giving them something to ignore.

Ogden Nash

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.

Harry S. Truman

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

Anne Frank

Lengthy Illustrations

Consider Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote in 1762 the classic treatise on freedom, The Social Contract, with its familiar opening line: "Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains."

But the liberty Rousseau envisioned wasn't freedom from state tyranny; it was freedom from personal obligations. In his mind, the threat of tyranny came from smaller social groupings --family, church, workplace, and the like. We can escape the claims made by these groups, Rousseau said, by transferring complete loyalty to the state. In his words, each citizen can become "perfectly independent of all his fellow citizens" through becoming "excessively dependent on the republic."

This idea smacks so obviously of totalitarianism that one wonders by what twisted path of logic Rousseau came up with it. Why did he paint the state as the great liberator? Historian Paul Johnson, in his book Intellectuals, offers an intriguing hypothesis. At the time Rousseau was writing The Social Contract, Johnson explains, he was struggling with a great personal dilemma. An inveterate bohemian, Rousseau had drifted from job to job, from mistress to mistress. Eventually, he began living with a simple servant girt named Therese. When Therese presented him with a baby, Rousseau was, in his own words, "Thrown into the greatest embarrassment." His burning desire was to be received into Parisian high society, and an illegitimate child was an awkward encumbrance. Friends whispered that unwanted offspring were customarily sent to a "foundling asylum." A few days later, a tiny, blanketed bundle was left on the steps of the local orphanage. Four more children were born to Therese and Jean-Jacques; each one ended up on the orphanage steps. Records show that most of the babies in the institution died; a few who survived became beggars. Rousseau knew that, and several of his books and letters reveal vigorous attempts to justify his action. At first he was defensive, saying he could not work in a house "filled with domestic cares and the noise of children." Later his stance became self-righteous. He insisted he was only following the teachings of Plato: Hadn't Plato said the state is better equipped than parents to raise good citizens? Later, when Rousseau turned to political theory, these ideas seem to reappear in the form of general policy recommendations. For example, he said responsibility for educating children should be taken away from parents and given to the state. And his ideal state is one where impersonal institutions liberate citizens from all personal obligations. Now, here was a man who himself had turned to a state institution for relief from personal obligations. Was his own experience transmuted into political theory? Is there a connection between the man and the political theorist? It is risky business to try to read personal motives. But we do know that to the end of his life Rousseau struggled with guilt. In his last book, he grieved that he had lacked, in the words of historian Will Durant, "the simple courage to bring up a family."

Charles Colson, Christianity Today, "Better a Socialist Monk than a Free-market Rogue?,"  p. 104.


Discipline of Children

Out of parental concern and a desire to teach our young son responsibility, we require him to phone home when he arrives at his friends house a few blocks away. He began to forget, however, as he grew more confident in his ability to get there without disaster befalling him. The first time he forgot, I called to be sure he had arrived. We told him the next time it happened, he would have to come home. A few days later, however, the telephone again lay silent, and I knew if he was going to learn, he would have to be punished. But I did not want to punish him. I went to the telephone, regretting that his great time would be spoiled by his lack of contact with his father. As I dialed, I prayed for wisdom. Treat him like I treat you,?the Lord seemed to say. With that, as the telephone rang one time, I hung up. A few seconds later the phone rang, and it was my son.

Im here, Dad!?/font>

What took you so long to call??I asked.

We started playing and I forgot. But Dad, I heard the phone ring once and I remembered.?/font>

How often do we think of God as One who waits to punish us when we step out of line? I wonder how often he rings just once, hoping we will phone home.

Dennis Miller

Source Unknown.



A young man was to be sentenced to the penitentiary. The judge had known him from childhood, for he was well acquainted with his father--a famous legal scholar and the author of an exhaustive study entitled, "The Law of Trusts." "Do you remember your father?" asked the magistrate. "I remember him well, your honor," came the reply. Then trying to probe the offender's conscience, the judge said, "As you are about to be sentenced and as you think of your wonderful dad, what do you remember most clearly about him?" There was a pause. Then the judge received an answer he had not expected. "I remember when I went to him for advice. He looked up at me from the book he was writing and said, 'Run along, boy; I'm busy!' When I went to him for companionship, he turned me away, saying "Run along, son; this book must be finished!' Your honor, you remember him as a great lawyer. I remember him as a lost friend." The magistrate muttered to himself, "Alas! Finished the book, but lost the boy!"

Homemade, February, 1989.

One of the best pictures I've ever seen on the current confusion on the placement of fathers comes from Erma Bombeck. She paints a portrait of a little girl who loved her dad but wasn't sure what dads do:

One morning my father didn't get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn't thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement by himself.

He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures . . . but he was never in them.

Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, "I'm going off to work now," and threw him under the bed. The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn't know his leaving would hurt so much (Family -- The Ties that Bind . . and Gag! (New York: Fawcett Books, 1988, p. 2).

Dave Simmons,  Dad, the Family Coach, Victor Books, 1991.

There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13.

Keith Hernandez is one of baseball's top players. He is a lifetime .300 hitter who has won numerous Golden Glove awards for excellence in fielding. He's won a batting championship for having the highest average, the Most Valuable Player award in his league, and even the World Series. Yet with all his accomplishments, he has missed out on something crucially important to him -- his father's acceptance and recognition that what he has accomplished is valuable. Listen to what he had to say in a very candid interview about his relationship with his father: One day Keith asked his father, "Dad, I have a lifetime .300 batting average. What more do you want?" His father replied, "But someday you're going to look back and say, 'I could have done more.'"

Gary Smalley & John Trent, Ph.D., The Gift of Honor, p. 116.

Seoul -- At his father's funeral, American Carl Lewis placed his 100-meter gold medal from the 1984 Olympics in his father's hands. "Don't worry," he told his surprised mother. "I'll get another one."

A year later, in the 100-meter final at the 1988 games, Lewis was competing against Canadian world-record-holder Ben Johnson. Halfway through the race Johnson was five feet in front. Lewis was convinced he could catch him. But at 80 meters, he was still five feet behind. It's over, Dad, Lewis thought. As Johnson crossed the finish, he stared back at Lewis and thrust his right arm in the air, index finger extended. Lewis was exasperated. He had noticed Johnson's bulging muscles and yellow-tinged eyes, both indications of steroid use. "I didn't have the medal, but I could still give to my father by acting with class and dignity," Lewis said later. He shook Johnson's hand and left the track. But then came the announcement that Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids. He was stripped of his medal. The gold went to Lewis, a replacement for the medal he had given his father.

David Wallechinsky, The Complete Book of the Olympics, Reader's Digest.

Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly.

Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, September, 1987. 

What are Fathers Made Of?

A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic.

A father is a thing that growls when it feels good--and laughs very loud when it's scared half to death.

A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child's eyes. He's never quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be--and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.

A father is a thing that gets very angry when the first school grades aren't as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son though he knows it's the teacher's fault. Fathers are what give daughters away to other men who aren't nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody's .

Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who'll live the longest. Though they know the odds, they keep right on betting. And one day they lose.

I don't know where fathers go when they die. But I've an idea that after a good rest, wherever it is, he won't be happy unless there's work to do. He won't just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he's loved and the children she bore. He'll be busy there, too, repairing the stairs, oiling the gates, improving the streets, smoothing the way.

Paul Harvey.

Jamie Buckingham tells a story in his book, Power for Living. It was a story first told by Fred Craddock while lecturing at Yale University. He told of going back one summer to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to take a short vacation with his wife. One night they found a quiet little restaurant where they looked forward to a private meal—just the two of them.

While they were waiting for their meal they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting guests. Craddock whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want the man to intrude on their privacy. But the man did come by his table.

“Where you folks from?” he asked amicably.


“Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there. What do you do for a living?

“I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University.”

“Oh, so you teach preachers, do you. Well, I’ve got a story I want to tell you.” And with that he pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife.

Dr. Craddock said he groaned inwardly: Oh no, here comes another preacher story. It seems everyone has one.

The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper. I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born so I had a hard time. When I started to school my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and during lunch-time because the taunts of my playmates cut so deeply.

“What was worse was going downtown on Saturday afternoon and feeling every eye burning a hole through you. They were all wondering just who my real father was.

“When I was about 12 years old a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me.

“Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’

I felt the old weight come on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down.

But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I know who you are. I see the family resemblance. You are a son of God.”

With that he slapped me across the rump and said, “Boy you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.”

The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “That was the most important single sentence ever said to me.” With that he smiled, shook the hands of Craddock and his wife, and moved on to another table to greet old friends.

Suddenly, Fred Craddock remembered. On two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected an illegitimate to be their governor. One of them was Ben Hooper.

Jamie Buckingham, Power for Living.

I think that we can affirm that fathers are called upon to be nurturers. We see so much that is negative about society today that sometimes we forget that there are some very possible things that are happening. One of those positive things, it seems to me, is that society is completely rethinking what the role of the father should be. Society, and the church to a lesser degree, is saying: it is not enough dad, just to be the breadwinner. You need to help with the nurturing as well.

This is not always easy because men historically have not done this. There was an interesting story that appeared on the NBC Today show that told about a YMCA program in California. Fathers are placed in a playroom with their children. The mothers watch from a one-way window outside in the hallway. The one rule is that if the child starts crying, the father cannot take him or her to the mother. He must resolve the problem himself. If the child is given to the mother when it is crying, so the theory goes, that sends the signal that the one who gives the comfort and love is the mother.

LD, Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

Lengthy Illustrations

When the good Lord was creating Fathers he started with a tall frame. And a female angel nearby said, "What kind of Father is that? If you're going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put Fathers up so high? He won't be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping." And God smiled and said, "Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?"

And when God made a Father's hands, they were large and sinewy. And the angel shook her head sadly and said, "Do you know what you're doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can't manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on pony tails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats." And God smiled and said, "I know, but they're large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day...yet small enough to cup a child's face in his hands."

And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders. And the angel nearly had a heart attack. "Boy, this is the end of the week, all right," she clucked. "Do you realize you just made a Father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?" And God smiled and said, "A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle, and hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus."

God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had every seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. "That's not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?" And God smiled and said, "They'll work. You'll see. They'll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross, or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill."

God worked throughout the night, giving the Father few words, but a firm authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added tears. Then he turned to the angel and said, "Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a Mother?" The angel shuteth up.

Erma Bombeck.

In his men's seminar, David Simmons, a former cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, tells about his childhood home. His father, a military man, was extremely demanding, rarely saying a kind word, always pushing him with harsh criticism to do better. The father had decided that he would never permit his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments, reminding him there were always new goals ahead. When Dave was a little boy, his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with the command that he put it together. After Dave struggled to the point of tears with the difficult instructions and many parts, his father said, "I knew you couldn't do it." Then he assembled it for him. When Dave played football in high school, his father was unrelenting in his criticisms. In the backyard of his home, after every game, his dad would go over every play and point out Dave's errors. "Most boys got butterflies in the stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my father was more stressful than facing any opposing team." By the time he entered college, Dave hated his father and his harsh discipline. He chose to play football at the University of Georgia because its campus was further from home than any school that offered him a scholarship. After college, he became the second round draft pick of the St. Louis cardinal's professional football club. Joe Namath (who later signed with the New York Jets), was the club's first round pick that year. "Excited, "I telephoned my father to tell him the good news. He said, 'How does it feel to be second?'"

 Despite the hateful feelings he had for his father, Dave began to build a bridge to his dad. Christ had come into his life during college years, and it was God's love that made him turn to his father. During visits home he stimulated conversation with him and listened with interest to what his father had to say. He learned for the first time what his grandfather had been like--a tough lumberjack known for his quick temper. Once he destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn't start, and he often beat his son. This new awareness affected Dave dramatically. "Knowing about my father's upbringing not only made me more sympathetic for him, but it helped me see that, under the circumstances, he might have done much worse. By the time he died, I can honestly say we were friends."

Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 171ff.

Commentary & Devotional

I am going to read a quote to you first and then tell you who said it: A small child waits with impatience the arrival home of a parent. She wishes to relate some sandbox experience. She is excited to share the thrill that she has known that day. The time comes; the parent arrives. Beaten down by the stresses of the workplace the parent often replies: “Not know, honey, I’m busy, go watch television.” The most often spoken words in the American household today are the words: go watch television. If not now, when? Later. But later never comes for many and the parent fails to communicate at the very earliest of ages. We give her designer clothes and computer toys, but we do not give her what she wants the most, which is our time. Now, she is fifteen and has a glassy look in her eyes. Honey, do we need to sit down and talk? Too late. Love has passed by.

The person who wrote these words was Robert Keeshan, better known to America as Captain Kangaroo.

Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

12 Practical Ways for Men to Impact Fatherless Kids:

1. Be a mentor to a boy without a father through Big Brother or some other agency
2. Contact your local junior or senior high school to tutor a needy kid
3. Teach Sunday School
4. Become a leader in Awana, Pioneer Clubs, or Adventure Club
5. Meet one-on-one weekly, with a boy in your church or neighborhood who doesn't have a father in the home
6. Become a leader in Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts
7. Coach Little League or some other sport
8. Volunteer to work with needy kids in an inner city ministry
9. Hire a potentially "at risk" kid for yard work or in your business
10. Become active youth leaders in your local church or a parachurch organization
11. Start a church-based sports league that reaches out to needy kids in the community
12. Lead a Bible study in a juvenile detention center or group home

June 1996 issue of The Standard (pp 20-23), published by the Baptist General Conference, 2002 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL.

William Bennett put is succinctly in a 1986 speech on the family in Chicago when he asked, "Where are the fathers? ... Generally, the mothers are there struggling. For nine out of ten children in single parent homes, the father is the one who isn't there. One-fifth of all American children live in homes without fathers ... Where are the fathers? Where are the men? Wherever they are, this much is clear: too many are not with their children.

J. Dobson and G. Bauer, Children at Risk Word, 1990, p. 167.

A positive and continuous relationship to one's father has been found to be associated with a good self-concept, higher self- esteem, higher self-confidence in personal and social interaction, higher moral maturity, reduced rates of unwed teen pregnancy, greater internal control and higher career aspirations. Fathers who are affectionate, nurturing and actively involved in child-rearing are more likely to have well- adjusted children.

Dr. George Rekers, Homemade, vol. 11, no. 1.

An Open Letter to Family Men: She was blond and beautiful, with azure eyes and a tumble of tawny curls. At three years of age, she would climb into her daddy's lap, snuggle up with a wide, satisfied smile, and purr, "This is my safe place!" And so it was. Dads, husbands, YOU are the "safe place." You are our protector and provider. And when you gather us for a time with God, we need a safe place. A safe place, not a lecture. A safe place, not a sermon. A very human dad/husband who simply cares about God and us. We don't need or even want a "spiritual giant." We just want you. And we need a gathering time (phone unplugged) where it's safe to say to each other, "How are you and the Lord getting along?" "How can we pray today?" We need a safe place to cry laugh, sing, rejoice, challenge, share, and sometimes not to share and have it be okay. We need a time with you that's relaxed--unstiff, when we can pray honestly, in simple sentences, from our hearts. Unfixed. Unrigid. Unroutine. Unshackled. We need a place where irregular opinions are respected, and where God has the last word. We need a gentleman leader, not a general. Gracious. Relaxed. Human. A family shepherd who exhibits not infallible authority, but a thirst for God. Every day? Not necessarily. Often? Yes. Long? No. Where? Anywhere. How? Sense where we're at, and zero in. We may need heavy-duty confessing to each other and to God...silent prayer...exuberant praise (try sing-a- long tapes)...Bible study. But not every time. Thanks for listening, Dad (Husband). Remember, we need you. Your family. 

Linda Anderson,  Daily Bread, 1989.

The assumption that boys learn to be masculine by following the example of their fathers is a myth, according to Dr. James Turnbull, a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Fathers in middle-and lower-income families spend only about 25 minutes each week in direct one-to-one relationships with their growing sons. "The images on TV and in advertising showing boys and their fathers playing touch football, fishing and building model aircraft...simply don't reflect real life," said Turnbull. Turnbull's studies of fatherless homes in middle to lower-income brackets found the key to personality development was based upon the sons' relationships with their mothers. "Fathers are certainly important in shaping their son's behavior, but mothers, peer groups and other adult males usually have more contact with the boys," he said. "If a father is present, he tends to modify the mother's influence with comments such as 'You're spoiling the boy,' or 'Boys don't play with dolls' and other reactions to behavior. The father's treatment of the mother serves as an example for the son of how to interact with members of the opposite sex." In fatherless homes, Turnbull said, the mother's attitude toward men and her degree of protection toward her son seem to be keys to a boy's development. The most critical times are between the ages of 30 months and 5 years and during early adolescence.

James Turnbull, Encounter, Vol 15, #3, February, 1980.

We are finding that both men and women get their basic religious style, trusting or paranoid, regardless of creed, from their fathers. And you can guess what the decisive variable is--it's whether things were pretty good between their parents, whether the father trusted the mother. So a failure in one generation starts a cycle of paranoia down through the generations to come.

Father Andrew Greeley, Psychology Today, quoted in His, Jan, 1977.

Well-trained is the son who can hang onto his father's words as well as he can a flyball (Prov 4:4).
Happy will be the child who cries because his dad loves him (Prov 10:12)
A wise father hates sin in order to love his son.
A good father shows the value of a book as well as a buck.
The dad who wonders how much of a teacher he needs to be would do well to go to the school of Solomon.
The man who finds a good woman should show his son how to avoid a bad one (Prov 2,5,6,7,9).
What a father knows about sex might help his children as much as surprise them (Prov 23:26-8).
A wise son makes a glad dad as much as a foolish one makes a glum mum (Prov 10:1).
Thank God for Fathers who not only gave us life but taught us what to do with it.
If you're amazed at how hard your dad can make it for you, try it without him (Prov 15:5).
Double whammy; foolish son and contentious mammy (Prov 19:13).

M.R. De Haan II.

How Does a Father Do It?

Finding the right balance between the work place and home front can be a guilt trip, but it doesn't have to be that way. Look over the list of possible improvements you can make in the way you balance career and family. But instead of viewing this as one more long list of things to do, imagine yourself already doing something on the list. The mind doesn't distinguish between imagined and real success when it draws upon positive experiences, even imaginary ones, to reinforce good habits-in-the-making. Try imagining yourself combining work and family life in the ways listed below.

- Keep it simple. It is doesn't add to the happiness of your family, then change it.
- Set aside time after dinner to help your kids with their homework.
- Remember what you were like as a kid, and cut some slack for your kids. Keep important things in focus: family unity, values, fun and education.
- Listen at all times: to mealtime stories, to the chatter over dishwashing, to bedtime prayers.
- Create family rituals: Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday night pizza, Monday night health club, Thursday night piano recital.
- Include children in your planning and decision-making regarding things like weekly chore assignments, summer vacation plans and special monthly events.
- Hold family councils once a month to discuss pet peeves, rules, rewards and punishments.
- Be both loving and firm in setting, negotiating and enforcing rules.
- Let the answering machine take calls during the dinner hour and at bedtime. Or, take the phone off the hook.
- Loves isn't something you buy. Your kids spell it T-I-M-E and it costs more than M-O-N-E-Y.
- It's better to play 15 or 20 minutes spontaneously and have fun, then go do chores, work or other priorities, than to spend all day at the zoo (or ballgame or the mall) feeling angry, guilty, or worried.
- Find one common mission or cause that your family loves to do together, instead of splintering your volunteer activities in several different directions.

This partial list was gleaned from "How Does a Mother Do It?" That's the title of a brochure published by Mars Candy that compiles tips for Working Mother of the Year. We've adapted it. More importantly, what do you believe--and do--about this delicate balancing act?

James Dobson, On the Father Front, Spring, 1994, p. 2.

"Becoming husbands and fathers is the universal prescription of human societies for the socialization of the male. It is how societies link male aggression, energy, purpose--maleness--to a pro-social purpose. The most important predictor of criminal behavior is not race, not income, not religious affiliation. It's a father absence. It's boys who grow up without their fathers." David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values.

"Is it possible to reconnect fathers to their children? To reverse societal trends that produced the separation in the first place? To fashion government policies and reshape attitudes regarding fathers themselves? Probably. But not until we reconvince ourselves of what used to be common sense: Children need their fathers." William Rasberry, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post.

"Men have to be persuaded that bringing up children is a very important part of their life. Motherhood has been praised to the skies, but the greatest praise men can give to that role is for them to share in doing it." Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

"Our very survival as a nation will depend on the presence or absence of masculine leadership in the home." Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family.

James Dobson, On the Father Front, Spring, 1994, p. 2.

Father's Favorite Sayings:

The man on the top of the mountain didn't fall there. Joe Kosanovic's Dad
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. Rich Constand's Dad
Marry a big woman; someone to give you shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Bill Bodin's Dad
An excuse is a poor patch for the garment of failure. Bruce Ley's Dad
Never try to catch two frogs with one hand. Rea Hunt's Dad
Always throw away the box when you take the last piece of candy. Paul Whalen's Dad
Honesty is like a trail, once you get off it you realize you are lost. Mark Young's Dad
Remember who you are and where you came from. Thomas Leone's Dad
Wherever you are in life, first make friends with the cook. Bill Lewis's Dad
Don't shake the tree too hard, you never know what might fall out. Timothy Davis's Dad
A closed mouth gathers no feet. John Beard Jr's Dad
Measure twice, cut once. Sandra Schultz's Dad
The second time you get kicked in the head by a mule it's not a learning experience. Ebb Dozier Jr's Dad
Never buy anything that eats. Neal Bashor's Dad
You need to do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do. Reed Caster's Dad
Well, you know what happens when you wrestle with pigs, you get all dirty and they love it. Dennie Morgan's Dad
This is a democratic family; everyone gets a vote and I get five. Carolee Wende's Dad
I but you books and buy you books and all you do is read the covers. Kelley Blaner's Dad
If you're afraid to go too far, you will never go far enough. Kasey Warner's Dad
If you don't need it, don't buy it. Nicholas Pieroni's Dad
Selling is just like shaving, if you don't do it every day you're a bum. Mark Johnson's Dad
If this is the worst thing that happens to you in life, don't worry about it. John Taylor's Dad
Never be so broke that you cannot afford to pay attention. Michael Brose's Dad
You live to work, you work to live, but if you work to work I hope you don't live by me. Cole Thurman's Dad
If it is to be, it's up to me. Jeff Wilson's Dad
Successful people make a habit of doing things that failures don't like to do. Charles H. Deal, Jr's Dad
Don't let your studies interfere with your education. Eber Smith's Dad
Don't be foolish just because you know how to. Maynard Alfstad's Dad
Marry your best friend. Patrice Altenhofen's Dad
Peer pressure is a crack in the armor of your own conviction. Peter W. Troy's Dad
Knowing what's right from wrong is education, doing what's right is execution. The latter is the hard part. Bambi Troy's Dad
The difference always is attitude. Suzie Slater'd Dad
You have to eat an elephant in small bites. John Burke's Dad
The one who quits last--wins. Paul Gesl's Dad
Potential means you haven't done your best yet. Melissa and Nicholas West's Dad
Do you know what happened when I found out all the answers? They changed all the questions. Carmella Leone's Dad
The golden rule: the guy who's got the gold makes the rules. Paul Wagner's Dad
If everybody else is doing it, it is probably wrong.

Karl K. Warner, "Dad," U.S.A. Today, Monday, June 15, p. 11c.


At the beginning of this decade (the 90's) David Popenoe wrote an article entitled “A World Without Fathers.” He gave some rather depressing statistics then: In just three decades, from 1960-1990, the percentage of children living apart for their biological father has more than doubled, from 17% to 36%. It is now estimated that by the turn of the century, 50% of all American children may go to bed at night without being able to speak to their father.

So how are we doing? I am sad to say that I found at least one source which confirmed David Popenoe's prediction.

In an article entitled "Fathering Fatherless America" Dr. Scott J. Larson reports: One in two children now grow up without a father in the United States, and in our inner cities only one in five children live with their father. A whole new mission field has developed in America: Fathering fatherless kids.

Perhaps the most relevant missionary challenge for our society was penned by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father. (I Cor. 4:15 NIV) Paul knew that these people didn't need another teacher, their needs were much deeper, they needed a father. One can't be a father to very many, but Paul knew that God was calling him to be a father to some people in Corinth.

Brett Blair, Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

The lack of attentiveness to children's needs by fathers has produced great changes in the American home. Fathers spend an average of only 38 seconds a day being totally attentive and 20 minutes being partially attentive to their children's needs. Associated with these changes are the rising teen-age suicide rate, which has tripled in the last 20 years, and the increasing incidence of delinquent behavior, which will bring one of nine adolescents in the U.S. into a courtroom this year.

Dr. Seymour Diamond, M.D., in Homemade, October, 1982. 

James Dobson cited a Cornell University study showing that fathers of preschool children on the average spend 37.7 seconds per day in real contact with their youngsters. In contrast, the study indicated that children watch television approximately 54 hours per week.

Christianity Today, March 23, 1979.

Josh McDowell has been trying to find out what dads are doing in Christian families, and the news isn't good. In his book The Dad Difference, McDowell reveals that there seems to be a parenting gap. These statistics are from McDowell's book: The average teen in our churches spends only 2 minutes a day in meaningful dialogue with his dad. 25% of these teens say they have never had a meaningful conversation with their father--a talk centered on the teens' interests.

Josh McDowell, The Dad Difference.

One startling bit of research conducted by the Christian Business Men's Committee found the following: When the father is an active believer, there is about a seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent.

Keith Meyering, Discipleship Journal, issue #49, p. 41.

Armand Nicholi, of Harvard University, found that American parents spend less time with their children than parents in any other country except Great Britain. Even compared with their Russian counterparts, American fathers spend two fewer hours a day interacting with their children.

The Washington Post, July 21, 1993, p. E13.

Studies show that the absence of the father expresses itself in male children in two very different ways: it is linked to increased aggressiveness on one hand, and greater manifestations of effeminacy on the other. A 1987 study of violent rapists found that 60 percent of them came from single-parent homes. A Michigan State University study of adolescents who committed homicides found that 75 percent of them were from broken homes. Girls without fathers fare no better. They become sexually active sooner and are more likely to have out-of-wedlock children.

J. Dobson & G. Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 167-168.


Two first graders were overheard as they left Sunday School class, "Do you really believe all that stuff about the devil?" "No, I think it's like Santa Claus. It's really your dad."



A dad is a mender of toys,
A leader of boys.
He's a changer of fuses,
A healer of bruises
He's a mover of couches,
A soother of ouches.
He's a pounder of nails,
A teller of tales.
He's a dryer of dishes,
A fulfiller of wishes
Bless him, O Lord.

Jo Ann Heidbreder.

His shoulders are a little bent,
His youthful force a trifle spent,
But he's the finest man I know,
With heart of gold and hair of snow.
He's seldom cross and never mean;
He's always been so good and clean;
I only hope I'll always be
As kind to him as he's to me.
Sometimes he's tired and seems forlorn,
His happy face is lined and worn;
Yet he can smile when things are bad:
That's why I like my gray-haired dad.
He doesn't ask the world for much--
Just comfort, friendliness, and such;
But from the things I've heard him say,
I know it's up to me to pay
For all the deeds he's done for me
Since I sat rocking on his knee;
Oh, not in dollars, dimes, or cents--
That's not a father's recompense;
Nor does he worship wealth and fame--
He'd have me honor Jesus' name.


He teaches kindness by being thoughtful and gracious even at home.
He teaches patience by being gentle and understanding over and over.
He teacher honesty by keeping his promises to his family even when it costs.
He teaches courage by living unafraid with faith, in all circumstances.
He teaches justice by being fair and dealing equally with everyone.
He teaches obedience to God's Word by precept and example as he reads and prays daily with his family.
He teaches love for God and His Church as he takes his family regularly to all the services.
His steps are important because others follow.



Two humorous observations from Bill Cosby’s book, Fatherhood. He writes: Now that my father is a grandfather, he just can’t wait to give money to my kids. But when I was his kid and I asked him for fifty cents, he would tell me the story of his life. How he got up at 5 A.M. when he was seven years old and walked twenty-three miles to milk ninety cows. And the farmer for whom he worked had no bucket, so he had to squirt the milk into his little hand and then walk eight miles to the nearest can. All for 5 cents a month. The result was that I never got my 50 cents.

But now he tells my children every time he comes into the house: “Well, lets see how much money old Granddad has got for his wonderful kids.” And the minute they take money out of his hands I call them over to me and I snatch it away from them. Because that is MY money.

The other story that Cosby tells that I like is the difference between Mother's Day and Father's Day. He insists that Mother's Day is a much bigger deal because Mothers are more organized. Mothers say to their children: Now here is a list of what I want. Go get the money from your father and you surprise me on Mother's Day. You do that for me.

For Father’s Day I give each of my five kids $20 so that they can go out and by me a present——a total of $100. They go to the store and buy two packages of underwear, each of which costs $5 and contains three shorts. They tear them open and each kid wraps up one pair, the sixth going to the Salvation Army. Therefore, on Father’s Day I am walking around with new underwear and my kid’s are walking around with $90 worth of my change in their pockets.

Technically we could argue that Father’s Day is not a religious holiday; but it is nonetheless important for us to recognize it.

Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

I received a letter from a single mother who had raised a son who was about to become a dad. Since he had no recollection of his own father, her question to me was "What do I tell him a father does?"

When my dad died in my ninth year, I, too, was raised by my mother, giving rise to the same question, "What do fathers do?" As far as I could observe, they brought around the car when it rained so everyone else could stay dry.

They always took the family pictures, which is why they were never in them. They carved turkeys on Thanksgiving, kept the car gassed up, weren't afraid to go into the basement, mowed the lawn, and tightened the clothesline to keep it from sagging.

It wasn't until my husband and I had children that I was able to observe firsthand what a father contributed to a child's life. What did he do to deserve his children's respect? He rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or fannies, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars.

What did he do?

He threw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter. He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate. He listened more than he talked. He let them make mistakes. He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack. He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for their driving test.

If I had to tell someone's son what a father really does that is important, it would be that he shows up for the job in good times and bad times. He's a man who is constantly being observed by his children. They learn from him how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment and success.

He won't laugh at their dreams no matter how impossible they might seem. He will dig out at 1 a.m. when one of his children runs out of gas. He will make unpopular decisions and stand by them. When he is wrong and makes a mistake, he will admit it. He sets the tone for how family members treat one another, members of the opposite sex and people who are different than they are. By example, he can instill a desire to give something back to the community when its needs are greater than theirs.

But mostly, a good father involves himself in his kids' lives. The more responsibility he has for a child, the harder it is to walk out of his life.

A father has the potential to be a powerful force in the life of a child. Grab it! Maybe you'll get a greeting card for your efforts. Maybe not. But it's steady work.

Erma Bombeck  Field Enterprises.