Let’s train up our children with tender affection and patience.
” But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7).
USDA Cattle are reluctantly driven by the cracking of a whip, or the shooting of a pistol. Championship dogs, on the other hand, are happily drawn by a loose leash. The latter is preferable. Let’s seek to lead our children by cords of love, when possible. So let there be a silver thread of kindness in all we do, by displaying gentleness, longsuffering, forbearance, patience, and sympathy.
When I was a young father, I would stop at the gas station. This was prior to the pay-at-the-pump days. My children would wait in the car while I went in to pay. I saw the Tootsie Rolls or Jolly Rancher Kisses on the counter. But I never put down the pennies because I wanted to teach my kids that we don’t impulse buy, and we don’t waste money on sweets! Looking back, I think I would have occasionally brightened their eyes with a little honey.
When our boys bumped their heads, I’d say, “You’re okay! Be tough!” Looking back, I think I’d more often grab their throbbing heads and say something like, “O man, I bet that hurts. I remember when I was little and get bonked, and felt like I just wanted to go home and be with my mom. But I know you’re the man, and can keep going.”
We adults know how much of a difference a goodwill gesture makes. When the employer hands out a bonus Thanksgiving turkey, or gives a day off on a Monday, July 3, he woos and wins hearts.
J. C. Ryle writes: “Few are to be found, even among grown-up people who are not more easy to draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very idea of a forced obedience. We are like young horses in the hand of a breaker: handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may guide them with a thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many a month before you get the mastery of them at all.” (The Duties of Parents, p4)
When a little daughter climbs out of the bathtub with wet and snarled long hair, it’s the wise mother who takes the time to gently brush it straight while talking tenderly, instead of more time efficiently pulling hard with hair ripping and neck jerking tugs. Such love, “covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Our three acre yard is served well by a reliable old John Deere mower. But when I see one of our sons roughly grinding the transmission gears with little concern for the tractor’s feelings, I shout, “Hey, HEy, HEY! Take it easy on him!” So too, we’re wise to avoid handling are children roughly and gruffly with cutting and biting words. “Put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from your mouth . . . Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:8, 12).
Ryle again: “We must handle our children delicately, like frail machines, lest by rough fingering we do more harm than good. . . A minister may speak the truth as it is in Jesus, clearly, forcibly, unanswerably; but if he does not speak it in love, few souls will be won. Just so you must set before your children their duty, — command, threaten, punish, reason, — but if affection be lacking in your treatment, your labor will be all in vain.” (The Duties of Parents, p5)