Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Praise of Marriage and Parenting

My wife Connie and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary yesterday. Outside of the decision to trust Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, my marriage to this wonderful woman was the best decision I ever made in my life. Connie has given me three terrific children, and they have given us six spectacular grandchildren. None of our kids has been hooked on drugs or alcohol. They have not been arrested or jailed. (Although, with the way our government is passing laws contrary to the principles of liberty and decency, it is getting increasingly more difficult for any of us to stay out of jail.) They are polite, respectful, and courteous Christians. Our daughters-in-law and son-in-law are absolutely magnificent. We are all as close as any family can possibly be. As far as I am concerned, no matter what else I achieve--or fail to achieve--in this world, the family that God has given me makes my life a success. Anything else pales in comparison.

In addition, it seems to me that far too many people in our country overlook the importance of child rearing. Many seem to feel that just about everything else--job, career, money, "success," etc.--occupies a higher priority than raising honest, God-fearing children. However, Connie and I decided years ago that raising our children would be a priority in our lives, and boy, we are glad we did!

I'll say it straight out: it does not take a village to raise kids; it takes loving and courageous parents. Parents who are not afraid to discipline their children (yes, Martha, I mean old fashioned spanking: applying the board of education to the seat of knowledge); parents who are willing to spend time teaching their children right from wrong; parents who will take--not send--their children to church; parents who will pray with their children; parents who care more about truth and right than they do about being well-liked or politically correct; parents who will teach their kids to say "Yes, Sir," and "Yes, Ma'am"; parents who are not afraid to say "No" to their children; dads who think it is more important that they be a father to their sons than a "buddy"; and moms who would rather their daughters had pure hearts than popular friends.

How is it that when it comes to leadership expectations, most people ignore a man's leadership at home? It is almost as if parental leadership is a complete non-factor in judging a person's fitness for anything. Now, please do not get me wrong: I am not suggesting that bad children cannot come from good homes. Goodness, no! I have seen very vile young people come out of some of the most righteous homes, and likewise, I have seen some of the most wonderful and Godly young people come out of the most wretched homes. I am only saying that real leadership is established and proven in the home first. Yet, it does not appear that too many people give parental leadership a second thought anymore. Perhaps this explains much as to what has gone wrong in our society.

Yes, I am aware of the various and sundry political and societal attacks against marriage and parenting. I see the many battles in the "culture war." I see the attempts to redefine the meaning of marriage, to wrestle control and authority of the home away from the parents, and to bombard our children with ideas and philosophies that will ultimately ruin their lives. And, yes, it could come to a point that decent families will be forced to make the same kind of choices that our Pilgrim forebears had to make.

That said, however, the power of marriage and parenting is still the greatest force in the world. Good families can stem the tide of humanism, socialism, fascism, globalism, or any other "ism" that seeks to enslave us. Good families can preserve liberty and independence, fight off totalitarianism, resist corporate elitism, and promote faith and virtue. Good families are the backbone of our country's greatness, and the lack of good families will be the cause of our country's fall from greatness.

Greedy, power-mad politicians are no match for a generation of strong marriages. Young people with character and courage trump purveyors of pretension any day. One principled champion--trained and equipped by strong, stalwart parents--will put a thousand moral weaklings to flight.

While Pharaoh built his monuments, a humble Hebrew mother taught and nurtured her son, a little boy miraculously drawn forth from the watery reeds. That little boy became the deliverer of his people. It was a Godly mother and father that produced the prophet who would anoint the greatest king of Israel. It was a Spirit-filled mother and father who produced the forerunner of the Messiah. And it was a virtuous, principled mother--not a government agency, educational institution, or commercial enterprise--whom God chose to bring the Savior of mankind into the world.

Furthermore, while the potentates and governments of the earth gazed steadfastly upon the might and power of the British Empire, no one noticed the humble homes of Colonial America, where mothers and fathers worked by the light of hearth and candle to discipline, teach, and inspire a generation of patriots unlike the world has ever seen.

Strong, committed, principled parenting has done more to change the course of history, depose despots, promote righteousness, protect virtue, and secure liberty than all of the colleges, corporate boardrooms, and presidential palaces combined. And who knows? At this very moment, mothers and fathers across America could be nurturing and training the next generation of patriots who will rise up and restore the principles of liberty and greatness to our land? I will tell you this: if parents do not do it, no one else can.

Dr. Baldwin is the host of a lively, hard-hitting syndicated radio talk show on the Genesis Communications Network called, "Chuck Baldwin Live" This is a daily, one hour long call-in show in which Dr. Baldwin addresses current event topics from a conservative Christian point of view. Pastor Baldwin writes weekly articles on the internet and newspapers.

Posted in News With Views
Chuck Baldwin

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are parents today getting it all wrong?

I was going to write about something entirely different this week but the passionate response I received from readers to my last post got me thinking further about this matter, specifically the way we discipline our kids today compared to in the past.

I was honestly surprised to discover how many of you felt that smacking was a necessary step in disciplining your children. But I was even more surprised that it was not just the older generation saying this but parents of young children.

Certainly there were many readers who felt, as I do, that smacking a child is wrong for the reasons I pointed out. However, just as many felt that the lack of smacking was part of the 'soft' approach to parenting that is contributing to a generation of spoilt, badly behaved, disrespectful children.

I don't wish to generalise about children today as the vast majority of them are bright, inquisitive, loving and well-behaved (most of the time!) However, it is undeniable that the behaviour you would find at your local school is very different now to 30 years ago when smacking and even the cane was accepted practice.

So it begs the question, have we gone too soft? And has the decline in physical punishment played a part, or has something else changed?

Personally, I wonder if rather than it being a smack that kids are crying out for these days it is our time? If we have become so stressed and busy in our complicated lives we're depriving our children of the one thing they so desperately need, our attention.

One of the comments on the previous blog stated that while physical punishment is not ideal, emotional punishment such as verbal abuse can be far more damaging and I wholeheartedly agree. But I believe even more damaging is the child who receives no punishment at all because nobody noticed the behaviour in the first place.

Maybe the kids we complain about who roam the streets causing trouble would benefit from a smack, not because of the smack, but because it meant someone cared enough to punish them.
You have to wonder if we've gone from one extreme to the other, from imposing punishments that were overly harsh to having no consequences at all. Or are we better parents than the previous generation because we have learnt to respect our children's rights and allow them opinions and choices?

I guess I sit somewhere in the middle. I don't want to be too 'soft' and let my son run free with no rules or limits, but I also want to allow him to express his feelings even if it means the occasion tantrum is the result of it. I know some days I feel like throwing one!

Interestingly, many of you commented that often the best way to dissolve a toddler tantrum is to talk to your child and see what the problem is rather than punishing the naughty behaviour. But couldn't we apply this to disruptive behaviour from a child of any age?

If you looked into the background of a teenager who is fighting at school you would most likely find some serious emotional issues hidden under all that aggression. Thirty years ago that child would probably have been given the cane and a stern talking to. These days they would most likely be expelled, leaving them to fall between the cracks, branded as a failure and set for an uphill battle to prove otherwise. As much as I abhor the thought of the cane you do have to wonder which is potentially more damaging to that child's future.

I certainly don't claim to be an expert, but in my opinion using praise to reward a child for good behaviour is a powerful tool. I believe children inherently want to do well to make us proud and will do whatever it takes to capture and hold our attention. So it stands to reason if they get more of our focus when they do the wrong thing than when they behave they will act up every time, whether they are two or fifteen.

On the other hand, you don't want to praise them so much they end up with an over inflated ego thinking they can do no wrong. Perhaps some of the kids we see auditioning for Australian Idol could have benefited from a little more honesty and a little less praise! It's all about balance.

That's the thing with parenting, there's no manual, no right or wrong way and you don't get a second chance. You just do the best you can with what you know at the time and hope like hell it is enough. The only thing I know for sure of is you can never say 'I love you' too much, or hug too many times. That is the one thing that will never change.

Are we better parents now than the previous generation or are we getting it all wrong?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our maternal instincts have gone to the dogs

As I read that wonderful front-page story in the Macclesfield Express of the golden retriever nursing a litter of kittens I though about our own dog Bustle.

She’s had 30 pups over the last five years and they have each been well-balanced, confident little dogs and it’s all down to her.

Bustle prepares well in advance for the arrival of her pups constantly cleaning and preparing her ‘nest’.

Once they arrive she watches over them leaving her whelping box only for toilet duty.

When they start to run around Bustle insists they show respect and will not tolerate petulance in her proximity.

She’ll nudge the errant pup with her nose and if it doesn’t listen she’ll administer a little nip or whatever it takes to gain respect.

As they grow Bustle takes regular leaves of absence preparing her pups for independence. Even under pressure from her exuberant litter Bustle is always calm, nudging and sorting her pups whenever the need arises. By the time her puppies leave home they are confident, sociable little dogs ready to face the world.

Like the golden retriever nursing kittens Bustle allows her instinct to dictate what’s best for her puppies but parents today aren’t allowed to follow nature.

Discipline has become a dirty word and respect is something children expect to receive but not give. Traders at Parsonage Green shops in Wilmslow are asking for a police presence to protect them from gangs of marauding school children and Sainsbury’s on Alderley Road will not serve kids at all during school hours.

What does that say about our parenting skills?

Of course there are lots of sociable, well-mannered children but we have far too many who are not and an increasing number who are simply feral. The schools dare not handle them, the police can’t and the parents won’t.

Somewhere along the line in our indulgent, politically correct society we’ve arrived at a point where our dogs make better parents than us.


I selected this post because I remember my mom's dog who died a few years back. This dog loved her pups, my mom and nobody else. She would bite anyone who would come near her or her pups but one word from my mom and she would quiet down.


Posted in Macclesfield Express

Vic Barlow

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Raising a reader

Develop vocal skills

Gone are the days when a child must be seen and not heard. Our children must learn to express themselves and we must let them know that their thoughts are important. The more vocal children become, the more queries they will have, some of which you may be able to give a rationale answer to. Nonetheless, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to reading. For example, if your children want to know why Bob Marley is so important to our Jamaican culture, you can help to provide them with written material and have a discussion about their findings.

Start Simple

Don't expect your children to be scholars overnight. If they are preteens, you could start them off with the Children's Own. Have them read the various features and encourage them to voice their thoughts on whichever article they have read. If their reasoning is beyond the Children's Own, then introduce them to the Youthlink. Whatever the case, encourage them to read material that they might be interested in.

Logics vs fiction

Whatever literature children indulge in, barring explicit and graphic content, reading is always a great hobby to develop. However, what your children read will play an integral role in how they think. I have nothing against fairy tales or novels. If your teens are addicted to these books, you must help them to acknowledge the fact that they are fictional. What is read is usually not real and not logical. Snow White never knew what it was to be unemployed, rejected or to struggle with self-acceptance. It's a great fairy tale, but it's also the furthest thing from reality. Whichever book you choose to introduce to your teens, let it be something that addresses the various issues in society. Whether it is about morals or social structure, the book should enlighten and educate.

Open discussions

The more your teens read, the more opinions they will form. This is one of the good or bad consequences of reading, it depends on what type of parent you are. If you are an open-minded parent, you will welcome these discussions, if not, they will be met with resentment.

Your children may choose to discuss how society views a particular issue, such as why it is that the household helper is not respected in the same manner as the business owner. It is not wise to reject this as sentiment, rather, use it as a medium to start an open discussion.

Posted in Jamaica Gleaner
Anthony Meerak, Outlook Youth Writer