Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Annunciation to St. Mary, Great Lent Week 5
Volume 7 No. 405 March 24, 2017

VI. General Weekly Features

Family Special: How to Raise a Brat

By Dr. James Dobson

The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, who wrote the perennial best seller, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, was severely criticized for his laissez-faire approach to child rearing. He was blamed for weakening parental authority and producing an entire generation of disrespectful and unruly children. To the man on the street, Dr. Spock became a symbol of permissiveness and overindulgence in parent-child relationships. It was a bum rap. I had lunch with him one day after we had been guests on a national television show and found our views to be surprisingly similar on most things not political.

Perhaps in response to the criticism that he experienced, Dr. Spock published a clarifying article entitled "How Not to Bring Up a Bratty Child." In it he wrote, "Parental submissiveness doesn't avoid unpleasantness; it makes it inevitable." A child's defiance, he said, "makes the parent increasingly more resentful, until it finally explodes in a display of anger." He continued, "The way to get a child to do what must be done, or stop doing what should not be done, is to be clear and definite each time. . . Parental firmness also makes for a happier child." Finally, right before his death at ninety-three years of age, the old pediatrician was quoted as saying, "It's fine for parents to respect their children, but they often forget to ask for respect back."

Dr. Spock was absolutely right. If you don't take a stand with your child early, she is compelled by her nature to push you further. Terrible battles are inevitable, especially during the adolescent years. The hesitant and guilt-ridden parent who is most anxious to avoid confrontation often finds himself or herself screaming and threatening throughout the day, and ultimately thrashing the child. Indeed, physical abuse may be the end result. However, if Mom and Dad have the courage and conviction to provide firm leadership from the earliest days of childhood, administering it in a context of genuine love, both generations will enjoy an atmosphere of harmony and respect. That is precisely what I have been trying to teach for over thirty years!

Contained in this simple explanation is an understanding of children that some adults comprehend intuitively, and which others never quite grasp. The concept involves the delicate balance between love and control, recognizing that implementing a reasonable and consistent action line does not assault self-worth; instead, it represents a source of security for an immature child.

I have had many mothers say to me over the years: "I don't understand my kids. They will do exactly what their father demands, but they won't mind me at all." There may be several reasons for this differential. First, fathers can be much more intimidating than mothers just by their "presence." The fact is that dads are often much bigger physically and have a deeper voice that has a way of encouraging a child to respond more quickly to their discipline. Second, children often look to their father for approval, and when he expresses his disappointment to them, they take it more to heart. Finally, and most pertinent here, because mothers usually spend more time with their children, they often get worn down and stop following through with discipline. When that's the case, children are bright enough to notice that Dad draws his action line earlier than Mom—and they'll behave accordingly.

There's another factor: Children often understand these forces better than their parents, who are bogged down with adult responsibilities and worries. That is why so many kids are able to win the contest of wills; they devote their primary effort to the game, while we grown-ups play only when we must. One father overheard his five-year-old daughter, Laura, say to her little sister, who was doing something wrong, "Mmmmm, I'm going to tell Mommy on you. No! I'll tell Daddy. He's worse!" Laura had evaluated the disciplinary measures of her two parents and concluded that one was more effective than the other.

This same child was observed by her father to have become especially disobedient and defiant. She was irritating other family members and looking for ways to avoid minding her parents. Her dad decided not to confront her directly about this change in behavior, but to punish her consistently for every offense until she settled down. For three or four days, he let Laura get away with nothing. She was spanked, stood in the corner, and sent to her bedroom. At the conclusion of the fourth day, she was sitting on the bed with her father and younger sister. Without provocation, Laura pulled the hair of the toddler, who was looking at a book. Her dad promptly took action and disciplined her. Laura did not cry, but sat in silence for a moment or two, and then said, "Hurrummph! All of my tricks are not working!

Don't you see how important disciplinary techniques are to a child's respect for his parents? When a forty-five-pound bundle of trouble can deliberately reduce his powerful mother and father to a trembling, snarling mass of frustration, then something changes in the relationship. Something precious is lost. The child develops an attitude of contempt that is certain to erupt during the stormy adolescent years to come. I sincerely wish every adult understood that simple characteristic of human nature.

I've met a few wily grown-ups who had a great ability to lead kids. One of them lived near us in Arcadia, California. He owned and operated Bud Lyndon's Swim School and had a remarkable comprehension of the principles of discipline. I enjoyed sitting poolside just to watch the man work. However, there are few child developmentalists who could explain why he was so successful with the little swimmers in his pool. He was not soft and delicate in his manner; in fact, he tended to be somewhat gruff. When the kids got out of line, he splashed water in their faces and said sternly, "Who told you to move? Stay where I put you until I ask you to swim!" He called the boys "men of tomorrow" and other pet names. His class was regimented, and every minute was utilized purposefully. But would you believe it, the children loved Bud Lyndon. Why? Because they knew he loved them. Within his gruff manner was a message of affection that might escape the adult observer. Mr. Lyndon never embarrassed a child intentionally, and he covered for the youngster who swam poorly. He delicately balanced his authority with a subtle affection that attracted children like the pied piper. Mr. Bud Lyndon understood the meaning of discipline with love.

When I was in ninth grade I had an athletic coach who affected me in the same way. He was the master of the moment, and no one dared challenge his authority. I would have fought wild lions before tackling Mr. Ayers. Yes, I feared him. We all did. But he never abused his power. He treated me courteously and respectfully at a time when I needed all the dignity I could get. Combined with his acceptance of the individual was an obvious self-confidence and ability to lead a pack of adolescent wolves who had devoured less capable teachers. And that's why my ninth-grade gym coach had a greater influence on me than any other person during my fifteenth year. Mr. Craig Ayers understood discipline with love.

Not all parents can be like Mr. Lyndon or Mr. Ayers, and I would not suggest that they try. Nor would it be wise for a parent at home to display the same gruffness that is appropriate on the athletic field or at the pool. Parents must fit their disciplinary approach to their own personality patterns and the responses that feel natural. However, the overriding principle remains the same for men and women, mothers and fathers, coaches and teachers, pediatricians and psychologists: It involves discipline with love, a reasonable introduction to responsibility and self-control, parental leadership with a minimum of anger, respect for the dignity and worth of the child, realistic boundaries that are enforced with confident firmness, and a judicious use of rewards and punishments to those who challenge and resist. It is a system that bears the approval of the Creator Himself.

From The Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James C. Dobson

About The Author:

Dr. James Dobson is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn't Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.

Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. ...

Copyright ©2016 Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk All Rights Reserved

Family Special: Keeping The Marital Covenant

by Dennis and Barabara Rainey

A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

Modern society is still suffering from the sickness of the "Me Generation," which has contaminated the covenant of marriage. The selfish Me-Gen person says in effect, "When marriage serves my purpose, I'm on board. But when it ceases to make me happy, when it's too much effort, when the unexpected shows up and creates additional pressure, I'm outta here." Some leave physically; others leave emotionally and withdraw.

But those who do have forgotten three basic truths about their commitment to each other:

1. Marriage is a covenant between three, not two. On our wedding day, I entered into a covenant both with Barbara and with God. Our marriage is not a contract but a sacred cord of three strands that will not be easily broken.

2. Marriage vows require us to forgive each other. No marriage is a perpetual walk through the daisies. There will be unmet expectations, unwise decisions, troubles with schedules and finances, and other unexpected pressures that will rattle our relationship until we think it's about to fall apart. But when hurt and disappointment come, our vows demand that we forgive one another. This is not an optional accessory. It is the
life and breath of our marriage.

3. Marriage vows are enduring. When the pressure becomes relentless and intense—when the cultural voices around us entice us to look out only for ourselves and quit—our vows shout, "DON'T!" (Or, as my kids say, "Deal with it.")

Quitting on your marriage may temporarily reduce the pressure you feel, but I promise you that a broken marriage and family will add truckloads of new pressures over a lifetime. It takes courage to do what you know is right.

Remaining devoted to your spouse becomes your living testimony to the faithfulness of God and the strength of your marriage covenant.


Think of the marriages you've seen fail. To what extent did selfishness play a part in the breakup of those relationships?


Pray that you will always love as God loves, forgive as He forgives and endure as He endures.

Source: Moments with You

Life is Hard, but God is Good

by Anne Peterson

Life is hard. For some, it's impossible. This last year has been one of our hardest. March 11th, 2016 we buried our 14-month-old granddaughter. Why would a loving God give a child and then carry her away at 14 months? I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you what I do know. God is good, no matter what.

God gives us free will.

Ever since Adam and Eve were given a choice in that beautiful garden, life was about to change. Read Genesis 3:6-19. But before you're quick to put the blame on them, think again. We would have chosen the same thing. How do I know? Because we all want our own ways. Once they chose to eat of that fruit, the whole game changed.

Before the fall, God provided for their every need. Adam was given great responsibility, but he also enjoyed his work. There was no sickness, no death. Simply two people depending on their heavenly Father completely. It's a wonderful picture of God's love. Before the fall, life was not hard. But God gave man a choice--free will.

One thing I've learned about free will is that we only like it sometimes. We like free will if it's our free will. We want to make our own choices. But when someone uses their free will and it hurts us or our loved one, we are no longer fans of free will.

Adam and Eve got to choose. While we are living on this side of glory, there will be hard things we go through. Sometimes because of our decisions, sometimes because of the decisions of others, those hard times are out there.

God will never leave us.

The thing is, God never promised it would be easy. I looked all through his promise book and it's not there. And yet, he did promise that no matter what we go through, he would be with us. Read Deuteronomy 31:6. We will not go through it alone. Like a loving dad, he holds our hand, or if things get too scary, he will carry us. Read Isaiah 46:4. I can nuzzle my head right into his neck and know it's going to be okay. He's right there.

God gives us grace.

God has this special thing he gives us when the hard times come. Paul knew about it and mentioned it in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Instead of answering Paul's prayer and removing what was hard from his life, God gave him grace. God wanted Paul to know what Paul was facing was hard, but God would provide what he needed in that hard place. God's grace enables us to do things we never thought we could do... like when I sat at my sister's murder trial waiting to testify. I didn't sit there alone. God was with me, giving me his grace.

God has overcome the world.

Maybe you're wondering why God didn't warn us about life being hard. Well, he did. Read John 16:33. Tribulation means hard times. God let us know we would experience hard times. But he reminded us we would not be alone. When we found out our granddaughter, Olivia, would probably die before she was born, God was with us. At 16, when I stood at my mother's casket, God was with me. There is not one hard thing I've gone through, not one loss I've experienced alone. And when things felt like I could not handle them, I could run to him. Read Psalm 91:1. Do you remember when you were little and you got scared? God knows sometimes we still feel like that in life. So he said we can always run to him. We can hide in his shadow, his giant loving shadow.

God comforts us.

Rushing to get my three year old son, Nathan, into the car, I heard him scream. To my horror, I had shut the door on his chubby little fingers. I threw the door open, freeing his hand to hear his surprised voice cry, “Mom, why did you do that?”

He was stunned that the same mom who loved him so much would hurt him. I've felt like that in my life at times. When I miscarried, I felt like my heart was inside a door that God had slammed. I wondered why. And then when I found out I had to wait a year to get pregnant, I struggled with it. And do you know what God did? He picked me up and cuddled me, just like I did to my son. He met me where I was. God always gives us comfort when we need it. Read 2 Corinthians: 3-4. God opens up his storehouse and dispenses comfort any hour of the day it's needed. And his supply will never run out.

God has a purpose for pain.

Maybe you already know all these promises, but you're stuck because you want to understand why we have to have pain. I mean, he is God; he could bypass all of that if he wanted to, couldn't he? And then I think of his own Son and how God allowed him to suffer on the cross. Because God loved us.

God has reasons we may not understand. He thinks differently than we do. Read Isaiah 55:8-9. God's ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts like our thoughts. We cannot understand an infinite God with finite minds. That's where trust comes in. And when we go through hard times, we need to remember God is all-knowing. And he works everything together for our good. Romans 8:28. Even though life is hard, we can trust that God is good.

Please pray with me:

Father, we pray that you will help us when we go through hard times in our lives. Help us to be like David who always remembered how good you are. Help us to trust you when things don't make sense. And God, on days when our hearts are broken, carry us, as only you can do. We believe that life is hard, but you are good. You can't be anything else. Amen.

About The Author:

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of fourteen books. Some of which are: Her memoir, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, three children's books: Emma's Wish, The Crooked House, and Lulu's Lunch. She has also authored the poetry books Droplets, and the series He Whispers. While Anne enjoys being a poet, speaker and published author, her favorite title is still 'Grandma' to her three grandchildren here, and one in heaven. ...


Four Reasons Why Christians Have Nothing to Fear

by Eric C. Redmond

We do many things to avoid death, the pain of death, and the uncertainty about what awaits us after death. Some people refuse to plan their wills or attend funerals, for that forces them to think morbid thoughts. Others avoid new ventures that involve air travel even though you are more likely to be in a car accident than a plane crash. Still others of us shrink back from sharing our faith where it would mean persecution or possibly martyrdom.

If we are going to be people who live Christ-centered, counter-cultural lives, we cannot let death bully us with concerns about death itself, the manner of our demise, and what lies just past the door to the afterlife. Instead, we must be fully assured that Christ's work in the incarnation, on the Cross, and in the resurrection means for us that there is nothing to fear.

In writing to the Hebrew Christians in Hebrews 2:14-18, the author immediately recognizes a problem of human existence. As human beings, we are mere "blood and flesh," and once the blood is spilled, we are no more. God, being without blood and flesh – without a physical body – has no concern about dying.

So that he could go through the same experience as people, God himself came in the incarnation, put on human flesh and blood, so that he too could experience death, and in doing so take the power of death away from the Evil One.

So, the first reason we have nothing to fear is because Jesus has identified with us in order to defeat the devil (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The writer to the Hebrews is certain of the reality of the devil. Apparently he has some real ability to use death as a means to his ends, for it says he has the power of death.

What the devil has, in fact, is delegated and usurped power. It is delegated from the Lord with limitations, as seen in the case of Job, for God alone is the one with the power to create life and to return men to dust. It is usurped in that man in the garden handed over dominion of the earth to him, and death entered under his rule with man's disobedience. He uses that power to destroy the lives of the wicked.

Because Christ took on a body, he was able to go to the Cross and die. By dying and then rising again from the dead, he "rendered powerless" the devil by taking away his tool. Holding death in his hand, the devil could say to humanity, "You better obey me rather than God or I will kill you!" But it is now not so with Christ coming into the world. Thus the devil still attacks us and seeks our ruin; but we have nothing to fear from him because his power to destroy us by death is taken.

Second, we have nothing to fear because Jesus, in identifying with us, delivers us from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:16). Jesus delivers those who are slaves to the fear of death. The fear of dying controls the lives of unbelievers so as to enslave them to actions that seek to escape death and how one might die.

For example, the captain of the sinking Costa Concordia departed the ship before the passengers, to make sure he kept his life even if others perished. In a sense, everyone who tries to leave a legacy of their own greatness are trying to keep themselves from being erased completely by death.

Jesus, however, frees us from the fear of death so that we do not spend the rest of our lives making decisions based on avoiding the pains associated with death. Uniquely, Jesus does not do this for angels, but only for those described as "the offspring of Abraham."

When one thinks of the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael are the first to come to mind. The Lord separated Isaac from Ishmael so that the promises to Abraham would come by election. Those who follow in the faith of Abraham are also his offspring; all who have believed Christ by faith are his offspring. For us death will not be a scary event. Christ's death for us makes death a short stop on the way to heaven, for Christ literally "takes hold of us" to carry us to glory.

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