“Pass It On”

June 27, 2014

The British and Foreign Bible Society has launched an initiative called “Pass It On” for 2014. The idea is to encourage adults to read the Bible to children or to tell them the stories of the Bible. This major push arose from a survey that was done of children between the ages of 8 to 15 and parents of children age 3 to 16 in the United Kingdom. Here is what they found.

In the Survey of 8 to 15 year olds in the U.K.

  • 23% had never read, seen or heard Noah’s Ark.
  • 25% had never read, seen or heard the Nativity.
  • 54% had never read, seen or heard Joseph and his coat of many colors.
  • 60% had never read, seen or heard the Feeding of the 5,000
  • 61% had never read, seen or heard the Good Samaritan
  • 63% had never read, seen or heard the Creation account.
  • 72% had never read, seen or heard Daniel and the lion’s den.
  • 85 % had never read, seen or heard the story of Solomon.

In the Survey of Parents of Children 3 to 16 in the U.K.

  • 30% did not recognize the story of Adam and Eve
  • 31% did not recognize the story of David and Goliath
  • 27% did not recognize the story of the Good Samaritan

Besides being tested on the plot lines of Bible stories, they were also given the plot lines of various stories outside the Bible to see if they thought they were in the Bible. Would the recognize that these stories are not found in the Bible? Here’s how it went with the parents.

  • 34% thought the plot line of Harry Potter was or might be in the Bible
  • 54% for the plot of the Hunger Games
  • 27% for the plot line of Superman
  • 46% for the plot line of The Da Vinci Code

Yes, this is a survey for Great Britain and not the United States. There is an obvious difference between the two countries. Currently, the U.K. has a church attendance rate at about 12% while the rate in the U.S. is at 43%. But it is a cautionary tale. What happens when one generation fails to pass on the Bible?

“We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done. Psalms 78:4,ESV

Sources: “Church Attendance Statistics by Country
http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/about-bible-society/our-work/pass-it-on/


Not Mass Produced

May 11, 2012

Netflix currently has the series, How It’s Made. I’m fascinated with the automation that goes into everyday products. One episode showed a factory producing copy paper. I tend to feel like I’m all thumbs unwrapping a ream of paper and placing it in the photocopier, but a mechanized factory produces 55,000 sheets of paper a minute, and it can wrap a ream of paper in the blink of an eye. Another episode showed a machine that fabricates adhesive bandages. It produced 300 to 1500 bandages a minute depending on size.

Since the industrial revolution, a few have pondered whether children could be raised that way. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World imagined a hatchery for children. Children were designed and conditioned to fulfill their various social stations. No need for the messiness of parents. The upper class alphas could then be free to consume (that’s what consumer societies need after all) and to experience pleasure.

The real world has produced more modest attempts of raising children in mass. The Soviet Union experimented on the family with child care centers. It attempted to put more of the child raising under the control of the state. From a non-Marxist point a view, feminism also desired the emancipation of women from the burden of child rearing. They believed that collective child care was inevitable, but their most illusive goal was freedom from the pre-school years.

Yet, maternal and parenting instincts are strong, and some of the attempts to change family life have fortunately been resisted. The Soviet Union had to reverse its course in its attempt to radically change the family. Plus, all this experimenting has taught us something. Child raising does not seem to be an activity that can be successfully industrialized. Children succeed at certain developmental tasks with parents that are not met with even the best child care.

Your mother gave birth to you. She changed your diapers. She talked to you and read stories to you. She taught you right from wrong. In fact, your moral sense was developed by the age of nine. She taught you how to pray your first child-like prayers. She guided you in learning how to share your toys, resolve your conflicts, and pick up after yourself. You learned to brush your teeth, take a bath, and say thank you and please.

She was there when you were frightened, and she protected you from dangers even the ones for which you were totally unaware. She put Band-Aids on your skinned knee and wiped away your tears. It was a labor intensive task, yet a labor of love. You were not massed produced.


Avoiding “Tiny Terror”

April 13, 2012

I was in a doctor’s waiting room when I met “Tiny Terror” and his mom. Tiny Terror was bouncing off the walls, and Mom seemed to have no way to control him. I thought the older couple sitting in the room was his grandparents. After all, Tiny Terror was on the floor in between the older gentleman’s legs banging a toy against the wall. Finally, Mom said that Tiny Terror was going to “time out.” It did not seem that Tiny Terror considered that an unpleasant prospect. When they had left the room, I learned that the people I assumed as “Grandparents” were just perturbed victims of Tiny Terror. The older gentleman commented aloud, “That boy is out of control and is the boss of his mother.”

How do we avoid raising a Tiny Terror? We have to realize that we are in a struggle to decide who is boss. The parent who can give consistent and firm discipline can win that battle. Consistency of consequences for unwanted behaviors is important because children will attempt to wear us down in this battle over wills. Punishment needs to “unpleasant” in order to be a deterrent (cf. Hebrews 12:11). Timeout can be unpleasant if done correctly, but in Tiny Terror’s case timeout was not dreaded.

I still think there is a place for spanking, and by the way, so does scripture (Proverbs13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15). Dr. James Dobson gives a number of good guidelines in his books. He suggests mild spankings could occur beginning at about 15 months. Spankings should be infrequent and reserved for defiance. Corporal punishment might continue to ages 9 to 12, but again are reserved for rebellion. I realize that there have been negative studies of spanking. However, I don’t believe researchers have carefully distinguished between the controlled corporal punishment as outlined by Dobson and the swats done out of anger and frustration. I too deplore the latter and think they fail as effect discipline.

Other punishments must also be a part of the parent’s tool kit. They will include timeout, loss of privileges, and work, although these must be tailored to the child’s age and abilities. Punishment shouldn’t be done out of anger. It should include talking about why the child is being corrected and should also include the expression of the parent’s love for the child. Discipline is not just about negative behavior. Discipline also includes reward and praise for appropriate behavior.

Parents should be clear about boundaries for their children. It is natural for children to test the boundaries set by parents, which is why consistency is important. Don’t make threats that you are not going to carry through on. Idle threats only allow the child to push your buttons and the edges of the boundaries you’ve set. If we are consistent, we won’t have to use our anger as the means of control. We can gain compliance before it reaches the anger level. Also be careful about promises. Don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep.

Raising children also includes a great deal of instruction. We are instilling values and morals. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NASB). We should be talking about spiritual things and values in our daily lives (see Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:7, Psalm 78:4-7, and Ephesians 6:1-4).

Few parents would want to claim perfection in child rearing. We all make mistakes, but there are common sense ways of being in control—ways to avoid “Tiny Terror.”