Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by Joan » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:38 pm

Hi Homersteve,

I don't think I have a lot of wisdom that can be of help to you, but for what it's worth, here are a two small things I learned while raising my children.

Solidarity: Their dad was an atheist and after I converted to Christianity our worldviews - and views on how to rear children - were miles apart. An older couple suggested that the best thing we could do for our kids would be to present a unified front, and it was some of the best advice I've ever received. In fact, one of my kids brought it up a few days ago as a very positive part of her childhood, saying that she and her husband now present the same unified front to their daughters. My husband and I had a great many differences, but we kept our disagreements behind closed doors. The kids never suspected Mom and Dad didn't agree with one another 100%. If one parent said "yes" or "no," the other stood firm on the same "yes" or "no." If it was discovered that a child had tried to play one parent against another, that child payed a significant consequence. It may be that your wife will agree to a similar agreement - but even if not, it might be helpful to at least work toward it on your side. How to do that without appearing whimpy I don't know, but maybe some of the brothers here will have ideas for that.

Food: My son was a pickier eater than his older sisters. After trying a number of approaches I finally settled on one that worked well: I made sure he was quite hungry for dinner by withholding snacks beforehand. Then when we sat down to eat, his plate had a single bite of whatever food it was that he disliked. He couldn't have anything else until that one bite was gone, but after he'd eaten it, he could have as much as he wanted of the rest of his dinner. Fish was one of his most hated foods, but the day came when after eating the required portion, he said, "That was good. Could I have another one?" It worked with everything but "slima beans," which he never did learn to appreciate (me neither! - at least, not the frozen kind). He became what my mother calls "an excellent eater." (It's interesting that when he grew up and had a son of his own, my son force-fed his own son. Results not yet in.) I wasn't able to employ the same approach with my youngest, as her daddy would regularly step in to give her a bowl of cereal or some other substitute for dinner when she didn't like what I'd prepared. Applying the more important "solidarity" principle, I had to sacrifice my "train her up in the way she should eat" principle. In her pre-teen years, she is a difficult one to feed now, though I can still use after-school hunger to at least some advantage.

So there you have it. Everything I know about raising children, in two nutshells.
: )

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by Homer » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:20 pm

Hi Joan,

You sound like a wonderful mother. The only caution I would make is to consider that a child who does not "like" certain foods may be allergic to them. When our youngest, now in his forties, was a young boy he did not want to eat his potatoes. We would tell him "finish your potatoes". He replied that they made his throat hurt, and we thought he was just making an excuse. A few years later he had allergy tests and was found to have several food allergys, among them potatoes! He was informed he must carry an emergency injection kit, as he has occasionally had reactions to foods. And he still tests as allergic to potatoes.

God bless, Homer

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by Joan » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:47 pm

Oh Homer, you are sooo right. My pre-adolescent has had strong dislikes that did turn out to be allergy related, though others are just plain boredom, wanting food off the gourmet food channel, when I am an everyday cook. It's funny that you should mention potatoes - I react badly to potatoes myself, and I only today discovered that there are others like me!

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by darinhouston » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:12 am

Now in the public domain, one of my favorite child rearing books has a chapter on children eating habits. I have a dietitian wife and a boy with food allergies so I agree with Homer and also that this requires balance in other regards but is good general advice, anyway.
Hints on child-training by H. Clay Trumbull wrote:

What a grown person likes to eat or drink depends largely on what that person was trained to eat or drink while a child. And a child can be trained to like almost any sort of food or drink, either good or bad. No small responsibility, therefore, for both the health and the enjoyment of a child, devolves on him who has in hand the training of a child's appetite.

That a child inherits tastes in the matter of food and drink cannot be questioned; but this fact does not forbid the training of a child's tastes away from its inborn tendencies; it merely adds an element to be considered in the training process. A child born in the tropics soon learns to like the luscious fruits which are given to him freely; while a child born in the arctic regions learns with the same rapidity to like the grosser diet of fish and oil which is his chief supply of food. In one region the people live mainly on roots and berries; in another, they devour raw flesh or drink fresh blood; in yet another, they eat dried locusts or grasshoppers; in yet another, it is milk or honey which is their chief means of sustaining life. In every region the children are easily trained to enjoy the eating of that which they have to eat; and if a child is taken at an early age from one region to another, he quickly adapts himself to his new conditions, and learns to like that which is given to him as his means of satisfying hunger. All of which goes to show that the natural appetite of a child does not demand one kind of food above another, to that extent which forbids the training of a child to enjoy that which he can have and which he ought to use.

As a rule, very little attention is given to the training of a child's appetite. The child is supplied with that food which is easiest obtained, and which the child is readiest to take. If the parents give little thought to their children's welfare, they simply allow their children to share with them at the common table, without considering whether or not the food is that which is best suited to the children's needs. If the parents are tender-hearted, and lovingly indulgent toward their children, they are quite likely to show favor by giving to them those things which please a child's palate, or which are favorites with the parents themselves.

Finding that a child likes sugar, a parent is tempted to give a bit of sugar to a child who is not ready to take anything else at its meal-time; even though that bit of sugar may destroy the child's appetite for the hour, or disturb the child's stomach for all day. Again, seeing that the child is glad to try any article of food which his parent enjoys, the parent, perhaps, proffers from his own plate that which he deems a delicacy; although it may be of all things the least suited to the child's state of health, or condition of being. And so it is that the child is trained in wrong ways of eating, at the very time when he most needs training in the right way.

A child is quite likely to have his freaks and fancies of appetite, which a kind parent is tempted to indulge instead of checking. One child would eat only the softer part of bread, while rejecting its crust. One would eat meat without vegetables; another would refuse one kind of meat, or of vegetables, while eating all others freely; and so on. The more these peculiarities are indulged, the stronger becomes their hold on the child. The more they are checked and restrained, the weaker their power becomes. Yet most parents seem to count such peculiarities as beyond their control, and therefore to be accepted as inevitable; instead of realizing their personal responsibility for the continuance or the removal of them.

"Your boy ought to eat less meat and more farinaceous food," says a physician to a mother, whose boy is in the doctor's hands. " Let him have oatmeal and milk for breakfast; and see to it that he eats meat only once a day, and sparingly at that." " Johnny is a great hand for meat," is the answer; "and he can't take oatmeal." And in that answer the mother shows that all the blame in the case rests on herself, and not on her Johnny. Johnny ought to have been trained to eat what is good for him, instead of indulging his personal whims in the eating line.

When a mother says, " My boy won't eat potatoes," or " He won't eat tomatoes," or " He will eat no meat but beef," she simply confesses to her culpable failure of duty in the training of her boy's appetite. If she were to say that she did not approve of one of those things, or of the other, and therefore she would not give it to him, that would be one thing; but when she says that he will not take it even though she thinks it best for him, that is quite another thing; and there is where the blame comes in.

Of course, it is to be understood that there are articles of food in familiar use which, here and there, a child cannot eat with safety. On the seashore, for example, the clam, which is eaten freely by most persons, seems to be as poison to certain individuals. It is not that these persons do not like the clam; but it is that their systems recoil from it, and that its eating is sure to bring on a serious illness. A like state of things exists with regard to fresh strawberries in the country. They are a delicious fruit in the estimation of most persons. They are as a mild form of poison to certain individuals. But these cases are abnormal ones. They have no practical bearing on the prevailing rule, that a child can be trained to like whatever he ought to eat, and to refrain from the eating of whatever is not best for him. And herein is the principle of wise training in the realm of a child's appetite.

A prominent American educator put this principle into practice in his own family, consisting of four boys and four girls. He was a man of limited means, and he felt the necessity of training his children to eat such food as he deemed proper for them, and as good as he could afford to supply. His choice of food for his family table was wisely made, to begin with; and then he showed wisdom in his mode of pressing it upon his children.

If those children deemed a dish distasteful, they were privileged to wait until they were willing to eat it. There was no undue pressure brought to bear on them. They could simply eat it, or let it alone. If they went without it that meal, the same dish, or a similar one, was before them for the next meal; and so on until hunger gave them the zest to eat it with unfeigned heartiness. By this means those children learned to eat what they ought to eat; and when they had come to years of maturity they realized the value of this training, which had made them the rulers of their appetite, instead of being its slaves. It needs no single example to illustrate the opposite course from this one. On every side we see persons who are subject to the whims and caprices of their appetite, because their appetite was never trained to be subject to them. And in one or another of these two directions the upbringing of every child is tending to-day.

Peculiarly in the use of candy and of condiments is a child's appetite likely to be untrained, or trained amiss. Neither the one nor the other of these articles is suited to a child's needs; but both of them are allowed to a child, regardless of what is best for him. The candy is given because the child fancies it. The condiments are given because the parents fancy them. Neither of the two is supposed to be beneficial to the child, but each is given in its turn because of the child's wish for it, and of the parent's weakness. There are parents who train their children not to eat candy between meals, nor to use condiments at meals. These parents are wiser than the average; and their children are both healthier and happier. There ought to be more of such parents, and more of such children. The difficulty in the way is always with the parents, instead of with the children.

It is affirmed as a fact, that some Shetland ponies which were brought to America had been accustomed to eat fish, and that for a time they refused to eat hay, but finally were trained to its eating until they seemed to enjoy it as heartily as other ponies. Children to whom cod-liver oil was most distasteful when it was first given to them as a medicine, have been trained to like cod-liver oil as well as they liked syrup. And so it has been in the use of acid drinks, or of bitter coffee, by young children under the direction of a physician. By firm and persistent training the children have been brought to like that from which for a time they recoiled. It is for the parents to decide, with the help of good medical counsel, what their children ought to like, and then to train them to like it.

It is by no means an easy matter for a parent to train a child's appetite; but it is a very important matter, nevertheless. Nothing that is worth doing in this world is an easy matter; and whatever is really worth doing is worth all that its doing costs —and more. In spite of all its difficulties, the training of any child's appetite can be compassed, by God's blessing. And compassed it ought to be, whatever are its difficulties. It is for the parent to decide what the child shall eat, as it is for the parent to decide what that child shall wear. The parent who holds himself responsible for what a child shall put on, but who shirks his responsibility for what that child shall take in, would seem to have more regard for the child's appearance than for his upbuilding from within; and that could hardly be counted a sign of parental wisdom or of parental love.

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by Homersteve » Wed May 31, 2017 9:32 pm

It's been a long time, but I'll give an update. My son has been going to a continuous curriculum school since 1st grade. He's now in 4th. He seems to be doing ok. My wife filed for divorce on October 27, 2016. It should be finalized August 28, 2017. So far I have the majority custody 6/1. She has him mainly one day a week. I'm sure this will change in the finalization of the divorce. I pray it doesn't. This has been the most painful time I've ever gone through. She first started to separate from me in January 2015 and I've been dealing with this for over two years. We've been married for 24 years. I'm lonely and feeling very depressed. I pray God's will be done in this. I'm feeling very hopeless. I would be thankful for your prayers. Thank you -Steven.

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by john6809 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:59 pm

I'm really sorry to hear that news, Steven. The best advice I can offer is to focus with all your might on knowing God. I will be praying for you and your family.

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"My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior." - John Newton

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by TruthInLove » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:29 am

Hi Homersteve,

My heart goes out to you. Please know that I will be praying for you and your situation. I have family that are going through similar times at the moment.

In your original post, you asked for some resources to help you with your approach to fatherhood. That was years ago now, but if you still feel a need for guidance here, the following are the 3 books that strongly influenced my approach to overcoming adversity and raising my family. Myself, I've been married for 11 years and am a father of 4. These may be even more helpful to you now that your situation has changed:

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living - Dale Carnegie
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It - Michael Gerber

I know you asked for Christian books specifically about being a father. I realize these books probably seem completely unrelated on both accounts. While these books are written by non-Christian authors and are not directly related to raising children, they are the best that I've read on the topic of servant-leadership, a crucial principle in business and family life. These books exemplify practical ways to realize the sort of radical counterculture Christ promoted. Perhaps there are Christian authors with similar resources but I personallly have not found any that were as helpful to me as these. If these concepts sound like they could help you but you really prefer a Christian author, perhaps others on this forum could recommend Christian resources with similar messages. I myself am not aware of any on par with these.

Fundamentally, these books are about approaching leadership in volatile and uncertain even chaotic circumstances all with the mindset of a humble, faithful and passionate servant. Christ was that kind of leader. The principles taught in these books work in large, people-intensive, secular businesses and the books are filled with practical ways to overcome the barriers to such an approach. These principles also work wonders in family life too. Family is a small-scale business in a very tumultuous and risky market - people's lives and souls. Both family and secular business can be gruelling, heart-wrenching endeavors fraught with failure, worry and regrets. They are intimately connected as I think is evidenced by the immense rate of both family and business disintegration we see today.

I'd highly recommend the audiobooks if you can afford them. They make great listening when driving.

In all seriousness, I know these may seem completely unrelated to your situation, but I honestly believe they can be immensely helpful. They are at the very least encouraging and can give you a sense of hope that your troubles can be overcome, there are people who can sympathize and who really do care. They can help in understanding what contributes to our troubles and that understanding can itself help us make peace with the things we can't change.

Of course, standard Christian advice applies here too. Be still and trust in God, hope and think with eternity in mind, etc. Perhaps the above resources will help when that doesn't perhaps feel like enough.

I will be praying for you.


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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by dwight92070 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:31 am


Just a few things I have learned with our 5 children - only one at home now and he is 22.

1. Give your 3 year old the same respect that you give to an adult friend. Don't ignore them when you're with other adults, but at the same time teach them not to interupt a conversation, unless it's an emergency. Allow them to join in your conversation with other adults as much as is possible or appropriate. Don't yell at him, embarrass him, or belittle him, and yet be firm with him at the same time, not in anger but in love.

2. Spankings should be rare, never with extreme or out of control anger or with yelling. Many say not to use your hand, but a wooden spoon on their bottom, never spank them anywhere else. I think that is right.

3. Read children's stories to them, sing to them (or play good music for them to hear), play with them and their friends, when you can. But teach them that you and your wife need alone time too. I'm not saying to leave him unsupervised, but he can do something by himself while you and your wife have a conversation in the same room. Theres noEncourage them to befriend other children and if possible, do things with those other children and their parents.

4. Don't allow them to see immoral, vulgar, violent or scary movies. Some will say you're over-sheltering them. I disagree. Sheltering our children from evil influences is one of the main jobs of parents with small children. In fact, if you or your wife watch those kinds of movies, they will quickly follow your example as they grow up.

5. Don't give in to tantrums. You and your wife are in charge, not them. If they want something, they must ask the right way, with kindness and respect, or they won't get it. If they throw a tantrum at the store, take them home to your wife, while you go to the store without them. If they throw a tantrum with your wife, if possible, you watch them at home while she goes to the store. Tell them they cannot go to the store with you, unless they stop throwing a tantrum, and then follow through. If your wife needs to shop and your son throws a tantrum, and you're at work, possibly she can leave him with another lady friend with children. Keep doing this until he gets the message that you will not tolerate a tantrum. That other lady friend may need your wife's help to do the same for her and her children. They won't like to go to another lady's house, especially when they realize you're going to the store without them. This is an example of disciplining them without spanking or time-outs.

6. Do lot's of positive things with him. Not only does this help to build your relationship, but this gives you another thing that you can withhold from him when he misbehaves. Again, withholding fun events (temporarily, not for long periods of time) with him or
not allowing him to watch a good movie, etc. are ways of dealing with bad behavior without spanking or time outs.

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by dwight92070 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:45 am

One more thought: Unlike someone who posted earlier, I don't believe minor offenses deserve a spanking, not even just one swat. If our children got one swat every time they committed a minor offense, then many of them would be getting spanked all day long. I literally made this exact mistake for a while with my children. We were also told by a "Christian counselor" to put my son in "time out" in a room by himself for 15 minutes every time he misbehaved. There were some days that he was in his room for hours! This is sheer idiocy! He might as well go to the city jail! Another "Christian counselor" told us to give him a dime every time he misbehaved! I told the counselor that we would go broke, so we started with a nickel. After a while, he threw the nickels back at us and said, "I don't want your blood money!" We were also advised that whenever my son threw a tantrum or was out of control (he was labeled ADHD) , to literally wrap him up in a sheet, with his head sticking out, and then just hold him. I'm sorry to say that I actually did that a few times, unfortunately in anger. Looking back, I grieve over this and have asked his forgiveness many times. Thank God my son has forgiven me. That action borders on child abuse.

What foolishness comes out of the mouths of so-called "professionals"! We need to love our kids, pray with them, sing with them, play with them, talk with them, train them, respect them, hug them, hold them, defend them, give them the benefit of the doubt, forgive them, reject negative labels put on them, teach them the Bible, and yes, discipline them. But discipline involves so many other things before we ever really need to spank them. I believe in spanking, but God will show you when it is really necessary. Other than that, we should not spank them.

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Re: Parenting (Mainly on being a Father)

Post by dwight92070 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:19 am


I too will pray for you. Sorry to hear about the divorce. Have you heard Steve's teaching on divorce? I think it would be helpful, even though you are going through a difficult time. May God be with you to guide you and your son.

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