“’Tis education forms the common mind,
Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.”
So wrote Alexander Pope in his 1734 letter titled “Epistle to Cobham.”
This familiar quote, although several centuries old, describes what harmful or beneficial things can happen to young living things.
The bent twig can never grow straight, just as a child lacking in love and discipline can seldom overcome the bad influences they suffer as they mature. The job of parenting is the most important job in the world. It needs love and discipline equally balanced to be effective.
It has also been truly said, “A mightier power and stronger Man from his throne has hurled, for the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” That statement was first attributed to W.R. Wallace in 1865, according to J. K. Hoyt’s Cyclopædia of Practical Quotations, published in 1896.
But even that statement is only half true. The other half involves the discipline that a child must learn to have self control. Without self control, any child can become a monster, rebellious and disrespectful.
What a child needs most is interaction with a parent who is talking, playing at some pleasant mutual activity, listening to, laughing with, reading to — any of hundreds of pleasant experiences — with the child.
In other words, the child is being loved, learning to love and to respond with socially acceptable behavior.
This works best when both parents work together with the whole family participating, especially during those first formative years before the children go off to school. But it needs to happen afterwards as well.
Being human, we all make mistakes. However, it should be emphasized that there is no job more important than raising children to be honest, upright citizens, embodying the good traits to which we all should subscribe.
A lot of today’s problems with teens and young adults can be traced to parents who, during recent decades, have preached and practiced permissiveness. Spanking they declare to be synonymous to a beating.
Not so if done right.
The Bible says to use a stick to teach, not to injure, saying that if children are taught right behavior when young, they will not depart from it.