by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 46 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
As a boy I often spent time throwing a ball up and catching it in the front yard. When my dad would walk out of the house, I would ask him to play catch with me, but he was always too busy, I can recall as a little boy saying to myself, "I will be glad when I grow up to be a daddy. I will take time to play catch with my boy."
Now for nearly seventeen years I have been a daddy. I trust I have been the kind pleasing to God and helpful to my children.
When my first daughter, Becky, was born, I stood at the window of the maternity ward with a big, loose-leaf Scofield Reference Bible in my hand. I showed it to Becky through the window, and explained to her that this was the Bible and that the Bible was the Word of God. I did this to the delight and amusement of onlookers. The first night that Becky was home from the hospital I talked to her about the plan of salvation. I took her from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem, and though she seemed unimpressed, I continued doing so until she was old enough to be saved.
Oh, for America to return to the kind of homes that rear children with character and integrity!
1. The rules should be clearly defined at an early age. When our children were yet infants, learning how to walk, we took them on a guided tour of the house. We pointed to the things they were not to touch and said, "No, no, no, no, no." We taught them to say, "No, no, no, no, no." Then when one of the off-limits things was touched, the child was spanked. I am talking about a one-year old. Hence, we never had to move any vases off our tables. Our children didn't rearrange our furniture or our schedule. They were taught very clearly what the rules were, and they have abided by those rules through the years.
2. Expect rigid adherence to the rules. For example, at our house eleven o'clock is curfew time. Unless special permission is granted, this is always the time for the youngsters to be at home. One minute after eleven o'clock is too late and causes disciplinary measures to be taken.
3. Strict punishment should be given when the rules are broken. The punishment should be worse than the reward is good. A child should always be taught that doing wrong is a bad bargain. If a youngster can stay out an hour late and get nothing but a spank on the wrist, he will decide that another hour with his girl friend is worth a spank on the wrist. However, if being an hour late keeps him from going out with his girl friend for a week, he will be on time from then on.
One Saturday afternoon before Christmas, my boy David went Christmas shopping. He was to be home by three o'clock. He came in eleven minutes late. I took him to his room and then explained why I was going to spank him. I bent him over my knee and gave him a good thrashing. I sat him beside me and asked him, "Now, little man, just what were you doing that was so important that you could not be on time?"
With quivering lips and tear-dripping eyes, he murmured, "I was getting your Christmas present gift wrapped."
To be sure, I felt like a heel, and yet, I would spank him again. A rule is a rule and it should be kept. In the long run we will make better children and law-abiding adults if we will impress upon them the importance of obeying the rules.
4. Just what is a spanking? I have never felt that a child should be spanked immediately or in public. It should not be the parent giving vent to his anger or release to his emotions. It should be a time of reminding the child that wrong does not turn out right and that he must pay for the doing of it.
With our children I have followed this procedure: When the child does something deserving a spanking, I say sternly but quietly, "Go to your room." I then follow him to his room, sit down across from him, look him straight in the eye, and explain to him what he has done that is wrong. I then ask him to explain to me the wrong that has been committed. When he knows what he did and I am convinced that he knows, I then say to him, "Bend over Daddy's knee." This he does under his own power. In the case of the girls, they are asked to pull up their skirts. I then proceed to spank and spank hard. How long do I spank? I spank until the will of the child is broken. When the child is crying and is obviously broken hearted, I cease the spanking.
When the spanking is finished, I ask the child to sit across from me again and explain to me again why I spanked him. After a brief word of prayer asking God's forgiveness, I then leave him in the room by himself to think about what he has done. This period of meditation usually lasts ten or fifteen minutes. Hence, from the time that the act is committed until the time the procedure is over is about thirty minutes. This makes a spanking an ordeal. A few spankings of this kind will take the place of many of the little temper tantrums that parents usually have and refer to as spankings.
By the time our children got eight or ten years old, spankings were very infrequent. They knew what they were. They knew what to expect, and they knew they would get what they expected if they did wrong. Wrong had become very distasteful by this time.
People often ask with lamentation what is wrong with our generation. "Why the anarchy?" It does not take the thoughtful person long to decide where the trouble lies. It was only about twenty years ago that a new theory came out that we should not spank children. Now we have raised that generation. They have become anarchists, hippies, hoods, and lawbreakers. They have been taught as infants that wrong is not punished. They have been reared by this philosophy. Now we realize what we find in God's Word will work.
5. Keep the communication line open between parent and child. It should always be understood that the child can talk to the parent. Questions about life should be directed to the parent. The child should feel that Mom and Dad are always interested in his problems and always willing to talk about them.
The following is a letter received in 1968 from my thirteen-year-old son, David, showing the importance of the father-son relationship!
I am the luckiest boy in the world to have parents like you and Mom. I think you are the greatest man in the world, and I wouldn't trade you for any other father in the world.
In my eyes, Dad, you are the greatest preacher in the world. A lot of times at school I hear kids talking about their old man. I couldn't picture a kid of yours doing that because you take us places, buy our clothes and food and other things, and take care of us.
In my opinion you are the greatest Christian and soul winner and preacher in the world. And I'm always proud to tell my teachers and friends at school about you. You spend time with me. Not many fathers do that and I appreciate it.
I want to thank you for the things you got me in Japan and for taking me to Washington. I really enjoyed it. I also want to thank you for all you do for me.
If I can be half as great a man as you, I'll be glad. I love you and thank God for having a dad like you. And I'm proud you're my dad and love you as much as I possibly could.
I love you.
P.S. I pray that you will always preach like you do and be as good a Christian as you are.
Enjoy this statement because I'll probably never say it again. I'm proud to have a good-looking dad.
Now you will read a copy of the answer from Dad to son:
Mr. David Hyles
I have read and re-read your recent letter to me. There are several things that came to my mind as I read it.
1. I am honored to have a son who shows gratitude. One of the most important things in life is to be grateful. As a preacher's son, and later as a preacher, many things will be given to you, and much attention will be showered upon you. It will be easy to take things for granted and to think the world owes you something. All the world owes any of us is a chance to succeed, and this you will have. I am glad that you take time to write thank-you notes and that you are grateful.
2. Naturally I am glad that you have confidence in me. I have prayed for you from the day that I heard that you were coming to our home. I have prayed for God to make me the right kind of example. I pray He will help me to continue to be the kind of example of which you can be proud.
3. You do not know how much I enjoy being with you. All these years we have spent many hundreds of hours together. We have played ball, gone to ball games, gone fishing, taken trips, and in general, been real buddies. Now as you grow older, I dread the day when you will not be with me; but I am grateful that we have four more years, at least, together. To be with you is always a joy and always fun. I cut up with you a lot, of course, but that is because you are my buddy, my pal, my son.
4. I am proud of you because you are willing to express your love. A lot of boys your age would think it "sissy" to be loving, but that is not true. I love you, and as you said, you love me; and we should let each other know about it. I am glad that you take time to let me know that you love me.
5. I have a lot of dreams wrapped up in you, son. I would not tell you to be a preacher. I would not tell you what to be. I would simply tell you to be clean, to be honest, and to stay in the will of God. If you do those three things, I will be the proudest dad in the world.
If I had my choice to pick any boy in the world as my son, I would pick you again. You are all that I have dreamed my boy would be. May God help you to always be that.
Now in closing, may I say this: You will have many decisions to make in the next few years. There are many questions, perhaps, that you would like to ask concerning life, etc., and I want you to feel free to come to me and say, "Hey, Dad, can I talk with you?" We will make an appointment, and you may talk about anything in the world. I want it to always be that way, just as it has been in the past.
God bless you, son. I always wanted to be a dad, and I always wanted to have a boy. I am proud of you.
It is tragic how many children feel that they cannot talk to their parents. How vital it is to keep the line of communication open.
6. The parents should certainly share the high hours with the child. Things that do not seem to big to us are very big to young people and children. One need only to think back to his youth and remember for a while. Then he will understand the bigness of the decisions and the events of youth. The following is a letter that I wrote to my daughter Becky as she entered high school. It was a very important letter as far as the father- daughter relationship was concerned.
September 8, 1966
Miss Becky Hyles
As you enter high school, I want you to know a few things and remember others. First, I want you to know what a wonderful day it was in the lives of your mother and me when we heard you were coming. You brought a new dimension to our lives. You are our oldest and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
We began praying for you nearly seven months before you were born. Thousands of days have passed since then, but we have not stopped praying for you daily. Naturally I am proud that you are in high school; but I am prouder that you are a fine, Christian girl. To be sure, there have been times we have had to scold you and even discipline you, but all of these experiences have been used to make better people out of all of us. I trust God will use them to bring about His will in your life.
Now you are going to high school, Becky. You carry with you many hopes and dreams from your mother and me. We hope you have a wonderful life in high school, and we know that you will come out of high school and go into college the same fine, clean, dedicated Christian that you are now. In order to make his possible, let me make a few suggestions:
1. Always be courteous to the teachers, but remember that no person is perfect. Do not talk back to the teachers nor express your views when they are in opposition unless the teachers ask for your views. Even then, do it in a kind, sweet, Christian way. Remember, your father has taken the courses they have taken. I have been to college, I have been to seminary, I have my doctor's degree, I have been president of a college, and I have preached in many colleges and seminaries across America. You will not have a teacher who knows more about general education than your father. I am simply saying, if you have any question concerning any subject, please ask me. If they bring up something that is contrary to the Bible that you want explained, please ask me. Also remember this: Most of the great universities in the world (even though they do not believe the Bible now) were founded by Bible-believing people. This is true in the case of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.
2. Even though you are in high school every day, be sure that your best friends are Christian friends at First Baptist. This is one thing that I am proud of you for. In junior high and elementary school you kept your best friends your church friends. This is so wise. Do not even consider a date with an unsaved boy or a boy who is not dedicated. I pray that God will always let you go with boys from our own church or churches of like faith.
3. I trust that you will always trust your dad and mom and our advice and counsel. We want what is best for you and never try to advise you selfishly or for our own good. There may be times when you think our judgment is not best. If you will trust us, later on you will understand.
4. As I have said before, Becky, I think you have been privileged to have been placed in a preacher's home. To be sure, there are many inconveniences, but I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Our rules may be a little stricter than even those of your Christian friends at church, but remember that the rules by which your mother and I live are also stricter that the rules by which the other parents live. There are many things that we, as pastor and wife, cannot enjoy, but it is worth it. I hope you will look at it this way as a pastor's daughter. You have been very sweet in accepting the rules thus far. One day we will all look back upon them and rejoice because of them.
Becky, you were a real delight during our vacation. I enjoyed being with you. Your mother enjoyed it tremendously and told me that she never saw you any more cheerful or any more the life of the party. I hope that you will always be that way. Remember, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." God has endowed you with a wonderful personality, and I am grateful for that.
I have prayed for you a great deal during the time you and Kenny were breaking up and the days following, and I know a little bit how heavy your heart has been. I think you have been a real trooper through it all, and I am proud of you. I am praying for you that God will have His way concerning the boys you should go with and other important decisions and phases of your life.
I just wanted to write this little note since you are going to high school and remind you again as you go to high school that you carry with you fifteen years of your parent's love, dreams, hopes, work, and in some small way, maybe even sacrifice. I would rather die than for you not to be all that God wants you to be. We will do our part to see to it that you become what He would have you to be, and I know you will do yours.
You have only four years with us here at home. Let's make them the best. I love you.
7. The parents should always realize the bigness of the decisions that the children have to make. My boy David is a good athlete. He wanted to go out for basketball in school. Now, I did not care if he played basketball, but I had some preference that he not. He is going to be a preacher, and I wanted him to center his life around his church and not his school. The decision was a big one for him, and consequently, a big one for me. Below is the letter that was written to Dave concerning this decision.
November 3, 1966
I know it is a big thing in your life to have the opportunity to go out for basketball. It is also a big thing in my life for you to make the right decision. When I was your age, I dreamed of having a son, which means that I have looked forward to having you for twenty-eight years or more. I always dreamed of what my son would be like. You have been that and more. At least five times in the last week people have approached me telling what a fine boy you are and what a gentleman you are. Of course, this makes me proud.
I could not have asked for a finer son. My only request is that you continue to be what you have been. People all across America know you and have confidence in you. Many of my preacher brethren have told me they hoped their sons turn out to be what you are. The other day while in Wichita, Kansas, Brother Bill Harvey told me that you were one of the finest boys he has ever met.
Now I am sure you understand that any advice I give you would be because I love you and because I want your reputation to always be the same as it is now, so let me repeat what I told you briefly this morning: I would prefer that you not play on the school ball teams, but I will leave the decision up to you.
I naturally want you to run with the best of boys. These, of course, are to be found at church. However, I do not doubt for a minute that if you would play ball at school, you would still be a fine boy. I trust you completely. However, I would prefer that your companions always be the very best.
Do you remember last night when I was teaching you and the other boys in front of the teachers and officers? I mentioned there are some good things that are wrong to do. This does not mean that you will be sinning if you play basketball. It does mean that you will be sinning if you do anything that is not in God's will.
You make the decision, Dave, and I know it is a big one. Mother and the girls could not understand how big it is, but I know. If you decide to play basketball, I will be proud of you, and I will lead the cheering section. If you decide not to play, I will be equally as proud of you and will lead the cheering section. You will not be disobeying me if you choose to play; but again, I say, I have some preference that you don't play.
If you decide not to play, I will find a hundred ways to make it up to you. Now you pray about it and do what you think the Lord wants you to do. You are a good Christian and the Lord will lead you, I am sure.
He gladly and happily made his decision not to play basketball. As I dictate this chapter, he and I are at the Bill Rice Ranch in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, together. He flew down with me yesterday. We have been real buddies in every way, and I think he is glad for his decision. This is not to say that it is wrong for a boy to play basketball. It is to say that it is right for parents to be vitally concerned about decisions their children have to make.
8. Boys should be led to become masculine, and girls should be led to become feminine. Dads should see to it that boys become real boys, and moms should see to it that girls become real girls. When David was five years of age, I got a baseball glove, a bat, and a baseball. I hit him some grounders nearly too hard for him to catch. I told him that I would give him a nickel for each one he caught. The ball hit him in the chin, on the arm, on the thumb, and most every place except the glove. He didn't make any money but he was becoming a man. He was beginning to take the knocks of life. I then got some boxing gloves and had a kid a little older than David come over and box with him. The boy was just enough better at boxing than Dave to beat him a little bit. He knew what it was to get hit in the nose and to be whipped. He was still becoming a man! I have worked hard to teach him proper coordination of his body and to lead him to become a man. It has been worth it a thousand times. Dads, see to it your boys do not become sissies. Moms, see to it that your girls become ladies with all of the charm, poise, and grace that accompanies being lady-like.
This chapter is in no way an attempt to teach child rearing. It is simply a few of the meditations of a father who lies on his back at the Bill Rice Ranch late on a summer evening and who is proud of his son.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion,
warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY