*** w54 1/15 pp. 57-60 Disciplining Children for Life ***
A WORD TO THE CHILDREN
12 Well now, what are all you children thinking? That here is a big crowd of grownups ganging up on you, thinking up more ways to hem you in and make your life miserable? No, we are not ganging up on you, but ganging up for you, to be strong to protect you, to keep you in our midst, serving God and safe from Satan. All who love Jehovah must gang together to help one another do God's work. If you children have been the subjects of our discussion, it is because you are the objects of our affection. All right, you say, but if you grownups are so fond of us what is all this talk about discipline, and especially spanking? Well, with you children that does touch a tender spot, does it not? But to help us get to the bottom of the matter let us look at the animals that you children love. Jehovah's wisdom is reflected in his creations, so to look to animals for instruction is not to lower our thinking to their level, but to lift it to God's thoughts. We are told to go to the ant to learn industriousness, to consider the locust for an example of unity; so we are on no unscriptural side trip when we look at the training some animals give their young, which springs from God-given instinct.-Rom. 1:20; Prov. 6:6-8; 30:27; Joel 2:7, 8.
13 When animal parents train their young they are aware of the limitations of their young, that at the start the little ones cannot do big things. So they start their young out in what might be called an animal kindergarten, and work up. For example, barn swallows catch insects on the wing. That is too hard for young birds, so the parent birds catch the fast-flying insects, hover near the nest or perch of the young birds, drop the insects, and the youngsters fly out and catch the slow-falling bodies. Soon they can snatch their own food out of thin air. The mother fox, after the young are weaned, brings captured mice and other food into the den. Later she leaves it at the entrance, and as the babies get bigger she leaves it farther and farther away, to teach her young to hunt for their food. Toward the end of this training the parent fox even hides the prey beneath leaves and rubbish, thus forcing the young to use the sense of smell as well as the sense of sight. In these and many other cases, as the young learn more the parents do less. So with you children. You need to be trained by your parents, and as you learn more and gain experience you will be allowed to do more and more. As you increase in ability parental control will decrease.
14 But what about discipline in the woods? Well, we just have to face the fact that these animal mothers are old-fashioned and seem not to have read any modern books on child psychology, because they surely do spank their young. A mother tiger was annoyed when one of her babies kept pawing at her. She tried to ignore these advances, but finally took the youngster's whole head in her mouth, squeezed and shook it, while the startled baby whimpered. You children probably have never had your mother take your head in her mouth, but you have probably got a shaking when you have annoyed her and not stopped when told to.
15 Did any of you children ever get in trouble for not sitting still, maybe during a meeting? You should go to the fawn, you restless ones, and consider its ways, and be wise. A mother deer will conceal its baby or fawn and instruct it to freeze motionless, and it will remain without moving for hours. Rarely do fawns disobey and move, but if they do they get a spanking from sharp mother hoofs.
16 Did you ever get a spanking for being too venturesome, for doing something in your playing that mother thought might result in your being hurt? If you did, you have company in your plight. A young koala, that is, the little bear that looks just like the toy teddy bear, was in captivity with its mother. There was a tree in the cage, and the baby would go out on small limbs where the mother could not follow. At the first opportunity she nabbed him and spanked him so hard his cries were heard a long way off. After that he stayed off the small branches.
17 Some years ago in Sequoia National Park, in the western United States, garbage was dumped in an opening in the forest and bears would come there in large numbers to eat. Once a mother bear came out of the forest with two cubs, but before she came on down to where the grown bears were eating she sent her babies up a tree. One came down, and the mother rushed over and gave it a good wallop with her paw and sent it rolling. It scurried up the tree in a hurry, and both of them stayed there till she had finished her meal and returned to the foot of the tree and signaled them down. Remember the scripture that appeared earlier in this study, where it told the parent to spank the child, that spanking would not kill it but would deliver it from the grave? Well, that is just what this mother bear was doing. She spanked the cub; that did not kill it, but it saved it from death. Had it gone down where the big bears were eating a large vicious male might have killed it.
18 There is no juvenile delinquency in the animal realm, because there are no delinquent animal mothers. They do not spare the paw and spoil the young, but spank to preserve the young. They would die fighting for their young, just as your parents would die for you; yet they spank their young, just as your parents may spank you. In the woods the first mistake is often the last, and if the young animals disobeyed their mothers they would become the main course on a woodland menu and end up in another animal's stomach. So, while it may not be pleasant for them to be spanked, it is better to be beaten than to be eaten.
19 Now you children may not think so, but there is a wild, beastly creature that would like to eat you. Peter warned all of us about him, saying: "Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone." (1 Pet. 5:8, NW) That someone is you, because you love Jehovah. The Devil hates Jehovah, and would like to swallow up in the evil surroundings of his old world everyone that loves Jehovah. So just as the wild animal mothers discipline their young to keep them from being eaten, your parents discipline you to keep you from being devoured by the Devil's world. The animal mothers train and discipline their young in accord with the instinct God gives them; your parents train and discipline you in accord with the Bible instruction God gives them.
20 If your parents love you theocratically they will guide you in the way taken by young Samuel, Jeremiah, Timothy and Jesus. They will steer you away from bad examples, such as the wicked boys that came with the mob at Sodom to attack God's angels and commit immoral acts. (Gen. 19:4, 5) Your parents will guide you away from false worship, so you will not be like the children of Israel that provoked Jehovah to anger, as he said: "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger." (Jer. 7:18) You do not want to jeer at Jehovah's servants, as youngsters did at Job. He said: "Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me." (Job 19:18) In mocking God's servants you blaspheme him, as did the mob of children that taunted Elisha by saying, "Go up, thou bald head." Jehovah caused bears to claw forty-two of those juvenile delinquents.-2 Ki. 2:23, 24.
21 That may seem severe treatment for calling someone a baldhead, but more than disrespect was involved. It was the taunt "Go up" that called for divine vengeance. It was telling Elisha to go up as he reported Elijah did. (2 Ki. 2:11) It showed disbelief in Jehovah's miracle in Elijah's case, and was a taunt for Elisha to prove it by duplicating it. It could also indicate that Elisha should go up as did Elijah and in that way the community would be rid of him. It suggested that his presence was unwanted and for him to clear out of the territory. It is likely that adults were responsible for this delinquency, the childish taunting being a reflection of the adult attitude if it was not directly instigated by religiously opposed adults. At any rate, the children were punished for their blasphemy. As Proverbs 20:11 states: "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." Youthfulness alone does not save delinquents who blaspheme, as shown by the command given Jehovah's executional forces at Armageddon: "Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women."-Ezek. 9:5, 6.
22 You may obey your parents because they want you to. That is a good reason, but here is a better one-obey because Jehovah wants you to. He says directly to you: "Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and mother'; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.'" (Eph. 6:1-3, NW) Young animals must obey to live long; here Jehovah tells you to obey if you want to endure on earth. Do you love Jehovah? Then obey him. (1 John 5:3) He says, Obey "parents in union with the Lord"; so obey yours who are Jehovah's witnesses. If it is sometimes hard to do, do it anyway, but look at it as obedience to Jehovah. God tells the wife to be obedient to her husband and the slave to be obedient to his master. How should the wife and the slave view this obedience to the husband and the master? The wife is told to do it "as to the Lord." The slave is told to do it "as to the Christ." You children, obey your parents "as to Jehovah," working at it whole-souled for his sake. (Eph. 5:22; 6:5-8; Col. 3:23, 24, NW) So in this also you are serving Jehovah, just as when you go out in the witness work. Heeding reproof and discipline means life, whereas those "disobedient to parents" are "worthy of death."-Prov. 15:10; 29:1, AT; Rom. 1:30, 32.