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tantrum. Frustrated, the mother attempts to reason the child back to calmness, by coaxing and explaining—and sometimes turning to pleading and begging—that this is not the proper reaction, and not the right place to “express” himself.

This may be followed by a series of attempts to verbally pla- cate the child, all of which ultimately fail. Finally, driven by em- barrassment and desperation, the parent places the cookies back into the cart, quickly calming the child—but teaching him a devas- tating lesson. This “lesson” often goes so far as to include opening the package immediately and giving the child a cookie. I have seen it.

Instead of simply being told “no,” and responding obediently— and demonstrating happiness with the parent’s decision—the child learns how to manipulate his parents in order to get what he wants— how to satisfy his wants or desires. In effect, the parents are teaching the child to do, feel and think what is “right in his own eyes” (Prov. 12:15), with no regard for those around him.

Even God’s most faithful servants did not always receive what they desired or asked for. God used Moses to guide ancient Israel out of Egypt, and through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, until coming to the Promised Land. Yet, Moses was not permitted to enter the land with Israel.

Paul faithfully preached and spread the gospel of the kingdom of God throughout the Roman Empire. Throughout his ministry, he never wavered in teaching the full truth of God. Yet, the facts of his- tory indicate that circumstances had taken him from what must have once been a previous life of considerable comfort. Here is what he recorded:

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more fre- quent, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which comes upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (II Cor. 11:23-28).

Where Teaching the Basics Begins


Educate your children to the basic fact that they cannot always get what they want—that life does not always deal them the hand they expect or feel that they deserve. Like Paul, they must learn to be satisfied with—and appreciate—what they have. Here is what suffer- ing and difficulty taught Paul: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every- where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hun- gry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil. 4:11-12).

Since God gives the above instruction to you as a Christian, you will increase your child’s future happiness immeasurably if you teach him to be CONTENT with his life, including all the things that he cannot control.

Teach Your Children Life Is Not Fair

Prepare your children for perhaps life’s harshest reality: What hap- pens is not always fair. Some people are born blind, deaf or other- wise physically disabled. Sometimes, people with less talent but more attractiveness or better “connections” are selected for certain responsibilities or rewards over those more qualified.

Your children need to know that they could be discriminated against because of their social or economic background—or because of their accent, nationality or race. Explain that these injustices could happen to them.

Then teach your children that even Christians who faithfully obey God could also be discriminated against—that, at times, they will almost certainly suffer injustices. In all these things, remind them that this is not God’s world, and that their ultimate reward comes from Him.

My father made a point of telling his three children, literally, that he was not trying to be fair, and actually had no interest in being fair— because life is not fair. His thinking continued: if he always needed to be fair—something he knew was not really possible in many cases with children, anyway—he would be programming us to believe that we would always be treated fairly when this is not what life is for any- one! He wanted us to understand that we had to succeed when things were not fair, and to not waste time believing life would always deal us “a good hand.” In other words, he taught, you have to play the hand you are dealt either way, so practice succeeding with “a bad hand.”

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