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If we are going to effectively train our children in the way they should go, we must really know them as individuals first, not as little robots that are programmed to function without feelings or personality.

My two daughters were so different in temperament that I quickly learned to deal with them accordingly. What worked with Candas, a fun-loving child who was always eager to please us, certainly didn't work with strong-willed, independent Cookie.

She (Cookie) required a firm hand, often applied to her bottom. All I had to do was look sternly at Candas to get her attention!

Cookie is highly ambitious and self-motivated. We needed to steer her in the right direction, give specific ground rules, and pull the reins tight when she tried to run off course.

Candas is different. She tended to be impulsive, flighty and often regretted the consequences of her hasty actions. She was not self-motivated, so we had to remind her continually of truths and exhort her to think things through before doing them.

She remembers my warnings, "Think, Candy, think! Use your head before you act," even to this day. Now she sees how it brought stability and common sense to the forefront of her mind, and it still influences her on a daily basis.

Candy's desire to please me worked on her behalf once when she was eighteen and just beginning to explore certain avenues available to her. She and her date were celebrating graduation. They had gone out to a nice restaurant for dinner where wine was offered with their meal.

Curious Candy tried the wine, which made her feel so good she drank vodka. She had never drunk alcohol before, and mixing those two was deadly to her. She got skunk drunk and then extremely sick. Her date dragged her home, up the stairs and put her to bed.

The next morning, Sunday, was miserable. Candy, full of guilt and still a little hazy, knew it was best to be honest and up front with her dad. She knew hiding anything could bring worse results than honestly confessing her misconduct.

So she came downstairs and said, "Daddy, I'm so sorry—I got drunk last night and was sick everywhere." I could see how bad she felt, remembering my own experiences at that age. So I said, "Well, Candy, honey, I'm sorry you've experienced that, but at least I know you'll never want to do it again!"

Because she respected my opinion, she accepted what I said as fact, and never drank alcoholic beverages again!

Believing in Candas caused her to believe the best about herself. If I had been extremely harsh with her at that moment, and reviled her concerning the evils of drinking, who knows what the outcome would have been.

Her personality could have leaned toward alcoholism. The devil could have easily led her down that path, had I not responded the right way to her that morning.

Both Cookie and Candas have become beautiful women who love and serve God faithfully, but they traveled different "ways" to get there. They are the best of friends, yet so different in personality and style.

Isn't God grand to create us individually, know us intimately, and guide us personally in the "way" each of us should go? The end result will always be maturity.

While there are basic principles to consider for every child's development, if we train them all the same, without consideration of their unique personalities, and expect them to respond alike, we are in for some serious trouble.

The results will be rebellion, resentment, and retaliation. And everyone, child and adult alike, will be extremely frustrated in the process.

In a nutshell, training your child in the way they should go means bringing them into submission, as a skilled trainer would handle a fine race horse. Noting that horse's unique strengths and abilities, he develops them for maximum performance.

We are to create a thirst in each child for good things, godly things. Recognizing their specific personality, we determine specific techniques that will motivate and mature them. That way they will remain disciplined, always thirsting for good.

If you follow this simple principle, your children will remain dedicated to what they have been taught from childhood, and when they grow old, they will not depart from it.

Source: Man Husband Father by Buddy Harrison.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Buddy Harrison
Web site:
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.

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