A Child's Relationship With Others

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 8 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How To Rear Children)

Many years ago in the city of London, England, the Salvation Army was conducting its annual convention. General William Booth, the great founder of the Army, was in failing health, had bad eye sight, and was unable to attend the convention. Someone suggested that he send a message to be read at the opening of the convention in order to challenge the hearts of the delegates. This he did. The moderator rose to read the message and this is what he read. "Dear Delegates of the Salvation Army Convention: Others. Signed, General Booth." The successful life must be built around others, and the happy adult must as a child be taught to live for others.

Life has been called a series of relationships. The degree of one's happiness and success in life depends upon his properly relating himself with those of his society with whom he comes in contact. Barrie wrote, "Always be a little kinder than necessary."

Hence, the child should begin early in life adhering to the spirit of the golden rule which is basically expressing goodwill and friendliness to all. From the President to the garbage collector, from the millionaire to the ditch digger, he should be taught to show good manners to all. One becomes a snob when he shows good manners only to those whom he thinks equal or superior to himself in position or wealth. He should be doing what he can to lighten the burdens of others and to make their lives more comfortable. It is interesting how many words include the word "other". Notice the words, "mother," "another," "brother," etc.

1. Parents. Since the child is to love his parents, that love will find vent in action. He should be taught to put their interests first, to put their pleasures and comforts before his own, to lift their burdens, to treat them with proper courtesy, and to show interest in them, their needs, and their lives. William Penn wrote, "If thou wouldst be obeyed as a father, be obedient as a son." "Rather the child cry than the mother sight," is an old saying.

It is sad but true that many parents who have not had formal training are thought to be ignorant or behind the times by their children. Often they are treated with contempt, shame, or at best, indifference. It is true that the parent may not know the latest scientific discoveries or much of history, geography, mathematics, etc., but he has learned from experience and longevity many things that the child must learn in a similar way. Hence, the parent is worthy of the child's respect, love, care, and help. The greatest of Americans have offered such help to their parents. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and others have led the way in such obedience and respect.

Children should help their parents. The girls can wash the dishes, clean the house, sew, sweep, dust, care for younger children, dress younger children, cook, etc. The boys can care for the shining of shoes, cleaning of the sidewalks, shoveling of the snow, mowing of the yard, taking care of pets, etc. All should be done punctually and in order. Children can run errands, help take care of the house, care for parents when they are ill, and in general, show their love and respect by attending to their needs.

Occasionally the parents should have a meeting with the children and discuss with them what they have done lately to help lighten the load of Mom and Dad. Honor should be given when honor is due and scolding is due.

There are many reasons why the child owes his parents respect and love. The main one is that he owes a debt to his parents. He owes them for their care for him, their sacrifice, their hard work, etc. The debt which the child owes is a huge one and if he is honest, he must pay it. He should be reminded constantly by his mother concerning the many hours of hard labor his father has put in for the care of the child and to provide for his needs. The mother should stress this contribution by the father and lead the child to realize the tremendous debt he owes. On the other hand, the father should constantly remind the children concerning the debt they owe their mother. They should be reminded of the house cleaning, the sewing, the mending, the travail in birth, the cooking, the washing, the ironing, and the many other contributions made to them by Mother.

There is another reason why parents are due love and respect and that is because they hold a high and noble office. The office of parenthood demands respect regardless of the person who fills it. Children should be taught to respect positions of honor such as president, governor, mayor, principal, pastor, and yes, parent. The parental position deserves the child's respect.

Another reason the child should love and respect his mother and father is that the parents represent God. Someone has said that they are His vicars on earth. The fact that a child is to respect God means that he should be taught to respect His earthly representatives.

Lastly, respect for the parents should be shown and given because of their experience. They may not have studied formally in school, but they have obtained even greater information in some cases a greater education in the school of experience and wisdom. They may not know the latest methods of pedagogy, but they have struggled, fought, labored sacrificed, worked, and yes, they have even lived longer, and respect should be given to seniority.

The parent who insists on this respect and requires that he is treated courteously and with preference is not being selfish. He is training a child in the way he should go.

2. Grandparents. Much stress should be given to proper treatment and respect of grandparents. It is easy to forget them. They are not as young and exciting as they once were. They may seem out of date. Their interests are not those of young people, yet they have made vital contributions to the lives of their grandchildren. The position that they hold warrants love, respect, and attention. They should receive letters, phone calls, gifts, and special attention from them.

3. Brothers and sisters. The relationship between brothers and sisters should be sweet. Much harm has been done by lightly and glibly speaking of how poorly brothers and sisters get along. This sin has promoted such behavior and it is certainly not necessary. Look at the brother relationship that existed between Andrew and Peter, Moses and Aaron, John and Charles Wesley, Dr. John Rice and Dr. Bill Rice, and other great people. Such relationships are begun early in life as children are taught to love each other. They should be taught to share, to avoid jealousy, to praise each other, and to rejoice when the other is praised. The older should provide watchful care over the younger. As more children come into the family the parents naturally have less time to spend with each of them. Consequently, the older children are given the opportunity of caring for the younger ones. This enables a close relationship to be developed between the children, but it also builds a partnership between older children and the parents. If such care is to be taken when they grow older, they must be taught and reminded from early childhood of the responsibility that will become theirs later. The wise parent teaches this to his first child, and if a larger family is planned, he teaches this to the first several children. He will be glad in his later years that he did.

4. The teacher. As children become old enough to go to school they must partially transfer their obedience and respect from home to school and from the parent to the teacher. Bear in mind that the child has been taught to respect authority in government and also the authority of the parents. As he approaches school he must stop to realize that in obeying his teacher he is obeying both the government and the parent. The government has chosen a teacher to be its representative and many of the duties the parent has been performing for the child, the teacher now performs. Hence, to be a good citizen and a good son or daughter requires the child to be an obedient pupil at school. Hence, he should be helpful, respectful, and obedient to the teacher even as he has been to his parents. The pupil should be kind and helpful. He should not be unruly or misbehave. He must be willing to be thoughtful of younger pupils and to share with his fellow classmates. He must set a good example for those under him. He must work hard, study hard, and do his best to make good grades. He must honor the position of the teacher and accept his leadership, discipline, and assignments. He must be prompt, honest, cooperative and helpful. He must treat his classmates as brothers and his schoolmates as members of a family. He must learn to live with them in the school community. He must be kind, unselfish, protective, and courteous as he fits into his new environment and his new life.

5. Society. Notice that the child's scope of fellowship is increasing. At first he learns the proper relationship and behavior toward his parents, then the entire family, and then his classmates. He is preparing himself to become a serving member of society and, of course, all of the rules of behavior that he has been taught as he relates himself to the aforementioned people must now be transferred to a larger circumference. He must now apply the golden rule to those outside his own home and school. Just as he has obeyed the laws at home and at school, now he obeys the laws in society. He realizes that he must now exercise goodwill to the community and he must keep its laws regardless of the inconvenience it brings to him. He must learn to help this larger family live at its best. Though the laws may hamper him, they are the best for the most. They protect the rights of others to enjoy life to its fullest. Hence, he should be taught to be courteous; to treat the aged properly; and to be patient, quiet, appropriate, inconspicuous, helpful, and discreet. He must not manifest rowdiness, a lack of etiquette, discourtesy, crowding, pushing, jostling, impatience, etc. A child should be taught fairness in games, putting others before himself. He should be taught not to argue or alibi. He should be taught how to behave in places of public entertainment. He must be taught to care for property such as seats, songbooks, furniture, and equipment that does not belong to him. He must be taught to respect the speed limit.

He should be warned against criticism, talebearing, and gossip. He must be taught to respect age and handicaps. He should be taught to say, "Yes, ma'am," "No, ma'am," "Yes, sir," "No, sir." He should be taught to dress appropriately. He should be warned against being loud and overbearing. He should be taught not to be too forward. He should be taught to be discreet and proper in his behavior toward the opposite sex. He should be taught public manners such as giving his seat to an older person. If he is a boy, he should give his seat to a lady or girl if there is none available for her. He should be taught courtesy to public servants such as policemen, firemen, trainmen, doormen, etc. He should be taught to dispose of garbage only in receptacles provided. He should be taught to be quiet, not rough or loud on streets or in public places. He should be taught not to stare at the unfortunate and their deformities. He must be taught to be helpful to strangers and to answer then courteously. He must be taught to help older people as they walk through dangerous places. He must be taught not to whisper, talk, or misbehave in public meetings. He must be taught not to loiter in public places or the hand around restaurants, drive-ins, etc. He must be taught to respect the rights of every man regardless of his color, race, or religion. He must be taught not to deface public property.

In other words, the child must be taught to be a good citizen. Boys should be trained to be gentlemen and girls should be taught to be ladies as the interact with society.


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