Dear Pearls, We had a training session for a silly son not long ago, which I thought you might enjoy hearing. One day while at the dinner table, the children and I were talking and carrying on, when my daughter says to me, “Bubba ate dog food today”. My face must have reflected confusion because I surely couldn’t believe I had heard her correctly. “What?” So she says again, “Bubba ate dog food today.”  At this, all the kids started giggling. I turned to my eight-year-old son and asked him, “Did you eat dog food?” Giggling, he answered, “Yes.” Then my daughter who is three years old spoke up and said, “I did too.” So I asked her, “Why did you do that?” She answered, “Because Bubba did.” Then I asked my son why he ate dog food, and he said, “I just wanted to see what it tasted like.”

When I began to tell him about how he as the older brother needed to be more mindful of what he’s doing because it will/can influence his younger brothers and sisters, he just laughed and thought it was funny. He took my admonition very lightly, pretty much ignoring what I was saying. He then proceeded to say how he wanted to eat more dog food.

Where had my wise son gone? I set out to find him again. So I set him up for a fall. “You do?” I asked, “Don’t you think that’s pretty silly, seeing that your mother fixes us good food, and here you are wanting to eat dog food?” While I was talking, he got up from the table, still giggling, then went over and got a handful of dog food and commenced eating it. I have to admit, at this point, I was genuinely disgusted, both at his silliness and at the thought of him eating dog food. My face must have reflected my feelings, because he just laughed and said in a challenging way, “Whaaat?” As if it was no big deal, and like he seriously enjoyed eating the dog food.

This was getting gross, besides the fact that my sober son was acting like a goofy nincompoop. I stopped right there with dinner and told him that since he thought it was so funny to eat dog food and since he seemed to enjoy it so much, he had to give the dog his food and he could not have anything else for dinner or breakfast but dog food. We had a fine dinner. My wife can out-cook any woman alive. He is a growing boy with a BIG appetite.

Oh, he tried to play it off, but the gravity of the consequence for his foolishness began to set in after about two minutes of wallowing the dry, gritty stuff around in his mouth, until he had to spit it out. His countenance changed, his giggling stopped and his foolishness was over. He had repented. He was hungry, but our deal was binding. He stayed hungry until the next day. I got my sober son back.
– An Alert Dad

Tremaine Responds
Simple occasions like this can become defining moments…establishing what a boy is becoming. Each foolish happening must be considered and brought under control either by constrained consequences or by the rod.

I’m sure there isn’t a child out there who hasn’t done something equally as foolish at least once. Most parents are not weeding out foolishness like this wise dad, but are allowing it to continue, thinking it must just be just a passing stage. Discounting all the early signs, parents are shocked and surprised when their children grow up to be teenage fools. The Bible says, “…a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). It is truly embarrassing to see your children acting like fools.

Proverbs 17:21 He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father…

Proverbs 10:1 …a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

God instructed us to teach our children sobriety.

There is a difference between childishness and foolishness. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1, “When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.” Childishness is immaturity, but it should not include “acting” the silly fool. Don’t pass over foolishness as a child-like behavior.

So then, where does foolishness come from? The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Foolishness is pure silliness (in word or actions).  Fools are born, but a wise, sober son is carefully cultivated.

What can a parent do? At the first foolish word or deed, bring it to their attention; tell them how silly it is, and express your displeasure in proportion to the act and situation. Arrange a consequence for every foolish thing they do, while exhorting them to be sober minded  (to think soberly).  Show them with your own life how we should live soberly. Hold each child accountable according to their level of maturity.

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Pr 29:17).

If your son is already foolish, how do you fix the problem? The Bible clearly tells us what action(s) we must take if we are going to produce wise and sober children.

  • Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
  • Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom …
  • Proverbs 20:30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly .
  • Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
  • Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (14) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

As parents whose intent is to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, out of love we won’t spare the rod, but we do understand that “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.