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A Dog's Day

June 15, 2008

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.

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9 comments on “A Dog's Day”

  1. Acting silly? let me get this right. So you think boys should act like little robots? Never smile or laugh unless commanded?

    Never tell a knock knock joke? never tell a riddle? just walk around like a machine cleaning and doing as commanded? like an animal at the circus? is this right? I am very confused I have read about this here where someone said men don't like 'silly boys' ? this is false information. My son laughs smiles talks walks tells knock knocks riddles ect and my husband likes him and even loves him as do his uncles male cousins grandpas great grandpas neighbors and so on. please explain where the dislike is?

  2. They are not saying that children should not have fun, tell jokes or do things that give others joy. What they are saying here is that we should not dismiss it when our children do something foolish- like eat dog food. There is a big difference between the way the Pearls define "foolishness" and they way you all are defining it. Their definition is the biblical meaning- unwise, careless, ect. They are not talking about having fun, telling jokes or being playful.

  3. I love this article. We too try to stamp out foolishness. It is just Biblical! More often than not silliness has to to with relationships between siblings. One does something and the others laugh to push him on. Then they think because he got away with it, they can too. We have seen it a million times, and a million times have cut off the activity. Yes, I have brilliant, wonderful, happy, laughing children. But without foolishness. A word to parents who think this is a hard job to accomplish: It is!!! Would you not rather take care of it now though? My husband is a pastor and the most addressed problem he is presented with is worthless sons who sleep on their mom and dad's couch while in their 30's and 40's some bringing wife and children with them. We must be vigilant to correct foolishness and bring children up like God our Father admonished us to do. Otherwise we will suffer as we grow old for our own foolishness of not stopping the problem early on.

  4. It would have been a bit more significant if the example given would have been something truly foolish. My son tried dogfood also, but I just laughed it off. It's not like he prefers dog food. Now, if he had resorted to eating dog food in front of guests, just to gross them out, and I had told him not to do that, then I would have taken action, but I was never worried about him trying dog food. Truly foolish actions by teens and others are more serious than this.

  5. There is a fine line sometimes between having fun and being foolish. Children have a hard time finding that line because they are not mature enough to know appropriate times of playfulness and times to be sober-minded. I believe that the dad was not just displeased with the silliness of his son eating the dog food, but that his younger children were influenced to do the same by an older child. If the dad allowed this to continue (especially after the son saw his displeasure in it), it could have led to contempt for authority figures and it could have led to the son doing other foolish behaviors for the younger siblings to imitate. Looks like he was trying to gain attention too through this.

    Wisdom is being able to see the future results of a present action and choosing to take action that results in eternal rewards (for us and for those under our stewardship).

    Good job, dad!

  6. Charles Charpentier- it's the spirit of foolishness that needs to be stopped. No one is saying the actions themselves are particularly evil or wrong. If you allow your 6 year old to display a foolish and silly attitude over dog food, when he is a teenager he will display that same attitude over something far more serious and you may not be laughing it off then.

  7. Thank you for sharing this.
    To those who disagree, all due respect, we all have our opinions, it was not the actual fact that the child ate dog food but rather the behavior behind the act. He was challenging his parents,it is the parents job to let the child know who is the the parent ~ the child or the adults.If you let a child continue in foolish ways will turn into foolish adults.

  8. I love this article so much!!! It sure comes in handy when I am dealing with a foolish attitude in one of my three boys. We are driving out the foolishness, and replacing it with FUN and JOY!! Thanks NGJ!!