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Debi Pearl:  Papa and I are going to record, so you all go ahead and shut the door. [sound of door closing]

Child 1:  I wonder what they’re recording in there.

Child 2:  Yeah!

Child 1:  [laughs] You said the exact same thing I did! [laughter]

Announcer:  Did you know your older kids can help train? Properly understood, this concept can be very freeing for both you and your children. Mike and Debi explain.

Debi:  OK, here’s our next letter. Dear Mike and Debi, the issue about having the older children discipline the younger children is a real confusion to us. It’s all new, and we feel 100 percent unsure about how to do it. We have an eight‑year old, seven‑year old, six‑year old, four‑year old, two‑year old, and a six‑month old. We have started having the younger ones listen more and obey their older siblings, and often even discipline them. Do they only discipline them when they disobey, or do they need to work it out more? My older son seems to always be coming to me saying, “He won’t listen to me. I have told him to do this, and now he won’t do what I’m saying.” Can you give us more details just about how to get this thing going? Thank you.

Michael Pearl:  All right. I realize that we’re probably the only ones that teach something like this. But this is a complete circle, a complete relationship. It’s not a matter of just bringing the older children in when there’s an infraction of the rules, and having the younger children, say the 10‑year old, turn around and discipline a five‑year old. That’s not the concept we’re relating. But this is a natural thing that occurs in a family. Here in the community where we live, say on a farm, a lot of the people have eight, 10, 12, sometimes 13 or 14 children. There’s absolutely no way that they’re all going to be in the presence of Mother and Daddy all the time. Quite often, when a new child comes along and is born, the mother will take that little new baby and just hand it over to a five‑ or six‑year old little girl and say, “OK, this is yours to take care of.”

Now, it’s still the mother’s baby, but whenever they get up in the morning and are dressing, it’s the little five‑ or six‑year old’s job, or whatever her age might be to dress her little sister. It’s her job to help her little sister when she needs to potty. She’s the one who maybe sits at the table and helps prepare a meal, helps feed her, while the mother’s taking care of another one.

You’ll see those little children, sometimes four or five years old, carrying a newborn on their hip, and you’ll watch them grow up being very close together. These children are together. When they get ready to go into the field to work, or go down to the creek or swim, and there’s four or five kids together, situations will arise that need addressing, and the 10‑year old may be the oldest one there.

The 10‑year old has to turn around to the four‑year old and say, “Do not get in the road.” If that four‑year old then proceeds to try to get in the road, the 10‑year old is authorized to take a switch and switch the four‑year old back out of the road, and then take her hand, march her off to the house, and say, “Mama, she got in the road and I had to spank her.” Mama spanks her again and says, “You obey your sister.”

This is not some new concept. This is the age‑old ways that families grow up together, and relate to each other, and minister to one another.

Now, if Mama and Daddy are present, then obviously there’s no need for the older children to take a hand in. But what we have seen occur in modern families is the individuals are isolated from one another. You’ll have a two and a four and a six‑year old that are little brats, they’re allowed just to run roughshod over say, a 10 and 12‑year old.

The 10 and 12 year olds just hate the little brothers and sisters because they have no control. They’ll come and they’ll say to mother, “He did this to me,” or “He did that,” or “He wouldn’t listen to me.” Mother is not quite sure what happens because she knows the 10 or 12‑year old is hostile. She knows the 10 or 12‑year old really despises little brother and little sister.

The reason the 10 or 12‑year old does despise little brother and sister is because little brother and sister are just erratically defiant towards the 10 and 12‑year old. We’ve seen situations where as the family matures together, that 10 and 12‑year old were given some control.

Whenever say, the 10 or 12‑year old is babysitting out in the yard, watching the kids, and the four‑year old and the three‑year old get in a scrap, the 10‑year old steps in and says, “No.” The three and four‑year old says, “You can’t tell me, you’re not my mama.”

Mama walks out and says, “Yes he can, he can tell you. He’s out here in charge of you, and if he says you get a spanking, then you get a spanking. You listen to exactly what he says.”

The 10‑year old says, “Mama, Sam here hit George on the head, and he deserves a spanking.” Mama says, “OK,” and she spanks, according to the word of a 10‑year old. What we’re seeing here is the 10‑year old begins to take some leadership, some authority, some control in the family.

It creates respect. When mother respects the 10‑year old, then the little brothers are going to respect the 10‑year old. That keeps them from having a kind of rebellion when they can get away with just anything.

Deb, you’ve got something you’d like to say on that?

Debi:  This is a real issue in many families. When they are mature, making wise decisions and it’s just a different kind of families. They don’t have problems with their teenager because their teenager has matured and kept up with life, instead of staying a child, because they’re treated like an immature brat from the time they were young all the way up. Also, I see families where this is not the way they run their family. There is never peace in the home. There’s always conflict, and the older children might love the baby, but by the time the baby’s two or three years old, they don’t love the baby anymore. They certainly don’t like the four and five‑year old.

That’s a grievous sad thing to see, families, children that just don’t like each other. It’s a real good concept.

About two days ago, I had to stop by to drop some green beans off at a family’s home and the seven or eight‑year old boy saw his little two‑year old sister walking towards the horse, somewhere where she would be in danger. Instead of calling out to her, “Get over here, away from that horse,” in a demanding, commanding way, he said, “Hey, look and see who’s come here, come over here where we are!”

The little girl turned around, and with a delighted look on her face, and came running to him. I realized that he has learned how to not just discipline or guide her, he has learned to manipulate in a good, clean wholesome way. He controls her, not only by commanding and demanding, he controls her by allowing her to become a part of what’s happening, and pulling her attention away.

He had to learn that from somebody. Someone had to teach him that training children was more than just getting their way with the child. It was encouraging the child into goodness, as well as discouraging misbehavior. But it was real encouragement for me to see him. Also, he treats her with a kindness and gentleness and is genuinely concerned if she gets hurt.

When she sees that gentle, loving concern that he has for her, she’s going to be much more prone to obey his command, and his mother would be much more prone to allow him to have full control over that child. But it didn’t come because that mother refused to allow him to discipline that child. It came from the direction of being directed toward being responsible for the little girl in a sweet, kind, gentle way as well as a way of disciplining.

Michael:  You see, in a society we’re all responsible to the rule of law, that is to common law in general. In the church each one of us is accountable to the other members of the church, that is in a true expression of the New Testament Church. Each one of us is accountable, the pastor, the elders, those that hold office or that are in a place of ministry are not above the common member. They too, if they fell into sin, are subject to being rebuked. In the family, it’s the same way. There should be a rule of law that everyone is aware of, and that everyone is responsible to obey.

If you had a military with generals, and no captains, no sergeants, and no corporals, then you’d have confusion and chaos. You would have a lot of infighting. You’d have a lack of solid discipline, because in most cases, the common man would be out of away from the eyes and the ears of the generals. But when that general has a chain of command that goes down through captains and sergeants and corporals down to the private, then for each private or maybe four or five privates, you’ve got a corporal. Then, over seven or eight men there’s a sergeant, and over a larger number there’s another sergeant, and going on up, and then you’ve got captains and so forth.

So, that every man is always under the eye of someone to whom he’s responsible in the chain of command. A family should be that way. There should never be a time when you have a tension where there’s not someone in charge, someone who is capable of functioning in the chain of command. When you have that, it creates a lot tighter structure and eliminates a lot of problems, as Deb said, in the family.

Debi:  A lot of the problem is when you deal with your own children, you become a personal offense. You’re angry with your own child. You deal with your child not for the child’s sake but to vent your own anger. Therefore, when your child comes to visit me, and he disobeys me, and I spank him, and you find out, “You spanked my child!” You assume that I am as angry with your child and that I take personal offense with your child. You assume everyone, including your own 10‑year‑old, is taking personal offense and angry with your child and just retaliating against your child.

A lot of it is our own mindset. If you train your children by your own, the way you act, you’re not personally offended at their misdeed. You’re training them to be a better human being, and that, it is a positive thing for you to say, “Now don’t do that,” and give a child three or four licks and then you’re not angry with him. You’re not upset with him. You’re simply training him this is the wrong thing to do. For their own good you have done this.

Then, if you’ve training your 10‑year old you know your 10‑year old is going to have the mindset, “For my sisters safety, I am going to deal with this. Deal with her and not allow her to run underneath the horse. For my sister’s safety, I’m going to give her 10 licks when she runs out towards the road.”

Your child has a heart of love rather than a vindictive heart, and that is where it all starts. I know that when my children were growing up and they were going anywhere. I would always say, “OK, Gabriel will decide when you all are together, if you are allowed to go from swimming to over to visit somebody. Gabriel will make the final decision.”

There might be four or five children together but he knows that he bears the responsibility. They know that he has the final authority in saying whether they can go or not. They might appeal to him, but he knows he bears the responsibility to me when he gets home. Therefore he’s going to make a wise decision.

I always try to set someone in control whenever they were outside playing, whenever they went to the garden to work together, one child was given the authority that day. It might be the oldest child and it might be the oldest son, depending on where they were and what they were going to do.

It certainly made things a lot more peaceable wherever they were. It gave the children a sense of security, because they knew it wasn’t whoever decides. “I’m not going to do it! You can’t be my boss,” that was eliminated, because they knew one person was my spokesperson.

Michael:  Just the other day we were somewhere, and I don’t even remember where it was now but, one of the children, seemed like he was maybe seven or eight years old, was speaking to his two‑year old sister, he spoke in haste and anger, and he wasn’t really angry that was obvious. He said something to the effect of, “Now you stop that right now, do you hear me?” It was obvious that he wasn’t angry. But that was the tone of voice he’d gotten used to speaking in. We used to have in the community here a man that always hollered at his horses. He was not mad at them, and he didn’t curse. If he had been a cursing person then it would certainly have fitted his tone of voice.

He would just scream at his animals. That was so unusual. Other people in that community have commands that they would speak loudly, but it doesn’t sound like you were mad at your horse. This guy always sounded like he was infuriated with his horses anytime he spoke to them. We knew he wasn’t, but that was the way he had gotten used to relating to his horses.

The thing is, his sons spoke to the horses the same way, and why? Because they had learned from Daddy how to talk to horses, and it didn’t have anything to do with if they were mad or not but it sounded like they were mad. Now, your children will exercise themselves toward their siblings exactly like you do.

Obviously, if you don’t have control of your own emotions, your own attitude, and if you speak in bitterness or hostility or anger, then you wouldn’t want to turn any authority over to your kids because you know they are going to act just like you do. That would be troubling.

If you have a balanced attitude, if you have control of your own emotions, if you can speak in love and patience as Deb said, then your children are going to copy you and they’re going to exercise authority in the same way that you exercise authority.

Announcer:  Well that wraps up this week’s archives. We hope that you found it as encouraging as we did. Don’t forget to check out the specials at Cane Creek Corner.

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