|I recall a Bible study lesson I read long ago. The lesson was written on the text: "That no man put a stumbling block or occasion to fall in his brother's way."|
A picture was made to show a naughty boy who had stretched a string across the path of his innocent brother. The innocent brother was approaching with a basket of eggs. The naughty boy was hidden in the bushes where he could see and enjoy the disaster.
The text was cited and the warning given that one should not injure a confiding brother. But one could be sure the picture would be more vivid than the warning. The trick might be suggested for the first time to boys studying this lesson.
Many comic pictures in Bible study supplements, and even books, are bad from the standpoint of suggestion. The tricks of Buster Brown and Elmer and even others of their kind are not desirable tricks to learn. Every time children see these pictures they are gaining suggestions to go and do likewise.
Enjoyment of the misfortunes of others is a bad trait. The scriptures tell us that we are not to rejoice in other's calamities. Yet this is what is taught by pictures of grandpa falling over the pail of water on the stairs, or the apple woman lamenting the loss of her fruit when frolicsome boys upset her cart.
Do, when dealing with children, is better than don't. Do suggests the good. Don't suggests the evil. The problem with young children is if you do not give them what they are to do and only give them what they are not to do, they will think on what they can't do!
I do believe as the Proverbs give example, that it is fine to compare and use parables as our Lord did in " This is what you Do;" and "This is what you don't Do." Such as the great scriptures of the Sheep and the Goats. A lesson on fish was recently given to a company of teachers in which the use of the fin was spoken of. To show its value as a propelling power, the effect of cutting it off was noted. A wise woman immediately entered a protest, saying from her experience, some child would almost sure to try the experiment if it were suggested to him.
I doubt if a boy was ever deterred from throwing a stone at a bird or robbing a nest by tales of bad boys who did such things. Is it not better to so interest a boy in bird life, in the building of the nests and the many curious traits of birds, in the tender care of the mother bird for her young and the wonderful way God has provided these feathery creatures with the means for their own protection in the change of feathers at different seasons, that the life of the happy songster becomes sacred to him? Let the children repeat:
"I am only a little sparrow,
A bird of low degree;
My life is of little value,
But the dear Lord cares for me."
Then the words of our Lord to show the value of this life, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father knowing."
Our grandmothers used to say:
"Cross Patch, lift the latch,
Sit in the corner and spin.
Pleasant face, dressed in lace,
Let the visitor in."
Cross Patch must sit in the corner by herself, because she is not good company. Pleasant Face is gowned appropriately and finely and may entertain the visitors because she is agreeable company. Froebel's mother says, "Ah, brave Knights, it will make you sad, to know that my child is cross and bad. It grieves me much to say, he cannot ride today." The knight replies, " Only good children with us may go. And away and away they ride so slow."
I believe that the vivid impression of such a little drama as this, which shows the excellence of the good, may remain as a lasting desire for the good in a child's memory. To love the good, to hate evil, this is the very spring of Christ and goodness. It is the goal of our home training. You must believe in God and His love for your children and instill in them their real desire for goodness, if you would have them be good.
You must teach them that they are created in the image of God and that they are to follow Him, not their own selves and wills.
How can you help your children to love goodness? Is this your daily quest? A greater mistake cannot be made by parents than to enforce in children that a boy is naturally inclined to go wrong. No mistake is so likely to make a boy go where he is expected to go if he is trained properly.
The fact is that anything is natural to a boy. He can be bent crooked or kept straight like a growing bough. The chief reason why goodness does not appear to him more tempting than sin is that goodness is seldom made so interesting, picturesque, or heroic as sin.
In the picture of the shepherd and the sheep in the Fourth Gospel, the shepherd goes before the sheep and the sheep hear his voice and follow him. That is the only way to be a shepherd of boys as a parent. They are hard cattle to drive, but easy to lead. There is nothing they like better than a consistent, single minded, straight going leader, and when they hear his voice they follow him! How important for fathers to be that example for young men to follow.
It is more important for mothers to be that which daughters can imitate so their actions will cause no shame for future generations of being known for "doing good."
This vintage article really made me think, if they were worried about cartoon images giving children wrong ideas, how much more should we worry about the very life like T.V.?
Until We Meet Again,