You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
James C. Dobson, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and counselor and host of the daily radio program Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, is author of more than 30 books including the recentNew York Times bestseller Bringing Up Girls. He is founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family. Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and is the father of two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and the grandfather of Lincoln.
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SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Respected counselor and internationally recognized radio host Dr. James Dobson offers families godly wisdom, encouraging stories, and practical insights. With expertise and compassion, Dr. Dobson provides his sought-after advice on vital topics including: marriage, love, discipline, boundaries for kids of all ages, money, and God’s truths for decision-making.
Paperback: 288 pages
List Price: $14.99
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2012)
I have always loved and respected Dr. James Dobson's writing. Several of his books on parenting occupy my bookshelf. I'm thankful for his valuable insights. I really enjoyed reading Handbook of Family Advice. Each one-page commentary is concise and easy to read. These commentaries cover various topics from conflict and communication to homeschooling and single parenting. I appreciate Dr. James Dobson's wisdom based on the Scriptures and practical advice based on his research and experience. Want help in improving relationships in your family? Check this book out!
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The Security of Boundaries
Children feel more secure, and therefore tend to flourish, when they know where the boundaries are. Let me illustrate that principle.
Imagine you’re driving a car over the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, which is suspended hundreds of feet above the canyon floor. As a first-time traveler, you’re pretty tense as you drive across. It is a scary experience. I knew one little fellow who was so awed by the view over the side of the bridge that he said, “Wow, Daddy! If you fell off of here, it’d kill you constantly!”
Now suppose there were no guardrails on the side of the bridge. Where would you steer the car? Right down the middle of the road. Even though you don’t plan to hit those protective railings along the side, you just feel more secure knowing that they’re there.
It’s the same way with children. There is security in defined limits. They need to know precisely what the rules are and who’s available to enforce them. When these clear boundaries exist at home, the child lives in utter safety. He never gets in trouble unless he deliberately asks for it. And as long as he stays within those reasonable, well-marked guardrails, there’s mirth and freedom and acceptance.
Your children need the security of defined limits, too. They may not admit that they want you to be the boss, but they breathe easier when you are.
Mom’s Football Team
In the late 1960s, the phrase “If it feels good, do it” made its way around the counterculture. It meant, in effect, that a person’s flighty impulses should be allowed to overrule every other consideration. “Don’t think—just follow your heart” was the prevailing attitude. That foolish advice has ruined many gullible people. Those who ignore lurking dangers are casting themselves adrift in the path of life’s storms. We must be prepared to disregard ephemeral feelings at times and govern our behavior with common sense.
Not only can emotions be dangerous—they can also be unreliable and foolish. I’m reminded of a story told by my mother about her high school years. They had one of the worst football teams in the history of Oklahoma. They hadn’t won a game in years. Finally a wealthy oil producer asked to speak to the team in the locker room and offered a brand-new Ford to every boy and to each coach if they would simply defeat their bitter rivals in the next game. The team went crazy. For seven days they thought about nothing but football. They couldn’t even sleep at night. Finally the big night arrived, and the team was frantic with anticipation. They assembled on the sidelines, put their hands together, and shouted, “Rah!” Then they ran onto the field—and were smashed thirty-eight to nothing. No amount of excitement could compensate for the players’ lack of discipline, conditioning, practice, study, coaching, drill, experience, and character. Such is the nature of emotion. It has a definite place in human affairs but is not a substitute for intelligence, preparation, and self-control.
Instead of responding to your impulses, therefore, it is often better to hang tough when you feel like quitting, to guard your tongue when you feel like talking, to save your money when you feel like spending, and to remain faithful when you feel like flirting. Unbridled feelings will get you in trouble nine times out of ten.
So, before you chase after something that simply feels good, you might want to think it over. You could be about to make one of your greatest blunders.
Children and Materialism
It’s not easy to say no to children, especially in an affluent and permissive society. Toy companies are spending millions of dollars on advertising aimed at children—not their parents. They know boys and girls are the very best customers. But by giving in to this pressure, parents may actually deprive their children of pleasure. Here’s why.
Pleasure occurs when an intense need is met. A glass of water is worth more than gold to a person who’s dying of thirst, but it’s worthless to the person who doesn’t need it. That principle applies directly to children. If you never allow a boy or girl to desire something, he or she will not fully enjoy the pleasure of receiving it. If you give him a tricycle before he can walk, and a bike before he can ride, and a car before he can drive, and a diamond ring before he knows the value of money, you may actually have deprived him of the satisfaction he could have received from that possession.
How unfortunate is the child who never has the opportunity to long for something, to dream about that prize by day, and to plot for it by night, perhaps even to get desperate enough to work for it.
Excessive materialism is not only harmful to children—but it deprives them of pleasure, too.
Children and Television
There’s been considerable debate in recent years about television rating systems. That kind of information is desperately needed by parents who want to protect their kids from harmful content, and I’m among those who believe that the present system just doesn’t get the job done.
But even if changes are implemented, there’s a new wrinkle to be considered. Social research conducted by Yankelovich Partners, Inc., has analyzed the television-viewing habits of Americans. What they discovered is surprising. Forty-two percent of children between nine and seventeen have their own cable or satellite television hookups in their bedrooms. 1 The image of families gathered around a single TV set in the family room is fading. Instead, many kids are off by themselves where they can choose anything that they want to see.
Ann Clurman, a partner at Yankelovich, said, “Almost everything children are seeing is essentially going into their minds in some sort of uncensored or unfiltered way.” 2 Considering the explicit sex, violence, nudity, and profanity available now, especially on cable and satellite television, this is a disturbing revelation.
Children need to be protected from adult programming, and yet almost four out of every ten kids have parents who don’t really know what they’re watching. I fear that situation will come back to haunt us for years to come.