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The Plain Truth – October 1984
The Plain Truth – October 1984
What Psychologists Don’t Know About Child Rearing

by Herbert W. Armstrong

There is an old proverb that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6, Jewish Publication Society translation).

Yet many have believed they followed that advice, only to discover when the child became an adult that he (or she) had departed from it completely. They think that Solomon meant training as one would a dog, by teaching a child to do certain things, enforced by a system of rewards for performance and punishment for disobedience.

But what almost no one understands is the difference between a dog’s brain and a child’s mind.

The human brain is accompanied by a spirit in connection with it. This human spirit enables a human to think – to reason – to calculate – to make decisions.

Animals, by contrast, are equipped with instinct.

Now understand the difference!

The child’s mind can think and reason. It can acquire knowledge a dog or an elephant cannot know. It is stated in I Corinthians 2:11, the Authorized Version, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save [by] the spirit of man which is in him?” A dog or an elephant cannot know what a man knows.

Man’s knowing, and power of self-decision, is imparted to the brain by the spirit that is in man.

Adam, the first created human, was created with a spirit in him. The spirit was not a “soul.” The breathing physical man was the soul (Gen. 2:7). The spirit in him did not impart life to him. His breathing imparted the breath of life to his circulatory system. So says God.

Adam was made to need knowledge that no animal can know. He was made to need three kinds of knowledge: 1) knowledge for contact and relationship with God, 2) knowledge to have relationship with other people, and 3) knowledge to deal with things – matter.

Adam was created with a human spirit by which of himself he could acquire knowledge. Man has acquired by himself knowledge to build houses, make and operate automobiles, airplanes, computers. He has developed a sense of good and evil, right and wrong. Yet in nearly 6,000 years man has never learned how to get along with fellowman.

Husband and wife clash and divorce. Parents can’t understand and properly train children. Children too often resent parents. Family can’t live happily with next-door neighbor. Management and labor clash, races and ethnic groups clash, nations war against one another.

And man has not learned – and doesn’t seem to want to know – how to have a close association with his Maker.

Why? Because man was made with a human spirit, unlike animals, but he was made to need another Spirit – the Holy Spirit of God.

The Creator freely offered his Spirit, which also begets eternal life, to Adam. The Holy Spirit would have imparted to him knowledge for contact and relationship with God – how to get along with his fellowman – how to treat his mate and rear his children. But Adam rejected the Spirit of God (tree of life) and took to himself the knowledge of good and evil. He decided to acquire and produce by himself his own knowledge. But God had not created in him the tools (his Holy Spirit) by which he could decide the right knowledge. Without the addition of God’s Spirit, man with his own mind could only produce selfish, self-centered knowledge. Adam’s mind, as a result, was only half complete. He was not mentally “all there”!

But, even though limited to only the human spirit, he still had a mind that could think, reason, calculate, make decisions. What an animal does is by instinct. What a human does is by thought – by reason – by decision!

Now see where this leads us. You train a growing child as you would train a dog or an elephant to do certain things a certain way. In some cases, because it has become habit, he may not change it.

But he has a mind that can think, reason, decide what to do and direct his actions differently from parental teaching – especially if an attitude of resistance, hostility, resentment of authority or prejudice – or if conformity to custom of his peers – causes a change of mind. In later life because of disagreement he may entirely depart from childhood training. Where, then, does this lead us?

In earliest childhood, Satan – the invisible spirit ruler of this world – begins to work on the child’s mind. He broadcasts not in words, sounds or pictures, but in attitudes of selfishness, hostility, disagreement, resentment and self-will. Many parents neglect teaching their children’s minds. They wait until teachers at school can teach them.

But Satan does not neglect your child’s mind! Satan begins broadcasting into it, when only a few months old, attitudes of selfishness and self-centeredness.

How, then, should you train up a child in the way he should go? Not only by habit to do certain things a certain way, as you would train a dog, but by teaching the child to think for himself or herself!

Train a child to think and decide according to the spirit and attitude of God’s law – love toward others, consideration for the good and welfare of others – and teach that Satan’s way of selfishness and jealousy, envy, antagonism toward others, is wrong. Teach a child to honor his parents. Teach the principle and attitude of God’s law of love to God and love to other people.

The psychologists who reject the revealed Word of God cannot rightly teach you how to rear children. They do not know what the human mind is. Unless they have the Holy Spirit – and I know of no such psychologists – they are incompetent to teach authoritatively on child rearing.