My father was a rather reserved person. He did not have much to say except when he was talking about his hunting or fishing adventures, and to hear from him. It was always an adventure. When he got started on one of his stories, you better just sit back and forget about everything else.
Outside of that, he was rather quiet and reserved and did not have much to say.
I always liked that about him for a variety of reasons. I think I take after him in that regard. I just do not have time to hear somebody bloviate on something I am not interested in.
For one, my father had no time at all for politics. I am not sure if he was a Republican or Democrat, but I knew he voted every election.
“Son,” he often said, “you don’t have to take sides one way or the other. When I’m with a Democrat, I talk Democrat and when I’m with a Republican, I talk Republican. The only thing that matters is what I do when I get in that voting booth.”
This attitude of his, since Father’s Day is coming up, was something that made a deep impression upon me. Following his counsel has kept me out of quite a few battles throughout the years, especially when I got married.
I can never remember my father arguing with my mother. Now, my mother argued with my father, but he never reciprocated. “If you want a happy home,” he once advised, “make sure everybody in the home was happy particularly the one you married.”
That has helped me through many sticky situations for which I am eternally grateful.
Another bit of advice he gave me was simply that you do not have to fight every battle. “Only fight those battles,” he said with a sly smirk on his face, “that you know you can win.”
I mentioned that he was rather reserved in his speaking, but there was one area where he was profusely proactive. That was in the area of discipline, especially directed toward me.
My father was not much different from any of the father’s during that time and they all believed in the biblical admonition, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” These fathers were united in making sure none of their children would be spoiled.
One rule we had in the house that I did not fully agree with was, if you got a spanking in school (and in those days we got spankings in school) you got a spanking at home. Talk about double dipping!
The assumption was that the teacher was right and that the one receiving the spanking was wrong. Back then, 99.9% of the time that was true. The spanker was in charge, the spankee took it like a man and you know where.
I spent 12 years in the public education system and during that time, my teacher was never wrong. I will not divulge how many times I was wrong, that is between me and the area I sit on.
I clearly remember that my teachers back then had what was called “the Hickory stick.” And boy did those teachers know how to use that Hickory stick and where it would do the most good.
My father did not have a Hickory stick as such. Hanging on the wall in the kitchen was an old wooden paddle engraved with, “I need thee every hour.” I am surprised that that one wooden paddle lasted during my entire childhood.
I made one mistake during those childhood days. I was going through a period where the paddle and my bottom were close friends. I was getting a little weary of such friendship and decided I would do something about it.
My father had gone to work early that day, as I remember it now, and I was going out the door to go to school when a thought danced in my head. I would take that paddle and dispose of it so that it could no longer be attached to my person.
With the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, it was not a perfect plan.
I had forgotten about that and two days later, I got into some trouble. It was the kind of trouble that could be resolved only by that wooden paddle. My father went to get the paddle and to his chagrin, and my posterior harm, it was not there.
Very seldom did my father paddle me when he was really angry. There was one case when that happened, and this was it. I will not repeat the lecture that he gave at that time, but I will say that it had a lasting impression upon my posterior. At that time, I wished he had been a man of fewer words.
I know times have changed, but I am not sure they have changed for the better. There was a time when parents were in charge of children and responsible for the discipline. Sadly, that day is far gone.
The only thing I would say is, are we better off today than we were back then?
The Bible admonishes us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Discipline, not abuse, is drastically needed among our children today. My father would put it this way, lack of discipline is a form of abuse.
Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or website www.jamessnyderministries.com.