Devotionals by Dr. James Dobson

Grab the Reins Early

Command and teach these things.
1 Timothy 4:11

A pediatrician received a telephone call from the anxious mother of a six-month-old baby. “I think he has a fever,” she said nervously. “Well,” the doctor replied, “did you take his temperature?” “No,” she said. “He won’t let me insert the thermometer.”

Isn’t it amazing that a child, who only a few months ago was helpless and dependent, is capable of defying the big adults who would try to control him? The truth is, we human beings are born with a rebellious nature. Babies are not innately “good,” as some believe. Those who support this theory say that bad experiences alone are responsible for bad behavior. Scripture indicates otherwise. King David said, “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5, kjv). Paul tells us that sin has infected every person who ever lived: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even from birth we are naturally inclined toward rebellion, selfishness, dishonesty, and the like, with or without bad associations.

For this reason, we urge you to grab the reins of authority early in your child’s life. You must train, mold, correct, guide, punish, reward, instruct, warn, teach, and love your kids during the formative years. Your purpose is to help shape and develop their inner nature, and especially in the case of strong-willed kids, to keep it from tyrannizing the entire family. Do your best; then trust that your children will turn over their souls to Jesus to cleanse them and make them “wholly acceptable” to the Master.

Before you say good night…

  • Do you expect your kids to learn responsible behavior on their own?
  • How can you help each other to properly use parental authority?

Father, help us to mold those aspects of ourselves and our children that make us more like You. Show us how to choose the right response to each family situation, ultimately preparing our children to turn their lives over to You. Amen.

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This devotional is taken from Night Light for Parents. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reservedUsed with permission.

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About Family Talk

Packed with the same wisdom Dr. Dobson has provided audiences for more than 30 years, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk is designed to help families and influence the culture — all flowing out of a heart for spiritual transformation thru trust in Christ for every life. It's the voice you trust...for the family you love!

About Dr. James Dobson

About the Host:
Dr. James Dobson:

James Dobson is the host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. He is also the founder of Focus on the Family, where he served for more than 30 years.

A licensed psychologist and marriage, family, and child counselor, he was an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California for 14 years. He invested 17 years on the attending staff of Children's Hospital Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics.

Earning a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, he's authored more than 30 books, including his most recent bestseller, Bringing Up Girls. Dr. Dobson has also been heavily involved in governmental activities related to the family. He was elected in 2008 to the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley, the father of two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and the grandfather of Lincoln and Luci.


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