The Guiding Principle for Parents. --Many in the world have their affections
on things that may be good in themselves, but their minds are satisfied with
these things and do not seek the greater and higher good that Christ desires to
give them. Now we must not rudely seek to deprive them of what they hold dear.
Reveal to them the beauty and preciousness of truth. Lead them to behold Christ
and His loveliness; then they will turn aside from everything that will draw
their affections away from Him. This is the principle upon which parents should
work in the training of their children. By your manner of dealing with the
little ones you can by the grace of Christ mould their characters for
Fathers and mothers should make it their life study that their children may
become as nearly perfect in character as human effort, combined with divine aid,
can make them. This work, with all its importance and responsibility, they have
accepted, in that they have brought children into the world.
Rules Necessary for Government in the Home. -- Every Christian home should
have rules; and parents should, in their words and in their deportment toward
each other, give to the children a precious living example of what they desire
them to be. . . . Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true
to God, true to principle; teach them to respect and obey the law of God. Then
these principles will control their lives and will be carried out in their
association with others.
Bible Principles to Be Followed. --There is need for constant watching that
the principles which lie at the foundation of family government are not
disregarded. The Lord designs that the families on earth shall be symbols of the
family in heaven. And when earthly families are conducted in right lines, the
same sanctification of the Spirit will be brought into the church.
Parents should themselves be converted and know what it is to be in
submission to God's will, as little children, bringing into captivity their
thoughts to the will of Jesus Christ, before they can rightly represent the
government that God designed should exist in the family.
God Himself established the family relations. His word is the only safe guide
in the management of children. Human philosophy has not discovered more than God
knows or devised a wiser plan of dealing with children than that given by our
Lord. Who can better understand all the needs of children than their Creator?
Who can feel a deeper interest in their welfare than He who bought them with His
own blood? If the word of God were carefully studied and faithfully obeyed,
there would be less soul anguish over the perverse conduct of wicked children.
Respect the Children's Rights. --Remember that children have rights which
must be respected.
Children have claims which their parents should acknowledge and respect. They
have a right to such an education and training as will make them useful,
respected, and beloved members of society here, and give them a moral fitness
for the society of the pure and holy hereafter. The young should be taught that
both their present and their future well-being depend to a great degree on the
habits they form in childhood and youth. They should be early accustomed to submission, self-denial, and a regard for others'
happiness. They should be taught to subdue the hasty temper, to withhold the
passionate word, to manifest unvarying kindness, courtesy, and self-control.
To a Parent Deluded by Blind Affection. --Blind affection, a cheap
manifestation of love, goes a long ways with you. To encircle the arms about the
neck is easy; but manifestations should not be encouraged by you unless they are
proved to be of real value by perfect obedience. Your indulgence, your disregard
of God's requirements is the veriest cruelty. You encourage and excuse
disobedience by saying, "My boy loves me." Such love is cheap and
deceptive. It is no love at all. The love, the genuine love, to be cultivated in
the family is of value because it is verified by obedience. . . .
If you love the souls of your children, bring them into order. But abundant
kisses and tokens of love blind your eyes, and your children know it. Make less
of these outward demonstrations of embracing and kissing and go down to the
bottom of things and show what constitutes filial love. Refuse these
manifestations as a fraud, a deception, unless backed up by obedience and
respect for your commands.
Manifest Neither Blind Affection nor Undue Severity. --While we are not to
indulge blind affection, neither are we to manifest undue severity. Children
cannot be brought to the Lord by force. They can be led, but not driven.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me," Christ
declares. He did not say, My sheep hear My voice and are forced into the path of
obedience. In the government of children love must be shown. Never should parents cause their children pain by harshness or
unreasonable exactions. Harshness drives souls into Satan's net.
The combined influence of authority and love will make it possible to hold
firmly and kindly the reins of family government. An eye single to the glory of
God and to what our children owe Him will keep us from looseness and from
Harshness Not Requisite to Obedience. --Let none imagine . . . that harshness
and severity are necessary to secure obedience. I have seen the most efficient
family government maintained without a harsh word or look. I have been in other
families where commands were constantly given in an authoritative tone, and
harsh rebukes and severe punishments were often administered. In the first case
the children followed the course pursued by the parents and seldom spoke to one
another in harsh tones. In the second also the parental example was imitated by
the children; and cross words, faultfindings, and disputes were heard from
morning till night.
Words that intimidate, creating fear and expelling love from the soul, are to
be restrained. A wise, tender, God-fearing father will bring, not a slavish
fear, but an element of love into the home. If we drink of the water of life,
the fountain will send forth sweet water, not bitter.
Harsh words sour the temper and wound the hearts of children, and in some
cases these wounds are difficult to heal. Children are sensitive to the least
injustice, and some become discouraged under it and will neither heed the loud,
angry voice of command nor care for threatenings of punishment.
There is danger of too severely criticizing small things. Criticism that is
too severe, rules that are too rigid, lead to the disregard of all regulations; and by and by children thus educated
will show the same disrespect for the laws of Christ.
Uniform Firmness, Unimpassioned Control Necessary. --Children have sensitive,
loving natures. They are easily pleased and easily made unhappy. By gentle
discipline in loving words and acts mothers may bind their children to their
hearts. To manifest severity and to be exacting with children are great
mistakes. Uniform firmness and unimpassioned control are necessary to the
discipline of every family. Say what you mean calmly, move with consideration,
and carry out what you say without deviation.
It will pay to manifest affection in your association with your children. Do
not repel them by lack of sympathy in their childish sports, joys, and griefs.
Never let a frown gather upon your brow or a harsh word escape your lips. God
writes all these words in His book of records.
Restraint and Caution Not Enough. --Dear brethren, as a church you have sadly
neglected your duty toward the children and youth. While rules and restrictions
are laid upon them, great care should be taken to show them the Christlike side
of your character and not the satanic side. Children need constant watch care
and tender love. Bind them to your hearts, and keep the love as well as the fear
of God before them. Fathers and mothers do not control their own spirit and
therefore are not fit to govern others. To restrain and caution your children is
not all that is required. You have yet to learn to do justly and love mercy, as
well as to walk humbly with God.
Counsel to the Mother of a Strong-willed Child. -- Your child is not your
own; you cannot do with her as you like, for she is the property of the Lord. Exercise a steady persevering
control over her; teach her that she belongs to God. With such a training she
will grow up to be a blessing to those around her. But clear, sharp discernment
will be necessary in order that you may repress her inclination to rule you
both, to have her own will and way, and to do as she pleases.
Even, Steady Management. --I have seen many families shipwrecked through
overmanagement on the part of their head, whereas through consultation and
agreement all might have moved off harmoniously and well.
Unsteadiness in family government is productive of great harm, in fact is
nearly as bad as no government at all. The question is often asked, Why are the
children of religious parents so often headstrong, defiant, and rebellious? The
reason is to be found in the home training. Too often the parents are not united
in their family government.
A fitful government--at one time holding the lines firmly, and at another
allowing that which has been condemned--is ruination to a child.
Mutual Law for Parents and Children. --God is our Lawgiver and King, and
parents are to place themselves under His rule. This rule forbids all oppression
from parents and all disobedience from children. The Lord is full of
loving-kindness, mercy, and truth. His law is holy, just, and good, and must be
obeyed by parents and children. The rules which should regulate the lives of
parents and children flow from a heart of infinite love, and God's rich blessing
will rest upon those parents who administer His law in their homes, and upon the
children who obey this law. The combined influence of mercy and justice is to be felt. "Mercy
and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each
other." Households under this discipline will walk in the way of the Lord,
to do justice and judgement.