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Child Guidance

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    Chapter 43—Discipline in the Home

    Well-ordered, Well-disciplined Families—It is the duty of those who claim to be Christians to present to the world well-ordered, well-disciplined families—families that will show the power of true Christianity.1The Review and Herald, April 13, 1897.CG 233.1

    It is no easy matter to train and educate children wisely. As parents try to keep judgment and the fear of the Lord before them, difficulties will arise. The children will reveal the perversity bound up in their hearts. They show love of folly, of independence, a hatred of restraint and discipline. They practice deception and utter falsehoods. Too many parents, instead of punishing the children for these faults, make themselves blind in order that they shall not see beneath the surface or discern the true meaning of these things. Therefore the children continue in their deceptive practices, forming characters that God cannot approve.CG 233.2

    The standard raised in God's Word is set aside by parents who dislike, as some have termed it, to use the strait jacket in the education of their children. Many parents have a settled dislike for the holy principles of the Word of God, because these principles place too much responsibility on them. But the after sight, which all parents are obliged to have, shows that God's ways are the best, and that the only path of safety and happiness is found in obedience to His will.2The Review and Herald, March 30, 1897.CG 233.3

    Restraint of Children Is No Easy Task—In the present state of things in society, it is no easy task for parents to restrain their children and instruct them according to the Bible rule of right. When they would train their children in harmony with the precepts of the Word of God and, like Abraham of old, command their households after them, the children think their parents overcareful and unnecessarily exacting.3The Signs of the Times, April 17, 1884.CG 233.4

    False Ideas Regarding Restraint—If you want the blessing of God, parents, do as did Abraham. Repress the evil, and encourage the good. Some commanding may be necessary in the place of consulting the inclination and pleasure of the children.4Letter 53, 1887.CG 234.1

    To allow a child to follow his natural impulses is to allow him to deteriorate and to become proficient in evil. Wise parents will not say to their children, “Follow your own choice; go where you will, and do what you will”; but, “Listen to the instruction of the Lord.” Wise rules and regulations must be made and enforced, that the beauty of the home life may not be spoiled.5Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 112.CG 234.2

    Why Achan's Family Perished—Have you considered why it was that all who were connected with Achan were also subjects of the punishment of God? It was because they had not been trained and educated according to the directions given them in the great standard of the law of God. Achan's parents had educated their son in such a way that he felt free to disobey the word of the Lord. The principles inculcated in his life led him to deal with his children in such a way that they also were corrupted. Mind acts and reacts upon mind, and the punishment, which included the relations of Achan with himself, reveals the fact that all were involved in the transgression.6Manuscript 67, 1894.CG 234.3

    Blind Parental Affection the Greatest Obstacle in Training—The sin of parental neglect is almost universal. Blind affection for those who are connected with us by the ties of nature too often exists. This affection is carried to great lengths; it is not balanced by the wisdom or the fear of God. Blind parental affection is the greatest obstacle in the way of the proper training of children. It prevents the discipline and training which are required by the Lord. At times, because of this affection, parents seemed to be bereft of their reason. It is like the tender mercies of the wicked—cruelty disguised in the garb of so-called love. It is the dangerous undercurrent which carries children to ruin.7The Review and Herald, April 6, 1897.CG 234.4

    Parents are in constant danger of indulging natural affections at the expense of obedience to God's law. Many parents, to please their children, allow what God forbids.8The Review and Herald, January 29, 1901.CG 235.1

    Parents Responsible for What Children Might Have Been—If as teachers in the home the father and mother allow children to take the lines of control into their own hands and to become wayward, they are held responsible for what their children might otherwise have been.9The Review and Herald, September 15, 1904.CG 235.2

    Those who follow their own inclination, in blind affection for their children, indulging them in the gratification of their selfish desires, and do not bring to bear the authority of God to rebuke sin and correct evil, make it manifest that they are honoring their wicked children more than they honor God. They are more anxious to shield their reputation than to glorify God, more desirous to please their children than to please the Lord....CG 235.3

    Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority, as if the acts had been our own.10Patriarchs and Prophets, 578.CG 235.4

    No Place for Partiality—It is very natural for parents to be partial to their own children. Especially if these parents feel that they themselves possess superior ability, they will regard their children as superior to other children. Hence much that would be severely censured in others is passed over in their own children as smart and witty. While this partiality is natural, it is unjust and unchristian. A great wrong is done our children when we permit their faults to go uncorrected.11The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881.CG 236.1

    Make No Compromise With Evil—It should be made plain that the government of God knows no compromise with evil. Neither in the home nor in the school should disobedience be tolerated. No parent or teacher who has at heart the well-being of those under his care will compromise with the stubborn self-will that defies authority or resorts to subterfuge or evasion in order to escape obedience. It is not love but sentimentalism that palters with wrongdoing, seeks by coaxing or bribes to secure compliance, and finally accepts some substitute in place of the thing required.12Education, 290.CG 236.2

    In too many families today there is too much self-indulgence and disobedience passed by without being corrected, or else there is manifested an overbearing, masterful spirit that creates the worst evils in the dispositions of children. Parents correct them at times in such an inconsiderate way that their lives are made miserable, and they lose all respect for father, mother, brothers, and sisters.13Letter 75, 1898.CG 236.3

    Parents Fail to Understand Correct Principles—It is heart-saddening to see the imbecility of parents in the exercise of their God-given authority. Men who in everything else are consistent and intelligent fail to understand the principles that should be brought into the training of their little ones. They fail to give them right instruction at the very time when right instruction, a godly example, and firm decision are most needed to lead in right lines the inexperienced minds that are ignorant of the deceptive and dangerous influences that they must meet with everywhere.14Manuscript 119, 1899.CG 237.1

    The greatest suffering has come upon the human family because parents have departed from the divine plan to follow their own imaginings and imperfectly developed ideas. Many parents follow impulse. They forget that the present and future good of their children requires intelligent discipline.15Manuscript 49, 1901.CG 237.2

    God Accepts No Excuse for Mismanagement—Rebellion is too frequently established in the hearts of children through the wrong discipline of the parents, when if a proper course had been taken, the children would have formed good and harmonious characters.16Testimonies For The Church 3:532, 533.CG 237.3

    While parents have the power to discipline, educate, and train their children, let them exert that power for God. He requires from them pure, faultless, undeviating obedience. He will tolerate nothing else. He will make no excuse for the mismanagement of children.17The Review and Herald, April 13, 1897.CG 237.4

    Overcome Natural Spirit of Obstinacy—Some children are naturally more obstinate than others and will not yield to discipline, and in consequence they make themselves very unattractive and disagreeable. If the mother has not wisdom to deal with this phase of character, a most unhappy state of affairs will follow; for such children will have their own way to their destruction. But how terrible for a child to cherish a spirit of obstinacy not only in childhood, but in more mature years, and because of a lack of agreement in childhood, nourish bitterness and unkindness in manhood and womanhood toward the mother who failed to bring her children under restraint.18Manuscript 18, 1891.CG 237.5

    Never Tell Child, “I Cannot Do Anything With You.”—Never let your child hear you say, “I cannot do anything with you.” As long as we may have access to the throne of God, we as parents should be ashamed to utter any such word. Cry unto Jesus, and He will help you to bring your little ones to Him.19The Review and Herald, July 16, 1895.CG 238.1

    Family Government to Be Diligently Studied—I have heard mothers say that they had not the ability to govern which others have, that it is a peculiar talent which they do not possess. Those who realize their deficiency in this respect should make the subject of family government their most diligent study. And yet the most valuable suggestions of others should not be adopted without thought and discrimination. They may not be equally adapted to the circumstances of every mother, or to the peculiar disposition and temperament of each child in the family. Let the mother study with care the experience of others, note the difference between their methods and her own, and carefully test those that may appear to be of real value. If one mode of discipline does not produce the desired results, let another plan be tried, and the effects carefully noted.CG 238.2

    Mothers, above all others, should accustom themselves to thought and investigation. If they will persevere in this course, they will find that they are acquiring the faculty in which they thought themselves deficient, that they are learning to form aright the characters of their children. The result of the labor and thought given to this work will be seen in their obedience, their simplicity, their modesty and purity; and it will richly repay all the effort made.20The Signs of the Times, March 11, 1886.CG 238.3

    Parents to Be United in Discipline—The mother should ever have the co-operation of the father in her efforts to lay the foundation of a good Christian character in her children. A doting father should not close his eyes to the faults of his children because it is not pleasant to administer correction.21Testimonies For The Church 1:547.CG 239.1

    Right principles must be established in the mind of the child. If the parents are united in this work of discipline, the child will understand what is required of him. But if the father, by word or look, shows that he does not approve of the discipline the mother gives, if he feels that she is too strict, and thinks that he must make up for the harshness by petting and indulgence, the child will be ruined. Deception will be practiced by the sympathizing parents, and the child will soon learn that he can do as he pleases. Parents who are committing this sin against their children are accountable for the ruin of their souls.22Manuscript 58, 1899.CG 239.2

    Combined Influence of Affection and Authority—Let the light of heavenly grace irradiate your character, that there may be sunlight in the home. Let there be peace, pleasant words, and cheerful countenances. This is not blind affection, not that tenderness which encourages sin by unwise indulgence, and which is the veriest cruelty, not that false love which allows the children to rule and makes the parents slaves to their caprices. There should be no parental partiality, no oppression; the combined influence of affection and authority will place the right mold upon the family.23The Review and Herald, September 15, 1891.CG 239.3

    Represent God's Character in Discipline—Be firm, be decided in carrying out Bible instruction, but be free from all passion. Bear in mind that when you become harsh and unreasonable before your little ones, you teach them to be the same. God requires you to educate your children, bringing into your discipline all the generalship of a wise teacher who is under the control of God. If the converting power of God is exercised in your home, you yourselves will be constant learners. You will represent the character of Christ, and your efforts in this direction will please God. Never neglect the work that should be done for the younger members of the Lord's family. You are, parents, the light of your home. Then let your light shine forth in pleasant words, in soothing tones of the voice. Take all the sting out of them by prayer to God for self-control. And angels will be in your home, for they will observe your light. The discipline you give your children will go forth in strong, clear currents from your correctly managed home to the world.24Manuscript 142, 1898.CG 240.1

    No Deviation From Right Principles—Anciently, parental authority was regarded; children were then in subjection to their parents and feared and reverenced them; but in these last days the order is reversed. Some parents are in subjection to their children. They fear to cross the will of their children, and therefore yield to them. But just as long as children are under the roof of the parents, dependent upon them, they should be subject to their control. Parents should move with decision, requiring that their views of right be followed out.25Testimonies For The Church 1:216, 217.CG 240.2

    Take Extreme Steps if Willful Disobedience Is Unchecked—Some indulgent, ease-loving parents fear to exercise wholesome authority over their unruly sons, lest they run away from home. It would be better for some to do this than to remain at home to live upon the bounties provided by the parents, and at the same time trample upon all authority, both human and divine. It might be a most profitable experience for such children to have to the full that independence which they think so desirable, to learn that it costs exertion to live. Let the parents say to the boy who threatens to run away from home, “My son, if you are determined to leave home rather than comply with just and proper rules, we will not hinder you. If you think to find the world more friendly than the parents who have cared for you from infancy, you must learn your mistake for yourself. When you wish to come to your father's house, to be subject to his authority, you will be welcome. Obligations are mutual. While you have food and clothing and parental care, you are in return under obligation to submit to home rules and wholesome discipline. My house cannot be polluted with the stench of tobacco, with profanity or drunkenness. I desire that angels of God shall come into my home. If you are fully determined to serve Satan, you will be as well off with those whose society you love as you will be at home.”CG 241.1

    Such a course would check the downward career of thousands. But too often children know that they may do their worst, and yet an unwise mother will plead for them and conceal their transgressions. Many a rebellious son exults because his parents have not the courage to restrain him.... They do not enforce obedience. Such parents are encouraging their children in dissipation and are dishonoring God by their unwise indulgence. It is these rebellious, corrupt youth that form the most difficult element to control in schools and colleges.26The Review and Herald, June 13, 1882.CG 241.2

    Be Not Weary in Well-doing—The work of parents is continuous. It should not be laid hold of vigorously for one day and neglected the next. Many are ready to begin the work, but are not willing to persevere in it. They are eager to do some great thing, to make some great sacrifice; but they shrink from the unceasing care and effort in the little things of everyday life, the hourly pruning and training of the wayward tendencies, the work of giving instruction, reproof, or encouragement, little by little, as it is needed. They wish to see children correct their faults and form right characters at once, reaching the mountaintop at a bound, and not by successive steps; and because their hopes are not immediately realized, they become disheartened. Let all such persons take courage as they remember the words of the apostle, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”27The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881.CG 242.1

    Sabbathkeeping children may become impatient of restraint and think their parents too strict; hard feelings may even arise in their hearts and discontented, unhappy thoughts may be cherished by them against those who are working for their present and their future and eternal good. But if life shall be spared a few years, they will bless their parents for that strict care and faithful watchfulness over them in their years of inexperience.28Testimonies For The Church 1:400.CG 242.2

    Read Admonitions From God's Word—When children err, parents should take time to read to them tenderly from the Word of God such admonitions as are particularly applicable to their case. When they are tried, tempted, or discouraged, cite them to its precious words of comfort, and gently lead them to put their trust in Jesus. Thus the young mind may be directed to that which is pure and ennobling. And as the great problems of life, and the dealings of God with the human race, are unfolded to the understanding, the reasoning powers are exercised, the judgment enlisted, while lessons of divine truth are impressed upon the heart. Thus parents may be daily molding the characters of their children, that they may have a fitness for the future life.29The Review and Herald, June 13, 1882.CG 242.3

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