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Child Guidance

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    Chapter 45—With Love and Firmness

    Two Ways and Their End—There are two ways to deal with children—ways that differ widely in principle and results. Faithfulness and love, united with wisdom and firmness, in accordance with the teachings of God's Word, will bring happiness in this life and in the next. Neglect of duty, injudicious indulgence, failure to restrain or correct the follies of youth, will result in unhappiness and final ruin to the children and disappointment and anguish to the parents.1The Review and Herald, August 30, 1881.CG 258.1

    Love has a twin sister, which is duty. Love and duty stand side by side. Love exercised while duty is neglected will make children headstrong, willful, perverse, selfish, and disobedient. If stern duty is left to stand alone without love to soften and win, it will have a similar result. Duty and love must be blended in order that children may be properly disciplined.2Testimonies For The Church 3:195.CG 258.2

    Uncorrected Faults Bring Unhappiness—Wherever it seems necessary to deny the wishes or oppose the will of a child, he should be seriously impressed with the thought that this is not done for the gratification of the parents, or to indulge arbitrary authority, but for his own good. He should be taught that every fault uncorrected will bring unhappiness to himself and will displease God. Under such discipline children will find their greatest happiness in submitting their own will to the will of their heavenly Father.3Fundamentals of Christian Education, 68.CG 258.3

    Youth who follow their own impulse and inclination can have no real happiness in this life, and in the end will lose eternal life.4The Review and Herald, June 27, 1899.CG 258.4

    Kindness to Be the Law of the Home—God's method of government is an example of how children are to be trained. There is no oppression in the Lord's service, and there is to be no oppression in the home or in the school. Yet neither parents nor teachers should allow disregard of their word to pass unnoticed. Should they neglect to correct the children for doing wrong, God would hold them accountable for their neglect. But let them be sparing of censure. Let kindness be the law of the home and of the school. Let the children be taught to keep the law of the Lord, and let a firm, loving influence restrain them from evil.5Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 155.CG 259.1

    Have Consideration for Childish Ignorance—Fathers and mothers, in the home you are to represent God's disposition. You are to require obedience, not with a storm of words, but in a kind, loving manner. You are to be so full of compassion that your children will be drawn to you.6Manuscript 79, 1901.CG 259.2

    Be pleasant in the home. Restrain every word that would arouse unholy temper. “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,” is a divine injunction. Remember that your children are young in years and experience. In controlling and disciplining them, be firm, but kind.7The Review and Herald, April 21, 1904.CG 259.3

    Children do not always discern right from wrong, and when they do wrong, they are often treated harshly, instead of being kindly instructed.8Manuscript 12, 1898.CG 259.4

    No license is given in God's Word for parental severity or oppression or for filial disobedience. The law of God, in the home life and in the government of nations, flows from a heart of infinite love.9Letter 8a, 1896.CG 259.5

    Sympathy for the Unpromising Child—I see the necessity of parents dealing in the wisdom of Christ with their erring children.... It is the unpromising ones who need the greatest patience and kindness, the most tender sympathy. But many parents reveal a cold, unpitying spirit, which will never lead the erring to repentance. Let the hearts of parents be softened by the grace of Christ, and His love will find a way to the heart.10Manuscript 22, 1890.CG 260.1

    The Saviour's rule—“As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31)—should be the rule of all who undertake the training of children and youth. They are the younger members of the Lord's family, heirs with us of the grace of life. Christ's rule should be sacredly observed toward the dullest, the youngest, the most blundering, and even toward the erring and rebellious.11Education, 292, 293.CG 260.2

    Help Children to Overcome—God has a tender regard for the children. He wants them to gain victories every day. Let us all endeavor to help the children to be overcomers. Do not let offenses come to them from the very members of their own family. Do not permit your actions and your words to be of a nature that your children will be provoked to wrath. Yet they must be faithfully disciplined and corrected when they do wrong.12Manuscript 47, 1908.CG 260.3

    Give Praise Whenever Possible—Praise the children when they do well, for judicious commendation is as great a help to them as it is to those older in years and understanding. Never be cross-grained in the sanctuary of the home. Be kind and tenderhearted, showing Christian politeness, thanking and commending your children for the help they give you.13Manuscript 14, 1905.CG 260.4

    Be pleasant. Never speak loud, passionate words. In restraining and disciplining your children, be firm, but kind. Encourage them to do their duty as members of the family firm. Express your appreciation of the efforts they put forth to restrain their inclinations to do wrong.14Manuscript 22, 1904.CG 260.5

    Be just what you wish your children to be when they shall have charge of families of their own. Speak as you would have them speak.15Manuscript 42, 1903.CG 261.1

    Guard Tones of the Voice—Speak always in a calm, earnest voice, in which no trace of passion is expressed. Passion is not necessary to secure prompt obedience.16Letter 69, 1896.CG 261.2

    Fathers and mothers, you are responsible for your children. Be careful under what influences you place them. Do not, by scolding or fretting, lose your own influence over them for good. You are to guide them, not to stir up the passions of their mind. Whatever provocation you may have, be sure that the tone of your voice betrays no irritation. Do not let them see in you a manifestation of the spirit of Satan. This will not help you to fit and train your children for the future, immortal life.17Manuscript 47, 1908.CG 261.3

    Justice to Be Blended With Mercy—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 blessings 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 judgment.18The Signs of the Times, August 23, 1899.CG 261.4

    The parent who permits his rule to become a despotism is making a terrible mistake. He wrongs not only his children but himself, quenching in their young hearts the love that would flow out in acts and words of affection. Kindness, forbearance, and love, manifested to children, will be reflected back upon the parents. That which they sow, they will also reap....CG 262.1

    While you seek to administer justice, remember that she has a twin sister, which is mercy. The two stand side by side and should not be separated.19The Review and Herald, August 30, 1881.CG 262.2

    Severity Arouses Combative Spirit. Counsel to Stern Parents—Severity and justice, unmingled with love, will not lead your children to do right. Notice how quickly the combative spirit is aroused in them. Now there is a better way to manage them than by mere compulsion. Justice has a twin sister, which is love. Let love and justice clasp hands in all your management, and you will surely have the help of God to co-operate with your efforts. The Lord, your gracious Redeemer, wants to bless you, and give you His mind, and His grace, and His salvation, that you may have a character which God can approve.20Letter 19a, 1891.CG 262.3

    The authority of the parents should be absolute, yet this power is not to be abused. In the control of his children the father should not be governed by caprice, but by the Bible standard. When he permits his own harsh traits of character to bear sway, he becomes a despot.21The Review and Herald, August 30, 1881.CG 262.4

    Reprove, but With Affectionate Tenderness—No doubt you will see faults and waywardness on the part of your children. Some parents will tell you that they talk to and punish their children, but they cannot see that it does them any real good. Let such parents try new methods. Let them mingle kindness and affection and love with their family government, and yet let them be as firm as a rock to right principles.22Manuscript 38, 1895.CG 262.5

    None who deal with the young should be ironhearted, but affectionate, tender, pitiful, courteous, winning, and companionable; yet they should know that reproofs must be given, and that even rebuke may have to be spoken to cut off some evil-doing.23Manuscript 68, 1897.CG 263.1

    I am instructed to say to parents, Raise the standard of behavior in your own homes. Teach your children to obey. Rule them by the combined influence of affection and Christlike authority. Let your lives be such that of you may be spoken the words of commendation spoken of Cornelius, of whom it is said that he “feared God with all his house.”24The Review and Herald, April 21, 1904.CG 263.2

    Exercise Neither Severity nor Excessive Indulgence—We have no sympathy with that discipline which would discourage children by hard censure, or irritate them by passionate correction, and then, as the impulse changes, smother them with kisses, or harm them by injurious gratification. Excessive indulgence and undue severity are alike to be avoided. While vigilance and firmness are indispensable, so also are sympathy and tenderness. Parents, remember that you deal with children who are struggling with temptation, and that to them these evil promptings are as hard to resist as are those that assail persons of mature years. Children who really desire to do right may fail again and again, and as often need encouragement to energy and perseverance. Watch the working of these young minds with prayerful solicitude. Strengthen every good impulse; encourage every noble action.25The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881.CG 263.3

    Maintain Uniform Firmness, Unimpassioned Control—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. 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.CG 264.1

    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.26Testimonies For The Church 3:532.CG 264.2

    Even kindness must have its limits. Authority must be sustained by a firm severity, or it will be received by many with mockery and contempt. The so-called tenderness, the coaxing and the indulgence used toward youth, by parents and guardians, is the worst evil which can come upon them. Firmness, decision, positive requirements, are essential in every family.27Testimonies For The Church 5:45.CG 264.3

    Remember Your Own Mistakes—Let father and mother remember that they themselves are but grown-up children. Though great light has shone upon their pathway and they have had long experience, yet how easily are they stirred to envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings. Because of their own mistakes and errors they should learn to deal gently with their erring children.28Manuscript 89, 1894.CG 264.4

    You may feel annoyed sometimes because your children go contrary to what you have told them. But have you ever thought that many times you go contrary to what the Lord has commanded you to do?29Manuscript 45, 1911.CG 264.5

    How to Win Love and Confidence—There is danger that both parents and teachers will command and dictate too much, while they fail to come sufficiently into social relation with their children or scholars. They often hold themselves too much reserved and exercise their authority in a cold, unsympathizing manner, which cannot win the hearts of their children and pupils. If they would gather the children close to them, and show that they love them, and would manifest an interest in all their efforts, and even in their sports, sometimes even being a child among them, they would make the children very happy and would gain their love and win their confidence. And the children would more quickly learn to respect and love the authority of their parents and teachers.30Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 76, 77.CG 265.1

    Seek to Imitate Christ—He [Christ] identified Himself with the lowly, the needy, and the afflicted. He took little children in His arms and descended to the level of the young. His large heart of love could comprehend their trials and necessities, and He enjoyed their happiness. His spirit, wearied with the bustle and confusion of the crowded city, tired of association with crafty and hypocritical men, found rest and peace in the society of innocent children. His presence never repulsed them. The Majesty of heaven condescended to answer their questions, and simplified His important lessons to meet their childish understanding. He planted in their young, expanding minds the seeds of truth that would spring up and produce a plentiful harvest in their riper years.31Testimonies For The Church 4:141.CG 265.2

    An Errant Youth Who Needed Sympathy—Your letters I have read with interest and sympathy. I would say your son now needs a father as he has never needed one before. He has erred; you know it, and he knows that you know it; and words that you would have spoken to him in his innocency with safety, and which would not have produced any bad results, would now seem like unkindness and be sharp as a knife.... I know that parents feel the shame of the wrongdoing of a child that has dishonored them very keenly, but does the erring one wound and bruise the heart of the earthly parent any more than we as the children of God bruise our heavenly Parent, who has given us and is still giving us His love, inviting us to return and repent of our sins and iniquities and He will pardon our transgression?CG 266.1

    Do not withdraw your love now. That love and sympathy is needed now as never before. When others look with coldness and put the worst construction upon the misdeeds of your boy, should not the father and mother in pitying tenderness seek to guide his footsteps into safe paths? I do not know the character of your son's sins, but I am safe in saying, whatever they may be, Let no comments from human lips, no pressure from human actions, of those who think they are doing justice, lead you to pursue a course which can be interpreted by your son that you feel too much mortified and dishonored to ever take him back into confidence and to forget his transgressions. Let nothing cause you to lose hope, nothing to cut off your love and tenderness for the erring one. Just because he is erring, he needs you, and he wants a father and a mother to help him to recover himself from the snare of Satan. Hold him fast by faith and love, and cling to the all-pitying Redeemer, remembering that he has One who has an interest in him, even above your own....CG 266.2

    Do not talk discouragement and hopelessness. Talk courage. Tell him he can redeem himself, that you, his father and mother, will help him to take hold from above to plant his feet on the solid Rock, Christ Jesus, to find a sure support and unfailing strength in Jesus. If his fault be ever so grievous, it will not cure your son to press this constantly upon him. A right course of action is needed to save a soul from death and keep a soul from committing a multitude of sins.32Letter 18e, 1890.CG 267.1

    Seek Divine Help to Overcome Hasty Temper—I wish to say to every father and mother, If you have a hasty temper, seek God for help to overcome it. When you are provoked to impatience, go to your chamber, and kneel down and ask God to help you that you may have a right influence over your children.33Manuscript 33, 1909.CG 267.2

    Mothers, when you yield to impatience and deal harshly with your children, you are not learning of Christ, but of another master. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” When you find your work hard, when you complain of difficulties and trials, when you say that you have no strength to withstand temptation, that you cannot overcome impatience, and that the Christian life is uphill work, be sure that you are not bearing the yoke of Christ; you are bearing the yoke of another master.34The Signs of the Times, July 22, 1889.CG 267.3

    Reflecting the Divine Image—The church needs men of a meek and quiet spirit, who are long-suffering and patient. Let them learn these attributes in dealing with their families. Let parents think a great deal more of their children's eternal interests than they do of their present comfort. Let them look upon their children as younger members of the Lord's family, and train and discipline them in such a way as will lead them to reflect the divine image.35The Review and Herald, July 16, 1895.CG 267.4

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