Children are gift from God and we are to know how to train and guide them in God’s way. This is a great and hard task yet so important that a slight neglect of parental duty may result in eternal ruin of children and parents. These counsels would help you to know what to do and what not to do in your child upbringing. “Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Parental Government to Be a Study.— The work of the parent is seldom done as it should be…. Parents, have you studied parental government that you may wisely train the will and impulse of your children? Teach the young tendrils to entwine about God for support. It is not enough that you say, Do this, or, Do that, and then become utterly regardless and forgetful of what you have required, and the children are not careful to do your commands. Prepare the way for your child to obey your commands cheerfully; teach the tendrils to cling to Jesus…. Teach them to ask the Lord to help them in the little things of life; to be wide awake to see the small duties which need to be done; to be helpful in the home. If you do not educate them, there is one who will, for Satan is watching his opportunity to sow the seeds of tares in the heart.
The Fruits of Self-control—Parents, every time you lose self-control and speak and act impatiently, you sin against God. The recording angel writes every impatient, unguarded word spoken before them, carelessly or in jest; every word that is not chaste and elevated, he marks as a spot against your Christian character. Speak kindly to your children. Remember how sensitive you are, how little you can bear to be blamed, and do not lay upon them that which you cannot bear; for they are weaker than you and cannot endure as much. The fruits of self-control, thoughtfulness, and painstaking on your part will be a hundredfold.
Let your pleasant, cheerful words ever be like sunbeams in your family.
If parents desire their children to be right and do right, they must be right themselves in theory and in practice.
Children Are Influenced by Deportment of Professing Christians—There are children of Sabbathkeepers who have been taught from their youth to observe the Sabbath. Some of these are very good children, faithful to duty as far as temporal matters are concerned; but they feel no deep conviction of sin and no need of repentance from sin. Such are in a dangerous condition. They are watching the deportment and efforts of professed Christians. They see some who make high professions, but who are not conscientious Christians, and they compare their own views and actions with these stumbling blocks; and as there are no outbreaking sins in their own lives, they flatter themselves that they are about right.
It is because so many parents and teachers profess to believe the Word of God while their lives deny its power, that the teaching of Scripture has no greater effect upon the youth. At times the youth are brought to feel the power of the Word. They see the preciousness of the love of Christ. They see the beauty of His character, the possibilities of a life given to His service. But in contrast they see the life of those who profess to revere God’s precepts.
Parents Must Say “No” to Temptation—Mothers, by not following the practices of the world, you may set before your children an example of faithfulness to God, and so teach them to say no. Teach your children the meaning of the precept, “If sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” But if you would have your children able to say no to temptation, you yourself must be able to say no. It is as needful for the man to say no, as for the child.
Approach Task With Restful Spirit and Loving Heart—My sister, has God entrusted you with the responsibilities of a mother? … You need to learn right methods and acquire tact for the training of your little ones, that they may keep the way of the Lord. You need to seek constantly the highest culture of mind and soul, that you may bring to the education and training of your children a restful spirit, a loving heart; that you may imbue them with pure aspirations, and cultivate in them a love for things honest and pure and holy. As a humble child of God, learn in the school of Christ; seek constantly to improve your powers, that you may do the most perfect, thorough work at home, by both precept and example.
Exemplify Gentleness—Parents, be kind and gentle with your children, and they will learn gentleness. Let us demonstrate in our homes that we are Christians. I value as worthless that profession that is not carried out in the home life in kindness and forbearance and love.
Watch Tone of Voice As Well As the Words—Let not one word of fretfulness, harshness, or passion escape your lips. The grace of Christ awaits your demand. His Spirit will take control of your heart and conscience, presiding over your words and deeds. Never forfeit your self-respect by hasty, thoughtless words. See that your words are pure, your conversation holy. Give your children an example of that which you wish them to be…. Let there be peace, pleasant words, and cheerful countenances.
Parents cannot with safety be in any way overbearing. They must not show a masterly, criticizing, faultfinding spirit. The words they speak, the tone in which they speak, are lessons, either for good or ill, to their children. Fathers and mothers, if cross words fall from your lips, you are teaching your children to speak in the same way, and the refining influence of the Holy Spirit is made of none effect. Patient continuance in well-doing is essential if you would do your duty to your children.
The Effect of a Quiet, Gentle Manner—Few realize the effect of a mild, firm manner, even in the care of an infant. The fretful, impatient mother or nurse creates peevishness in the child in her arms, whereas a gentle manner tends to quiet the nerves of the little one.
Parents Are God’s Agents in Molding Character—The intellects of your children are taking shape, the affections and characters are being molded, but after what pattern? Let the parents remember that they are agents in these transactions. And when they may be sleeping in the grave, their work left behind is enduring, and will bear testimony of them whether it is good or bad.
Stamping the Image of the Divine—You must instruct, warn, and counsel, ever remembering that your looks, words, and actions have a direct bearing upon the future course of your dear ones. Your work is not done to paint a form of beauty upon canvas or to chisel it from marble, but to impress upon a human soul the image of the Divine.
Theories Are to Be Tested—The study of books will be of little benefit, unless the ideas gained can be carried out in practical life. 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 or 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 appear to be of real value.
Methods Employed in Ancient Times.—From the earliest times the faithful in Israel had given much attention to the matter of education.The Lord had directed that the children, even from babyhood, should be taught of His goodness and His greatness, especially as revealed in His law and shown in the history of Israel. Through song and prayer, and lessons from the Scriptures, adapted to the opening mind, fathers and mothers were to instruct their children that the law of God is an expression of His character, and that as they received the principles of the law into the heart, the image of God was traced on mind and soul. In both the school and the home, much of the teaching was oral, but the youth also learned to read the Hebrew writings; and the parchment rolls of the Old Testament Scriptures were open to their study.
Teach With Kindliness and Affection—It is the special work of fathers and mothers to teach their children with kindliness and affection. They are to show that as parents they are the ones to hold the lines, to govern, and not to be governed by their children. They are to teach that obedience is required of them.
The restless spirit naturally inclines to mischief; the active mind, if left unoccupied with better things, will give heed to that which Satan may suggest. The children need … to be instructed, to be guided in safe paths, to be kept from vice, to be won by kindness, and be confirmed in well-doing.
Fathers and mothers, you have a solemn work to do. The eternal salvation of your children depends upon your course of action. How will you successfully educate your children? Not by scolding, for it will do no good. Talk to your children as if you had confidence in their intelligence. Deal with them kindly, tenderly, lovingly. Tell them what God would have them do. Tell them that God would have them educated and trained to be laborers together with Him. When you act your part, you can trust the Lord to act His part.
Take Time to Reason—Every mother should take time to reason with her children, to correct their errors, and patiently teach them the right way.
Vary the Manner of Instruction—The greatest care should be taken in the education of youth, to vary the manner of instruction so as to call forth the high and noble powers of the mind…. There are very few who realize the most essential wants of the mind, and how to direct the developing intellect, the growing thoughts and feelings of youth.
Teach the First Lessons in the Out-of-doors—Mothers, let the little ones play in the open air; let them listen to the songs of the birds and learn the love of God as expressed in His beautiful works. Teach them simple lessons from the book of nature and the things about them; and as their minds expand, lessons from books may be added and firmly fixed in their memory.
The cultivation of the soil is good work for children and youth. It brings them into direct contact with nature and nature’s God. And that they may have this advantage, there should be, as far as possible, in connection with our schools, large flower gardens and extensive lands for cultivation.
An education amid such surroundings is in accordance with the directions which God has given for the instruction of youth….
To the nervous child or youth, who finds lessons from books exhausting and hard to remember, it will be especially valuable. There is health and happiness for him in the study of nature; and the impressions made will not fade out of his mind, for they will be associated with objects that are continually before his eyes.
Make Lessons Short and Interesting—When parents thoroughly act their part, giving them line upon line, and precept upon precept, making their lessons short and interesting, and teaching them not only by precept but by example, the Lord will work with their efforts and make them efficient teachers.
“Say It Simply; Say It Often.”—Those who instruct children should avoid tedious remarks. Short remarks and to the point will have a happy influence. If much is to be said, make up for briefness by frequency. A few words of interest, now and then, will be more beneficial than to have it all at once.Long speeches burden the small minds of children. Too much talk will lead them to loathe even spiritual instruction, just as overeating burdens the stomach and lessens the appetite, leading even to a loathing of food. The minds of the people may be glutted with too much speechifying.
Encourage Independent Thinking—While the children and youth gain a knowledge of facts from teachers and textbooks, let them learn to draw lessons and discern truth for themselves. In their gardening, question them as to what they learn from the care of their plants. As they look on a beautiful landscape, ask them why God clothed the fields and woods with such lovely and varied hues. Why was not all colored a somber brown? When they gather the flowers, lead them to think why He spared us the beauty of these wanderers from Eden. Teach them to notice the evidences of everywhere manifest in nature of God’s thought for us, the wonderful adaptation of all things to our need and happiness.
Direct Childhood Activity—Parents need not feel that it is necessary to repress the activity of their children, but they are to understand that it is essential to guide and train them in right and proper directions. These active impulses are like the vines, that, if untrained, will run over every stump and brush, and fasten their tendrils upon low supports. If the vines are not trained about some proper support, they waste their energies to no purpose. So it is with children. Their activities must be trained in the right direction. Give their hands and minds something to do that will advance them in physical and mental attainments.