Chapter 3—Formation of Behavior Patterns

Begin With Infancy—Let parents begin a crusade against intemperance at their own firesides, in their own families, in the principles they teach their children to follow from their very infancy, and they may hope for success.—Testimonies for the Church 3:567. Te 175.3

Diligently Teach—Teach your children from the cradle to practice self-denial and self-control.... Impress upon their tender minds the truth that God does not design that we should live for present gratification merely, but for our ultimate good. Teach them that to yield to temptation is weak and wicked; to resist, noble and manly. These lessons will be as seed sown in good soil, and they will bear fruit that will make your hearts glad.—The Ministry of Healing, 386. Te 176.1

Importance of an Early Start—Too much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. The lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of the character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of afteryears.—The Ministry of Healing, 380. Te 176.2

Far-Reaching Influence of Early Habits—The character is formed, to a great extent, in early years. The habits then established have more influence than any natural endowment, in making men either giants or dwarfs in intellect; for the very best talents may, through wrong habits, become warped and enfeebled. The earlier in life one contracts hurtful habits, the more firmly will they hold their victim in slavery, and the more certainly will they lower his standard of spirituality.—Counsels on Health, 112, 113. Te 176.3

Difficult to Unlearn Established Habits—It is a most difficult matter to unlearn the habits which have been indulged through life. The demon of intemperance is of giant strength, and is not easily conquered.... It will pay you, mothers, to use the precious hours which are given you by God in forming the character of your children, and in teaching them to adhere strictly to the principles of temperance in eating and drinking.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 79. Te 176.4

Creating Early Appetites for Liquor—Teach your children to abhor stimulants. How many are ignorantly fostering in them an appetite for these things! In Europe I have seen nurses putting the glass of wine or beer to the lips of the innocent little ones, thus cultivating in them a taste for stimulants. As they grow older, they learn to depend more and more on these things, till little by little they are overcome, drift beyond the reach of help, and at last fill a drunkard's grave.—Counsels on Diet and Foods, 235. Te 177.1

The First Three Years—Let selfishness, anger and self-will have its course for the first three years of a child's life, and it will be hard to bring it to submit to wholesome discipline. Its disposition has become soured; it delights in having its own way; parental control is distasteful. These evil tendencies grow with its growth, until in manhood supreme selfishness and a lack of self-control place him at the mercy of the evils that run riot in our land.—The Health Reformer, April, 1877. Te 177.2

Weighty Responsibility of Parents—How difficult it is to obtain the victory over appetite when once it is established. How important that parents bring their children up with pure tastes and unperverted appetites. Parents should ever remember that upon them rests the responsibility of training their children in such a way that they will have moral stamina to resist the evil that will surround them when they go out into the world. Te 177.3

Christ did not ask His Father to take the disciples out of the world, but to keep them from the evil in the world, to keep them from yielding to the temptations which they would meet on every hand. This prayer fathers and mothers should offer for their children. But shall they plead with God, and then leave their children to do as they please? God cannot keep children from evil if the parents do not co-operate with Him. Bravely and cheerfully parents should take up their work, carrying it forward with unwearying endeavor.—The Review and Herald, July 9, 1901. Te 177.4

Those who indulge a child's appetite, and do not teach him to control his passions, may afterward see, in the tobacco-loving, liquor-drinking slave, whose senses are benumbed, and whose lips utter falsehood and profanity, the terrible mistake they have made.—Counsels on Health, 114. Te 178.1

Molding the Character to Resist Temptation—The first steps in intemperance are usually taken in childhood or early youth. Stimulating food is given to the child, and unnatural cravings are awakened. These depraved appetites are pandered to as they develop. The taste continually becomes more perverted; stronger stimulants are craved and are indulged in, till soon the slave of appetite throws aside all restraint. The evil commenced early in life, and could have been prevented by the parents. We witness strenuous efforts in our country to put down intemperance; but it is found a hard matter to overpower and chain the strong, full-grown lion. Te 178.2

If half the efforts that are put forth to stay this giant evil were directed toward enlightening parents as to their responsibility in forming the habits and characters of their children, a thousandfold more good might result than from the present course of combating only the full-grown evil. The unnatural appetite for spirituous liquors is created at home, in many cases at the very tables of those who are most zealous to lead out in the temperance campaigns.... Te 178.3

Parents should not lightly regard the work of training their children. They should employ much time in careful study of the laws which regulate our being. They should make it their first object to learn the proper manner of dealing with their children, that they may secure to them sound minds in sound bodies. Too many parents are controlled by custom, instead of sound reason and the claims of God. Many who profess to be followers of Christ are sadly neglectful of home duties. They do not perceive the sacred importance of the trust which God has placed in their hands, so to mold the characters of their children that they will have moral stamina to resist the many temptations that ensnare the feet of youth.—The Signs of the Times, 20 April 1882, par. 8. Te 178.4

Commence With the Cradle—If parents had done their duty in spreading the table with wholesome food, discarding irritating and stimulating substances, and at the same time had taught their children self-control, and educated their characters to develop moral power, we should not now have to handle the lion of intemperance. After habits of indulgence have been formed, and grown with their growth and strengthened with their strength, how hard then for those who have not been properly trained in youth to break up their wrong habits and learn to restrain themselves and their unnatural appetites. How hard to teach such ones and make them feel the necessity of Christian temperance, when they reach maturity. The temperance lessons should commence with the child rocked in the cradle.—The Review and Herald, May 11, 1876. Te 179.1

The Final Reckoning—When parents and children meet at the final reckoning, what a scene will be presented! Thousands of children who have been slaves to appetite and debasing vice, whose lives are moral wrecks, will stand face to face with the parents who made them what they are. Who but the parents must bear this fearful responsibility? Did the Lord make these youth corrupt? Oh, no! He made them in His image, a little lower than the angels.—Testimonies for the Church 3:568. Te 179.2