Child Guidance


Chapter 42—The Time to Begin Discipline

Disobedient Children a Sign of the Last Days—One of the signs of the “last days” is the disobedience of children to their parents. And do parents realize their responsibility? Many seem to lose sight of the watch care they should ever have over their children, and suffer them to indulge in evil passions and to disobey them.1 CG 229.1

Children are the heritage of the Lord, and unless parents give them such a training as will enable them to keep the way of the Lord, they neglect solemn duty. It is not the will or purpose of God that children shall become coarse, rough, uncourteous, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. The Scriptures state that this condition of society shall be a sign of the last days.2 CG 229.2

Indulgent Parents Disqualify for Heaven's Order—There is perfect order in heaven, perfect concord and agreement. If parents so neglect to bring their children under proper authority here, how can they hope that they will be considered fit companions for the holy angels in a world of peace and harmony?3 CG 229.3

Those who have had no respect for order or discipline in this life would have no respect for the order which is observed in heaven. They can never be admitted into heaven, for all worthy of an entrance there will love order and respect discipline. The characters formed in this life will determine the future destiny. When Christ shall come, He will not change the character of any individual.... Parents should neglect no duty on their part to benefit their children. They should so train them that they may be a blessing to society here and may reap the reward of eternal life hereafter.4 CG 229.4

When Discipline Should Begin—The moment that the child begins to choose his own will and way, that moment his education in discipline is to begin. This may be called an unconscious education. It is then that a work, conscious and powerful, is to begin. The greatest burden of this work necessarily rests on the mother. She has the first care of the child, and she is to lay the foundation of an education that will help the child to develop a strong, symmetrical character.... CG 230.1

Frequently mere babies show a most determined will. If this will is not brought into subjection to a wiser authority than the child's untrained desires, Satan takes control of the mind and fashions the disposition in harmony with his will.5 CG 230.2

Neglecting the work of disciplining and training until a perverse disposition has become strengthened is doing the children a most serious wrong; for they grow up selfish, exacting, and unlovable. They cannot enjoy their own company any better than can others; therefore they will ever be filled with discontent. The work of the mother must commence at an early age, giving Satan no chance to control the minds and dispositions of their little ones.6 CG 230.3

Repress First Appearance of Evil—Parents, you should commence your first lesson of discipline when your children are babes in your arms. Teach them to yield their will to yours. This can be done by bearing an even hand and manifesting firmness. Parents should have perfect control over their own spirits and, with mildness and yet firmness, bend the will of the child until it shall expect nothing else but to yield to their wishes. CG 230.4

Parents do not commence in season. The first manifestation of temper is not subdued, and the children grow stubborn, which increases with their growth and strengthens with their strength.7 CG 231.1

“Too Young to Punish?”—Eli did not manage his household according to God's rules for family government. He followed his own judgment. The fond father overlooked the faults and sins of his sons in their childhood, flattering himself that after a time they would outgrow their evil tendencies. Many are now making a similar mistake. They think they know a better way of training their children than that which God has given in His Word. They foster wrong tendencies in them, urging as an excuse, “They are too young to be punished. Wait till they become older and can be reasoned with.” Thus wrong habits are left to strengthen until they become second nature. The children grow up without restraint, with traits of character that are a lifelong curse to them and are liable to be reproduced in others. CG 231.2

There is no greater curse upon households than to allow the youth to have their own way. When parents regard every wish of their children and indulge them in what they know is not for their good, the children soon lose all respect for their parents, all regard for the authority of God or man, and are led captive at the will of Satan.8 CG 231.3

Put Home Training Ahead of Other Pursuits—Many point to the children of ministers, teachers, and other men of high repute for learning and piety, and urge that if these men, with their superior advantages, fail in family government, those who are less favorably situated need not hope to succeed. The question to be settled is, Have these men given to their children that which is their right—a good example, faithful instruction, and proper restraint? It is by a neglect of these essentials that such parents give to society children who are unbalanced in mind, impatient of restraint, and ignorant of the duties of practical life. In this they are doing the world an injury which outweighs all the good that their labors accomplish. Those children transmit their own perversity of character as an inheritance to their offspring, and at the same time their evil example and influence corrupt society and make havoc in the church. We cannot think that any man, however great his ability and usefulness, is best serving God or the world while his time is given to other pursuits, to the neglect of his own children.9 CG 231.4

Heavenly Co-operation Is Promised—God will bless a just and correct discipline. But “without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” The heavenly intelligences cannot co-operate with fathers and mothers who are neglecting to train their children, who are allowing Satan to handle that little piece of infant machinery, that youthful mind, as an instrument through whom he can work to counteract the working of the Holy Spirit.10 CG 232.1