Child Guidance


Section 11—Faulty Discipline

Chapter 46—Evils of Indulgence

True Love Is Not Indulgent—Love is the key to a child's heart, but the love that leads parents to indulge their children in unlawful desires is not a love that will work for their good. The earnest affection which springs from love to Jesus will enable parents to exercise judicious authority and to require prompt obedience. The hearts of parents and children need to be welded together, so that as a family they may be a channel through which wisdom, virtue, forbearance, kindness, and love may flow.1 CG 271.1

Too Much Freedom Makes Prodigal Sons—The reason that children do not become godly is because they are allowed too much freedom. Their will and inclination is indulged.... Many prodigal sons become such because of indulgence in the home, because their parents have not been doers of the Word. The mind and purpose are to be sustained by firm, undeviating, sanctified principles. Consistency and affection are to be enforced by a lovely and consistent example.2 CG 271.2

The More Indulgence, the Harder the Management—Parents, make home happy for your children. By this I do not mean that you are to indulge them. The more they are indulged, the harder they will be to manage, and the more difficult it will be for them to live true, noble lives when they go out into the world. If you allow them to do as they please, their purity and loveliness of character will quickly fade. Teach them to obey. Let them see that your authority must be respected. This may seem to bring them a little unhappiness now, but it will save them from much unhappiness in the future.3 CG 271.3

To indulge a child when young and erring is a sin. A child should be kept under control.4 CG 272.1

If children are allowed to have their own way, they receive the idea that they must be waited upon, cared for, indulged, and amused. They think that their wishes and their will must be gratified.5 CG 272.2

Should she [the mother] not let her child have his own way now and then, let him do just as he wishes, permit him to be disobedient? Certainly not, for just so sure as she does, she lets Satan plant his hellish banner in her house. She must fight the battle of that child which he cannot fight himself. That is her work, to rebuke the devil, to seek God earnestly, and never to let Satan take her child right out of her arms and place him in his arms.6 CG 272.3

Indulgence Causes Restlessness and Discontent—In some families the wishes of the child are law. Everything he desires is given him. Everything he dislikes he is encouraged to dislike. These indulgences are supposed to make the child happy, but it is these very things that make him restless, discontented, and satisfied with nothing. Indulgence has spoiled his appetite for plain, healthful food, for the plain, healthful use of his time; gratification has done the work of unsettling that character for time and for eternity.7 CG 272.4

Elisha's Effective Rebuke for Disrespect—The idea that we must submit to ways of perverse children is a mistake. Elisha, at the very commencement of his work, was mocked and derided by the youth of Bethel. He was a man of great mildness, but the Spirit of God impelled him to pronounce a curse upon those railers. They had heard of Elijah's ascension, and they made this solemn event the subject of jeers. Elisha evinced that he was not to be trifled with, by old or young, in his sacred calling. When they told him he had better go up, as Elijah had done before him, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. The awful judgment that came upon them was of God. CG 272.5

After this, Elisha had no further trouble in his mission. For fifty years he passed in and out of the gate of Bethel, and went to and fro from city to city, passing through crowds of the worst and rudest of idle, dissolute youth; but no one ever mocked him or made light of his qualifications as the prophet of the Most High.8 CG 273.1

Do Not Yield to Coaxing—Parents will have much to answer for in the day of accounts because of their wicked indulgence of their children. Many gratify every unreasonable wish, because it is easier to be rid of their importunity in this way than in any other. A child should be so trained that a refusal would be received in the right spirit and accepted as final.9 CG 273.2

Do Not Take Child's Word Before That of Others—Parents should not pass lightly over the sins of their children. When these sins are pointed out by some faithful friend, the parent should not feel that his rights are invaded, that he has received a personal offense. The habits of every youth and every child affect the welfare of society. The wrong course of one youth may lead many others in an evil way.10 CG 273.3

Do not allow your children to see that you take their word before the statements of older Christians. You cannot do them a greater injury. By saying, I believe my children before I believe those whom I have evidence are children of God, you encourage in them the habit of falsifying.11 CG 273.4

The Heritage of a Spoiled Child—It is impossible to depict the evil that results from leaving a child to its own will. Some who go astray because of neglect in childhood will later, through the inculcation of practical lessons, come to their senses; but many are lost forever because in childhood and youth they received only a partial, one-sided culture. The child who is spoiled has a heavy burden to carry throughout his life. In trial, in disappointment, in temptation, he will follow his undisciplined, misdirected will. Children who have never learned to obey will have weak, impulsive characters. They seek to rule, but have not learned to submit. They are without moral strength to restrain their wayward tempers, to correct their wrong habits, or to subdue their uncontrolled wills. The blunders of untrained, undisciplined childhood become the inheritance of manhood and womanhood. The perverted intellect can scarcely discern between the true and the false.12 CG 274.1