Child Guidance


Chapter 71—Parental Vigilance and Help

Parents to Teach Self-control From Infancy—How important that we teach our children self-control from their very infancy, and teach them the lesson of submitting their wills to us. If they should be so unfortunate as to learn wrong habits, not knowing all the evil results, they can be reformed by appealing to their reason and convincing them that such habits ruin the constitution and affect the mind. We should show them that whatever persuasions corrupt persons may use to quiet their awakened fears and lead them to still indulge this pernicious habit, whatever may be their pretense, they are their enemies and the devil's agents.1 CG 457.1

Keep Them Pure—Fortify Their Minds—It is a crime for mothers to allow themselves to remain in ignorance in regard to the habits of their children. If they are pure, keep them so. Fortify their young minds, and prepare them to detest this health-and-soul-destroying vice.2 CG 457.2

Satan is controlling the minds of the young, and we must work resolutely and faithfully to save them. Very young children practice this vice, and it grows upon them and strengthens with their years, until every noble faculty of body and soul is being degraded. Many might have been saved if they had been carefully instructed in regard to the influence of this practice upon their health. They were ignorant of the fact that they were bringing much suffering upon themselves.... CG 457.3

Mothers, you cannot be too careful in preventing your children from learning low habits. It is easier to learn evil than to eradicate it after it is learned.3 CG 457.4

Exercise Determined Watchfulness and Close Inquiry—If your children practice this vice, they may be in danger of resorting to falsehood to deceive you. But, mothers, you must not be easily quieted and cease your investigations. You should not let the matter rest until you are fully satisfied. The health and souls of those you love are in peril, which makes this matter of the greatest importance. Determined watchfulness and close inquiry, notwithstanding the attempts to evade and conceal, will generally reveal the true state of the case. Then should the mother faithfully present this subject to them in its true light, showing it degrading downward tendency. Try to convince them that indulgence in this sin will destroy self-respect and nobleness of character, will ruin health and morals; and its foul stain will blot from the soul true love for God and the beauty of holiness. The mother should pursue this matter until she has sufficient evidence that the practice is at an end.4 CG 458.1

Avoid Haste and Censure as You Begin—You may inquire, How can we remedy the evils which already exist? How shall we begin the work? If you lack wisdom, go to God; He has promised to give liberally. Pray much, and fervently, for divine aid. One rule cannot be followed in every case. The exercise of sanctified judgment is now needful. Be not hasty and agitated and approach your children with censure. Such a course would only cause rebellion in them. You should feel deeply over any wrong course you have taken, which may have opened a door for Satan to lead your children by his temptations. If you have not instructed them in regard to the violation of the laws of health, blame rests upon you. You have neglected important duty, which result may be seen in the wrong practices of your children.5 CG 458.2

Instructing With Self-possession and Sympathy—Before you engage in the work of teaching your children the lesson of self-control, you should learn it yourself. If you are easily agitated and become impatient, how can you appear reasonable to your children, while instructing them to control their passions? With self-possession and feelings of the deepest sympathy and pity, you should approach your erring children and faithfully present to them the sure work of ruin upon their constitutions if they continue the course they have begun—that as they debilitate the physical and mental, so also the moral must feel the decay, and they are sinning, not only against themselves, but against God. CG 459.1

You should make them feel, if possible, that it is God, the pure and holy God, that they have been sinning against; that the great Searcher of hearts is displeased with their course; that nothing is concealed from Him. If you can so impress your children that they will exercise that repentance which is acceptable to God, that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of, the work will be thorough, the reform certain. They will not feel sorrow merely because their sins are known; but they will view their sinful practices in their aggravated character and will be led to confess them to God, without reserve, and will forsake them. They will feel to sorrow for their wrong course, because they have displeased God and sinned against Him and dishonored their bodies before Him who created them and has required them to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him, which is their reasonable service.6 CG 459.2

Guard the Association of Children—Unless the minds of our children are firmly balanced by religious principle, their morals will become corrupted by the vicious examples with which they come in contact.7 CG 460.1

Shield them, as faithful mothers should, from becoming contaminated by associating with every young companion. Keep them, as precious jewels, from the corrupting influence of this age. If you are situated so that their intercourse with young associates cannot always be overruled, as you would wish to have it, then let them visit your children in your presence; and in no case allow these associates to lodge in the same bed or even in the same room. It will be far easier to prevent an evil than to cure it afterward.... CG 460.2

They [parents] let them visit other young friends, form their own acquaintances, and even go from their parental watch care, some distance from home, where they are allowed to do very much as they please. Satan improves all such opportunities and takes charge of the minds of these children whom mothers ignorantly expose to his artful snares.8 CG 460.3

The Diet Is Important—You cannot arouse the moral sensibilities of your children while you are not careful in the selection of their food. The tables that parents usually prepare for their children are a snare to them.9 CG 460.4

Indulgent parents do not teach their children self-denial. The very food they place before them is such as to irritate the stomach. The excitement thus produced is communicated to the brain, and as a result the passions are aroused. It cannot be too often repeated that whatever is taken into the stomach affects not only the body, but ultimately the mind as well. Gross and stimulating food fevers the blood, excites the nervous system, and too often dulls the moral perceptions, so that reason and conscience are overborne by the sensual impulses. It is difficult, and often well-nigh impossible, for one who is intemperate in diet to exercise patience and self-control. Hence the special importance of allowing children, whose characters are yet unformed, to have only such food as is healthful and unstimulating. It was in love that our heavenly Father sent the light of health reform to guard against the evils that result from unrestrained indulgence of appetite.10 CG 460.5

If ever there was a time when the diet should be of the most simple kind, it is now. Meat should not be placed before our children. Its influence is to excite and strengthen the lower passions and has a tendency to deaden the moral powers.11 CG 461.1

Cleanliness Important—Frequent bathing is very beneficial, especially at night, just before retiring, or upon rising in the morning. It will take but a few moments to give the children a bath and to rub them until their bodies are in a glow. This brings the blood to the surface, relieving the brain; and there will be less inclination to indulge in impure practices. Teach the little ones that God is not pleased to see them with unclean bodies and untidy, torn garments. Tell them that He wants them to be pure without and within, that He may dwell with them.12 CG 461.2

Clean, Loose-fitting Clothing—Having the clothing neat and clean will be one means of keeping the thoughts pure and sweet. Every article of dress should be plain and simple, without unnecessary adornment, so that it will be but little work to wash and iron it. Especially should every article which comes in contact with the skin be kept clean and free from any offensive odor. Nothing of an irritating character should touch the bodies of children, nor should their clothing be allowed to bind them in any way. If more attention were given to this subject, far less impurity would be practiced.13 CG 461.3

Do Not Release From Exercise—They [the youth] are excused from physical exercise to a great degree for fear they will overwork. The parents bear burdens themselves which their children should bear. Overwork is bad, but the result of indolence is more to be dreaded. Idleness leads to the indulgence of corrupt habits. Industry does not weary and exhaust one-fifth part as much as the pernicious habit of self-abuse. If simple, well-regulated labor exhausts your children, be assured, parents, there is something, aside from their labor, which is enervating their systems and producing a sense of constant weariness. Give your children physical labor, which will call into exercise the nerves and muscles. The weariness attending such labor will lessen their inclination to indulge in vicious habits.14 CG 462.1

Indolence an Open Door to Temptation—Mothers, give your children enough to do.... Indolence will not be favorable to physical, mental, or moral health. It throws open the door and invites Satan in, which opportunity he improves, and draws the young into his snares. By indolence not only the moral strength is weakened, and the impulse of passion increased, but Satan's angels take possession of the whole citadel of the mind and compel conscience to surrender to vile passion. We should teach our children habits of patient industry.15 CG 462.2

God Will Not Leave the Repentant to Perish—You should present encouragements before your children that a merciful God will accept true heart repentance and will bless their endeavors to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. As Satan sees that he is losing control over the minds of your children, he will strongly tempt them and seek to bind them to continue to practice this bewitching vice. But with a firm purpose they must resist Satan's temptations to indulge the animal passions, because it is sin against God. They should not venture on forbidden ground, where Satan can claim control over them. If they in humility entreat God for purity of thought and a refined and sanctified imagination, He will hear them and grant their petitions. God has not left them to perish in their sins, but will help the weak and helpless, if they cast themselves in faith upon Him.16 CG 463.1