Child Guidance


Chapter 33—Parental Responsibility in Character Formation

A Divine Commission to Parents—God has given parents their work, to form the characters of their children after the divine Pattern. By His grace they can accomplish the task; but it will require patient, painstaking effort, no less than firmness and decision, to guide the will and restrain the passions. A field left to itself produces only thorns and briers. He who would secure a harvest for usefulness or beauty must first prepare the soil and sow the seed, then dig about the young shoots, removing the weeds and softening the earth, and the precious plants will flourish and richly repay his care and labor.1 CG 169.1

Character building is the most important work ever entrusted to human beings, and never before was its diligent study so important as now. Never was any previous generation called to meet issues so momentous; never before were young men and young women confronted by perils so great as confront them today.2 CG 169.2

Here is your work, parents, to develop the characters of your children in harmony with the precepts of the Word of God. This work should come first, for eternal interests are here involved. The character building of your children is of more importance than the cultivation of your farms, more essential than the building of houses to live in, or of prosecuting any manner of business or trade.3 CG 169.3

Home, the Best Place for Character Building—Neither the church school nor the college affords the opportunities for establishing a child's character building upon the right foundation that are afforded in the home.4 CG 170.1

Crooked Characters Must Be Straightened—Those who do not make the crooked character straight in this life can have no part in the future immortal life. Oh, how important it is for the youth to keep straight. Parents act an important part in this matter. On them rests the sacred responsibility of training their children for God. To them has been given the work of helping their little ones form characters which will gain for them entrance into the courts above.5 CG 170.2

Parents, Do Not Blunder Here—Parents, for Christ's sake do not blunder in your most important work, that of molding the characters of your children for time and for eternity. An error on your part in neglect of faithful instruction, or in the indulgence of that unwise affection which blinds your eyes to their defects and prevents you from giving them proper restraint, will prove their ruin. Your course may give a wrong direction to all their future career. You determine for them what they will be and what they will do for Christ, for men, and for their own souls. CG 170.3

Deal honestly and faithfully with your children. Work bravely and patiently. Fear no crosses, spare no time or labor, burden or suffering. The future of your children will testify the character of your work. Fidelity to Christ on your part can be better expressed in the symmetrical character of your children than in any other way. They are Christ's property, bought with His own blood. If their influence is wholly on the side of Christ, they are His colaborers, helping others to find the path of life. If you neglect your God-given work, your unwise course of discipline places them among the class who scatter from Christ and strengthen the kingdom of darkness.6 CG 170.4

A Clean House, but Children Untrained—I have seen a mother whose critical eye could discern anything imperfect in the matching of the woodwork of her house, and who was very particular to have her house cleaning thoroughly done at the precise time she had set, and would carry it through frequently at the expense of physical and spiritual health, while her children were left to run in the street and obtain a street education. These children were growing up coarse, selfish, rude, and disobedient. The mother, although she had hired help, was so much engaged in household cares that she could not afford time to properly train her children. She let them come up with deformity of character, undisciplined, and untrained. We could but feel that the fine taste of the mother was not exercised in the right direction, or she would have seen the necessity of molding the minds and manners of her children and educating them to have symmetrical characters and lovely tempers. CG 171.1

If the mother had let these things which she had allowed to claim her first attention come in secondarily, she would have regarded the physical, mental, and moral training of her children of almost infinite importance. Those who take upon themselves the responsibility of mothers should feel under the most solemn obligation to God and to their children to so educate them that they will have amiable and affectionate dispositions, and that they will be pure in morals, refined in taste, and lovely in character.7 CG 171.2

Only by God's Spirit—Shall we consider that we are capable of fashioning our lives and characters to enter into the portals of glory? We cannot do it. We are dependent every moment upon the Spirit of God operating upon us and upon our children.8 CG 172.1

If parents would see a different state of things in their family, let them consecrate themselves wholly to God, and the Lord will devise ways and means whereby a transformation may take place in their households.9 CG 172.2

God's Part and Yours—Christian parents, I entreat you to awake.... If you neglect your duty and shirk your responsibility, expecting the Lord to do your work, you will be disappointed. When you have faithfully done all that you can do, bring your children to Jesus; and with earnest, persevering faith, make intercession for them. The Lord will be your helper; He will work with your efforts; in His strength you will gain the victory.... CG 172.3

When parents shall manifest such an interest for their children as God would have them, He will hear their prayers and work with their efforts; but God does not propose to do the work which He has left for parents to do.10 CG 172.4

The Creator Will Help You—Mothers, remember that in your work the Creator of the universe will give you help. In His strength, and through His name, you can lead your children to be overcomers. Teach them to look to God for strength. Tell them that He hears their prayers. Teach them to overcome evil with good. Teach them to exert an influence that is elevating and ennobling. Lead them to unite with God, and then they will have strength to resist the strongest temptation. They will then receive the reward of the overcomer.11 CG 172.5

Your compassionate Redeemer is watching you in love and sympathy, ready to hear your prayers and render you the assistance which you need in your lifework. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, and charity are the elements of the Christian character. These precious graces are the fruits of the Spirit. They are the Christian's crown and shield.12 CG 173.1

A Word of Encouragement to Those Who Have Erred—Those who have been training their children in an improper way need not despair; let them become converted to God and seek for the true spirit of obedience, and they will be enabled to make decided reforms. In conforming your own customs to the saving principles of God's holy law, you will have an influence upon your children.13 CG 173.2

Some Children Will Refuse to Heed Parental Counsel—Parents may do everything in their power to give their children every privilege and instruction, in order that they may give their hearts to God; yet the children may refuse to walk in the light and, by their evil course, cast unfavorable reflections upon their parents who love them, and whose hearts yearn after their salvation. CG 173.3

It is Satan who tempts children to follow in a course of sin and disobedience.... If they refuse to walk in the light, if they refuse to submit their will and way to God, and persist in following a course of sin in their impenitence, the light and privileges they have had will rise up in judgment against them, because they did not walk in the light, and knew not whither they went. Satan is leading them, and they become a subject of remark in the world. People will say, “Why, look at those children! Their parents are very religious, but you see they are worse than my children, and I do not profess to be a Christian.” In this way children who receive good instruction and yet do not heed it cast a reproach upon their parents, dishonoring them, and putting them to shame before an ungodly world. They also bring a reproach upon the religion of Jesus Christ through their wicked course of action.14 CG 173.4

Parents, This Is Your Work—Parents, it is your work to develop in your children patience, constancy, and genuine love. In dealing aright with the children God has given you, you are helping them lay the foundation for pure, well-balanced characters. You are instilling into their minds principles which they will one day follow in their own families. The effect of your well-directed efforts will be seen as they conduct their households in the way of the Lord.15 CG 174.1