The Signs of the Times


April 30, 1894

Parents Should Be Christlike


The home circle should be an educating circle. Fathers and mothers should realize that they themselves should be in subjection to our Heavenly Father, in order that they may understand how to educate and train the children to be under discipline, and in subjection to parental authority. Parents have brought children into the world, and the children have no voice or part in the matter. Parents are under most weighty responsibility to so educate and train these children that they shall not miss the way leading to eternal life. Parents make a most terrible mistake when they neglect the work of giving their children religious training, thinking that they will come out all right in the future, and, as they get older, will of themselves be anxious for a religious experience. Cannot you see, parents, that if you do not plant the precious seeds of truth, of love, of heavenly attributes, in the heart, Satan will sow the field of the heart with tares? He will pre-occupy the field, and sow the seeds of stubbornness, of selfishness, of love, of pleasure, and turn the mind into channels of pride and sinfulness. ST April 30, 1894, par. 1

As parents, we shall do well to consider the case of Abraham, “the father of the faithful.” He was a representative man, and his example in the home life is worthy of imitation. The Lord said of him, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” Abraham was selected by God to introduce into society a higher standard than that found in the world. He was to cultivate home religion, and cause the fear of the Lord to permeate his household. He who blesses the habitation of the righteous, said of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” There would be on his part no betraying of sacred trusts, no indulgence of sin in excusing his children in evil ways. This sinful indulgence of children is the veriest cruelty that could be practiced toward them; for it confirms them in evil. ST April 30, 1894, par. 2

Children are the heritage of the Lord, and should be trained and disciplined in such a way that they will form characters which the Lord can approve. Both parents and children are under the government of God, and are to be ruled by him. Fathers and mothers should combine their influence and authority and affection, and rule their homes after the direction that God has given us in his word. They are not to rule by impulse. There is to be no oppression on the part of parents, and no disobedience on the part of children. We are not to reach the standard of worldlings, but the standard that God himself has erected. Parents should inquire diligently what God has said in his holy word; for the word must be the rule from which there can be no turning aside. The motto of parents should be, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ST April 30, 1894, par. 3

It is very delicate work to deal with human minds. The discipline necessary for one would crush another; therefore let parents study the characters of their children. Never be abrupt and act from impulse. I have seen a mother snatch something from the hand of her child which was giving it special pleasure, and the child would not understand what to make of the deprivation. The little one burst forth into a cry, for it felt abused and injured. Then the parent, to stop its crying, gave it a sharp chastisement, and, as far as outward appearances were concerned, the battle was over. But that battle left its impression on the tender mind of the child, and it could not be easily effaced. I said to the mother: “You have deeply wronged your child. You have hurt its soul, and lost its confidence in you. How this will be restored I know not.” This mother was very unwise; she followed her feelings, and did not move cautiously, reasoning from cause to effect. Her harsh, injudicious management stirred up the worst passions in the heart of her child. To act from impulse in governing a family is the very worst of policy. When parents contend with their children in such a way, it is a most unequal struggle that ensues. How unjust it is to put years and maturity of strength against a helpless, ignorant little child! Every exhibition of anger on the part of the parents confirms rebellion in the heart of the child. It is not through one act that the character is formed, but by a repetition of acts that habits are established and character confirmed. To have a Christ-like character it is necessary to act in a Christlike way. Christians will exhibit a holy temper, and their actions and impulses will be prompted by the Holy Spirit. ST April 30, 1894, par. 4

It takes far less time and pains to spoil the disposition of a child than to imprint upon the tablets of the soul, principles that will result in habits of righteousness. Let parents be careful never to correct their children in anger. Never lay your hand upon a child when you are provoked and filled with passion. In so doing you will make him partaker of your own impulsive, passionate, unreasonable spirit. You may ask, “Shall I never punish my child by the use of the rod?” It may be necessary to whip a child at times. But every other resort should first be tried before you cause your child physical pain. If you are a Christian father or mother, you will reveal the love you have for your poor, erring little ones. If you do have to punish your child, you will manifest real sorrow for its affliction. You will bow before God with the child, and, with a heart full of sorrow, will ask the Lord to forgive the erring little one, and not permit that Satan shall have control of his soul. Present before the little ones the sympathizing Redeemer. Speak his own words to them, telling them that Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Your prayer, uttered in contrition of soul, will bring angels to your side, and the child's heart may be all broken in penitence, and thus the victory be gained, and there be no necessity of using the rod at all. ST April 30, 1894, par. 5

But if you take a child and correct it in the heat of passion, you pursue a course that may make a demon of your child, and then you may wonder why it is that your children have such unlovely traits of character, when you have so faithfully tried to break their stubborn wills. Here is where so many make a great mistake, in thinking that it is necessary to break and destroy a child's will. What you are to do is to guide and discipline and train the will by precept and example. In order to do this you must first learn how to control your own hasty temper, and subdue your own will, in order that you may mould and fashion the character of your child. If you act out your hasty temper, and show an undisciplined will before your child, you will certainly educate him to imitate your words and actions, and you have no reason to wonder why your children are so bad. It is your manner of training that is ruining your household. ST April 30, 1894, par. 6

Have you love for your child? Do you cultivate affection for the little ones you have brought into the world, and express that love in your words and manners? If your child is playing with something that is not a proper article for him to use as a toy, do not snatch it from him; but get him to exchange it for something that will be proper for him, and that will give him as much pleasure. Let your children have evidence that you love them, and that you want to make them happy. The more unlovely they are, the greater pains you must take to win their confidence and love; and when they realize that father and mother will use every justifiable means to make them happy, the barriers will be broken down. What a victory is gained when it is possible to mould the character of your children after the character of Christ! It should be the constant aim of parents to develop the capacities of their children in such a way that they will be fitted to honor God and bless humanity. ST April 30, 1894, par. 7