The Signs of the Times


August 13, 1896

How Parents Should Discipline Their Children


It is the duty of parents to educate and discipline their children from their earliest years. They should seek to kindly and tenderly lead them to Jesus, and impress upon the children the fact that they are anxious to secure the blessing of God upon their little ones. Parents should feel the necessity of this as much as did the mothers who brought their children to Jesus to receive his blessing. The disciples of Christ could not see why these mothers should be so anxious to bring their children into the presence of Christ. They sought to convince the mothers that this was a very improper thing to do; but Jesus reproved his overzealous disciples, and encouraged the mothers to bring their children into his presence. He said to his disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” These precious words are to be cherished, not only by every mother, but by every father as well. These words are an encouragement to parents to press their children into his notice, to ask in the name of Christ that the Father may let his blessing rest upon their entire family. Not only are the best beloved to receive particular attention, but also the restless, wayward children, who need careful training and tender guidance. ST August 13, 1896, par. 1

Parents need not feel that it is necessary to repress the activity of their children, but they are to understand that it is essential to guide and train them in right and proper directions. These active impulses are like the vines, that, if untrained, will run over every stump and brush, and fasten their tendrils upon low supports. If the vines are not trained about some proper support, they waste their energies to no purpose. So it is with children. Their activities must be trained in the right direction. Give their hands and minds something to do that will advance them in physical and mental attainments. ST August 13, 1896, par. 2

The Lord has promised blessing to the children. He loves to purify and impress their minds, and to lead them in the way of righteousness. Children and youth may be trained in such a way as to become workers in the Master's vineyard. The Lord desires them in his service, and looks to parents to train them in such a way as to make them missionaries at home and abroad. They should be so educated that it will be their pleasure to relieve the cares of their toil-worn fathers and mothers. If parents had not neglected the fulfilling of their responsibilities in doing their parental duties to their children, there would not be so few children and youth enlisted as young soldiers in Christ's army. With proper instruction children will be gained to Christ, and may become channels of blessing to other children and youth. Their influence may be widespread, and methods should be devised so that their active temperaments may find plenty to do in blessing others. When parents thoroughly act their part, giving them line upon line, and precept upon precept, making their lessons short and interesting, and teaching them not only by precept but by example, the Lord will work with their efforts, and make them efficient teachers. ST August 13, 1896, par. 3

O, that the youth and children would give their hearts to Christ! What an army might then be raised up, to win others to righteousness! But parents should not leave this work for the church to do alone. If parents would search the Scriptures so that they might learn what their duty is from the word of God, they would be awakened to their duty. They would find that the world is converting the church, and that they themselves are offering the same trivial excuses for non-performance of duty as the world offers for not heeding the word of God. Let parents comply with the conditions stated in the word of God, repent of their sins, and be converted. Children have heard the Scriptures misinterpreted, and have thought the misinterpretation must be the truth. When the light of truth is presented, many of these very children are convinced that God has spoken to them. How responsible is the position of parents when their children discern truth, and they use the arguments they have heard in the pulpits to prevent their children from following in the path of righteousness, and teach for doctrines the commandments of men! Parents must educate their children tenderly and kindly, and be representatives themselves of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. There is greater need of this kind of education now than ever before; for the world is in the church, moulding and fashioning it after a worldly standard. ST August 13, 1896, par. 4

Education means more than the mere studying of books. It is necessary that both the physical and mental powers be exercised in order to have a proper education. When in counsel with the Father before the world was, it was designed that the Lord God should plant a garden for Adam and Eve in Eden, and give them the task of caring for the fruit trees, and cultivating and training the vegetation. Useful labor was to be their safeguard, and it was to be perpetuated through all generations to the close of earth's history. To have a whole-sided education, it is necessary to combine science with practical labor. From infancy children should be trained to do those things that are appropriate for their age and ability. Parents should now encourage their children to become more independent. Serious troubles are soon to be seen upon the earth, and children should be trained in such a way as to be able to meet them. Many parents give a great deal of time and attention to amusing their children, encouraging them to bring all their troubles to them; but children should be trained to amuse themselves, to exercise their minds in devising plans for their own satisfaction, doing the simple things that are natural for them to do. ST August 13, 1896, par. 5

Children of two to four years of age should not be encouraged to think that they must have everything that they ask for. Parents should teach them lessons of self-denial, and never treat them in such a way as to make them think they are the center, and that everything revolves about them. Many children have inherited selfishness from their parents, but parents should seek to uproot every fiber of this evil tendency from their natures. Christ gave many reproofs to those who were covetous and selfish. Parents should seek, on the first exhibition of selfish traits of character, whether in their presence, or when in association with other children, to restrain and uproot these traits from the character of their children. Do not let the child receive the impression that, because he is your child, he must therefore be deferred to, and permitted to choose and direct his own way. He should not be permitted to choose articles of food that are not good for him, simply because he likes them. The experience of parents should have a controlling power in the life of the child. ST August 13, 1896, par. 6

How carefully should parents manage their children in order to counteract every inclination to selfishness! They should continually suggest ways by which their children may become thoughtful for others, and learn to do things for their fathers and mothers, who are doing everything for them. But if parents are not careful, they will treat their children in such a way as will lead the children to demand attention and privileges that will call for the parents to deprive themselves in order to indulge their little ones. The children will call upon the parents to do things for them, to gratify their wishes, and the parents will concede to their wishes, regardless of the fact that it is inculcating selfishness in their children. But in doing this work parents are wronging their children, and will find out afterwards how difficult a thing it is to counteract the influence of the education of the first few years in a child's life. Children need to learn early that they can not be gratified when selfishness prompts their wishes. ST August 13, 1896, par. 7

Fathers should train their sons to engage with them in their trades and employments. Farmers should not think that agriculture is a business that is not elevated enough for their sons. Agriculture should be advanced by scientific knowledge. Farming has been pronounced unprofitable. People say that the soil does not pay for the labor expended upon it, and they bemoan the hard fate of those who till the soil. In this country (Australia) many have given up the idea that the land will pay for working it, and thousands of acres lie unimproved. But should persons of proper ability take hold of this line of employment, and make a study of the soil, and learn how to plant, to cultivate, and to gather in the harvest, more encouraging results might be seen. Many say, “We have tried agriculture, and know what its results are,” and yet these very ones need to know how to cultivate the soil, and to bring science into their work. Their plowshares should cut deeper, broader furrows, and they need to learn that in tilling the soil they need not become common and coarse in their natures. Let them learn to bring religion into their work. Let them learn to put in the seed in its season, to give attention to vegetation, and to follow the plan that God has devised. ST August 13, 1896, par. 8

The farmer and his sons have the open book of nature before them, and they should learn that farming is a noble occupation, when the work is done in a proper manner. The opinion that prevails that farming degrades the man, is erroneous. The earth is God's own creation, and he calls it very good. The hands may become hard and rough, but this hardness need not extend to the soul. The heart need not become careless, nor the soul defiled. The effeminate paleness may be tanned from the countenance, but the testimony of health is seen in the red and brown of the complexion. Christlikeness may be preserved in the farmer's life. Men may learn, in cultivating the soil, precious lessons about the cultivation of the Spirit. ST August 13, 1896, par. 9