Our series entitled Train Up A Child, has been a study in Christian Parenting. We have been considering from God’s Word, and from the Spirit of Prophecy, the Testimony of Jesus. Some of the basic principles that relate to being successful parents. That is, parents who raise their children to the glory of God. For that is the goal of Christian parenting.
We are now, in our study, considering some of the major techniques of training up our children. First of all by precept, then by what? Example. Now we need to move on to consider, discipline. Precept and example, both are good, but because of the natural bent towards evil that our children have inherited from us, discipline is absolutely necessary. Precept and example are not sufficient. Restraint is required. Restraint and the rod and reproof, those are the two dimensions of discipline that we need to turn our attention to now. The title of this particular presentation, is Nurture and Admonition. And we are going to be considering restraint, preventive discipline. Preventive discipline. And before we turn to that text, from which our title is taken, let’s again pause, to invite Gods Spirit to be with us in a special way. Shall we kneel?
My Father in heaven, I celebrate in the privilege of coming before You in Jesus’ name, on my own behalf and on behalf of my brothers and sisters here. I come boldly, not because I deem myself worthy of such a privilege, but because You have invited me to and because You have provided the new and living way, Jesus the incarnate One. See us Father as we are in Him, not as we are in ourselves. And count us worthy of an audience with You just now. We all have an earnest request Father, and that is for Your Spirit. We recognize and freely acknowledge to You, that Spiritual things are not naturally discerned by us. That’s why we’re asking for the supernatural capacity that is ours only through the gift and through the power of Your Spirit. Help us to see the truth. To appreciate it and to apply it. Especially guide our minds now, as we consider this subject of discipline. So vital to successful Christian parenting. Lord, quicken this mortal body of mine, I pray. By the supernatural power of the Spirit, energize my mind, my thoughts. Make them much better thoughts than my own, and much better words than my own. Take full possession of me, I pray Lord. That Jesus might be glorified, and that we in the study of His word, might be edified. That is my prayer in His name. AMEN.
Nurture and Admonition. The title of the study, is taken from Eph 6:4 “And you, fathers”, this is addressed specifically to fathers, but it includes both parents. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the” what? “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Now the Greek word that is translated nurture, in the King James, and training in the New King James, is actually more accurately, or literally translated DISCIPLINE. Bring them up in the discipline of the Lord.
What does it mean to be disciplined? It means to be a disciple, of the Lord. You hear the same word don’t you? DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLE. One who is disciplined of the Lord, is a DISCIPLE of the Lord. And what does it mean to be a disciple of the Lord? Jesus tells us very clearly, Matt 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, (to those whom He was disciplining, to those whom He was bringing up, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord), “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him (1) DENY HIMSELF, and (2) TAKE UP HIS CROSS, and (3) FOLLOW ME.'” There you have the three (3) essential elements of disciplining, or discipling.
DENY SELF, that we might learn to TAKE UP OUR CROSS, DIE TO SELF, and FOLLOW JESUS. This lesson however, is not learned naturally or easily, is it? The lesson of self denial. The lesson of self-crucifixion. The lesson of following Christ. It is not learned naturally or easily, for by nature we are selfish, self-seeking. We do not by nature, deny self. By nature we indulge self. Thus self-denial and self-control can be learned ONLY as we submit to an AUTHORITY higher than ourselves. A power GREATER than our own.
To learn self-denial, we must learn to submit to an authority higher than our own. Now for the mature Christian, who is that authority? That is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But for our children, who is that authority? It is us, their parents. You see We stand in Christ’s STED. And we are commissioned by Him, to disciple, to discipline our children FOR Him. To be for them that Higher authority, that helps them learn how to deny self, so that when they DO come to Him, they might take up their cross, choose to die to self, and follow Him. Our disciplining, discipling ministry, parents, is crucially important, and we must not neglect it.
CT 109 “God commands His people to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. What does this mean, “the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. It means to TEACH them to ORDER the life, by the requirements and lessons of the Word. To help them gain a clear understanding of the terms of the entrance to the city of God. Not to all who would enter, will the gates of that city be opened. But to those ONLY who have STUDIED to KNOW Gods will, and have yielded their lives to His control”.
Brothers and sisters, we must help our children learn to deny self, take up their cross, die to self, yield their lives to the control of Jesus Christ, and follow Him all the way to the entrance into the city. To enable them to do this is what discipline is all about. To prepare our children to yield their lives to Gods authority, by teaching them, and habituating them to yield to OUR authority is the primary purpose of discipline.
There are two (2) types of discipline. PREVENTIVE and CORRECTIVE. Preventive and corrective. Both at times will be necessary, and must be used in conjunction with diligent instruction in principle, and modeling of principle. Precept and example, in other words. Remember how Eli failed? Not because he failed to instruct, not because he failed to be a good example, but because he failed to what? To discipline. He failed to exercise, restraint upon his children, to discipline.
These two types of discipline, corrective and preventive. We must think primarily, of preventive discipline however, when we speak on the issue of discipline. So frequently when we use the word discipline, we think of punishment, don’t we? But I would suggest to you that punishment is only a minor part, it should be anyway. Only a minor part of our disciplinary activity. Preventive discipline when exercised properly, makes corrective discipline, very seldom necessary. In fact, as the saying goes ‘an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of correction’, to slightly adapt a proverb.
We may only need an ounce of corrective discipline if we exercise a full pound of preventive discipline. Preventive discipline, restraint. How can we rightly exercise it? One of the first areas, where we can teach our children restraint and self-control, is in the area of appetite. And how sadly and how frequently this is altogether neglected. And the consequence of this neglect, is that we actually are training our children in selfishness and self-indulgence.
Listen to this statement from AH 261 “Children are generally brought up from the cradle to indulge the appetite and are taught that they LIVE TO EAT. The mother does much toward the formation of the character of her children in their childhood. She can teach them to control the appetite, or she can teach them to indulge the appetite and become gluttons.” You see, when our children are infants, what is it that is of primary importance to them? FOOD. And we can use that as a means of training them, right from day ONE.
I have a real concern about a very popular method of feeding, called DEMAND feeding. What is demand feeding? As the name implies, it’s feeding the child whenever he cries, or demands feeding. Think with me now. Reason with me. Would such an approach tend to teach a child self-restraint, or self-indulgence?
MH 383 “The little ones, need to learn that they EAT TO LIVE, NOT, LIVE TO EAT. The training should begin with the infant in its mother’s arms.” Listen. “The child should be given food ONLY at REGULAR INTERVALS,” only how? Only at regular intervals, does that sound like demand feeding? “only at regular intervals, and less frequently as it grows older. Care and regularity in the feeding of infants will not only promote health, and thus tend to make them quiet and sweet-tempered, but will LAY THE FOUNDATION OF HABITS that will be a blessing to them in after years.” Regularity in feeding, will what? It will “lay the foundation of habits that will be a blessing to them in after years.” Demand feeding, will lay a foundation of habits that I submit will be a curse to them, in after years. And bless your hearts, for all of us here, at least most of us, perhaps this council comes a little late. But it may help us to recognize why our children have some of the tendencies that they do. A demand feeding program, I would suggest is one of the most effective ways to train up a demanding child.
You show me a mother that has fed her child on demand, and I will show you children, who grow up to treat their mother like a slave. And what else can we honestly expect, when in that first most impressionable period of their lives, she has taught them that she is there at their command. To satisfy their every desire. What else can we expect of them?
I read from CG 92, what are the signals in this demand feeding program, by the way? What determines when the mother comes running? The babies wishes and the babies cry, right? Think of that in this context please. “One precious lesson which the mother will need to repeat again and again is that the child is NOT to rule, he is NOT the master, but her will and her wishes are to be supreme. Thus she is teaching them self-control. GIVE THEM NOTHING FOR WHICH THEY CRY, even if your tender heart desires ever so much to do this, for if they gain the victory ONCE by crying, they will EXPECT to do it again. The second time the battle will be more vehement.”
What is the demand feeding program teaching our children to do? To CRY, to demand for their desires to be satisfied. And if we come running every time that happens, we are re-enforcing those selfish demanding tendencies. Oh parents, is this perhaps one of the reasons why our children tend to be a bit demanding?
Now, this statement says, “give them nothing for which they cry”. Please recognize with me, that that is a selfish demanding cry. If a child is hurt, that is something different isn’t it? Or if a child is startled or scared and needs some comfort, that’s not what is being referred to. But what is being referred to is that cry that is motivated by selfishness, the demand for self-gratification. There is such a thing as a cry out of genuine hunger I suppose too, and if we have neglected to feed a child properly, then that needs to be honored. But if we feed a child at regular intervals, I suggest that that does not need to be a problem. And with my daughter, I would try to make it a practice to help her stop crying before I would give her her bottle. Just because I wanted to avoid re-enforcing any possibility of self-indulging tendencies.
CG 91,92 “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.” What are we doing? We’re “inculcating selfishness in our children”. I read on, “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 cannot be gratified when selfishness prompts their wishes.”
Did you hear that last sentence? “Children need to learn early that they cannot be gratified when selfishness prompts their wishes.” Mothers, you are the first ones that have the privilege and the responsibility to teach the children self-control, by restraint. To fail to do this is really the veriest cruelly. And those are not my words.
CG 91 “The little ones, before they are a year old, hear and understand what is spoken in reference to themselves,” “before they are” what? “The little ones, before they are a year old, hear and understand what is spoken in reference to themselves, and know to what extent they are to be indulged.” “Before they are” what? “a year old”. I read on, “Mothers, you should train your children to yield to YOUR wishes. This point MUST be gained if you would hold the control over your children, and preserve your dignity as a mother. Your children quickly learn just what you expect of them, they know when THEIR WILL CONQUERS YOURS, and will make the MOST of their victory. It is the veriest cruelty to allow wrong habits to be developed, to give the law into the hands of the child and let him rule.”
Oh mothers, bless your hearts. CT 111, 112, when should discipline begin? When should restraint be exercised? “Few parents begin early enough to teach their children to obey. The child is usually allowed to get two or three years the start of its parents, who forbear to discipline it, thinking it too young to learn to obey. But all this time self is growing strong in the little being, and every day makes harder the parent’s task of gaining control. At a very early age children can comprehend what is plainly and simply told them, and by kind and judicious management can be taught to obey. NEVER should they be allowed to show their parents disrespect. Self-will should NEVER be permitted to go unrebuked. The future well-being of the child requires kindly, loving, but firm discipline.”
Parents, don’t think, just because they’re young, they cannot be benefited by discipline. Again CG 82 “One of the first lessons a child needs to learn is the lesson of obedience. Before he is old enough to reason, he may be taught to obey. The mother’s work should commence with the infant. She should subdue the will and temper of the child and bring its disposition into subjection. Teach it to obey, and as the child grows older, relax NOT the hand.”
When the child is to young to reason with, and you do not want to indulge it, you do not want to give it what it is demanding, what is a good technique to use? The best technique to use at that point is to diversion. I appreciate so much my wives skills in this area. My tendency, being more authoritarian, is to confront. But my wife, bless her heart, is very skilled in diverting. And before a child is old enough to reason with, that is a technique that is particularly useful and helpful.
CG 244 “The Lord wants the hearts of these children from their very babyhood to be given to His service. While they are too young to reason with, DIVERT their minds as best you can; and as they become older, teach them by precept and example that you cannot indulge their wrong desires.” Diversion is an excellent tactic, until you can teach them by precept and example, that they cannot be indulged in their wrong desires. The first three years mothers, are the crucial ones, aren’t they?
CG 194 “Mothers, be sure that you properly discipline your children during the FIRST THREE YEARS of their lives. Do not allow them to form their wishes and desires.” Did you hear that? During those first three years, do not what? “Do not ALLOW them to form THEIR wishes and desires.” Now, on the surface, that might sound rather harsh and arbitrary and unloving. But is it really when you stop to think of it? When you stop to recognize that BY NATURE, their wishes and desires are SELFISH, to refuse to let them form those wishes and to refuse to let them indulge those wishes, is NOT an UNLOVING thing to do but a LOVING thing to do. You are sparing them from their own natural selfishness. “Do not allow them to form their wishes and desires. The mother must be MIND for her child.” Now what period are we talking about? “The first three years”.
(CG 194,con’t) “The mother must be mind for her child. The first three years is the time in which to bend the tiny twig.” Not break it, mind you, bend it. “Mothers should understand the importance attaching to this period. It is then that the foundation is laid.”
What are the consequences of failure? To bend the twig? Failure to control children? The consequences are quite CLEARLY spelled out in Isa 3:4,5. If we fail, dear parents, to gain control by the exercise of loving discipline, over our children, what invariably will happen? Isa 3:4 “I will give children to be their princes, and BABES shall rule over them, (V5) The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor. The child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable.”
Listen to this statement, ST Apr 16, 1896, “Parents who do not control their children, WILL BE CONTROLLED BY THEM,” That’s one that you ought to write down and put on the refrigerator, too. “Parents who do NOT control their children, WILL be controlled by them, and will indulge their children in vain desires, will gratify perverse appetite and inclination.”
Here’s a remarkable statement written to a Minister by Ellen White. “And the child shall rule over them”. Listen to this, 4T 383 “In your blind and foolish fondness you have both surrendered to your child. You have allowed her to hold the reins in her tiny fists, and SHE RULED YOU both before she was able to walk.” “She ruled you both before she was able to walk.” “And babes shall rule over them.” Why, because parents failed to exercise disciplinary measures. And if YOU don’t take the reins, THEY WILL. THEY WILL in their tiny little fists, and the rest of rest of your days will be spent trying to keep up with their demands.
And dear parents, please recognize that the longer that you delay disciplinary measures, the longer you put off gaining control, by the exercise of loving but firm discipline, the harder it will be to do so every day that slips by. The more difficult it will become.
ED 295,296 “The neglect of the child’s earliest training, and the consequent strengthening of wrong tendencies, makes his after education more difficult and causes discipline to be too often a painful process. PAINFUL it must be to the LOWER nature, crossing, as it does, the natural desires and inclinations;” You see, the longer we let those natural desires and inclinations be strengthened by indulgence, the harder it’s going to be to get on top of them. Those selfish tendencies. Until some of us have teenagers that are almost impossible to handle. Because we never got a hold of it when the twig was easy to bend.
(?)CT 111, here’s a principle that is so vital. “When we gain control early, we spare ourselves from so much pain later on.” Oh parents, for those of you for whom this information is not to late, please recognize this principle. CT 111 “Before the child is old enough to reason, he must be taught to obey. By gentle, persistent effort the habit should be established. Thus to a GREAT DEGREE may be prevented those later conflicts between will and authority that do so much to arouse in the minds of the youth alienation and bitterness toward parents and teachers, and too often resistance of all authority, human and divine.” “Human and” what? “Divine”.
Do you see parents? In this discipling this disciplining process, we stand in Who”s stead, with our children? In Gods stead. And the longer we put off helping our children, submit to us, the HARDER it will be for them to submit to Him. Discipline early, it pays off. Even though it may be difficult, even though it may be tremendously challenging to gain control, through loving discipline of our children, we must not put it off another day. We tend to get ourselves in a viscous cycle, don’t we? We put it off and then it just gets so hard, and we say, well I just can’t control my children, they just wear me out. I give up. And we put it off, and it gets a little harder, and they wear us out a little more, and it gets a little harder, until we’ve got a REAL problem. As soon as possible, break the cycle, gain control.
Prov 29:17, here’s a tremendous promise, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest.” “Correct your son, and he will give you rest. Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Prov 29:17. Submission to parental authority teaches our children, submission to God. For again, we represent God to our children. With this in mind, we should require that our demands, our wishes, our instructions are obeyed.
CT 111 “Tell your children EXACTLY what you require of them. Then let them understand that your word MUST be obeyed.” “Tell your children exactly what you require of them. Then let them understand that your word” what? “MUST BE OBEYED”. Your word is LAW, brothers and sisters. Is not Gods word LAW, must not Gods word be obeyed? Yes, and you stand in His stead to your children. I read on, lets pick it up from the beginning, “Tell your children exactly what you require of them. Then let them understand that your word must be obeyed. Thus you are training them to respect the commandments of God, which plainly declare, “Thou shalt,” and “Thou shalt not.”
“Tell your children exactly what you require of them.” You know what a good practice is, to make sure that they understand, is to get down to their level, look them right in the eye, and when you have their undivided attention, tell them what you expect of them and ask them, while you still have their attention, to repeat it back to you. So that you are sure they know, what you expect of them. Then make sure that they obey. If they have repeated it back to you, you see they won’t be able to say, well I didn’t know that you wanted me to do that. And bless their little hearts, they can figure out all sorts of little schemes to slip out of the way of obedience, can’t they? Make sure they understand what you require of them. This is what our heavenly Father does, doesn’t He?
The Watchman Aug 8, 1905 “God would give His people an intelligent knowledge of His will, He does not command men to obey Him when they do not understand what He requires.” And parents, again, we represent God to our children. We cannot expect us to obey us if they don’t understand. But when we take measures to see to it that they understand, then we MUST take measures to see to it that they OBEY. We must, for their sake. We must.
CG 85 “The first care of the parents should be to establish good government in the family.” We’re talking about a priority item here, aren’t we? “The FIRST care of the parents should be to establish good government in the family. The WORD of the PARENTS, SHOULD BE LAW, precluding all arguments or evasions. Children should be taught from infancy to implicitly obey their parents.” Do you get a message coming through here, loud and clear? How vital this is. “Strict discipline may at times cause dissatisfaction, and children will want their own way, yet where they have learned the lesson of obedience to their parents, they are better prepared to submit to the requirements of God. Thus the training received in childhood influences the religious experience and molds the character of the man.”
You see, we’re laying a foundation that is going to have a very marked influence on the Christian experience and the character of our children. CG 86 “When parents fail to require prompt and perfect obedience in their children, they fail to lay the right foundation of character in their little ones.” It is sentimentalism parents, not love that settles for anything less than implicit obedience.
I read from ED 290 “No parent or teacher who has at heart the well-being of those under his care will compromise with the stubborn self-will that defies authority or resorts to subterfuge or evasion in order to escape obedience. It is not love but SENTIMENTALISM that palters with wrong-doing, seeks by coaxing or bribes to secure compliance, and finally accepts some substitute in place of the thing required.”
You see we have such a confused concept of love, don’t we? We think of love as being so soft and warm and fuzzy. But brothers and sisters, God is love. Yes, He is gentle, He is loving, but yes He is firm, and yes He disciplines. We must exercise such love on behalf of our children. Love and justice COMBINED.
ST Aug 12, 1913 “Love and justice should stand side by side in the government of the household. Let prompt obedience to parental authority be INVARIABLE enforced.” Did you hear those words? “Be invariable enforced.” Not sporadically, or even most of the time, but ALWAYS, without exception, enforced. Not optional, a matter of choice or personal preference, but of ABSOLUTE necessity.
A point that we should bring out, however, particularly as the child gets older, it is desirable to give the child the opportunity to choose whenever possible. To enlist the activity of the child’s own will, rather than always to make commands. I read from ED 290 “it is better to request than to command; the one thus addressed has opportunity to prove himself loyal to right principles. His obedience is the result of choice rather than compulsion.”
You see, every time we give the child the opportunity to choose, we are giving him an opportunity to exercise his will in a wholesome way, and that is vitally important for character development.
Another point in this line of discipline. We need to teach our children that no means NO. Not maybe, not try it again a little later, not I’m in a bad mood right now, but plainly and simply no. For your own good, because I love you and I understand better than you do what’s involved. And therefore, you cannot. Oh parents, if we could just teach our children that no means NO, it would save us so MUCH trouble.
CG 273 “A child should be so trained that a refusal would be received in the right spirit and accepted as final.” You see, if they don’t know that no means NO, if they think that sooner or later that they can get you to change your mind, they will never rest until they do and they will never give you any rest until they do. They will angle, they will fret, they will fuss, they will scheme, they will finagle, they will do anything that they can come up with, until you will finally break down and say ALRIGHT, go ahead. Why? Because they know that your no doesn’t mean NO. Teach that from an early age and save THEM AND YOURSELF, so much heartache. It’s hard on children not to know what no means. They can never rest satisfied with a verdict.
The WILL. The will is such a vital principle, a vital faculty in our children’s character. It must be dealt with. Parents, we must learn the art of bending the will without breaking it. We must learn the art of bending the will, without breaking it. CT 116 “The work of ‘breaking the will’ is contrary to the principles of Christ. The will of the child must be directed and guided. Save all the strength of the will, for the human being needs it all; but give it proper direction.” Don’t break it, bend it.
Reading on, “Treat it wisely and tenderly, as a sacred treasure. Do not hammer it in pieces, but by precept and true example wisely fashion and mold it until the child comes to years of responsibility.”
ED 288 “The effort to ‘break the will’ of a child is a terrible mistake. Minds are constituted differently, while force may secure outward submission, the result with many children is a more DETERMINED REBELLION of the heart.” Be careful how you treat that will, particularly those of you with strong willed children.
SD 130 “The EARLIER”, parents the earlier we bend the will, the easier it is to do it without running the risk of breaking it. How’s that illustrated? Bend, the tiny twig when it’s young and tender, it bends quite easily, when it’s mature it will break. SD 130 “The earlier the will is made to yield to the will of the parents, and the more complete the submission, the less difficult it will be to yield to the requirements of God. And none can hope for the love and blessing of God who do not learn obedience to His commandments, and stand up firmly against temptation.”
We need to train our children to use their wills rightly. To operate on the basis of conscience and reason, and decision, rather than appetite, passion and feelings. We need to help them understand the difference between ‘want to’ and ‘will to’. Between ‘desire to’ and ‘decide to’. Biblical principles written upon their minds, their conscience, considered by their power of reason, must be that which they turn to to make decisions. Not their feelings, not their appetites, not their passions. But Biblical principles. Challenge them to decide to do what’s right because it IS RIGHT, regardless of what their personal preferences, desires, and inclinations might be. If the right is chosen consistently, regardless of personal preference, we will actually come to prefer the right, over the wrong. But it takes time, it takes time.
FE 57 “The training of children must be conducted on a different principle from that which governs the training of irrational animals. The brute has only to be accustomed to submit to its master, but the child must be taught to control himself. The will must be TRAINED to obey the dictates of reason and conscience. A child may be so disciplined as to have, like the beast, NO WILL of its own, his individuality being lost in that of his teacher. Such training is unwise, and its effect DISASTROUS. Children thus educated will be deficient in firmness and decision. They are not taught to act from principle, the reasoning powers are not strengthened by exercise.” Be careful parents how you relate to your children in their decision making process. Honor their will, get it involved. Help them to make decisions for themselves, on the basis of principle. Do so as frequently as you can, and as they make right decisions, in the context of your authority, they will be able to continue to make right decisions when they are not within or under your authority.
If you haven’t given them that opportunity, if they have grown up in a straight-jacket, when that straight-jacket is taken away, you will find that they will have no backbone of their own. And they will simply fall apart.
We need to avoid both extremes in our disciplinary activities. The extreme of over-indulgence, and the extreme of restriction as well. As far as over-indulgence is concerned, listen to this statement. CT 112-113 “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.” Terrible consequences, of over-indulgence.
But, there are equally devastating consequences of being overly restrictive. Listen to this statement. ED 288 “To direct the child’s development without hindering it by undue control should be the study of both parent and teacher. Too much management is as bad as too little.” “Too much management is as bad as too little.” What are the consciences of too much management?
FE 17, “Those parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the minds and wills of the children under their care, would cease their boasting, could they trace out the future lives of the children who are thus brought into subjection by force or through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to share in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course, and yield to the power of temptation.” “Almost sure”
How then do we move parents, from the place where we are mind and conscience for our children, to the place where they must be mind and conscience for themselves. Draw in your mind a rectangle. And from the lower left hand corner put your pencil down and draw that line all the way up to the upper right hand corner. You have two wedges, don’t you? In the upper wedge, is parental control, exercised by loving but firm application of Christian principle in governing the home. In the lower wedge is self-control, gained by learning and applying Christian principles in governing the heart.
While our children are under our care, we are to seek as quickly as possible to teach them self-control. By teaching them the principles that we use in the home to govern them, and challenging them to govern themselves by those principles. And giving them opportunity as they demonstrate an acquaintance with those principles, giving them opportunity to exercise self-control. As we do this, when that time comes, and it inevitably will, that they leave our parental authority, they will not be helpless to control themselves. They will be mature, for they will have learned to govern themselves. Such a child, even while in the home and under parental authority, does not feel oppressed or restricted by the rules of the house, nor is he opposed to them. For he has been helped by his parents to recognize their protective value. And in the closely supervised context of his home, he has experienced the blessing, the health and happiness inherent in obedience to them. Thus he has chosen these principles for himself. They are now no longer just his parents principles, they are HIS OWN principles. And his obedience is not primarily because his parents ask him to, but because he himself chooses too. THAT is MATURITY. That child is ready to leave home. That is the child that has been trained up in way that he should go, and that is the child that may err a bit, but will not err far, he will not wander away.
Manuscript 66, 1905 “Children are made happy by being obedient, under right control. The most unhappy children that I have ever seen were those who have never been brought under control.” Children are made what? They’re made “happy by being obedient under right control.” Oh fellow parents, may God help us to rightly exercise our parental authority and bring our children under right control. Not only that they might be happy, but most importantly that they might be holy. And happiness after all is only a by-product of holiness, isn’t it?
Holiness is wholeness for God. Wholly submitted to the authority of God, this is the goal of preventive discipline. This is what it means to disciple our children, for Jesus Christ. May God help us to this end. Shall we pray?
Father in heaven, we thank you for the gentle yet firm way that you have dealt with us. Help us to learn from You, and deal with our children in the same fashion. Lord help us not to be so cruel to them as to let them have their own way. For the ways of man are the ways that lead to destruction and death. Help us Father, to exercise a firm and steady hand, that would control our children, completely at first, but then help us to do all we can to teach our children those principles that they might control themselves. So when we turn them out, when they are mature and independent, they will be able to govern themselves. Give us wisdom in this matter, we pray Lord, in Jesus’ name we ask it. AMEN.