The influence of example
(John Abbott, "The Christian Mother")
"Be an example . . . in speech, in the way you live,
in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Tim. 4:12
The mother must strive to be herself, just what she
wishes her child to be. She must cherish in her own
spirit those virtues and those graces, which she desires
to see as the embellishments of the character of her child.
Our children have more right to expect that we shall be
model parents--than we have to require that they shall
be model children.
Words alone are air. They fall upon the ear, and are forgotten.
But who ever forgets abiding, consistent, unvarying example?
What child ever ceases to remember the life--the daily life,
of its father and mother?
The ornaments and graces of the natural character can best
be inculcated upon children through the influence of example.
Would you have your daughter learn to control her passions,
and cultivate a subdued, gentle, and submissive spirit? Would
you have her speak soothingly to her little brother, when he is
irritated, and bear her own little troubles without fretfulness
or complaining? Show her how to do it by your example!
In the same manner, all other right moral sentiments of heart,
can be best cultivated through the influence of parental example.
The great work of the formation of the character of children,
should be done in the heart of the mother herself. I am to
teach my child to avoid vanity, and pride, and selfishness--by
cultivating within myself, with never-tiring industry, the spirit
of meekness, of humility, of self-sacrifice. It is thus, more
effectually than in any other way, that I am to reach and
influence his heart.
So I am to curb the impetuous passions of my child, mainly
by gaining the victory over myself, and bringing all my own
passions under perfect control. It is thus within myself--it is
in my own heart, that I can work most effectually in molding
the character of my children; for in promoting their moral
progress I must go before them and lead the way.
What fearful questions, then, arise in the mind of every parent?
Am I what I wish my child to be? Am I grateful, submissive,
cheerful? Have I conquered my passions--obtained weanedness
from the world--and am I daily, in my life, presenting an example
such as my child may safely imitate?
Here lies the great work of parental faithfulness. Here is to
be laid the deep foundations of all salutary family discipline.
Thus did our Savior plead. Such was the influence He wielded.
Persuasive as were His words--infinitely more persuasive
was the power of His example!