The silent influence in parental conduct

(John Angell James, "
The Christian Professor" 1837)

Parents have a great power of influence over the
minds and hearts of their children. Their children
are almost continually with them--they are seen by
them in nearly all they do, in their habitual conduct,
and character at home. They are . . .
  heard in what they say;
  seen in what they do;
  studied in all their behavior;
by little ears, and eyes, and minds,
which are scarcely ever closed!

The child's heart is soft and pliable to a father's or a
mother's influence. Their constant influence has been
molding him from the dawn of reason. What, then,
ought to be the parents' behavior at home? The whole
cultivation, and direction, and management of a child's
mind, from the very dawn of reason, should be carried
on with special reference to the formation of Christian
character. This should be the one thing, to which all
other things should be subordination.

The silent influence in parental conduct
is far
greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents
are aware of. They teach by what they say, they
influence by what they do; and also by what they
do not say, and do not perform.

The pious parents, who embody a meek, benevolent,
ardent, and consistent godliness in their character,
exert a tremendous influence over the minds of their

But oh! the dreadful contrast in the case of those
parents who are characterized by . . .
  ungodly dispositions,
  worldly associations,
  mirthful and extravagant living,
  trifling conversation, and
  lack of all seriousness and spirituality.

Oh! what can be expected from such parents--but
children who regard their religion with disgust?

Every man is best known at home. Parents are
ever doing something to prejudice their children in
favor of true religion--or to prejudice them against it;
doing something to draw them into the church--or to
drive them into the world; lending a helping hand to
lead then to heaven--or taking them by the hand
and leading them to hell.

Parents! Must you employ your influence in ruining the
souls of your children--and sending them to perdition?
Oh! tremble at the interview you must have with them
at the day of judgment, and the dialog you must hold
with them forever in the bottomless pit!!