Successful Child Training
by Charles Orr
Great are the responsibilities of the husband. Great are the responsibilities of the wife — but greater are the responsibilities of parents. Father and mother! God lays a responsibility upon you as you receive your new-born child. A precious little immortal soul, whose eternal destiny depends largely upon you. The proper training of children is attended with many difficulties, and every parent certainly needs instruction from God. Your child is given you from God, and you in return should give him trustingly to God, like a mother of olden time: "For this child I prayed: and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord: as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord." 1 Sam. 1:27, 28. This is the consecration of children to God, which is the first duty of parents.
The successful training of a child, especially in the first years of its life, is due more to example than to commandment. The influence of example upon youthful minds is rarely comprehended. We are commanded to be an example in faith, purity, conversation, charity, spirit, and to be a pattern of good works.
It is the parents duty to love their children. Titus 2:4. Perhaps every parent thinks and is ready to say, "I love my child." True love as required by the Bible comprehends more than you may have been aware. They who indulge their children in a worldly life, do not love them as the Bible commands. Because the priest Eli did not restrain his children from the ways of sin, God sent an awful judgment upon him. 1 Sam. 3. If parents love their children as they should they will do the very best thing for them. Now the instructions given in the Bible are the safest and best to follow.
As you looked into the face of this your own child did you remember the little treasure was a heritage from the Lord? "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." Psalm 127:3. It may be that you were unmindful of this "fruit of the womb" being a gracious heritage from God: but such it was. In the creation of man and woman they were formed to bear offspring. When Esau and Jacob met after their long separation and enmity, Esau inquired, "Who are those with you?" Jacob replied, "The children which God has graciously given your servant." Genesis 33:5. Blessed and happy is the man that can look into the face of the newly-born, and feel in his heart that this is a child graciously given me of God.
God, in his own mysterious way, from the mother's life and blood is creating a new life. But did you know that at the same time he was creating an immortal soul? That new-born life contains an immortal part, and very much depends upon you as to where shall be its eternal existence. We want you to feel this deep in your hearts. God has given into your charge a life and a soul. When you come to appear before him in the day of judgment then you will have to render an account of how you have dealt with your child. Oh, what awful responsibilities! What a charge! God help us! With such a sacred trust, what shall we do? Like she of olden time, who petitioned the God of Heaven for a child, carry him back to the Lord and there implore grace and wisdom and guidance from above to train these little feet in the way that leads to endless joys.
Parents, as you look into the face of your slumbering child, and then along down through his life, what do you want him to become? Do you want him to grow up to manhood a poor, delicate, frail body with but little energy or vitality with which to meet the sterner duties of life? Do you want him to be indolent, shiftless, unmanly and addicted to such as will bring him to shame, ruin and death? What! would you picture such a life for my innocent boy? Such a thought is instantly banished from you. With all your heart you desire him to become a true and noble man. You want him to be strong, full of energy and vitality, of great mental and physical worth, of manly ways, of pure habits, and in every way a worthy son. Yes, that is the life you fondly picture for your son. Well, here he lies an infant in your arms. He is at your mercy. You can make of him about what you will. You can lead him in the paths of virtue and to a generous Christian manhood, or you can neglect him and allow him to go to shame and ruin. Let me say again that the life and destiny of your child depends largely upon you. You can make it what you will. God help and bless you.
When your child is born then comes the care of the little body. It must have food. It must have air. It must have clothing. The supplying of temporal needs is a duty that falls to the father. May he do his duty with a will and see that his child's health is not impaired by an insufficient amount of clothing or of food. "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." 1 Tim. 5:8. The parent that will not industriously make use of every legitimate means to secure temporal comforts, does not love his child. It has been known that the awful curse of tobacco, opium and rum, have robbed the father and mother of parental love. Some may have become so in love or so in bondage to tobacco that they would rather see their child go hungry or naked than to deprive themselves of the accursed thing.
Parents should acquaint themselves with hygienic laws and teach them to their children. Show them the danger of overeating, and of too frequent eating. Parents are destroying the health of their children by irregular feeding, and by nuts and candies. Teach the little ones to avoid sitting in a cool place when heated and of retaining wet clothing. Above all, avoid giving your child "soothing syrup." Paregorics and laudanums pave the way to the formation of other bad habits. They have an effect which may answer your purpose at the time — but you gain your purpose at the cost of your child's vitality. If your attention has ever been called to the evil effects of such, you can not dope your children with them without bringing condemnation to your soul.
Good health is a great blessing, and our heavenly Father wills us to observe natural health laws. Parents by carelessness can in a very short time ruin the health of their child forever. Oh, the misery and distress originating from ill health entailed upon the human family through the ignorance and carelessness of parents is appalling. Had the writer's parents compelled their child to observe health laws in his youth he would enjoy better health today. By proper care and help from God he has largely overcome difficulties — but does not possess the strong constitution he otherwise would.
We kindly make an earnest appeal to all parents to look well to the health of your children. If you value their happiness, and a pleasant, happy home, acquaint yourself with the laws of health, and follow them as strictly as circumstances will allow. Many parents care more for their children's appearance in public than they do for their health. Mothers following the pride of their heart instead of the laws of health expose the bodies of their children to disease. In public gatherings, in order to make a show of their rich clothing, they will not wrap them sufficiently to protect them from cold, because of the pride of their heart. By lacing they will mold and shape the bodies of their daughters after the fashion of the world, entailing upon them disorder and disease, weakness and woe. In all love — but without hesitancy, we declare that such shameful treatment of children is a sin and is sufficient of itself to destroy the soul.
Great wisdom is required in the government of children. For parents to properly govern their children they need that wisdom and direction which comes from above. There are so many different natures which must be controlled in as many different ways, making it impossible to fix certain rules for all. However all these different dispositions among our children must be met. "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God."
Many parents ask. "At what age shall we begin to train and govern our child?" Wisdom makes answer, "From the beginning." You can train your babe to nurse regularly, say every two hours, or to stifle his cries, you can nurse him irregularly, and make him a cross, fretful babe by over and irregular feeding. Your babe will sleep sweetly and soundly upon its little bed — but you can very early accustom it to be rocked to sleep so it will not go to sleep unless it is rocked.
Your little babe sees some bright object and reaches out its little hands to take it. You know it ought not to have it. It may injure itself with it, so you say, "No, baby can not have this." Then baby begins to cry. You try to quiet him. You try to turn his mind and attention somewhere else — but, no, he keeps his eye on the forbidden object and cries the harder. At last to quiet him you give it to him, even if you have to hold to one end to keep him from hurting himself. Baby has now learned a very valuable lesson, which he is not going to forget. He has learned that if he cries long enough and hard enough he can obtain what he desires.
As he grows older he becomes more determined to have his way. When company comes you want your boy to give the rocker to the lady — but no, the little man prefers the rocker for himself. You endeavor to remove him by force — but he kicks and bites and holds tight and cries very loud, and you call him a naughty boy, and give up the struggle. Then you begin to tell the ladies about your boy, how he will have his way and you can not do anything with him; that you sometimes whip him — but it does not do him any good. You are educating your child out of your control.
If you desire your child to obey you, be kind, loving and firm. Scolding is never in order — but does great harm. Unhappy and unholy is the home where children obey only through fear. So deal with your little ones that obedience is gained through love. So rarely is such obedience obtained that many have concluded it can not be accomplished. It is natural for children to love their parents, and if parents deal with their little ones in love and kindness they can make home the most desirable place on earth to them.
To rule by physical force is not government. It is a most pitiful sight to see a child fear and tremble before a parent's stern looks and cross words. There is a way, though but few have found it, of mingling tenderness with firmness that demands obedience in respect and love. It brings a joy to the parents hearts to behold their child obeying willingly. By the help of God such obedience can be obtained. Someone may ask, "Would you never punish a child?" Yes; it is sometimes necessary — but not so often as many have supposed. Training, and not arbitrary government is what is the more successful.
Give Attention To Your Child.
It takes but little to wound the tender feelings of a child. It is not the angry look and cross word only that sends the little one away in tears; but oftentimes it is neglect. What may seem to us as a very little thing, or small achievement, may be a very great thing to the child, and a notice and an encouraging word has a good and lasting effect. Your little boy has done a piece of work, and done it poorly enough to be sure — but to him it is done in the most artistic style. Do not depress his spirit by showing your disapproval — but encourage him by telling him that it does very well for a child; then kindly help him to see how he can make it still better.
You should not become so absorbed in your occupation that you can not stop to notice the newly drawn picture. If the child's interruptions are too frequent, in kindness teach him that papa is not to be interrupted now. By all means show a deep interest in your children. Help them to see that you delight to make things pleasant for them. Do not make them feel that they are servants. Have pleasant conversations with them. Read some good story to them, or better still, tell them one; not a "fairy-tale," but something real. We have seen parents who scarcely ever spoke to their children only when reproving. Take them with you to the meeting. Take them with you if at all convenient when you go on your charitable errand. Take them for a drive. Take them to the woods and the fields, and there tell them of God.
Many opportunities will be afforded for you to show an interest and an appreciation in your child. Give him your attention and you will win his love and obedience and make him feel that there is freedom at home. Neglect him, treat him with indifference — and you will make his little heart cold and make him feel he is your slave.
Be Patient With Your Child.
For the sake of your child, your own happiness, and the happiness of your home, be patient! In dealing with your little "olive plants," "let patience have her perfect work," and of a truth you shall "be perfect and entire wanting nothing." Much of redeeming grace is needed to enable the parent to be calm and kind under the many trying circumstances connected with the pruning and training of the "fruit of the womb." It is a source of great joy, however, to know that God's grace is sufficient for me.
Dear parents, the only remedy we have to offer you for this qualification is the sweet controlling influence of saving grace. When you have gained control of your own spirit you are far on the way to conquer the rebellious spirit of your child. How sad it is that a mother who loves her child will find sometimes a feeling of hatred in her heart against it. We have heard mothers in a time of provocation use such words as these, "You foolish thing;" "You naughty little imp;" "You mean thing, I have a mind to put you out where the dogs will get you;" "You do that again and I'll give you to the bad man;" "I ll slap your head off;" "I wish you were dead," etc. How awful! Mothers, who, if their little one was sick, would gladly sit night after night and watch by its bedside — no slumber for those eyelids now, for baby is very sick — when the dear one is restored to health and provokes the mother, she uses some of the above expressions, or similar ones.
As you stand some night by the casket that contains that lifeless little body, oh, what anguish at heart as you remember the hasty words you have spoken to that dear one. How those ugly expressions ring in your ears. They will follow you for days in thought and dream. How sad that the human heart is of such disposition — but what joy to know that the precious blood of Jesus will remove all such dispositions and fill the heart with love and sweetness that will enable you to deal with your child in loving patience, even in the hour of deepest trial, and should you be called to its death bedside you can look into the pale face and then up to God without a sting of conscience. Parents, be firm — but be patient with your child. Let love shine out of every reproval and you will find it is not so difficult to train him and govern him as you supposed.
Never Scold or Threaten.
How heart-rending to see almost a constant contention between parents and children, parents scolding their children for almost every little thing, and threatening to "give them to the Gypsies," or to "cut off their ears," or "put a split stick on their tongues," and many other foolish and hurtful threatenings, father and mother make when they are provoked. Be always calm in your own feelings and never be hasty to speak or act. When the child really needs reproval, take him quietly and show him the evil of such things, how it will lead to other bad things, and these to others, and should he continue in that way he would grow up to be a bad man. Tell him how you love him, and how you want to see him become a good and noble man, a blessing to his parents, to the community, and to the world. Tell him you hope he will not do those bad things any more, and should he do them you would be under obligations to punish him.
If the child is reasoned with rightly the corporal punishment will not be of frequent necessity. It is a shame and a sin to act so hastily and punish your little ones in some way without patiently and coolly explaining matters.
Give Your Child Some Privileges.
Do not answer, "No," to every request of your child. Allow them some privilege, let them engage in certain plays. Do not be so fastidious in your home that the little ones can not have a little play indoors. Certainly they should be taught to be clean, to remove dirt from their shoes before coming into the house, and not to tumble things all up in the room, yet they should not be expected to sit perfectly still.
When the child makes a request of you that your wisdom decides best not to grant do not answer by a decided "no," but tell the little one that you think it not best to do so, and be firm. When you tell him you do not think it best do not be persuaded out of it, and he will soon learn that your mild "I do not think it best to give you that," means just as much as a sharp "no," but his feelings will not be disturbed like they are by that hasty "no."
Always Be Calm When You Punish.
When it becomes necessary to use the rod upon your child be sure you possess a calmness in your soul. It requires much grace for true parents to whip their children. Before you punish them you should show them what great wrong they have done and how God is displeased, and that you do not punish them for your own pleasure — but because you love them.
To the dear parents who read this we wish to exhort you to give great diligence in cultivating the affectionate side of your nature. Do not be careless and unmindful of the dear little ones happiness. Do not be cold and indifferent toward them. Enter into their joys and sorrows with a warm heart. Parents oftentimes remark when their child gets hurt in some way, "Well it is good enough for you; maybe it will teach you something." Oh, may that heart be softened to tender sympathy, so you will make the dear child feel how sorry you are because he has been hurt, then teach him how he must not engage in such things, and then he will avoid being injured. Your kind words of sympathy will relieve the pain by their influence upon the heart. Your cold indifferent words make deeper wounds in the heart than were made in the flesh.
Seek God in much earnest prayer to tender your affections, to refine your nature, to make you very sensitive to the feelings of your child, and to help you to love the tender "olive plants" round about your fireside. Some day there may be a vacant chair, and there can be no sweeter joy on earth to your sorrowing heart than to know you did what you could to make the little one happy and train its feet for the glory world.
Kind words are flowers of beauty rare;
Keep them blooming throughout the year.
The mental, moral and spiritual training of children go hand in hand. We shall speak of them under separate chapters — but the one has a great influence upon the other. It is true, the intellectual faculties may be cultivated to a high degree while the moral powers are unimproved — but the individual is out of harmony with true manhood. The spiritual and moral being may be in a fair state of health and the mental powers very much dwarfed — but still he is not in perfect harmony with manhood as designed by the creative mind. Without a blending of the intellectual, moral and spiritual forces there can be no perfect character in the fullest sense. We do not mean by this that man must be a philosopher or a scientist to be a moral or spiritual man; but we mean for man to be a perfect character in every respect and to glorify God in the whole realm of his being, he must cultivate every talent God has given him. The created mental powers must be improved by right study. In order to know and understand God we must have a sound mind. A sound mind is helpful to the enjoyment of grace, and grace is helpful to the enjoyment of a sound mind; so to enjoy existence necessitates a soundness in every part.
It is through the mental powers, that we acquaint our children with God: "Faith comes by hearing."
Parents cannot be too careful about the impressions made in the mentality of their children; it may affect their morality and spirituality in the whole of after life. Select such books for them as will develop the mental faculties, something that contains food for the brain. There are certain articles of diet that do not contain sufficient nutrition for the development of the physical body. Children fed upon such diet would become weakly. There is also a certain kind of literature that contains no brain nutriment. Reading such, degenerates the mental powers. Stimulants or excitants are hurtful to the physical system. All fictitious, exciting tales are hurtful to the mental system. We are persuaded it were better if the unreal, fairy stories were excluded from our common school readers and supplanted by something real. Select such literature as is pure. Reading that produces pure thought in the child's mind not only improves his moral state — but furnishes the best mental food.
Educate your children as well as you possibly can. It is a duty you owe to them and to God. Keep before them the ultimate object — a developed mind for the glory of God. Encourage your children to an education. Do not think the buying of a good book an unnecessary expenditure. Better make a physical sacrifice than a mental one. Keep your children away from the physical, mental, moral and spiritual destructive party and dance by interesting them in sound and pure literature and providing it for them. If your children show a disposition to love and desire to spend the evening at the "parties" or the "balls," get up a "reading circle" or "composition exercise" at home. God will bless you and reward you in all your efforts in this direction. Much more of importance could be said upon this subject — but with these few suggestions we will leave the interested and inventive mind to enlarge.
Man is an intellectual and a moral being. By his intellectual powers he gains a knowledge of facts. By his moral faculties he experiences a sense of responsibility and a feeling of certain relations existing between him and some higher power. Your child possesses an intuitive knowledge and upon this is where your moral training begins. The little brother knows it is wrong to injure his little sister. He does not have to acquire that knowledge, he knows it intuitively. This is the foundation for your moral training, and — of course — spiritual training naturally hinges upon this; but we shall speak of that in a separate chapter.
The wisest man that ever lived said, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. So many having failed, some have been almost persuaded to doubt this man's wisdom. The saying is true: the failures arise from the lack of understanding of how to train properly. All the moral principles sustain a close relation to each other; thus one moral principle influences another, therefore the violation of one principle makes it easier to violate a second, and the child is carried on until he can do wrong without any reproval of conscience.
Training should begin very early in the life of a child. Never allow this intuitive knowledge or the voice of conscience to be hushed by repeated wrong doing. The child who does wrong should be told why it is he feels a sense of guilt — God is displeased. Show him how one evil leads to another, and what will be the awful end. Call to his mind the differences in his feelings arising from wrong doing and right doing. With the one God is displeased, with the other he is pleased. The way then to be happy in life is to always do right.
You must be indefatigable in your efforts at training. Constant daily training is needed. As one wrong act makes it easier to do a second wrong act, so one right act makes it easier to do a second right act. It is comparatively easy for the child to fall into bad habits. Training, constant daily training is needed to keep the little one from evil ways. Lead him into right action. By repeating a right action it becomes easy to perform it. You must never think of becoming discouraged, although it appears so natural for your child to do wrong and so difficult to get him to do right. You must go on training, trusting in the promise, teaching, reproving, correcting, punishing, ever looking upward for grace and wisdom.
Be careful of your example. It exerts a powerful influence. At one time in his life, the writer was quick in his actions and his words. He never received such a reproving as when one day his little boy under a provocation acted and spoke in the exact manner and tone of his papa. It cut to the heart.
It may seem at times that the voice of conscience is almost stifled — but you must hope on and labor zealously as in the command: "And you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when them sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:7.
Many parents seeing their young child doing or saying something wrong often think it of not much consequence, because the child is young and the wrong is very slight. You do not know the power of habit, and how one wrong, howsoever slight, leads to a greater one. Habit has been likened to a spider's web, which at first can be easily broken — but after continued indulgence binds its victim as with a strong cable, making reformation almost impossible. The same is true of good and right conduct. At first it may require an effort to perform a certain right act — but after repetition it is accomplished naturally and without thought. Therefore be vigilant in training your child to right action, and carefully avoid everything that would lead to evil acts or feelings. To tease a child is to develop an angry disposition. Some fathers think it quite laughable to hear the little two-year-old say to its mamma, "I won't do it," but he shall afterward pay dearly for his sport.
Parents think it "cute" to see their little one shake its little fist at papa and mamma. Through such education the day will probably come when he will shake his fist at you so that it will strike like a hammer on your heart. We have heard many parents laughing at their little children saying "smart things," little conscious of what these things are leading to.
"Train up a child in the way he should go," comprehends much more than many have understood. It is better to train your child to make reply in the polite, "Yes, sir" and "No, sir," or, "Yes, ma am," and "No, ma am," instead of that coarse, impolite "umgh," "humgh," which is no language. Remember the first step to child training is to set the example before them in your own life. Frequently we find parents endeavoring to teach their children to say, "Please" and "Yes, sir," when they in their own speech neglect such politeness. Your efforts will prove fruitless.
Parents have been known to tease their little daughter and the daughter of other parents about some little boy companion, and their little son about some girl companion. Such is very shameful and harmful. It fills the minds of their children with impure thought. Keep your own language very modest and pure and the language of your children the same. Keep their thought pure. Impure language and impure thought leads to impure and injurious habits.
Be familiar with your child and talk to him about his secret life. Teach him of the awful evils in the secret lives of many children and how impure words and thoughts lead to such injurious vice. Parents. see to it that there is a loving confidence between you and your child. Be familiar in telling them how wonderfully they are made and what was the design of God in thus creating them. Teach them what a noble and sacred thing it is to use every member and organ of our body to the glory of the Creator. Teach them of the awful crime to misuse any part. Mothers, acquaint your young daughters of the event that must soon come into their life, and thus prevent their doing an injury to their health.
By precept upon precept and by example, train your child to grow up into a beautiful moral life. In love restrain every immoral tendency in your child. Also be very zealous in teaching your children good manners. Civility and refinement are beautiful in the life of anyone, and is very closely associated with the morals. Teach your little ones to respect each other, to have a regard for each other's happiness, to practice self-denial for the benefit of others. By precept and example, instill gentleness and kindness into their actions. Dear parents, never grow weary in training the little feet of your tender "olive plants" in the paths of virtue.
The moral life is beautiful — but there is a higher and more beautiful life. In the true, deep spiritual life is found the highest degree of morality. However we may train our children into a high standard of moral life, and yet not attain to the spiritual. It is reported that the homes of certain infidels are most exemplary in moral conduct. Ancient heathen philosophers through restraint, self-sacrifice, and force of will attained to beautiful moral lives. But the spiritual life, which includes the moral, is the perfection of beauty. The life out of which the Christ-life and character shines, is the grandest and noblest upon the earth.
Parents, bring your children to Jesus. Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is commanded in the Holy Scriptures. Your child possesses an immortal soul. This soul will exist either in happiness — or wretchedness eternally. It is so ordained in the plan of redemption that the soul can be brought into possession of spiritual life, which, if retained, insures its eternal bliss. He who has attained to a high degree of morality through the force of human will, holds communion only with the better qualities of manhood, all of which must perish. He who has attained to spirituality holds communion with God and heavenly things. He does not trust to human powers — but in the power of the divine life.
Morality will not admit us into the paradise above. We must possess spiritual life — the life of Christ. It is well to train our children in the way of good morals — with a view to leading them into the spiritual life. Then it is necessary to lead them into the spiritual life to aid in the moral training. Comparatively few parents have accomplished any great results in the moral training of their children, without divine assistance. In the moral derangement of our children, the inward tendency to immorality makes it impossible to educate them to a true and perfect standard of morality without God's aid. Children should be taught what sin is, and of God's judgments against it.
When our children are brought into a Christian experience — the victory is only partly won; life lies before them with its temptations. Many are the allurements to turn those young feet into worldly paths. We have witnessed the bright, happy conversion of many children. We have seen their countenances beaming with the light and joy of Christian love, and heard their voices ring with spiritual praise — only to soon yield to the influence of the world and lose that sincere devotion to God. This is not the inevitable course, thank God — but it is the course of many. To teach our children the fear of God and enable them to retain in their hearts a deep reverence and devotion to him — has been a subject of much prayer with us. We find that the Christian life is a warfare. There are temptations to be resisted, there are watchings and prayings, there must be a constant looking upward to God for his aid and direction.
One trouble with many parents has been that as soon as their children were converted they seemed to think the battle was over and the victory was won, when really the battle was only begun. The first thing necessary in keeping our budding "olive plants" in deep spirituality is to keep very spiritual ourselves. Now whatever means are necessary to promote a growth of spirituality in our hearts, the same means are necessary to develop and deepen the spiritual life of our children.
A habitual effort to cultivate a deeper sense of the divine presence is necessary and one of the most beautiful employments of the sanctified heart. Those reverential feelings toward God must daily become stronger. Those inmost affections of the soul must reach out with greater yearnings and deeper longings toward the Holy One. A benevolent regard in our hearts for our fellow men must become stronger and more true. O beloved, if you would have your child to grow up into a beautiful Christian character — you must teach him to suppress every selfish feeling, to banish every idle, careless thought, and to resist all temptations to envy or impatience. The purest of meditations must be entertained. We and they must be strictly disciplined by the sacred Scriptures, "Watch and pray." Spiritual prayer unfolds the life into the beautiful life of God, as the bud unfolds into the blooming rose.
Duty Of Children To Parents.
It was the original design of God that children should be a blessing to their parents. "My son, be wise, and make my heart glad." Proverbs 27:11. "The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he who begets a wise child shall have joy of him. Your father and your mother shall be glad, and she that bare you shall rejoice." Proverbs 23:24, 25. "A wise son makes a glad father." Proverbs 15:20.
You will observe, children, in each of the above texts — that it is wisdom in a child that makes parents rejoice. Then you should "seek wisdom, seek understanding." "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom." Proverbs 4:7. What is wisdom? "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." The highest honor a child can pay to a true parent, is to honor and obey God: "And shall return unto the Lord your God, and shall obey his voice according to all I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 30:2. "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not." Ecclesiastes 12:1.
The duty of children is to fear their parents: "You shall fear every man his mother, and his father." Lev. 19:3. To honor them: "Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you." Ex. 20:12. This, it is true, is an old-time commandment — but the spirit or principle of it is carried into the dispensation of the gospel. "Honor your father and mother." Ephesians 6:2.
Children should attend to the faithful instruction of their parents: "My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace unto your heart, and chains about your neck." Proverbs 1:8, 9. "Hear, O children, the instruction of a father." Proverbs 4:1. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother." Proverbs 6:20. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right." If it is right to obey, it is wrong to disobey. Many children do not have a due regard for the instruction of the father and mother. They oftentimes think they know more than their parents and so follow their own ways without natural affection.
Children should imitate the example of righteous parents — but are commanded not to walk in the footsteps of the unholy: "But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols." Ezekiel 20:18.
One important duty of children is to care for the parents. If the parents become old and feeble, or the mother a widow, the Word of God places children under the obligation of caring for them. "But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God."
A Christian Home!
Nowhere is Christianity more effectual and more beautiful than in the home life. Nowhere is the power of divine love so truly manifested as in a sincere Christian home. We will set a picture before you. A father and mother with their children are grouped together for the evening worship. The father out of the deep affections of his soul, in spiritual tones, speaks of God and his holy commandment. A tear of gratitude and joy is glistening in the mother's affectionate eye. The children's faces are beaming with admiration as they hear extolled the character of Christ. They kneel in prayer; a holy awe and sacredness rests upon the scene; their prayers arise as sweet incense into the nostrils of God and delight his great heart.
Such a scene as we have pictured, fitly represents a true Christian home. The father is all tenderness and love to his wife and children. He is kind and sympathetic. He regards his wife as the weaker vessel and is mindful of her happiness. The wife deeply reverences her husband. Affection and appreciation sparkle in her eye. To attend to the husband's wishes is her delight. They love their children and in gentleness are bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The children love each other and are kind and self-denying. They obey their parents through love. Alas! such a family is rarely found upon this sin-cursed earth. But such is taught and commanded in the Bible, and it is possible.
If a father and mother and children lived toward each other just as the Bible says they should live, we would have a scene that would fitly represent Heaven. It is our privilege to have just such a home. A happy home life is the most blessed life on earth!
"Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD." Psalm 128:1-4