There is a great work to be done for the Lord. Let not parents forget that their part of this work begins in the home. This is their first field of missionary effort. When they show that they know how to manage their own children, they give evidence that they are prepared to take part in church work.
Parents, you are under a solemn obligation to train your children for God. They are His heritage, and to you is given the work of preparing them for acceptance as members of the royal family. You are to give your children such a training that as they grow older, they will take part in the work of the Lord. They are to be taught to be burden-bearers. As they grow older, they will become more and more useful, better fitted to bear their share of the burdens of life.
Children are to be taught to be respectful to their parents and to one another. Thus they learn to be respectful to God. They are to be taught to appreciate the abilities God has given them, and to remember that Christ's love for them calls for the surrender of all to Him. They are to be taught to do right because it is right; to control self, to be kind, loving, and gentle; to forget self in the effort to help others.
Parents, do all in your power to keep disagreements out of the home circle. If the children quarrel, remind them that God has said, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Teach them never to let the sun go down on angry feelings or sin unconfessed. Teach them that harmony should reign in the home, even as it reigns in heavens.
In dealing with your children, reveal God's justice and His mercy. Repress every harsh word. Remember that fretting and scolding are as injurious to your children as profanity, and that too much management is as bad as no management at all. Be firm, but let no loud, angry words escape your lips. Rule your children with tenderness and compassion, remembering that "their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven." If you desire the angels to do for your children the work given them by God, cooperate with them by doing your part. Work with loving tenderness; for this is the way Christ works.
Remember that your child has rights which should be respected. Be very careful never to bring against him an unjust charge. Never punish him without giving him an opportunity to explain. Listen patiently to his troubles and perplexities. Never tell others in his hearing of his faults, or of his clever sayings or doings. Even in the presence of his brothers and sisters these things should not be spoken of. By speaking of his bright words and acts, you encourage self-confidence. By speaking of his faults, you humiliate him without softening him. Hatred springs up in his heart against your course, which he regards as cruel and unjust.
Remember that during their whole lifetime your children will bear the impress of the instruction they receive from you. Think how far-reaching will be the influence of your efforts to train them aright. The lessons you give them, they will by and by give to their children. The influence you exert over them, they will exert over their little ones.
Parents who neglect their children in order to do missionary work, make a sad mistake. The course of their untrained, undisciplined children robs them of all influence for good. Parents, do not allow anything to come between you and the work God has given you to do for your little ones. But this will not debar you from doing missionary work outside the home. Teach your children to help other children. With proper instruction they can do much real missionary work. You will find them a great help to you in working for others.
As parents teach their children, they will themselves learn precious lessons. Thus they gain an education of the highest value. Thus they learn to work for others. They are preparing to do a high and holy work for God, with their children to assist them as His helping hand.
Remember that your children have been brought into the world without voice or consent on their part, and that they are to be treated with the wisdom and tenderness that their necessities demand. You know the way; your children, young and inexperienced, do not. They are helpless and ignorant. They need wise, careful guidance, that their feet may not stray into forbidden paths. Remember that you are moulding their characters for eternity. Patiently train them to habits of neatness, usefulness and purity. By your example show them the charm of becoming behaviour. Do not become weary in your labour of love. The angel of mercy pauses not in his efforts until the last sinner has heard the message of mercy. Patiently, untiringly, work for your little ones. Think how young they are, how much they have to learn. Deal with them gently and lovingly. By the cords of unselfish love bind them to you and to Christ.
Too often parents give to the world the time and attention that belong to their children. If they would realise the responsibility resting on them, if they would do all in their power for their children, God would work with them, by His Spirit impressing the children's minds. The Lord will not do the work He has given parents to do; but He will be their helper, cooperating with every sincere, unselfish effort they make.
May the Lord impress fathers and mothers with the sacredness of their responsibility. As you unite with the Lord in bringing up your children in His fear, you are preparing for - I was going to say higher responsibilities, but I can not. There is no higher responsibility than the training of children.
Signs of the Times article printed on 23rd April, 1902, by Ellen G. White.
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated July, 2017.
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