1. What counsels do you give on this matter? Or rather, how is this habit of obedience to be created and strengthened in the children?

(1.) Begin early. You cannot begin too soon. Insist on obedience to your wishes and commands from the infancy of the child. Multitudes of parents make the fatal mistake of not commencing soon enough. The child is allowed to have its own way, and be master of its own actions until its self will has become established. When the parent commences to assert his authority, he finds the child strongly entrenched in the habit of disobedience, and, prepared to fight as to Whether he, or his father or mother, shall be the master.

If Salvationists want to make Saints and Soldiers of their children they must commence at the start to plant in them that spirit of obedience which is the foundation of all true discipline, and without which it is impossible for there to be-any true religion.

(2.) Love them and bear with them. Reason with them all the patience, longsuffering, and tender pity that a lather's or a mother's heart can inspire; but obey they must, and that from the first.

(3.) Let your manner from the first be that which indicates your determination to be obeyed. There is a firm way of dealing, even with a baby-a manner of handling an infant which, while perfectly consistent with tenderness, gives to the child the idea that it must submit to a second party who is too powerful and determined to be resisted. There is a firm tone in which you can express your wishes and commands, that will show your children that you are not to be trifled with.

We don't advocate any harshness. God forbid! And if the advice we enjoin is acted upon, rather than making misery for your children, it will prevent numberless sorrows and wailings, the inseparable accompaniment of ordinary over-indulgent training. Nevertheless, obedience must be secured, whatever sighing or sorrowing, or even suffering, on the part of your children or yourself may be the price of it.

(4.) Having given a command, always be at the trouble, to see it obeyed. The most effectual way to teach your children disobedience is to give your commands in a loose, uncertain way, and then take no notice whether they are obeyed or not. And yet this is one of the most common errors into which parents fall.

How frequently we hear something like the following. A mother says-

"Mary, close that door."

Mary takes no notice of her mother, but goes on with the important task of dressing her doll.

Presently her mother feels the cold draught from the door, and again appeals to Mary to close the door.

To which appeal Mary responds by running after her brother, whom she hears calling her name in some other part of the house, leaving her mother to close the door herself, wondering all the while why her children are so disobedient.

Again. John has a very severe cold, and the doctor says that on no account must he leave the room. Mother has occasion to go into the garden; John, unperceived at first, follows her.

The mother says-

"John, you must not come out here. Remember what the doctor said; you will be ill."

John goes on just the same, running scampering all around, and the only protest the mother makes is to tell him that he is a naughty boy, and will be laid up with rheumatic fever again.

And so the matter ends; and yet it does not end there. If the evil consequence of the rheumatic fever which the mother fears comes not, other consequences more evil still must inevitably follow; for if the mother's purpose in this, and in all similar instances, were to make the child self-willed and disobedient, she could not take a more effectual course to bring it about.

How common it is for fathers to give commands to their children respecting their duties, lessons, companions, or their play, and then to make no after enquiries as to whether these commands have been obeyed. Better far not to command than not to have your commands respected. But, best of all, and the only lawful and admissible course for Salvationists, is to give all necessary instructions to their children, and then themselves be at the trouble to see that they are honestly carried out.

This will all come about much more easily than those who have never attempted it would imagine. If obedience be your rule from the first it will follow, as matter of course; your children will be so impressed with the power and authority of their parents, and so accustomed to obey their commands, that they will never dream of doing anything else.

(5.) Never accept any excuses, or under any circumstances allow your wishes deliberately to be set at naught. Remember, that not only is the spirit of disobedience a sin against your authority, but that any single act thereof is a step in the direction of the formation of the habit. If a child be allowed only once to disobey you, without being made to regret it, and to promise to do so no more, you may safely reckon that he will recollect his triumph over you, and be encouraged to attempt the same thing again. There must be no mistake here - unvarying obedience must be your law, and you must make your children understand this.

There must be no exception to this rule. That is, you must not permit disobedience in one child more than in another, or at one time more than another. We know in many instances this rule of obedience is made in a house and then set aside, first on one excuse and then on another. There are very few parents who have disobedient children who are not ashamed of them, and who don't try to excuse them, not only to the friends who may be about, but to themselves, and even to the children. At one time they will say they are too young, at another they are too sick, at another they are so beautiful. We have heard a mother excuse the contempt which a beautiful boy has shown to her commands by saying he was so like his father that she could not find in her heart to be angry with him, while a daughter will be excused because she is the image of her sister who is gone to Heaven. In consequence of the great love with which the fond mother cherished the memory of the departed child she could not chastise the disobedient one she had left.

Most of these excuses, rather than being reasons for allowing disobedience to go unpunished, are just the reasons for the contrary course.

For example, it very often happens that there will be only one child in a family. In such cases it is natural to expect that the parents would say to themselves, " We have only this one child, we will therefore make the very most of him; we will so train him that he shall come to enjoy the largest amount of personal happiness, and be best fitted to make joy and happiness for his parents and for everybody about him. To do this we will bring the child up with all regard and reverence for authority; we will early subdue his will, and make him gentle, and humble, and obedient, and good." Instead of this how many parents in the circumstances referred to, take just the opposite course and allow the child to grow up in all manner of selfish indulgence, self-will, and disregard for authority --indifferent alike to both the claims of parents and of God.

Alas! alas! it frequently happens that parents have bitter reason to deplore such a course. After torturing them in his childhood, nearly driving them frantic in his youth, and breaking their hearts in his manhood, they wonderingly enquire how it has come to pass. They consider how tenderly and prayerfully they watched over his boyhood and attribute his wild uncurbed self-will to his naturally wayward disposition, or throw the blame back upon some peculiar notion of Divine sovereignty, concluding, either way, that God has dealt hardly with them!

Again, it is no uncommon thing to see beautiful children ruined during some serious illness by foolish indulgence. Fond parents are often afraid of crossing the wills of sick children, and refrain from the exercise of authority, fearing lest by making them unhappy they should increase their malady or retard their recovery. This, even if it did follow, would be a slight evil compared with the mental and spiritual ruin which such indulgence tends to. If the little ones are accustomed to obey in health there will be no difficulty with them when they are sick. But surely it would be a double calamity to make the bodily sickness of the children an occasion and an excuse for weakening or destroying that habit of obedience on which their earthly and heavenly happiness depends far more than on their bodily health and comfort. As far as is consistent, therefore, with all affectionate tenderness, let obedience be insisted upon, whether the children be sick or well.


(6.) Never practice the abominable habit of bribing your children in order to secure obedience. This folly, one would think, would need only to be named in order to be avoided, and yet how often we see it practised! Little things, just able to run, whom we should naturally expect to stand in awe of any command given by father or mother, we often see pouting and whining when asked to do some little act to which they are disinclined, and refusing to obey until they are offered sweets, or sugar, or a kiss, or some other bribe. This done, the little lords and ladies condescend to do as they are desired.

Anyone with half an eye can see how ruinous such a practice must be, and how calculated to create an undue sense of self-importance and independence in the child. "No bribery" should be the inexorable rule of every Salvationist's home. Paying the children with sweetmeats and dainties to cease crying, or to be well behaved when there is company or on other occasions, is but teaching them to sham and seem to be what they are not. Nay, it is an actual education of them in cheating, for children so dealt with must be very young and very foolish not to observe that to be pitied and rewarded they have only to whine and cry and make a disturbance.

Don't on any account take a course calculated to make your children little miserable sensualists and cunning deceivers from their very cradles!

(7.) In giving a command never allow the children to hold any argument with respect to it. In some families this custom keeps up a continued ferment, destructive of the general peace of the household, and disastrous to all good discipline in the children themselves. "What for?" and "Why should I?' are the common answers to almost every request made by those in authority, instead of a ready and cheerful willingness to obey. Children, like true Soldiers, should always be prepared to run, fetch, and carry, or do whatever is required, simply at the word of command, regardless of the pleasantness or unpleasantness of the duty. The homes of Salvation Soldiers should in this respect be preparatory drill-grounds where the children are prepared for active service in the Salvation War, and one of the first necessities and principles in every effective army is unquestioning and unhesitating obedience.

(8.) Nevertheless, when commands are given, known to be specially important, or disagreeable to the children, it is always wise, where there is opportunity, to accompany them with such explanations, adapted to their age and intelligence, as are calculated to make the children see the prudence and necessity of your wishes. It will be seen that this is a very different thing to the hateful practice just referred to of arguing with children whenever they are wanted to discharge a duty. But there are times when it is wise for parents and superior officers to carry with them, as far as possible, in all exertions of their authority the intelligence of those under them.

One of the greatest mistakes in dealing with children is to under-estimate their intelligence. There are very few households in which all the children, down to the baby, are not much more intelligent than they are given credit for; and you must never rely upon force and fear to accomplish what can be done by the exercise of higher motives. Therefore it is most desirable to give all possible instructions as to the nature and necessity of the duties you impose, especially when they are likely to be difficult or unpleasant. Instances of this kind will readily occur to the minds of parents-such as going to bed early when some special attraction would incline the children to sit up, difficult school tasks, taking disagreeable medicine, and the like. What we wish to impress is that while children are to be taught implicit obedience, yet when there is the opportunity, and matters are of sufficient importance to justify it, such information should be given the child as shall show that the task enjoined upon him is necessary and important either to his own welfare, or to the welfare of others, and is not merely to meet the arbitrary and selfish requirements of those in authority over him.

(9.) Parents should not only insist that the commands they themselves give to their children should be strictly obeyed, but that the authority they delegate to other persons shall be respected also. Servants, nurses, or governesses (where such are kept), or any other persons whom parents place over their children, should be obeyed exactly after the same fashion. Of course, this implies that your servants, if you keep any, shall be worthy of your trust, and be such as you can command your children to look up to and obey; if they are not so, you had better be without them ten thousand times, so far as your children are concerned, because ten to one but they will make them like unto themselves.

If servants are worthy of your confidence it is most unjust to make them responsible for the conduct of your children, and yet not give them due authority. But this is commonly done, and the injustice thus practised on the servants is only a small part of the evil, the children being the greatest sufferers. To have servants placed nominally over them but who in reality have no power to enforce their commands is soon found out by the children and taken every advantage of, not only creating temporary miseries, but doing the children incalculable and permanent injury. This treatment degrades servants into little less than slaves, and destroys the simplicity of the children, inflating them with an imagined superiority, making them pettish, exacting, unreasonable, and passionate; in short, little tyrants, often more fit for a menagerie of wild beasts than a nursery, and more like little fiends than the mouldable, tractable innocents of whom the Master said, "Of such is the kingdom of Heaven." Entrust your children to no servants in whom you cannot reasonably place confidence, but having confidence in them, give them a due measure of authority.

2. But do you recommend that the wills of children should be actually broken and destroyed?

Of course not; we only use the word "broken" in the same sense as we apply it to the breaking in of a horse. The more powerful the spirit of the animal the better, if it be under the direction and restraint of its driver. And the more powerful and energetic the will of the child the better, if that will be under the control and direction of those who are in authority over it and who understand what course of life is best to be taken.

Perhaps it would be better to say "bend " rather than "break" the wills of your children. Turn them from the wild and injurious direction which they would take if left to themselves and bring them into those paths of life which will be for their own good, the good of others, and the glory of God.

3. Are there not occasional outbursts in children when they will seek to have their own way, in spite of everybody?

Yes; there will be in some children, now and then, a desperate and determined effort to have their own way. We have known cases where children have made a tremendous fight for it. But if the parent is firm, he cannot fail to come off more than conqueror. At such times, we would recommend that the greatest care be taken lest there should be any misunderstanding on the part of the child. Be quite clear that the child really understands the ground of controversy-that he is wilfully rebelling-before recourse is had to severe measures. Sometimes a sort of temporary aberration will take possession of the child. There will be some nervous excitement, which really renders him for a time incapable of knowing what he is doing. When this is suspected, it is wise to give the child time-let him have a night's sleep, and when he is calm bring him face to face with the duty you want him to perform, and compel him to submit.

4. May it not be thought from what we have said, that a strict and firm government of children would be likely to destroy their affection for their parents?

Yes; but we know it is not the case when that government is based upon affection, and accompanied by all that demonstration of love, which is not only allowable but needful, between parents and their children. We shall see before we have done that firmness in the parental rule is perfectly consistent with overflowing tenderness and affection. And when this exists, the parents are loved all the more because of a wise exertion of authority.

The high-spirited horse, we have no doubt, feels all the happier, and we are sure he goes along all the better, when he feels the reins in a strong hand. The highest-spirited and strongest-willed children rejoice in the consciousness that their parents can command, and depend on, their obedience. And even if it were not so, it is far better for the child, better for the home, and safer for the community, that it should be "all law", than it is that it should be "all gospel" and no law, as the word "gospel" is ordinarily understood. It has been said, that "a God all mercy is a God unjust." A home all favour and indulgence, we are quite sure, would be a home of weakness, disgrace, and ruin.

5. But is there not a great difference in children in this respect; that is, are not some children much more difficult to subdue and bring into habits of obedience than others?

Yes, undoubtedly. The dogged obstinacy of some children is something surprising, requiring a corresponding amount of determination and perseverance to conquer and subdue. But whatever it may cost you to do this, it must be done. In this matter everything is in your favour, seeing that you have complete control over the child, either to make it happy or miserable.

6. What can parents do in case of continued rebellion against their authority?

If you exert the power God has placed in your hands, you can deprive the child of all his little enjoyments. You can cut down his supply of food; you can shut him out from your society and from the society of all others with whom he loves to associate; or you can inflict upon him actual pain.

Your possession of this power will soon become known to the child, and if, with this knowledge, he is made to understand that you will exercise it to make him do your good pleasure, how can he do otherwise than submit and give himself up to do your will? (See chapter on Chastisement.")

With all this authority and power, what is more likely than that parents should be able to overcome the greatest resistance, the most stubborn will? But we must again repeat what we have already said over and over again, that the work should be commenced in infancy, before the will of the child has had time to acquire that force which comes from habit. The most powerful beasts that roam the forest can be tamed if captured and trained when young. The most gigantic trees that stand erect before the raging tempests of a thousand winters can be bowed at will if taken in time. So with the strongest will that God ever put into the breast of man, take it in infancy and you can mould it to yours, and all its strength shall be in favour of the course you want it to take and to maintain.

7. But is it not desirable that both parents should be united in training the children in obedience?

Yes, it is of the very first importance that it should be so; and sad is it for the poor children when it is not, which, alas! alas! is no uncommon thing. One parent will often struggle bravely to make the children obedient, while all the time the other will, by foolish indulgence and injudicious remarks, go far to undo all the good that has been done.

8. What course is to be taken under such circumstances?

We can say little more than what is said in the counsels given elsewhere. The Salvationist, whether father or mother, must hold on, doing their very best under the circumstances making it of the first importance to secure the Salvation of the unconverted parent. If this can be accomplished, much will be done in the direction of gaining the whole family. Meanwhile, every effort should be put forth to make the children understand and obey. And even when one parent is directly opposed, so strongly will the instincts of the children be on the side of the one labouring for their highest happiness, that very favourable results may be looked for.

We could illustrate this, had we space, with any number of thrilling facts. We knew, many years ago, a godly mother of seven children, who had a careless husband, foolishly indulgent to the children, allowing them to have their own way, and who, when they were naughty, strongly opposed the mother giving correction or chastisement of any kind. The mother, however, held on to God, praying for them regularly, instructing them in the way of duty; and when they were disobedient she would take them up into the attic to punish them, where the weak and silly father could not hear their cries. That mother was rewarded by the whole family turning out well, and she herself safely reached the goal of rest some time ago.

9. Is not controversy between parents with regard to any command they may give to their children, specially disastrous when carried on in the presence of the children?

Yes, it is unfortunate if any serious difference of opinion exists between parents on any subject, especially if they differ with regard to the management of their children. But it is still more unfortunate that such differences should come to the knowledge, and be discussed in the presence of the children.

We can conceive of few things more destructive of authority and peace in the household than for children to get the notion that one parent is more indulgent or more severe than the other. If there be such differences between parents, we implore them for the happiness of their home and the Salvation of their children to come to an immediate agreement; and if that be impossible, let them argue about them in private.

10. But what are those parents to do who have been converted late in life, and only had their eyes opened to these things after their children have partly grown up, and grown up, so far, in self-will and ignorance of God?

In such circumstances parents must at once assert their claim to uniform obedience, and insist upon it at all costs. With them the fighting may be very severe. Still, though they may not recover all the lost ground and succeed in the same complete fashion which they would have done had they commenced with their children in infancy; yet God will help them and probably save some of their children, if not all, from the terrible consequences of their neglect and example.

11. Can you give any counsel to such persons?

Yes, we would say to such :-

(1.) Gather your children together and make them understand the altered condition of affairs. Candidly confess how wrong you have been from the first in your own soul, in your daily life, and in your indulgent management of them. Acknowledge the wonderful Salvation you have received, and tell them that from this time forward you are going to serve God with all your heart, and make everybody else serve Him, as far as you have the power. Make them understand that in future you intend to govern your family in that way which will most please God and tend most directly to their happiness and Salvation; and that, therefore, you cannot any longer allow them to practise what you believe to be wrong. Tell them plainly that certain rules will have to be kept, and that you intend to use the authority that God has given you, to enforce them.

(2.) Do not attempt too much at first. If you pull up too sharp at the beginning you may break the reins; that is, produce rebellion and opposition, which it will be very difficult to subdue. But as to what you see to be indispensable you must insist upon its fulfilment at once.

(3.) Be careful to say and do all in a spirit of love and tenderness. Let the children see that a new spirit, even the spirit of Jesus Christ, has entered into your heart. Beware of a scolding tone. Don't condemn so much as pity. Then the children will see the reality and greatness of the change that has come over you and feel its power, whatever they may say.

(4.) Rely much upon the Holy Spirit. "Have faith in God." Fully expect to see them all converted. Never give them up. Use every means you can think of, or that others can advise, to bring about their Salvation. Pray over them night and day. Think over the subject. Get to see in every case what the difficulties are which lie in their way. Get them to the meetings. Compel the younger ones to go with you, and kindness, persuasion, love, and holy example will win the affection and confidence of the older ones and induce them to accompany you also. (See chapter on Saving the Children, further on in this book. Read it and carry it out.)





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