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    Section 12—Standards of Family Living

    Chapter 52—Home Government

    The Guiding Principle for Parents—Many in the world have their affections on things that may be good in themselves, but their minds are satisfied with these things and do not seek the greater and higher good that Christ desires to give them. Now we must not rudely seek to deprive them of what they hold dear. Reveal to them the beauty and preciousness of truth. Lead them to behold Christ and His loveliness; then they will turn aside from everything that will draw their affections away from Him. This is the principle upon which parents should work in the training of their children. By your manner of dealing with the little ones you can by the grace of Christ mold their characters for everlasting life.1Manuscript 4, 1893.AH 305.1

    Fathers and mothers should make it their life study that their children may become as nearly perfect in character as human effort, combined with divine aid, can make them. This work, with all its importance and responsibility, they have accepted, in that they have brought children into the world.2Fundamentals of Christian Education, 67.AH 305.2

    Rules Necessary for Government in the Home—Every Christian home should have rules; and parents should, in their words and in their deportment toward each other, give to the children a precious living example of what they desire them to be.... Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to God, true to principle; teach them to respect and obey the law of God. Then these principles will control their lives and will be carried out in their association with others.3Letter 74, 1896.AH 305.3

    Bible Principles to Be Followed—There is need for constant watching that the principles which lie at the foundation of family government are not disregarded. The Lord designs that the families on earth shall be symbols of the family in heaven. And when earthly families are conducted in right lines, the same sanctification of the Spirit will be brought into the church.4Manuscript 80, 1898.AH 306.1

    Parents should themselves be converted and know what it is to be in submission to God's will, as little children, bringing into captivity their thoughts to the will of Jesus Christ, before they can rightly represent the government that God designed should exist in the family.5The Review and Herald, March 13, 1894.AH 306.2

    God Himself established the family relations. His word is the only safe guide in the management of children. Human philosophy has not discovered more than God knows or devised a wiser plan of dealing with children than that given by our Lord. Who can better understand all the needs of children than their Creator? Who can feel a deeper interest in their welfare than He who bought them with His own blood? If the word of God were carefully studied and faithfully obeyed, there would be less soul anguish over the perverse conduct of wicked children.6The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881.AH 306.3

    Respect the Children's Rights—Remember that children have rights which must be respected.7Letter 47a, 1902.AH 306.4

    Children have claims which their parents should acknowledge and respect. They have a right to such an education and training as will make them useful, respected, and beloved members of society here, and give them a moral fitness for the society of the pure and holy hereafter. The young should be taught that both their present and their future well-being depend to a great degree on the habits they form in childhood and youth. They should be early accustomed to submission, self-denial, and a regard for others’ happiness. They should be taught to subdue the hasty temper, to withhold the passionate word, to manifest unvarying kindness, courtesy, and self-control.8Fundamentals of Christian Education, 67.AH 306.5

    To a Parent Deluded by Blind Affection—Blind affection, a cheap manifestation of love, goes a long ways with you. To encircle the arms about the neck is easy; but manifestations should not be encouraged by you unless they are proved to be of real value by perfect obedience. Your indulgence, your disregard of God's requirements is the veriest cruelty. You encourage and excuse disobedience by saying, “My boy loves me.” Such love is cheap and deceptive. It is no love at all. The love, the genuine love, to be cultivated in the family is of value because it is verified by obedience....AH 307.1

    If you love the souls of your children, bring them into order. But abundant kisses and tokens of love blind your eyes, and your children know it. Make less of these outward demonstrations of embracing and kissing and go down to the bottom of things and show what constitutes filial love. Refuse these manifestations as a fraud, a deception, unless backed up by obedience and respect for your commands.9Letter 52, 1886.AH 307.2

    Manifest Neither Blind Affection nor Undue Severity—While we are not to indulge blind affection, neither are we to manifest undue severity. Children cannot be brought to the Lord by force. They can be led, but not driven. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,” Christ declares. He did not say, My sheep hear My voice and are forced into the path of obedience. In the government of children love must be shown. Never should parents cause their children pain by harshness or unreasonable exactions. Harshness drives souls into Satan's net.10The Review and Herald, January 29, 1901.AH 307.3

    The combined influence of authority and love will make it possible to hold firmly and kindly the reins of family government. An eye single to the glory of God and to what our children owe Him will keep us from looseness and from sanctioning evil.11Manuscript 24, 1887.AH 308.1

    Harshness Not Requisite to Obedience—Let none imagine ... that harshness and severity are necessary to secure obedience. I have seen the most efficient family government maintained without a harsh word or look. I have been in other families where commands were constantly given in an authoritative tone, and harsh rebukes and severe punishments were often administered. In the first case the children followed the course pursued by the parents and seldom spoke to one another in harsh tones. In the second also the parental example was imitated by the children; and cross words, faultfindings, and disputes were heard from morning till night.12The Signs of the Times, March 11, 1886.AH 308.2

    Words that intimidate, creating fear and expelling love from the soul, are to be restrained. A wise, tender, God-fearing father will bring, not a slavish fear, but an element of love into the home. If we drink of the water of life, the fountain will send forth sweet water, not bitter.13Letter 8a, 1896.AH 308.3

    Harsh words sour the temper and wound the hearts of children, and in some cases these wounds are difficult to heal. Children are sensitive to the least injustice, and some become discouraged under it and will neither heed the loud, angry voice of command nor care for threatenings of punishment.14Testimonies for the Church 3:532.AH 308.4

    There is danger of too severely criticizing small things. Criticism that is too severe, rules that are too rigid, lead to the disregard of all regulations; and by and by children thus educated will show the same disrespect for the laws of Christ.15Manuscript 7, 1899.AH 308.5

    Uniform Firmness, Unimpassioned Control Necessary—Children have sensitive, loving natures. They are easily pleased and easily made unhappy. By gentle discipline in loving words and acts mothers may bind their children to their hearts. To manifest severity and to be exacting with children are great mistakes. Uniform firmness and unimpassioned control are necessary to the discipline of every family. Say what you mean calmly, move with consideration, and carry out what you say without deviation.AH 309.1

    It will pay to manifest affection in your association with your children. Do not repel them by lack of sympathy in their childish sports, joys, and griefs. Never let a frown gather upon your brow or a harsh word escape your lips. God writes all these words in His book of records.16Testimonies for the Church 3:532.AH 309.2

    Restraint and Caution Not Enough—Dear brethren, as a church you have sadly neglected your duty toward the children and youth. While rules and restrictions are laid upon them, great care should be taken to show them the Christlike side of your character and not the satanic side. Children need constant watchcare and tender love. Bind them to your hearts, and keep the love as well as the fear of God before them. Fathers and mothers do not control their own spirit and therefore are not fit to govern others. To restrain and caution your children is not all that is required. You have yet to learn to do justly and love mercy, as well as to walk humbly with God.17Ibid., 4:621.AH 309.3

    Counsel to the Mother of a Strong-willed Child—Your child is not your own; you cannot do with her as you like, for she is the property of the Lord. Exercise a steady persevering control over her; teach her that she belongs to God. With such a training she will grow up to be a blessing to those around her. But clear, sharp discernment will be necessary in order that you may repress her inclination to rule you both, to have her own will and way, and to do as she pleases.18Letter 69, 1896.AH 309.4

    Even, Steady Management—I have seen many families shipwrecked through overmanagement on the part of their head, whereas through consultation and agreement all might have moved off harmoniously and well.19Testimonies for the Church 4:127.AH 310.1

    Unsteadiness in family government is productive of great harm, in fact is nearly as bad as no government at all. The question is often asked, Why are the children of religious parents so often headstrong, defiant, and rebellious? The reason is to be found in the home training. Too often the parents are not united in their family government.20The Signs of the Times, February 9, 1882.AH 310.2

    A fitful government—at one time holding the lines firmly, and at another allowing that which has been condemned—is ruination to a child.21Letter 69, 1896.AH 310.3

    Mutual Law for Parents and Children—God is our Lawgiver and King, and parents are to place themselves under His rule. This rule forbids all oppression from parents and all disobedience from children. The Lord is full of lovingkindness, mercy, and truth. His law is holy, just, and good, and must be obeyed by parents and children. The rules which should regulate the lives of parents and children flow from a heart of infinite love, and God's rich blessing will rest upon those parents who administer His law in their homes, and upon the children who obey this law. The combined influence of mercy and justice is to be felt. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Households under this discipline will walk in the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.22Manuscript 133, 1898.AH 310.4

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