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    Chapter 34—Ways in Which Character Is Ruined

    Parents May Sow the Seed of Ruin—Mistaken parents are teaching their children lessons which will prove ruinous to them, and are also planting thorns for their own feet.... To a great extent, parents hold in their own hands the future happiness of their children. Upon them rests the important work of forming the character of these children. The instructions given in childhood will follow them all through life. Parents sow the seed which will spring up and bear fruit either for good or evil. They can fit their sons and daughters for happiness or for misery.1Testimonies For The Church 1:393.CG 175.1

    By Indulgence or Iron Rule—Children are often indulged from their babyhood, and wrong habits become fixed. The parents have been bending the sapling. By their course of training the character develops, either into deformity or into symmetry and beauty. But while many err upon the side of indulgence, others go to the opposite extreme and rule their children with a rod of iron. Neither of these follow out the Bible directions, but both are doing a fearful work. They are molding the minds of their children and must render an account in the day of God for the manner in which they have done this. Eternity will reveal the results of the work done in this life.2Testimonies For The Church 4:368, 369.CG 175.2

    By Failing to Train for God—In failing to train their children to keep the way of the Lord, to do those things which He has commanded, parents neglect a solemn duty.3Manuscript 12, 1898.CG 175.3

    Some [children] have been left to do as they pleased; others have been found fault with and discouraged. But little pleasantness, and cheerfulness, and words of approval have been given them.4Manuscript 34, 1893.CG 176.1

    Oh, if mothers would only work with wisdom, with calmness and determination, to train and subdue the carnal tempers of their children, what an amount of sin would be nipped in the bud, and what a host of church trials would be saved! ... Many souls will be eternally lost because of the neglect of parents to properly discipline their children, and to teach them submission to authority in their youth. Petting faults and soothing outbreaks is not laying the ax at the root of the evil, but proves the ruin of thousands of souls. Oh, how will parents answer to God for this fearful neglect of their duty!5Testimonies For The Church 4:92.CG 176.2

    By Negligence That Dallies With Sin—Children need watchful care and guidance as never before, for Satan is striving to gain the control of their minds and hearts and to drive out the Spirit of God. The fearful state of the youth of this age constitutes one of the strongest signs that we are living in the last days, but the ruin of many may be traced directly to the wrong management of the parents. The spirit of murmuring against reproof has been taking root and is bearing its fruit of insubordination. While the parents are not pleased with the characters their children are developing, they fail to see the errors that make them what they are....CG 176.3

    God condemns the negligence that dallies with sin and crime, and the insensibility that is slow to detect its baleful presence in the families of professed Christians.6Testimonies For The Church 4:199, 200.CG 176.4

    By Lack of Restraint—Because they do not properly restrain and direct their children, thousands are coming up with deformed characters, with lax morals, and with little education in the practical duties of life. They are left to do as they please with their impulses, their time, and their mental powers. The loss to the cause of God in these neglected talents lies at the door of fathers and mothers; and what excuse will they render to Him whose stewards they are, entrusted with the sacred duty of fitting the souls under their charge to improve all their powers to the glory of their Creator?7Testimonies For The Church 5:326.CG 177.1

    The parents have thought they loved their children, but have proved themselves their worst enemies. They have let evil go unrestrained. They have allowed their children to cherish sin, which is like cherishing and petting a viper, that will not only sting the victim who cherishes it, but all with whom he is connected.8Fundamentals of Christian Education, 52, 53.CG 177.2

    By Overlooking Glaring Wrongs—Instead of uniting with those who bear the burdens, to lift up the standard of morals, and working with heart and soul in the fear of God to correct the wrongs in their children, many parents soothe their own consciences by saying, “My children are no worse than others.” They seek to conceal the glaring wrongs which God hates, lest their children shall become offended and take some desperate course. If the spirit of rebellion is in their hearts, far better subdue it now than permit it to increase and strengthen by indulgence. If parents would do their duty, we should see a different state of things. Many of these parents have backslidden from God. They do not have wisdom from Him to perceive the devices of Satan and to resist his snares.9Testimonies For The Church 4:650, 651.CG 177.3

    By Petting and Indulging Children—Parents frequently pet and indulge their young children because it appears easier to manage them in that way. It is smoother work to let them have their own way than to check the unruly inclinations that rise so strongly in their breasts. Yet this course is cowardly. It is a wicked thing thus to shirk responsibility; for the time will come when these children, whose unchecked inclinations have strengthened into absolute vices, will bring reproach and disgrace upon themselves and their families. They go out into busy life unprepared for its temptations, not strong enough to endure perplexities and troubles; passionate, overbearing, undisciplined, they seek to bend others to their will, and, failing in this, consider themselves ill-used by the world, and turn against it.10Testimonies For The Church 4:201.CG 178.1

    By Sowing Seeds of Vanity—Wherever we go, we see children indulged, petted, and praised without discretion. This tends to make them vain, bold, and conceited. The seeds of vanity are easily sown in the human heart by injudicious parents and guardians, who praise and indulge the young under their charge, with no thought of the future. Self-will and pride are evils that turned angels into demons and barred the gates of heaven against them. And yet parents, unconsciously, are systematically training their children to be the agents of Satan.11Pacific Health Journal, January, 1890.CG 178.2

    By Becoming Slaves to Teen-age Children—How many toil-worn, burdened parents have become slaves to their children, while, in harmony with their education and training, the children live to please, amuse, and glorify themselves. Parents sow the seed in the hearts of their children which yields a harvest that they do not care to reap. Under this training, at the age of ten, twelve, or sixteen, children think themselves very wise, imagine that they are prodigies, and regard themselves as altogether too knowing to be in subjection to their parents, and too elevated to stoop to the duties of everyday life. The love of pleasure controls their minds; and selfishness, pride, and rebellion work out their bitter results in their lives. They accept the insinuations of Satan and cultivate an unhallowed ambition to make a great show in the world.12The Youth's Instructor, July 20, 1893.CG 178.3

    By Misguided Love and Sympathy—Parents may indulge their affection for their children at the expense of obedience to God's holy law. Guided by this affection, they disobey God by allowing their children to carry out wrong impulses, and withhold the instruction and discipline which God has commanded them to give. When parents thus disregard the commands of God, they imperil their own souls and the souls of their children.13The Review and Herald, April 6, 1897.CG 179.1

    Weakness in requiring obedience, and false love and sympathy—the false notion that to indulge and not to restrain is wisdom—constitute a system of training that grieves angels; but it delights Satan, for it brings hundreds and thousands of children into his ranks. This is why he blinds the eyes of parents, benumbs their sensibilities, and confuses their minds. They see that their sons and daughters are not pleasant, lovely, obedient, and care-taking; yet children accumulate in their homes, to poison their lives, fill their hearts with grief, and add to the number whom Satan is using to allure souls to destruction.14Testimonies For The Church 5:324.CG 179.2

    By Failure to Require Obedience—If ungrateful children are fed and clothed and allowed to go uncorrected, they are emboldened to continue in their course of evil. And inasmuch as their parents or guardians thus favor them and do not require obedience, they are partakers with them in their wicked deeds. Such children might just as well be with the wicked, whose iniquitous course they choose to follow, as to remain in Christian homes, to poison others. In this age of wickedness every Christian must stand firm in condemnation of the evil, Satanic actions of wayward children. Evil youth should not be treated as kind and obedient, but as disturbers of the peace and corrupters of their companions.15Manuscript 119, 1901.CG 179.3

    By Allowing the Children to Follow Their Own Minds—The prevailing influence in society is in favor of allowing the youth to follow the natural turn of their own minds.16Messages to Young People, 373, 374.CG 180.1

    They [parents] think that by gratifying the wishes of their children and letting them follow their own inclinations, they can gain their love. What an error! Children thus indulged grow up unrestrained in their desires, unyielding in their dispositions, selfish, exacting, and overbearing, a curse to themselves and to all around them.17Testimonies For The Church 1:393.CG 180.2

    By Allowing Wrong Attitudes—The lessons of childhood, good or bad, are not learned in vain. Character is developed in youth for good or evil. At home there may be praise and false flattery; in the world each stands on his own merits. The pampered ones, to whom all home authority has yielded, are there daily subjected to mortification by being obliged to yield to others. Many are even then taught their true place by these practical lessons of life. Through rebuffs, disappointments, and plain language from their superiors, they often find their true level and are humbled to understand and accept their proper place. But this is a severe and unnecessary ordeal for them to pass through and could have been prevented by proper training in their youth.CG 180.3

    The majority of these ill-disciplined ones go through life at cross-purposes with the world, making a failure where they should have succeeded. They grow to feel that the world owes them a grudge because it does not flatter and caress them, and they take revenge by holding a grudge against the world and bidding it defiance. Circumstances sometimes oblige them to affect a humility they do not feel; but it does not fit them with a natural grace, and their true characters are sure to be exposed sooner or later....CG 181.1

    Why will parents educate their children in such a manner that they will be at war with those who are brought in contact with them?18Testimonies For The Church 4:201, 202.CG 181.2

    By Training as Devotees of Society—Children are not to be trained to be the devotees of society. They are not to be sacrificed to Molech, but they are to become members of the Lord's family. Parents are to be filled with the compassion of Christ, that they may work for the salvation of the souls that are placed under their influence. They are not to have their minds all engrossed in the fashions and practices of the world. They are not to educate their children to attend parties and concerts and dances, to have and attend feasts, because after this manner the Gentiles walk.19The Review and Herald, March 13, 1894.CG 181.3

    By Permitting Selfish Seeking of Happiness—There are many youth who might have been a blessing to society and an honor to the cause of God if they had been started in life with right ideas as to what constituted success. But instead of being controlled by reason and principle, they had been trained to yield to wayward inclination, and sought only to gratify themselves by indulging in selfish pleasure, thinking thus to obtain happiness. But they failed to attain their object, for seeking happiness in the path of selfishness will bring but misery. They are useless in society, useless in the cause of God. Their prospects both for this world and the next are of a most discouraging order, for by selfish love of pleasure they lose both this world and the next.20The Youth's Instructor, July 20, 1893.CG 181.4

    By a Lack of Piety at Home—In professedly Christian homes, where fathers and mothers would be supposed to be diligent students of the Scriptures, in order that they might know every specification and restriction in the Word of God, there is manifest neglect of following the instruction of the Word and of bringing up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Professedly Christian parents fail to practice piety at home. How can fathers and mothers represent Christ's character in the home life when they are content to reach a cheap, low standard? The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character.21The Review and Herald, May 21, 1895.CG 182.1

    If Parents Were Obedient to God—The Lord will not vindicate the misrule of parents. Today hundreds of children swell the ranks of the enemy, living and working apart from the purpose of God. They are disobedient, unthankful, unholy; but the sin lies at the door of their parents. Christian parents, thousands of children are perishing in their sins because of the failure of their parents to rule the home wisely. If parents were obedient to the unseen Leader of the armies of Israel, whose glory was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, the unhappy state of affairs now existing in so many families would not be seen.22The Review and Herald, June 6, 1899.CG 182.2

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