Acknowledge What Hinders Their Conversion

Introduction

I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject. I have read more than one hundred articles from Mrs. White's writings on the subject of raising children, and I continue to find more articles. In all of that reading I find certain ideas being repeated over and over again.

I have been particularly interested in what she has to say about the conversion of children: what enables their conversion; what hinders their conversion. What I have found has been eye-opening, especially regarding what hinders God's work in their lives. To put it mildly, I have been surprised to learn that some well-intentioned efforts of parents are apparently working in the exact opposite way to what they hope. Instead of drawing their children closer to Jesus and helping them become more willing to conform, their efforts sometimes harden the hearts of the children, and drive them into Satan's camp.

To be honest, reading about some of them was painful because I knew that I had been guilty of all of them at some point. I suspect  you will have the same experience in reading the list. I sympathize with you.

I believe secrets as to why we lose so many children to God and the church are found in these articles. The information has been there all along—has been available at some level through the books written on raising children—but was somehow missed. 

I believe we can turn things around and should.

Therefore I have tried to compile of list of things that hinder what God wants to do. I think you will be blessed in reading it.

Please realize that the reasons these things hinder—even prevent—conversions, are sometimes hard to understand at first glance. But when we understand the greater scheme of things, and see what is going on from God's perspective, everything makes perfect sense.

I also think that we have bought into the devil's lies on what is "innocent" over the years, and not realized that the enemy was quietly sowing his seeds, preoccupying our children's hearts, drawing them into destructive associations and stealing the march on us, to say nothing of getting parents to discipline in ways that harden the children against the desired change!

Please understand that this is a negative list—I recognize that—not a positive one. In sharing the list I am not in any way suggesting that suppressing the items on the list will bring about conversions—in fact a negative, overbearing, attitude in suppressing them may bring out even worst behavior and harden a child for eternity. Just as important—no, even more important—as suppressing certain things, it is of even more importance for the children to see Jesus as a wonderful and active part of all that they do. Homes should be little heavens on earth. Mothers and fathers should be the best friends of their children and their primary confidents. Home should be the place that children love to be at. Discipline should be lovely and gentle and restoring, instead of demeaning and destroying. So, while you read the list, please understand that Ellen White's approach to raising children is exceedingly positive, discourages hitting and shaking and scolding, directs to gentleness, prayer, etc. Please read the list and the associated quotations. Make sure you also read about the positive ways that are suggested on other pages of this section.

Like everything on this site, this is a work in progress. There are undoubtedly more things to add and I will as I think of them.

The List

This is not a complete list and it is not given in a particular order. I share some introductory comments on each item.—Dan

 

The List And Related Quotations

Failure To Start Teaching Them Early

There is a sense that young children cannot understand the gospel and cannot make a commitment to Jesus. However, they are most susceptible to the gospel when they are young. Preoccupy their hearts early before Satan has a chance to do so.

"Children are the most susceptible to the teachings of the gospel; their hearts are open to divine influences, and strong to retain the lessons received. The little children may be Christians, having an experience in accordance with their years."

"In the children who were brought in contact with Him, Jesus saw the men and women who should be heirs of His grace and subjects of His kingdom, and some of whom would become martyrs for His sake. He knew that these children would listen to Him and accept Him as their Redeemer far more readily than would grown-up people, many of whom were the worldly-wise and hardhearted. In His teaching He came down to their level. He, the Majesty of heaven, did not disdain to answer their questions, and simplify His important lessons to meet their childish understanding. He planted in their minds the seeds of truth, which in after years would spring up, and bear fruit unto eternal life. {DA 512.4}
It is still true that children are the most susceptible to the teachings of the gospel; their hearts are open to divine influences, and strong to retain the lessons received. The little children may be Christians, having an experience in accordance with their years. They need to be educated in spiritual things, and parents should give them every advantage, that they may form characters after the similitude of the character of Christ." {DA 515.1}

"O, that they might realize that the bias which is given to a child in its earliest years gives a tendency to character, and shapes the destiny either for eternal life or eternal death! Children are susceptible to moral and spiritual impressions, and those who are wisely trained in childhood may be erring at times, but they will not go far astray." – {ST April 16, 1896 Par. 6}

"My brother and sister, you have a sacred work to do in the training of your children. While they are young, their hearts and minds are most susceptible to right impressions. Teach your children the only true and right way. Teach them line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little. Teach them that they have an individual part to act and a Christian experience to gain even in their childhood." {Lt10-1912.7}

"As the child is in habits and manners, so the man will be. What earnest work, then, should be bestowed upon the character building of children! When very young, children are susceptible to divine influences. The Lord takes these children under his special care; and when they are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they are a help and not a hindrance to their parents. But too often the indifference of parents leads them to neglect their children; they have little idea of how to train them for the Master. {ST February 18, 1897, par. 3}

"Few parents begin early enough to teach their children to obey. The child is usually allowed to get two or three years the start of its parents, who forbear to discipline it, thinking it too young to learn to obey. But all this time self is growing strong in the little being, and every day makes harder the parent’s task of gaining control. At a very early age children can comprehend what is plainly and simply told them, and by kind and judicious management can be taught to obey." {RH September 15, 1904, par. 7}

 

Failing To Require Children To Yield To The Will Parents

Mrs. White strongly calls parents to bring about the submission of their children to them, for in making such a submission they are learning to submit to God. Children who fail to submit to their parents will resist submitting to God.—Dan

"Christian parents should so instruct their children that they may become children of God. The entire religious experience is influenced by the instructions received, and the character formed in childhood. If the will is not then subdued and made to yield to the will of the parents, it will be a difficult task to learn the lesson in after years. Parents who neglect this important work, commit a great error, and sin against their children and against God." {ST April 10, 1884, par. 2}

"By learning the lesson of obedience, children are not only honoring their parents and lightening their burdens, but they are pleasing One higher in authority. “Honor thy father and thy mother,” is a positive command. Children who treat their parents with disrespect, and disregard their wishes, not only dishonor them, but break the law of God. The earlier the will is made to yield to the will of the parents, and the more complete the submission, the less difficult it will be to yield to the requirements of God. And none can hope for the love and blessing of God who do not learn obedience to his commandments, and stand up firmly against temptation." { YI September 24, 1884, par. 3 }

"Children who have been taught to yield their will and wishes to their parents, will the more easily and readily yield their wills to God, and will submit to be controlled by the Spirit of Christ. Why so many who claim to be Christians have numerous trials, which keep the church burdened, is because they were not correctly trained in their childhood, but were left in a great measure to form their own character. Their wrong habits, and peculiar, unhappy dispositions, were not corrected. They were not taught to yield their will to their parents. Their whole religious experience is affected by their training in childhood. They were not then controlled. They grew up undisciplined, and now, in their religious experience, it is difficult for them to yield to that pure discipline taught in the word of God. Parents should, then, realize the responsibility resting upon them to educate their children in reference to their religious experience." – {SA 138.1}

"The first lesson that children are to be taught is the lesson of obedience. When they have learned to obey their parents, it will not be hard for them to obey God. Obedience becomes a part of their nature." – {RH July 8, 1902 Par. 4}

 

Breaking The Will Instead Of Bending The Will

"The severe training of youth, without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform, will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. ... Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by the harsh discipline of parents and teachers." – {CCh 192.6}

"There are many families of children who appear to be well trained while under the training discipline; but when the system which has held them to set rules is broken up, they seem to be incapable of thinking, acting, or deciding for themselves. – {CCh 192.5}  The severe training of youth, without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform, will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves they will reveal the fact that they were trained like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by the harsh discipline of parents and teachers. – {CCh 192.6}  Those parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the minds and wills of the children under their care would cease their boastings could they trace out the future lives of the children who are thus brought into subjection by force or through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to share in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course and yield to the power of temptation. They do not make this life a success, and the same deficiencies are seen in their religious life. Could the instructors of children and youth have the future result of their mistaken discipline mapped out before them, they would change their plan of education. That class of teachers who are gratified that they have almost complete control of the wills of their scholars are not the most successful teachers, although the appearance for the time being may be flattering." – {CCh 192.7} ...

"The mother’s work commences with the infant. She should subdue the will and temper of her child, and bring it into subjection, teach it to obey. As the child grows older, relax not the hand. Every mother should take time to reason with her children, to correct their errors, and patiently teach them the right way. Christian parents should know that they are instructing and fitting their children to become children of God. The entire religious experience of the children is influenced by the instructions given, and the character formed, in childhood. If the will is not then subdued and made to yield to the will of the parents, it will be a difficult task to learn the lesson in after years. What a severe struggle, what a conflict, to yield that will which never was subdued, to the requirements of God! Parents who neglect this important work commit a great error, and sin against their poor children and against God. [292]Testimonies for the Church 1:390, 391" – {CCh 193.4}

“To direct the child’s development without hindering it by undue control should be the study of both parent and teacher. Too much management is as bad as too little. The effort to “break the will” of a child is a terrible mistake. Minds are constituted differently; while force may secure outward submission, the result with many children is a more determined rebellion of the heart. Even should the parent or teacher succeed in gaining the control he seeks, the outcome may be no less harmful to the child. The discipline of a human being who has reached the years of intelligence should differ from the training of a dumb animal. The beast is taught only submission to its master. For the beast, the master is mind, judgment, and will. This method, sometimes employed in the training of children, makes them little more than automatons. Mind, will, conscience, are under the control of another. It is not God’s purpose that any mind should be thus dominated. Those who weaken or destroy individuality assume a responsibility that can result only in evil. While under authority, the children may appear like well-drilled soldiers; but when the control ceases, the character will be found to lack strength and steadfastness. Having never learned to govern himself, the youth recognizes no restraint except the requirement of parents or teacher. This removed, he knows not how to use his liberty, and often gives himself up to indulgence that proves his ruin." {Ed 288.1}

"Those who are selfish, peevish, dictatorial, coarse, and rough, who do not carefully regard the feelings of others, should never be employed as teachers. They will have a disastrous influence upon their students, molding them after their own character, thus perpetuating evil. Persons of this character will make an effort to break a boy’s will, if he is unruly; but Christ has authorized no such manner of dealing with the erring. Through heavenly wisdom, through meekness and lowliness of heart, teachers may be able to direct the will, and lead in the way of obedience; but let no one imagine that by threatening, the affection of the student may be gained. We must work as Christ has worked." {CSW 174.3}

"Too often parents follow a course that develops evil in the child. Harsh and severe, they drive him to rebellion. Then they wonder why he has traits of character that are so unlovely, when they try so hard to break his stubborn will. It is in trying to break his will that they make their mistake. The child’s will is to be trained, bent, not broken." – {RH July 8, 1902 Par. 7}

"The severe training of youth, without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform, will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves they will reveal the fact that they were trained like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by the harsh discipline of parents and teachers." – {CCh 192.6}

"Here is where so many make a great mistake, in thinking that it is necessary to break and destroy a child’s will. What you are to do is to guide and discipline and train the will by precept and example. In order to do this you must first learn how to control your own hasty temper, and subdue your own will, in order that you may mould and fashion the character of your child. If you act out your hasty temper, and show an undisciplined will before your child, you will certainly educate him to imitate your words and actions, and you have no reason to wonder why your children are so bad. It is your manner of training that is ruining your household." – {ST April 30, 1894 Par. 6}

 

Compulsion

Conversion cannot be compelled! They must be won, and the power to win them must be love.—Dan

"The young cannot be gained to the service of Christ by faultfinding or compulsion. They must be won by love."

"The young cannot be gained to the service of Christ by faultfinding or compulsion. They must be won by love. This requires time and effort. Parents must arouse from their carnal security. They cannot afford to waste precious hours in dress and gossip. They must close their ears to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. They must begin in earnest to work for Christ—begin to be missionaries at home, themselves closely following in the Saviour’s footsteps, that they may give a right example to their children." – {ST January 19, 1882 Par. 6}

"Parents are not to compel their children to have a form of religion, but they are to place eternal principles before them in an attractive light." {ST May 14, 1894, par. 1}

"A special work must be done for the children. Do not neglect the lambs of the flock. Christ said to Peter, “Feed my sheep,” and again he said, “Feed my lambs.” The best results would follow proper labor for the youth. Souls have gone to ruin that might have been saved if they had been labored for with perseverance and love. There must be a constant effort put forth both by precept and example, to save our children. Do not think that scolding will bring them to the fold of Christ. The youth are to be won by love. Be interested in them, speak with them, pray with and for them. Do not be found speaking light and trifling words, jesting and joking, but let all your conversation give a holy evidence that you possess genuine piety." {RH September 2, 1890, par. 5}

 

Neglect

Parents who don't take the responsibility to train and admonish their children in the ways of the Lord, will find their children drifting. Parents have a serious task, and must make it the priority of their lives.—Dan

"Let parents, with living faith and entire reliance upon God, do the part assigned them, and God will do his part, and thousands of children who are now without God and without hope in the world, will be added to the church."

"Parents should command their households after them, as did Abraham, to keep the way of the Lord. If this is not done, Satan will gladly undertake the work of the parent, and train the child as it pleases him; and oh, how much this work is left to him! Let parents do their duty to those who are dependent upon them, and fashion their characters after the divine Pattern. Let parents, with living faith and entire reliance upon God, do the part assigned them, and God will do his part, and thousands of children who are now without God and without hope in the world, will be added to the church." – {SSW July 1, 1889 Par. 5}

"If you have neglected to teach them line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, begin at once to do your duty. Take up your responsibilities, and work for time and for eternity. Let not another day pass without confessing your neglect to your children. Tell them that you mean now to do your God-appointed work. Ask them to take hold with you in the reform. Make diligent efforts to redeem the past. No longer remain in the condition of the Laodicean church. In the name of the Lord I call upon every family to show its true colors. Reform the church in your own home." {RH July 29, 1902, par. 12}

"Terrible will be the revelations of the day of judgment regarding the neglect of parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. What does this mean—in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? It means to teach them to order the life by the requirements and the lessons of the Word; to help them to a clear understanding of the terms of entrance into the city of God. The gates of that city will not be opened to all who would enter, but to those only who have studied God’s will, and have yielded their lives to His control. {1NL 85.8} One great reason why there is so much evil in the world today is that parents occupy their minds with other things than that which is all-important—how to adapt themselves to the work of patiently and kindly teaching their children the way of the Lord. If the curtain could be drawn aside, we should see that many, many children who have gone astray have been lost to good influence through this neglect. Parents, can you afford to have it so in your experience? You should have no work so important that it will prevent you from giving to your children all the time that is necessary to make them understand what it means to obey and trust the Lord fully. {1NL 86.1}

The Neglected Parental Work

 

Indulgence

She makes a strong statement that indulgence and passion are primary reasons for the lack of conversions. The follow paragraphs speak of indulgence.—Dan

"God has opened to me what stands in the way of the conversion of youth and children—their parents do not treat them aright. There is too much indulgence and too much passion."

"Parents, do not permit Satan to take the children from your hands. He will often urge, “You must indulge children, in order to keep them with you;” but, on the contrary, it is this unwise indulgence that separates your children from you, and leads them into the ranks of the great deceiver."

"What we want is to be Bible Christians. God has opened to me what stands in the way of the conversion of youth and children—their parents do not treat them aright. There is too much indulgence and too much passion. Now, when they come into the schools, shall they have the same kind of treatment by those who think that what they don’t know is not worth knowing? They know it all, when they have scarcely learned the first lessons in the alphabet of self-control, and how to deal with human minds. There is something to learn. God help us to come right to the cross, to see the royal Sufferer upon the cross, and why He suffers. It is to save souls, to bring sons and daughters to God. He gave Himself to save the world. He says, “Love one another, as I have loved you” ( John 15:12). { 9MR 63.2 } 

"You see a child, and the parents do not want to forbid it anything, and they think if that child loves them, they must gratify all its desires and let it do as it pleases. In a little while Satan has taken hold of the child, and its attributes are after the attributes of Satan, and instead of love and reverence and obedience to the parents, why they are just as unhappy and just as miserable, because everything the parent desires of them they think is a denial, is a warfare, and it is a hurt to them." {Ms48-1894.11}

"We should bring our children early to Christ, and teach them that he alone can keep them from the tempter’s power. I know that parents are not doing what they might do in this work. Unceasing watchfulness and prayer are the weapons by which we must overcome the foe. Parents, do not permit Satan to take the children from your hands. He will often urge, “You must indulge children, in order to keep them with you;” but, on the contrary, it is this unwise indulgence that separates your children from you, and leads them into the ranks of the great deceiver." – {ST January 19, 1882 Par. 9}

 

Excusing Bad Behavior

"Many children will rise up in judgment and condemn their parents for not restraining them, and charge upon them their destruction. The false sympathy and blind love of parents causes them to excuse the faults of their children and pass them by without correction, and their children are lost in consequence, and the blood of their souls will rest upon the unfaithful parents.[294]Testimonies for the Church 1:219" – {CCh 194.2}

 

Passion

The other main hinderer of conversions is passion. However, here we are not talking about the passion of the child, lust or something like that, but the passion of parents when they are scolding and disciplining. Done inappropriately, disciplinary measures hardens the  heart of the child and push him or her into Satan's camp.—Dan

"If the parents are severe and exacting in their discipline, they do a work which they themselves can never undo. By their arbitrary course of action they stir up a sense of injustice."

"The rebellious spirit which refused to render obedience to parental authority is the last to yield to divine authority. Thus, by misrule, parents fix the eternal destiny of their children. By mismanagement they drive them to the enemy’s ranks, to serve the prince of darkness rather than the Prince of light."

"Many parents, because of their own want of self-control, arouse the worst passions of their children’s hearts. They correct them in anger, and confirm them in their evil, instead of drawing them from the snare of Satan by correction administered in gentleness and love."

""I plead with fathers and mothers to know that passion never cures a child's passion. An exhibition of passion never cures."

"Perhaps they take hold of them roughly and give them an impatient blow. I have said that to shake a child would shake two evil spirits in, while it would shake one out. If a child is wrong, to shake it only makes it worse. It will not subdue it."

"Never give your child a passionate blow, unless you want him to learn to fight and quarrel."

"To manifest passion toward an erring child is to increase the evil. It arouses the worst passion of the child, and leads him to feel that you do not care for him. He reasons with himself that you could not treat him so if you cared."

"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. – {1NL 94.2} ... If the parents are severe and exacting in their discipline, they do a work which they themselves can never undo. By their arbitrary course of action they stir up a sense of injustice.Many parents have to meet in their children their own temper and disposition. But instead of ruling with wisdom and kindness, they are harsh and exacting. They do not make the religious life attractive, and the children say, “If this is religion, we want none of it.” Enmity against the rules of God is created. The rebellious spirit which refused to render obedience to parental authority is the last to yield to divine authority. Thus, by misrule, parents fix the eternal destiny of their children. By mismanagement they drive them to the enemy’s ranks, to serve the prince of darkness rather than the Prince of light." – {1NL 94.7}

"Great care should be exercised lest children shall be treated in a way to provoke obstinacy and rebellion. Many parents, because of their own want of self-control, arouse the worst passions of their children’s hearts. They correct them in anger, and confirm them in their evil, instead of drawing them from the snare of Satan by correction administered in gentleness and love." – {13MR 83.3}

"I plead with fathers and mothers to know that passion never cures a child's passion. An exhibition of passion never cures. You want to treat them tenderly and tell them that they will have to meet all these wrongs unless they overcome them, and that Jesus Christ left the royal courts of heaven and came right down into this world to do that very work for fathers and mothers, that they should seek to overcome and that they should obtain precious victories. Now I will leave these words with you. Do not forget the words that I tell you because you can stir up passions in a child so that he may never get over it. Speak kindly if they have made a mistake. If they have done wrong, it will not cure it for you to scold about it. Tell them they have grieved the Saviour who wants them to be saved, and tell them it is for their own interests to try to seek for that life which measures with the life of God. I will leave these remarks with you." {Ms68-1911}

"Parents have not given their children the right education. Frequently they manifest the same imperfections which are seen in the children. They eat improperly, and this calls their nervous energies to the stomach, and they have no vitality to expand in other directions. They cannot properly control their children because of their own impatience; neither can they teach them the right way. Perhaps they take hold of them roughly and give them an impatient blow. I have said that to shake a child would shake two evil spirits in, while it would shake one out. If a child is wrong, to shake it only makes it worse. It will not subdue it." {CG 252.2}

"Never give your child a passionate blow, unless you want him to learn to fight and quarrel. As parents you stand in the place of God to your children, and you are to be on guard."{CG 251.1}

"Let it be deeply impressed on your hearts that when you speak angry words to your children, you are helping the cause of the enemy of all righteousness. Let every child have a fair chance from babyhood up. The work of teaching should begin in childhood, not accompanied by harshness and fretting, but in kindness and patience; and this instruction should be continued through all their years to manhood and womanhood. It is the blessed privilege of every Christian parent to reveal the Lord to the child as merciful and good and full of kindness. He will put His Holy Spirit on the children, even though they sometimes make mistakes and do wrong. These children may hear the “Well done” as verily as the older members of the Lord’s family. {1NL 87.1} It is not bringing up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord to meet their mistakes with anger and chiding, to send them off feeling that you do not care what they do. To manifest passion toward an erring child is to increase their evil. It arouses the worst passion of the child, and leads him to feel that you do not care for him. He reasons with himself that you could not treat him so if you cared. {1NL 87.2}

 

Scolding

Scolding brings out the worst of the parent over time and only hardens the child against whatever behavior is desired.—Dan

"if you go scolding through life, it will not amount to anything. Take the children away, and talk with them kindly, and they kneel down and with their hand in yours pray for them and then they may pray for themselves."

"We want the sacred influence of God to come right into homes, that fathers and mothers may be enabled by the grace of God to bring their children to Jesus Christ and teach them so that they may understand what is the Bible requirement. Do not scold. All the scolding you can do will only work counter to God. The Lord wants that you should lay right hold of the eternal, and that you shall have an experience that will be marked by your neighbors, and they will see there is a reality in your profession. But if you go scolding through life, it will not amount to anything. Take the children away, and talk with them kindly, and they kneel down and with their hand in yours pray for them and then they may pray for themselves. Tell them there is opportunity to pray for themselves, and the blessing of God will be there. And they will not forget these seasons." {Ms72-1911} 

"Work for the salvation of your children. Do not scold them or fret at them, because you may close the door that you never can open again. You may close the door by finding fault or by hasty punishment so that you never can break down the barrier. Now, you want your families saved. You want them to have an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. You want them to have that life that measures with the life of God. Well then, try to save them right here." {Ms68-1911}  

 

Fault-Finding

Here I am referring to parents finding fault with others, particular in regard to the church, and expressing their criticisms in front of their children. We forget that children listen to adults and when they hear them criticizing the pastor and the church, criticizing the sermon, or speaking negatively of going to church, the children come to share the same attitudes—perhaps stronger, and develop a similar dislike for the church.—Dan

"Again I was solicited to talk with the children. I said, No, I have nothing to say to your children. My first work would be to exhort you, the parents, to become Christians. {Ms37-1887.7}
They looked at me as though they doubted my sanity. I said, “I have sat at your table and heard your remarks, your criticisms, your faultfinding with every minister who has preached at the camp-meeting; and I expect you have said the same unkind things of me you have said of your brethren, the ministers of God. My burden is for you. What kind of respect do you think your children will have for the messengers of God after you have taken it upon yourselves to talk disrespectfully of these men as you have done?"

"I was visiting a family in _____ and was solicited to labor for the conversion of their children. I said, We will see what can be done. I visited the family and took dinner with them several times, and almost as soon as the family was seated at the table, the father and mother began to make remarks in regard to the discourse [sermon] to which they had just listened. The father criticized the manner, the subject, and the delivery of the speaker. Then the mother added her words in regard to the discourse. She could not see as such straight preaching was needed. The unconverted children then joined in with comical remarks and grimaces, imitating the tones and the gestures of the speaker. The heads of the family added, “Such a discourse was entirely uncalled for. Why did he not give us something new and interesting?” {Ms37-1887.5}
I was astonished that they should dare to do this in the presence of guests. We were again at the table on another occasion, and the same criticisms and faultfinding were commenced by the parents and joined in by the children. I did not learn of any discourse given that was just that which they thought was best for them. {Ms37-1887.6}
Again I was solicited to talk with the children. I said, No, I have nothing to say to your children. My first work would be to exhort you, the parents, to become Christians. {Ms37-1887.7}
They looked at me as though they doubted my sanity. I said, “I have sat at your table and heard your remarks, your criticisms, your faultfinding with every minister who has preached at the camp-meeting; and I expect you have said the same unkind things of me you have said of your brethren, the ministers of God. My burden is for you. What kind of respect do you think your children will have for the messengers of God after you have taken it upon yourselves to talk disrespectfully of these men as you have done? I saw and heard your children with other children repeating your remarks about different ministers, and one of your children was mocking his words and tones." [Remainder missing.] {Ms37-1887.8}

 

Amusements

Not all amusements are bad, but Satan certainly takes advantage of them, using them to distract, suppress interest in spiritual things, diminish time to spend with God, spend needlessly and develop interest in things of only earthly value.—Dan

"Love of the world is one of the leading temptations of youth, and one that our Saviour repeatedly warned his disciples against. Parents, however, frequently encourage in their children the desire to seek happiness in gratifying the outward senses, and in frequenting scenes of gayety and frivolous amusements."

"Love of the world is one of the leading temptations of youth, and one that our Saviour repeatedly warned his disciples against. Parents, however, frequently encourage in their children the desire to seek happiness in gratifying the outward senses, and in frequenting scenes of gayety and frivolous amusements. By teaching them to avoid these things, you prepare them to cherish elevated thoughts, fit them to occupy positions of trust and importance in this life, and to receive the reward of the faithful in the future immortal life." { ST December 19, 1878, Art. A, par. 5 }

"I do not condemn the simple exercise of playing ball; but this, even in its simplicity, may be overdone. I shrink always from the almost sure result which follows in the wake of these amusements. It leads to an outlay of means that should be expended in bringing the light of truth to souls that are perishing out of Christ. The amusements and expenditures of means for self-pleasing, which lead on step by step to self-glorifying, and the educating in these games for pleasure, produce a love and passion for such things that is not favorable to the perfection of Christian character." – {1NL 97.4}

"Many parents deny the children an indulgence in that which is safe and innocent, and are so afraid of encouraging them in cultivating desires for unlawful things that they will not even allow their children to have the enjoyment that children should have. Through fear of evil results, they refuse permission to indulge in some simple pleasure that would have saved the very evil they seek to avoid, and thus the children think there is no use in expecting any favors, and therefore will not ask for them. They steal away to the pleasures they think will be forbidden. Confidence between the parents and children is thus destroyed."

"Any amusement in which you can engage asking the blessing of God upon it in faith will not be dangerous. But any amusement which disqualifies you for secret prayer, for devotion at the altar of prayer, or for taking part in the prayer meeting, is not safe, but dangerous." {CT 337.3}

 

Detrimental Associations

Children are mirrors of what goes on around them. God created human beings with "mirror neurons" in the brain that causes them to mirror what is going on around them without hardly any thought—think about sneezing and all the people who will soon sneeze after someone else sneezes. Mirror neurons are a wonderful gift when it comes to raising children since they mirror their parents. Mirror neurons, however, also make children terribly susceptible to influences around them. Constant vigilance is necessary if we are to protect our children. And don't forget, "monkey see; monkey do." Ellen White says that parents reproduce their characters in their children. Part of the reason is due to the work of the mirror neurons. In connection with this, she says in so many words, example is more potent than precept!—Dan

"The friendship of the ungodly is more dangerous than their enmity. It misleads and destroys thousands who might, by a proper and holy example, be led to become children of God. The minds of the young are thus made familiar with irreligion, vanity, ungodliness, pride, and immorality, and the heart not shielded by divine grace, gradually becomes corrupted. Almost imperceptibly, the youth learn to love the tainted atmosphere surrounding the ungodly. Evil angels gather about them, and they lose their relish for that which is pure, refined, and ennobling."

"It is not safe for Christians to choose the society of those who have no connection with God, and whose course is displeasing to him. Yet how many professed Christians venture upon the forbidden ground. Many invite to their homes relatives who are vain, trifling, and ungodly; and often the example and influence of these irreligious visitors produce lasting impressions upon the minds of the children in the household. The influence thus exerted is similar to that which resulted from the association of the Hebrews with the godless Canaanites. {ST June 2, 1881, par. 16} God holds the parents accountable for disregarding his command to separate themselves and their families from these unholy influences. While we must live in the world, we are not to be of the world. We are forbidden to conform to its practices and fashions. The friendship of the ungodly is more dangerous than their enmity. It misleads and destroys thousands who might, by a proper and holy example, be led to become children of God. The minds of the young are thus made familiar with irreligion, vanity, ungodliness, pride, and immorality, and the heart not shielded by divine grace, gradually becomes corrupted. Almost imperceptibly, the youth learn to love the tainted atmosphere surrounding the ungodly. Evil angels gather about them, and they lose their relish for that which is pure, refined, and ennobling." {ST June 2, 1881, par. 17}

"Throw around your children the charms of home and of your society. If you do this, they will not have so much desire for the society of young associates. Satan works through these, leading them to influence and corrupt the minds of one another. It is the most effectual way in which he can work. The young have a powerful influence over one another. Their conversation is not always choice and elevated. Evil communications are breathed into the ear, which, if not decidedly resisted, find a lodgment in the heart, take root, and spring up to bear fruit and corrupt good manners. Because of the evils now in the world, and the restriction necessary to be placed upon the children, parents should have double care to bind them to their hearts and let them see that they wish to make them happy." {1T 387.3}

 

Exciting Stories—Fiction, Media, Etc

She makes the statement that fiction is one of the major reasons why children have so little interest in the Bible. The exciting stories make the Bible seem very boring. Exciting stories also develop a short attention span. In modern society, the same issues brought to bear with fiction come with even greater force with television and modern digital media. In fact today there is acknowledged a huge problem with addiction to digital media that is referred to in some quarters as digital heroin. If the exciting stories were an issue in her day, it is an even greater and more pervasive problem in our day—Dan

"Your children know not how to reverence or even respect the truth, and they never will unless they turn from fictitious reading,—the idol to which they have given soul and body."

"By the reading of magazines and novels, impressions are made on the mind that spoil it for the reception of Bible truth, which alone can supply the necessities of the soul...."

"Through the reading of enticing stories they rapidly lose their spirituality. This is one of the principal causes of the weak, uncertain spirituality of many of our youth."

"Your children know not how to reverence or even respect the truth, and they never will unless they turn from fictitious reading,—the idol to which they have given soul and body. They keep their minds intoxicated with this reading, it is the god they worship, and while they continue this practice they are virtually intoxicated in mind as any drunkard."—Letter 32, 1896, pp. 4, 5. (To Brother and Sister Hughes, March 7, 1896.) – {6MR 262.2}

"The instruction given me is that great harm is done to the minds of children and youth by cheap, trashy reading. By the reading of magazines and novels, impressions are made on the mind that spoil it for the reception of Bible truth, which alone can supply the necessities of the soul...." – {6MR 287.4}

"I have a straightforward testimony to bear in regard to them. We are to extol neither idolatry nor men who did not choose to serve God. Years ago reproof was given our editors in regard to advocating the reading of even such books as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Aesop’s Fables, and Robinson Crusoe. Those who begin to read such works usually desire to continue to read novels. Through the reading of enticing stories they rapidly lose their spirituality. This is one of the principal causes of the weak, uncertain spirituality of many of our youth." {19MR 43.2}

"It would be an act of mercy to children if parents would burn the idle story books and novels as they come into the house. The reading of them bewilders and poisons the mind. Unless parents awake to the eternal interests of their children, they will surely be lost." {ST April 1, 1880, Art. B, par. 8}

 

Limited Surrender

Here I am not speaking of the limited surrender of the children, rather that of the parents. In effect, parents set the spiritual thermostat for the family. If the spiritual thermostat is set low, the children will reflect the same low level of spirituality. I once read that children rise to the highest level of the parents disobedience—a frightening thought. The Bible is clear and Ellen White's writings affirm, that parents who choose to surrender only partially will often have children who do the same thing. Strong statements are made, however about what happens when the parents fully surrender! Praise God for that.—Dan

"When the will and ways of God become the will and ways of Seventh-day Adventist parents, their children will grow up to love and honor and obey God."

"When the will and ways of God become the will and ways of Seventh-day Adventist parents, their children will grow up to love and honor and obey God. Satan will not be able to gain control of their minds, for they have been educated to regard the Word of the Lord as supreme, and they will test every experience that comes to them by the law and the testimony." { "CG 66.3}

"Set your own heart in order. An unreserved surrender to God will sweep away the barriers that have so long defied the approaches of heavenly grace. Bring your lives into conformity to the will of Christ, and your children will be won to Him. The world will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus, and have learned of Him. In word and deed they will bear witness to the power of His grace." – {ST November 11, 1903 Par. 8}

"Parents must be converted before they can guide their children aright. They must become submissive to the requirements of God before they can expect their children to submit to them. Then their words and even their thoughts will be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. Day by day they must learn from Jesus, catching His Spirit, that they may reveal the Christlikeness in their lives. In childhood and youth the powers of imitation are strong, and children should have the most perfect pattern set before them, that they may have unquestionable confidence in the wisdom of their parents." { 1NL 94.3 }