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Home Discipline And The Rebellious Child

"Some indulgent, ease-loving parents fear to exercise wholesome authority over their unruly sons, lest they run away from home. It would be better for some to do this than to remain at home to live upon the bounties provided by the parents, and at the same time trample upon all authority, both human and divine."



This is a difficult article to post, but provides important direction when there is total rebellion against parental authority. The article touches on many points—the role and responsibility of parents, responding to feedback from others about a child, what to do if children refuse to listen, how to discipline, etc.—, and all of them are somewhat tied together. Please read large doses of admonitions on how to love and discipline children in a positive way, for discipline should always be positive, but there is apparently a time when strong and difficult measures are needed.


June 13, 1882 — Home Discipline

The work of parents precedes that of the teacher. They have a home school,—the first grade. If they seek carefully and prayerfully to know and to do their duty, they will prepare their children to enter the second grade,—to receive instructions from the teacher. If parents are so engrossed in the business and pleasures of this life that they neglect the proper discipline of their children, the work of the teacher is not only made very hard and trying, but often rendered wholly fruitless. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 1}

We never needed close connection with God more than we need it today. One of the greatest dangers that beset God’s people has ever been from conformity to worldly maxims and customs. The youth especially are in constant peril. Fathers and mothers should be on their guard against the wiles of Satan. While he is seeking to accomplish the ruin of their children, let not parents flatter themselves that there is no particular danger. Let them not give thought and care to the things of this world, while the higher, eternal interests of their children are neglected. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 2}

None should permit themselves, through the week, to become so absorbed in their temporal interests, and so exhausted by their efforts for worldly gain, that on the Sabbath they have no strength or energy to give to the service of God. We are robbing the Lord, when we unfit ourselves to worship him upon his holy day. And we are robbing ourselves as well; for we need the warmth and glow of association, as well as the strength to be gained from the wisdom and experience of other Christians. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 3}

Fathers and mothers should make it a rule that their children attend public worship on the Sabbath, and should enforce the rule by their own example. It is our duty to command our children and our household after us, as did Abraham. By example as well as precept we should impress upon them the importance of religious teaching. All who have taken the baptismal vow have solemnly consecrated themselves to the service of God; they are under covenant obligation to place themselves and their children where they may obtain all possible incentives and encouragement in the Christian life. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 4}

Those who take upon themselves the name of Christ, should be unmistakably devoted to his cause, and identified with his people. But if all the thoughts and energies are given to temporal affairs, if they have no time, strength, or interest for the service of Christ, they are not his disciples. Their names should be dropped from the church records. Of what benefit to the church are names, without the interest and support of the persons whom the names represent? – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 5}

When the children of Christian parents take delight in skepticism, deeming it a token of manly independence to doubt the Scriptures and sneer at religion; when they excuse their own delinquencies by pointing to the faults of church-members,—let the father and mother inquire if this is not the fruit of their own influence and example. The Lord will work with the efforts of those who seek him with all the heart. If world-loving parents would but labor as earnestly for the salvation of their children as they now labor to promote their temporal interests, they might see them faithful workers in the cause of Christ. We read in the word of God that as the result of apostolic prayers and labors, the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Similar efforts put forth today will produce similar results. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 6}

Great is the sacrifice by which Christ has purchased his people; great are the privileges set before us in the gospel. A corresponding zeal and devotion are in return required from us. The great apostle writes to his Corinthian brethren, “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” And again he bids them, “Be ye followers of God as dear children,” and “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” “being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” But where is the simplicity and fervent piety which should be seen among those who make so exalted a profession? How much careful thought and study are now given to copying the character of Christ? How do they compare with the attention and interest given to our earthly, temporal affairs? – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 7}

Let the words of Christ come home to the world-loving professors of godliness, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of Heaven as a little child, shall in nowise enter therein.” We should teach our children lessons of simplicity and trust. We should teach them to love, and fear, and obey their Creator. In all the plans and purposes of life, his glory should be held paramount; his love should be the mainspring of every action. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 8}

Worldly wisdom, intellectual ability, mental training, will not give the knowledge requisite for an entrance into Christ’s kingdom. The wise and prudent of this world cannot comprehend it. The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 9}

Children are committed to their parents as a precious trust, which God will one day require at their hands. We should give to their training more time, more care, and more prayer. They need more of the right kind of instruction. The word of God should be the man of our counsel, the guide and instructor of old and young. Parents can, if they will, interest their children in the varied knowledge found in its sacred pages. Children will learn to love that which the parents love. Those who would interest their sons and daughters in Bible study, and impress its truths upon their minds, must themselves feel its ennobling, sanctifying influence. They must exemplify its sacred principles in daily life. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 10}

If we desire our children to love and reverence God, we must talk of his goodness, his majesty, and his power, as displayed in the works of creation and in the sacred word. If we desire them to love and imitate the character of Christ, we must tell them of the sacrifice which he made for our redemption, of the humility and self-denial, the matchless love and sympathy, displayed in his life on earth, and then tell them that this is the pattern which we are to follow. We should tell them often the wonderful story of the Saviour’s life; of his early youth, when he was subject to such temptations as they have to meet; of his obedience and filial love, as he toiled in the workshop at Nazareth, aiding his father to bear the burdens of life. We should tell them of his generous, self-denying course, his spotless purity, his love for little children, his compassion for the sorrowing and the sinful. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 11}

When children err, parents should take time to read to them tenderly from the word of God such admonitions as are particularly applicable to their case. When they are tried, tempted, or discouraged, cite them to its precious words of comfort, and gently lead them to put their trust in Jesus. Thus the young mind may be directed to that which is pure and ennobling. And as the great problems of life, and the dealings of God with the human race, are unfolded to the understanding, the reasoning powers are exercised, the judgment enlisted, while lessons of divine truth are impressed upon the heart. Thus parents may be daily molding the characters of their children, that they may have a fitness for the future life. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 12}

Oh, what a field is committed to parents and teachers! How have they labored in this vineyard of the Lord? It is a sad fact that the most important objects to be secured in the education of the youth, are often neglected as of little moment. The value of the early years in forming right habits, and cherishing firm, pure principles, are appreciated by few. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 13}

Parents should not pass lightly over the sins of their children. When these sins are pointed out by some faithful friend, the parent should not feel that his rights are invaded, that he has received a personal offense. The habits of every youth and every child affect the welfare of society. The wrong course of one youth may lead many others in an evil way. Parents should not look on in silence while their children are corrupted by some vicious companion. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 14}

It is for the interest of all, that the youth be subjected to proper restraint. Yet it is often the case that when a God-fearing teacher attempts to correct in a pupil habits which have been fastened by the lax discipline of the parents, he will arouse the indignation of these parents. Not only do they neglect their own divinely-appointed responsibility, but they attempt to hinder the teacher from discharging his duty, and cast upon him the blame for the perversity of their evil-minded children. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 15}

Some indulgent, ease-loving parents fear to exercise wholesome authority over their unruly sons, lest they run away from home. It would be better for some to do this than to remain at home to live upon the bounties provided by the parents, and at the same time trample upon all authority, both human and divine. It might be a most profitable experience for such children to have to the full that independence which they think so desirable, to learn that it costs exertion to live. Let the parent say to the boy who threatens to run away from home, “My son, if you are determined to leave home rather than comply with just and proper rules, we will not hinder you. If you think to find the world more friendly than the parents who have cared for you from infancy, you must learn your mistake for yourself. When you wish to come to your father’s house, to be subject to his authority, you will be welcome. Obligations are mutual. While you have food and clothing and parental care, you are in return under obligation to submit to home rules and wholesome discipline. My house cannot be polluted with the stench of tobacco, with profanity or drunkenness. I desire that angels of God shall come into my home. If you are fully determined to serve Satan, you will be as well off with those whose society you love, as you will be at home.” – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 16}

Such a course would check the downward career of thousands. But too often children know that they may do their worst, and yet an unwise mother will plead for them, and conceal their transgressions. Many a rebellious son exults because his parents have not the courage to restrain him. They may expostulate, as did Eli, but they do not enforce obedience. Such parents are encouraging their children in dissipation, and are dishonoring God by their unwise indulgence. It is these rebellious, corrupt youth that form the most difficult element to control in schools and colleges. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 17}

Sin should be faithfully reproved, and right discipline promptly and firmly enforced. Yet harsh dealing will not help the wrong-doer to see his error or to reform. Let all needed reproof or correction be given in the spirit which actuated our Saviour. Let firmness and decision be blended with sympathy and love. By wise management, the wayward, stubborn youth may be transformed. Parents, to accomplish such work, you need Christ-like patience and self-command. Do not irritate by a sharp word or an angry look. Be calm; and let your heart often ascend in prayer to God for grace and wisdom. Angels will come to your side, and help you to raise up a standard against the enemy. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 18}

Make your children feel that you love them, and desire to do them good. Encourage every effort to do right. Show them that you have confidence in them. Remember that your example will be the most impressive lesson which you can give. Your courtesy and self-control will have greater influence upon the characters of your children than mere words could have. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 19}

You must yourselves labor for the spiritual welfare of those under your care. You should not seek to lay this burden upon others. You cannot transfer to others your responsibility. Converse with your children upon personal religion. Learn just where they stand. Pray with them and for them singly. Jesus won men by personal contact, his heart reaching the hearts of the people. We must work as Christ worked. Improve every opportunity. Make religion the vital question of life. Teach your children that every worldly consideration should be made second to their eternal interests. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 20}

Remember that your sons and daughters are younger members of God’s family. He has committed them to your care, to train and educate for Heaven. You must render an account to him for the manner in which you discharge your sacred trust. – {RH June 13, 1882 Par. 21}