Giving advice on the training and correcting of children is a very delicate task because of the various dispositions of children and the numerous circumstances under which parents have to labor. As many parents are so engaged in providing a livelihood, it is almost impossible to give the time and attention to the training of their children that they should. Yet parents should consider that the care and training of their children is a very important matter and should so arrange their daily work as to give them the needed attention.
Parents that bring children into the world are responsible to God, and also to their fellow creatures, concerning their future conduct in the earth. Hence, the raising of children should not be considered lightly, lest you bring upon yourelves the displeasure of God, and disastrous results follow. We have on record how that God’s wrath was kindled against the priest Eli, because his sons did evil; Eli was chastened and cursed of God for neglecting to do his duty in governing his children (1 Samuel 3).
In rearing a family of children, it is needful and essential that the parents be saved and in communion with God every day, as all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:3), and it takes wisdom from above to know when to correct, in what way to correct, and the amount of correction or punishment needed. One method or rule will not apply to every child, since they have different temperaments, different dispositions, and also much variation in intellectual comprehension. It is imperative that parents are in a position to draw wisdom, knowledge, grace, and calmness from heaven continually; that they might have patience coupled with firmness under all circumstances to carry out the will of God in any allowed condition, for the instruction and enlightenment of the growing child.
Generally those who have no children, or at the most only one, two, or three can (or think they can) tell you just how to raise your children. We have six children, three boys and three girls, now grown and all married. We do not claim to be an expert in the raising and care of children. We just want to give from experience some thoughts on correcting children which we have found to be good in causing the child to respect and obey.
In the first place, parents should not speak or do anything that they would not want their child to do, then or later, as the child is watching your actions and deeds. It would seem wrong to the child for you to correct or punish them for a thing that you were doing. And would it not be wrong?
According to the Apostle Paul, one of the qualifications of an elder is that he “ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” (1 Timothy 3:4) Now this gravity is not a gravity through fear of being flogged, but is a gravity through love. There is nothing that draws more than divine love, as it will bear the fruits of gentleness, tenderness, kindness, longsuffering, patience, meekness, and faith. We do not mean by this that one should never whip the child, for some children will become naughty under the best treatment. Yes, many of them will do so because the enemy is always working against righteousness and will spoil a happy Christian home if possible. Sometimes it is only manifesting love to the child to give it a good whipping with a strap or keen switch to awaken them to the fact that you feel the responsibility of their welfare, and also to let them know that you expect obedience, even if it is necessary to whip. Of course, always do this with calmness, instruction, and prayer; letting the child know that you are sorry that you have to whip them, but you have to do it as he or she will not obey without it. Generally they will weep and beg not to be whipped and will promise that they will not disobey any more; but if they have repeated the offense, it is best to whip them, then they will remember and be thoughtful of your wishes.
A child should never be grabbed and beaten without mercy, for it does not become a saint to do this, neither is it an example of godliness to the child nor to others, and shows a disrespect to God and clear leadings from Him. Those who unmercifully beat and cross their children cannot expect to have a peaceful home, as such treatment will smolder in the bosoms of the children (even though suppressed for a time) hatred, and envy; and a combating spirit will burst forth in time to the sorrow and grief of the parents.
Parents should never get into the habit of quarreling at or talking cross or ugly to the children, for this only creates the same disposition in them and will grow and cause serious trouble in future years. A parent should never be combative to a child, and should they become saucy and ugly, the parent should return with gentleness and firmness. Should they continue to show disrespect to you, then call them away from the others and talk calmly and seriously to them about the matter, showing them how it grieves you for them to speak to you in this manner, and for their welfare, it has become necessary to whip them for this. Always look to God for wisdom to know how to deal with each individual child and understand each circumstance, for there are no set rules that will apply to every child.
We should be careful not to blame the child when the root of the matter may be in us. Neither should we be hasty to accuse a child of doing a wrong deed, without being sure the accusation is correct, for fear of causing the child to lose confidence in us as having true judgment. We wish to relate an instance that happened to us:
One of our boys, when eight or nine years of age, began to steal money. Wife would lay some change on the cupboard shelf and would sometimes miss a nickel or a dime. We suspected this boy of taking it, but refrained from accusing him of it. We prayed about it, asking God to clearly uncover the matter in some way. One day while I was working in the office, wife came in and told me that our oldest boy had missed a quarter from his money and that he was accusing the other boy of taking it. He was stirred up about it considerably and said that he saw him eating candy and felt sure that he had bought it with his money. This news made us feel bad, for we felt it would be a serious thing to charge the boy of stealing, should he not be guilty. With heavy hearts, we fell on our faces before God and asked Him to give us wisdom in the matter so the boy could be corrected and taught a lesson that he would not forget. After the day’s work was done, we went to the house and called the boy to us. We told him that we were feeling bad and very much grieved, for we had always taught him to do right. As we continued to speak, he burst into tears and confessed taking the money. We talked to him of the wrong of this and what it would lead to. We told him that it was needful for us to whip him for this, as it was too great a thing to let go, and that we wanted him to remember not to steal any more. Also, he was to pay back the money just as soon as he got any, so his wrongs would all be made right. We have never had reason since that time to think that he ever took any more money. In this time of need, we simply looked to God for wisdom and all came out well, and so it will in all things that perplex and puzzle us. As we look to God, He will untangle and show us how, when, and what to do.
To sum it all up, we find that the parents’ manner of conduct and their dealings with the child will (in a large measure) cause the same to be produced in the child. Therefore, we need God in our hearts, that His gentleness, His mercy, His love, and righteousness might always be manifested before the children, so that they may grow up to be men and women of faith and confidence in God.