4. Enforcing and Tutoring Obedience

By John Thiel, Child Training Series, Study 4, mp3

The parental role as you recall from our last studies and especially going by the statement from the book Ministry of Healing, showed that it is the mother’s role and the father with the mother to develop in the child the likeness of the divine. Does that suggest a nature and character like Jesus? Jesus came to earth to develop just such a character.

When Jesus came into the world, Satan’s power was turned against Him. From the time when He appeared as a babe in Bethlehem, the usurper worked to bring about His destruction. In every possible way he sought to prevent Jesus from developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, and an unblemished sacrifice. DA 759

What was Jesus developing? From the time He was born in Bethlehem, He was developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, and a holy ministry until He could present an unblemished sacrifice.

But he was defeated. He could not lead Jesus into sin. He could not discourage Him, or drive Him from a work He had come on earth to do. DA 759

Isn’t it interesting? Jesus came to do that work in His own life and parents have a work to do that in their children. Satan will put everything against you. Like Jesus, we are to persevere no matter what. Can Satan discourage you as parents? In our walk with our Lord, he tries so hard and so it is he will do that in our child training.

From the desert to Calvary, the storm of Satan’s wrath beat upon Him, but the more mercilessly it fell, the more firmly did the Son of God cling to the hand of His Father, and press on in the bloodstained path. All the efforts of Satan to oppress and overcome Him only brought out in a purer light His spotless character. {DA 759.4}

Here is a provocation to do the work that has been given us as it was given to Jesus; to develop a perfect character and to develop in the children a perfect character. What is the very first lesson that has to be taught in the development of that character of a perfect childhood and faultless manhood,?

Ephesians 6: 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;

3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

The very thing that a child has to learn is to obey its parents. That has to do with what is says in verse three; ‘being well with thee on the earth’.


This is the very first lesson, and this is verified in the book Ministry of Healing;

The knowledge of God as revealed in His word is the knowledge to be given to our children. From the earliest dawn of reason they should be made familiar with the name and the life of Jesus. Their first lessons should teach them that God is their Father. Their first training should be that of loving obedience. MH 460.2

We are laying down as a foundation these are very important principles. The very first lesson that needs to be taught is the lesson of loving obedience. What sort of obedience? Not just obedience but loving obedience. You will see how important this statement is as we proceed. Loving is the first lesson to be taught and in its connection the child needs to know that our Heavenly Father is their father from the earliest dawn of reason.

Reverently and tenderly let the word of God be read and repeated to them in portions suited to their comprehension and adapted to awaken their interest. And, above all, let them learn of His love revealed in Christ, and its great lesson: MH 460.2

Loving obedience is a discovery and interest according to their level of comprehension. We are seeking to understand their level of comprehension and to instill into them these important principles that are based upon and lead to obedience. Not only is this lesson the first lesson to be taught for children, but also it’s a lesson that we as adults have to learn.

Remember, after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the fishermen and Peter said ‘Let’s go fishing’. They went out knowing their trade very well but caught nothing. As they were coming back in a disheartened state, Jesus was on the shore and He said to them ‘Throw the net on the other side of the boat’ Peter answered ‘We have toiled all night and taken nothing’. Jesus told them to do that, they knew better. Never forget this, they knew better. What did Peter say?

“Master,” replied Simon, “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (verse 5). This was true obedience. UL 288.5-6

What is true obedience? When you think you know better than the one in authority you still obey. Isn’t that the way children are? They think they always know better than their parents don’t they? What has to be taught here; even if you know better, obedience is required. Here is an instance of implicit trust in the words of Christ in spite of an objectionable past experience.

Our first lesson is to learn the will of God, even though we pass through trying circumstances, and then, knowing His will, to obey unquestioningly. Such obedience will always be rewarded. UL 288.5-6

The reward is not only for the children but also us. There needs to be explicit obedience even though it doesn’t feel as though that was right from our past objectionable experience. The object lesson we have here is very, very powerful to understand. This is the first lesson that parents need to instill into that developing child. What does this programming actually teach the child to do? When Jesus was developing what did it require of Him?

Hebrews 12:5  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness.

Character Development

What sort of a character? A character that is holy. What’s involved? Chastening. Very unpleasant and uncomfortable. In fact, Jesus went through that in Hebrews 5:7-9. Here is Jesus as He was developing that perfect childhood, that faultless manhood and that perfect, pure sacrifice. What did He go through in reference to obedience?

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

What was He going through? He was experiencing, strong crying, and tears just as a child does.

Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

What was involved in training the child to develop its character to the similitude of the divine ? Suffering is involved in this process.  Mothers, do you like to shield your children from suffering? You don’t like to see your children suffer do you? But according to that lesson of obedience, Jesus went through suffering and so must we. Being molded into a perfect character involves suffering. We must avoid shielding ourselves from suffering. As parents are in the place of God, they have the task of taking their children through the course of learning obedience and that requires suffering, when we want to shield them from suffering.

Do you know that if you want to prevent your children from suffering in the training program, you are doing great harm to that child? It’s strange but that is the truth. When the mother or father watches the other parent punish the child what does he or she want to do or say, “Don’t do that, you are too harsh on the child”. Have you ever experienced that? A man once came to me after watching me training my child and said, “You come down on her like a tonne of bricks.’

We want to protect the children from anything that would make them suffer. This is the reality, but suffering is necessary and in the church, it’s the same, we want to shield ourselves from suffering or to shield others from suffering when they are corrected. Have you ever seen someone who has been corrected and someone else comes and says its not that bad, don’t worry too much and we start to make the person feel good because they’ve been treated a bit severely?

God’s servants are not excused if they shun pointed testimony. 1T 214 .2

What’s a pointed testimony? It is a testimony that tells you how wrong you are.

They must reprove and rebuke wrong, and not suffer sin upon a brother. 1T 214 .2

You have often stretched out your hands to shield persons from the censure which they deserved, and the correction which the Lord designed they should have. If these persons fail to reform, their lack is set to your account. 1T 214 .2

If we want to shield from censure what is deserved, then the person who shields is guilty for the failure of that other person’s development.

Instead of watching for their danger, and warning them of it, you have cast your influence against those who have followed the convictions of duty, and reproved and warned the erring. 1T 214 .2

How much I have seen this. The truth is proclaimed and it shows up a person’s error and another person quickly goes over there and says, “Sister White doesn’t really mean that.” and we start to palliate them. This is extremely cruel. It’s the opposite of what we think we are doing. It’s actual cruel and you will see why further. The first lesson is, loving obedience. To learn that requires suffering and that suffering is not to be shielded from. Let’s enlarge that a little more. This is the most important beginning principle. As we are trying to do this first work, it will involve suffering and it must not be shielded. Why must we learn obedience by suffering? Remember Proverbs 22:15. Why is suffering part of the equation? Can’t we do it without suffering? How uncomfortable it is to think we have to suffer in this lesson of obedience? Why does the child have to suffer?

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child;

How are you going to get foolishness out of there?

Proverbs 22:15 [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Is the rod of correction smooth and comfortable? What has to be driven out? Foolishness has to be driven out. Here we have driven out foolishness, which is bound in the heart of the child. What statement of the Spirit of Prophecy did we use? Everyone is born with the propensity of disobedience. It’s entrenched in us. This subject of obedience is the very subject that this world needs and yet it’s the very subject that it wants to stem and resist. Examine for yourself, how true that is. A soon as there is a note to obey your parents; the children go “Ehh”. Wives obey your husbands in the Lord. “Ehh”. Obey those who are rulers over you. and another “Ehh is sounded. Why? Because inside the human heart foolishness is bound that must be driven out. That propensity is to be driven out.

Disobedience must be punished. CG 249.4 – 250

There’s the suffering. Why must it be punished? Because we have a propensity of disobedience and it has to be driven out.

Wrongdoing must be corrected. The iniquity that is bound up in the heart of a child must be met and overcome by parents and teachers. CG 249.4 – 250

It must be met. You can’t just go along saying it’s all right and it will go away. No. It must be met and overcome by whom? By the parents and the teachers.

Wrong must be dealt with promptly and wisely, with firmness and decision. Hatred of restraint, love of self-indulgence, indifference to things of eternity, must be carefully dealt with. CG 249.4 – 250

What’s inside of the heart? A hatred of restraint is inside the heart.  We know that very well don’t we? It’s a hatred that’s instilled in there and that must be dealt with.

Unless evil is eradicated, (that’s a strong word) the soul will be lost. CG 249.4 – 250

Do you want to be lost? Do you want your child to be lost? Of course you don’t. Then the evil that is bound in the heart of the child must be eradicated. The soul will be lost if not.

And more than this: he who gives himself up to follow in Satan’s lead seeks constantly to entice others. CG 249.4 – 250

Have you seen children do that? When children are naughty, what do they do with other children? They rope them in don’t they? They can’t just keep it to themselves. That’s why it must be eradicated.

From our children’s earliest years we should seek to subdue in them the spirit of the world. CG 249.4 – 250

Every statement here is extremely important. Where must it be subdued in them? You will see why I’m highlighting this. The very strong key words in reference to dealing with disobedience and foolishness are as follows:

DRIVEN – Get out of here.

CORRECTED – There’s no two ways about that word, it’s to be promptly corrected


ERADICATED – This is the strongest one.

Have you got that very clear? This foolishness cannot be pandered with. It has to be met. Every time it comes up, chop, eradicate, drive out, and deal with it. Don’t let it develop. When is the first task of eradicating disobedience to commence? When do you start eradicating the foolishness that is bound in the heart of the child?

Before Reason Is Developed.–One of the first lessons a child needs to learn is the lesson of obedience. Before he is old enough to reason, he may be taught to obey. CG 82.4-5

Don’t you want the child to reason into obedience? It says BEFORE the child is old enough to reason he may be taught to obey.

The mother’s work should commence with the infant. She should subdue the will and temper of the child and bring its disposition into subjection. CG 82.4-5

In the infant stage – 1 month, 2 months, 3 months.

Teach it to obey, and as the child grows older, relax not the hand. CG 82.4-5

Obedience to parental authority should be inculcated in babyhood and cultivated in youth.. CG 82.1-3

I like the word ‘inculcated’. That’s another strong word.

In babyhood, obedience is to be put in and it is to be cultivated to keep it growing.

Some parents think that they can let their little ones have their own way in their babyhood, and then when they get older, they will reason with them; CG 82.1-3

Has this been your thought? The baby can’t reason so we can’t teach it obedience. Wrong, it is to be inculcated when the little ones are in babyhood.

…but this is a mistake. Begin in the baby life to teach obedience. . . . Require obedience in your home school. From their earliest life children should be taught to obey their parents, to respect their word, and to reverence their authority. CG 82.1-3

These are very important concepts. Part of obedience is that the children will mind their parents; they are to reverence their authority. This is the inspired testimony of Jesus. This is Jesus speaking. Driven out, eradicated. If you haven’t started in babyhood as we read there, some parents think they can let their little ones have their own way in babyhood and when they get older they will reason with them but this is a mistake. If you have failed to do that in babyhood, guess what will happen as they get to two to three years?

Mothers, be sure that you properly discipline your children during the first three years of their lives. CG 194.1-2

The first three years.

Do not allow them to form their wishes and desires. CG 194.1-2

Think about what we are reading here. If they have wishes and desires, which you know, are of an infant mentality, do you think you should let them develop them? Remember, foolishness is bound there.

The mother must be mind for her child. CG 194.1-2

If you have a child that is not submitting to your mind, you don’t say “I better let it have its own way”. No, Mother, go directly to the point and stop the child. Change the mind of that child if it’s going contrary to your mind. That’s what I’m reading.

The first three years is the time in which to bend the tiny twig. CG 194.1-2

We know that principle. If you want a tree to grow in a certain way, you have to do it right at its beginning.

Mothers should understand the importance attaching to this period. It is then that the foundation is laid. CG 194.1-2

If the foundation is laid crooked, you’ve got problems. As a bricklayer, I understand very well what that means. If you haven’t got that foundation straight, you’ve got a headache all the way up the wall. But if the foundation is laid correctly, you’ve got an easy road all the way up. Do you want an easy road for your later children’s life? Do it right in the first three years.

If these first lessons have been defective, as they very often are, for Christ’s sake, for the sake of your children’s future and eternal good, seek to repair the wrong you have done. If you have waited until your children were three years old to begin to teach them self-control and obedience, seek to do it now, even though it will be much harder. CG 194.1-2

What’s the reality of that? We like to have kindness don’t we? We like to teach them loving obedience so we think we’ve got to be kind and gentle. Yes, we are but listen to this;

Even kindness must have its limits. Authority must be sustained by a firm severity, or it will be received by many with mockery and contempt. 5T page 45.1.

Have you ever watched the reaction of a little child who has not learned obedience in the first three years when you try and make an enforcement by saying kindly, “Don’t do that”? What will it do? It will say, ‘pffft!’ It will meet the parent with mockery because the foolishness inside of the heart of the child has been developed and there is seen a sort of disdain. I still remember one of my children just looking me up and down and I knew exactly what was going on in their mind. It revealed itself as time went on. It actually develops in the child smartness. This comes back to what we previously studied that the child gathers power. Its sense of self importance has to be met when its three, four and five years old. To get that out after that age is hard in the sense that you have to become more severe.

The so-called tenderness, the coaxing and the indulgence, used toward youth by parents and guardians is the worst evil which can come upon them. 5 T45.1.

This tenderness, kindness and coaxing them to obey is the worst evil which can come upon them.

Firmness, decision, positive requirements, are essential in every family. Parents, take up your neglected responsibilities; educate your children after God’s plan, showing ‘forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ 5 T45.1.

If you want to be tender, kind, gentle, and not deviate from that manner, then you must start in the very early stages because later on it has to become a firm severity. What must you do? You must drive out, and promptly correct and overcome it. You must eradicate it and in no way let it slip as the child is growing, then it will be safe for that child. As soon as you see evil you must deal with it; that is the first and important principle to understand. This is the reason why we learn obedience by the things which we suffer. It is a suffering and your heart breaks when you see your little baby crying after you have had to correct it.

You haven’t hit it, you haven’t done anything but that child breaks its heart because you have firmly met something that the child really wanted and you knew it wasn’t good. I still remember the little cry of one little baby. He was crying and then its little tongue made a bbrrr sound, it sounded like a little vibrato coming to its end he sounded like his heart was breaking. What does the Bible say? Don’t spare for their crying. It seems so hard and severe. Once you have successfully eradicated that out of the child from an early age, and later on through a little more severity, is that all the suffering that is part of the training? No. Did Jesus have any propensity of foolishness of disobedience in Him? He didn’t. Jesus had none of that. Foolishness was not in His heart, but where was it? It was in His flesh. After you have driven it out of the child’s heart, the suffering continues, as did the suffering of Jesus. He who had no propensity of disobedience but a flesh of sin had to restrain something inside of Him.

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

You’ve eradicated that thing in the heart of the child during those first three years or later on through more severity. Once that’s been achieved, the sinful fleshy nature continually needs to be disciplined. Jesus condemned sin in the flesh as is written. It has been clearly conveyed that suffering occurs as we drive out the foolishness in the heart. As this work continues, the flesh will suffer but we must not let it scream in terms of having its own way. Just keep on conquering it and encourage the child to conquer it also. It’s eradication through firmness and promptness, not allowing it to take root. It must be taken out of the child. Now comes the big question. How am I to do that? Recall Abraham who did it and what we are to learn from Abraham.

Abraham’s affection for his children and his household led him to guard their religious faith, to impart to them a knowledge of the divine statutes, as the most precious legacy he could transmit to them, and through them to the world. All were taught that they were under the rule of the God of heaven. There was to be no oppression on the part of parents and no disobedience on the part of children. PP 142.1

The child will have a resistance to that.

God’s law had appointed to each his duties, and only in obedience to it could any secure happiness or prosperity. How few there are in our day who follow this example! On the part of too many parents there is a blind and selfish sentimentalism, miscalled love, which is manifested in leaving children, with their unformed judgment and undisciplined passions, to the control of their own will. This is the veriest cruelty to the youth and a great wrong to the world. PP 142.1

What does it do?

It confirms in the young the desire to follow inclination, instead of submitting to the divine requirements. Thus they grow up with a heart averse to doing God’s will, and they transmit their irreligious, insubordinate spirit to their children and children’s children. PP 142.1

Do you wonder why the world’s in a mess? That’s where it comes from.

Like Abraham, parents should command their households after them. Let obedience to parental authority be taught and enforced as the first step in obedience to the authority of God. PP 142.1

These are leading statements. It said no oppression, then it says enforced and the other word was taught. That’s why I entitled our study Tutoring and Enforcing Obedience. The method needs to be studied. How? Not by oppression yet enforced and taught. Get your head around that one. Parents are to drive out disobedience and foolishness. They are to eradicate it. In Proverbs, we read by the rod of correction we eradicate the evil and enforce obedience. Doesn’t that sound like oppression? We also read in God’s kingdom there is no force, but didn’t I just read about force?

What’s the difference between enforced and force? I must use severe firmness and yet I mustn’t oppress. I must enforce but not use force. The child is not to be oppressed, but the propensity of disobedience is to be oppressed. Can you see a difference? I previously highlighted a point; there is something in them. The thing that is in them must be oppressed, eradicated and must be treated with severity but the child is not to be oppressed. This is very important. There lies a conundrum. Yet, if you think carefully, you will see that there is a two-fold situation here, the child and something in the child. There are two natures in the infant. We’ve already seen the first nature – foolishness and propensity of disobedience. The second one is;

Children have sensitive, loving natures. 3T 532.2

A sensitive loving nature is in a child. Is it right to oppress that? No it is not. If you oppress the foolishness is that right? You know that every human being born on this earth is actually bi-polar. We’re schizophrenics. What do you have to do to heal a schizophrenic? You’ve got to draw out the intelligent nature and let that intelligent nature deal with the ridiculous nature that they are fighting with.

When working with these people you can’t tell them they are bi-polar that because they will deny it. You must work carefully and understandingly with them, drawing out their intelligence. You have to work in the same way with the little child, draw out their intelligent nature. First of all in the little baby, you can’t reason with it so you’ve got to do some very careful work because the little baby is so cute and lovely and it has a sensitive, loving nature inside of it that must not be oppressed.

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. 3T 532.2

You see again the conundrum. A firm severity otherwise they make fun of you and yet to manifest severity and exactingness is a mistake.

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. 3T 532.2

Because of this sensitive nature, it says, by gentle discipline. It’s discipline, but given gentle in loving words and uniform firmness. This is very important. What does that bring to our attention? If you’ve been firm once, don’t suddenly become slack. If you have made a stipulation once, don’t let the child get away with it. Your firmness must be uniform, consistent. Unimpassioned discipline – what does that do? This is the how. I must not oppress the child but I must eradicate the evil. Because the child has a sensitive nature, I must treat that sensitive, loving nature that loves to please and is easily made unhappy, by gentle loving words and uniform firmness with unimpassioned discipline. What is unimpassioned discipline? When you discipline and you are absolutely annoyed with that child’s disobedience, don’t even dare to express the annoyance. Don’t be angry. Don’t express passion. Be perfectly calm but a strong as a mountain. I love the statement in Amos. God says to those who are rebellious to Him to come to the mountain and He says, “Let me have it”.

We can rant and rave at a mountain and it won’t move. It won’t even fight or argue back at you. It just won’t budge and you won’t get through. That firmness requires absolute obedience. The child will not get past you. You can be ever so kind in the process but that child will not have its way. Even though it rants and raves you must not spare for it’s crying. It will cry and carry on but that’s its problem, not yours. If your problem is getting wild at it – don’t. Unimpassioned discipline draws out and foolishness has to be driven out. The foolishness is driven out by uniform firmness and unimpassioned discipline. Don’t forget the mountain. I never forget an experience when a little child wanted to push through me and I just stood there and she tried to get around me to do this and that and in the end she got very annoyed with me. Eventually she realized she wasn’t going to get around me so she went away complaining. That’s the way; to be immovable. Notice what happens inside of that bi-polar little heart if this is not done, if one is not drawn out gently and carefully and the other one oppressed correctly,?

Great harm is done by a lack of firmness and decision. I have known parents to say, You cannot have this or that, and then relent, thinking they may be too strict, and give the child the very thing they at first refused. CG 284

You know the dithering sort of correction. If you do that with your children, you are in trouble. The child will try you, it will sense your dithering way. It will sense it can do it today but tomorrow it can’t so it will finally do what? What are we trying to do with this two-fold nature?

A lifelong injury is thus inflicted. It is an important law of the mind–one which should not be overlooked–that when a desired object is so firmly denied as to remove all hope, the mind will soon cease to long for it, and will be occupied in other pursuits. CG 284

If the mind of that individual discovers it won’t get it, no matter how hard it tries, He will decide there, is no hope for it and will cease pursuing it. What is the law of the mind? It will actually cease to long for it and it will be occupied in another pursuit. That is the law of the mind. What you want your children to understand as you are training it, is what he or she has been forbidden he or she will never receive and desire to pursue again.  Then you have got peace. If you systematically pursue that law of the mind, you will succeed.

But as long as there is any hope of gaining the desired object, an effort will be made to obtain it. CG 284

While the child has a lingering thought, ‘I can get past the Mummy and Daddy or if I can’t get past Mummy, I’ll get past Daddy’, it will continue to have a hope in its heart that it will get it and will continue to pursue it.

When it is necessary for parents to give a direct command, the penalty of disobedience should be as unvarying as are the laws of nature. Children who are under this firm, decisive rule know that when a thing is forbidden or denied, no teasing or artifice will secure their object. CG 284

Have you ever heard a child say ‘Oh, Mum, please…’ and they keep going until they have got it? Do you like that in a child? Then don’t even give it a skerrick of hope. Never deviate on this point.

Hence they soon learn to submit and are much happier in so doing. The children of undecided and overindulgent parents have a constant hope that coaxing, crying, or sullenness may gain their object, or that they may venture to disobey without suffering the penalty. CG 284

These are profound important principles.

Thus they are kept in a state of desire, hope, and uncertainty, which makes them restless, irritable, and insubordinate. CG 284

Where’s the source of restlessness, irritability and insubordination in the child? It is in the parents who don’t give the child a firm and absolute immovable directive. That’s where it comes from. If you have children like that, then the fault lies in the parents.

God holds such parents guilty of wrecking the happiness of their children. This wicked mismanagement is the key to the impenitence and irreligion of thousands. It has proved the ruin of many who have professed the Christian name. CG 284

Do you see where the problems come from in the world? It comes from that very source. If we are not going to practice this then we will have restless irritable children. That’s only one source of restless irritability. We’ll come to another one in a moment. Let’s concentrate on this principle at the law of the mind. In your child, training you must understand the law of the mind that God has put in there with its loving sensitive nature.

How will you successfully educate your children? Not by scolding, for it will do no good. Talk to your children as if you had confidence in their intelligence. Deal with them kindly, tenderly, lovingly. CG 33. 3

Now can you understand? You are trying to reach in your child the sensitive loving nature, the law of the mind and the intelligence of the child. In everything you do, you are trying to reach the intelligent mind of the child. You reach that part kindly, tenderly and lovingly. That’s where the kindness is to be exercised as Sr White says ‘if you had confidence in their intelligence.’

The greatest care should be taken in the education of youth, to vary the manner of instruction so as to call forth the high and noble powers of the mind. . . . There are very few who realize the most essential wants of the mind, and how to direct the developing intellect, the growing thoughts and feelings of youth. CG 33.5

Can you see what this means? In the child from zero to twelve the brain is developing. From 12 – 21 the mental powers are developing. From 21 – 30 the spiritual part is developing. What you’re doing in education and training is developing the mind to exercise it. To what end? It takes very much mind care. It is calling us to become very capable psychologists but it has to come from the Lord. We need to use the skill of mind occupation and mind work.

The education of children, at home or at school, should not be like the training of dumb animals; for children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. 3T 132

The child has to be taught to control its foolishness and eradicate it and to control its sinful flesh. You can’t just command it like a dumb animal.

Dumb animals need to be trained, for they have not reason and intellect. But the human mind must be taught self-control. It must be educated to rule the human being, while animals are controlled by a master and are trained to be submissive to him. 3T 132

It’s a nice feeling if you can control your children, but to train your children as dumb animals means, they’re all just like a lovely lot of tin soldiers doing exactly what you are saying because they are dead scared to step out of line. They’re not using their intellect as they’re just using the fact that the parents have such a harsh control that they dare not step out of line.

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. 3T 133.2

If you’re not doing that, when your children become adults they will be completely incapable of governing and controlling themselves. Those in government and authority will lead them along like sheep. They won’t know how to govern themselves.

Here you have the wonderful counsel from Jesus Christ as to reaching the inward nature to draw out this intelligent, reasoning power that needs to be discovered as it’s growing up from babyhood that when something it wants is denied it will resign itself to that fact.. Then when it’s resigned itself it is calm. As that happens again and again through those babyhood years, the child develops the natural function of the mind that just knows when Mum says, “no” he or she can’t get past it. Then as the child grows older its reasoning powers are now carefully and lovingly drawn out and every time the flesh or disobedience wants to reign the child reasons, ‘I’ve got to learn to control this because if I don’t I’m in trouble’.

I’ve put down some very specific rules, which we can use in our child training because we’re trying to bring out of the child its reasoning capability:

1. Observe by watching your child’s intelligence

How do you do that? It is done by watching how it responds to stimuli; something that provokes the child and how it actually works through it. Watch how the little infant handles different things that trigger it off. Does it cry or does it try to work the thing out? Watch the child’s mental activity. A mother has to be with the child and see the child continually to be able to develop in that child its intelligence. You can’t expect a child to do something, which you know it’s incapable of doing. If you don’t know what it’s capable of doing, you have to watch for it. Some children have a natural response mechanism more than others and you’ve got to see it and watch it. What therefore in babyhood, childhood and youth does the mother have to have in her proximity all the time? Not necessarily, right next to her but the mother must always be able to see the child. The child must never be out of the observation of its parents.

You may now cultivate the home-making qualities with good effect, for your children are of the age when they most need a mother. The restless spirit naturally inclines to mischief; the active mind, if left unoccupied with better things will give heed to that which Satan may suggest. The children need the watchful eye of the mother. 8 MR 434.3

What do children need? They need the watchful eye of the mother.

They need to be instructed, to be guided in safe paths, to be kept from vice, to be won by kindness, and be confirmed in well doing, by diligent training. 8 MR 434.3

They must remain under the watchful eye of the mother. How can you have your children under the watchful eye if they are at school or if they are away with some friends? When the children are invited to stay over with the friends and the parents are at home with the children out of their watchful eyesight. Who is responsible for their training? Is it the visitors that take them out? No. If the mother and the father do not know what the children are being subjected to, they are failing to nurture their children. It is absolutely imperative they do not stay in the homes of others.  I haven’t got time to read the statements but Sr White writes we must not let our children go into the homes of others even in the church. It’s not the responsibility of others to train those little ones. They must stay with the parents. It doesn’t mean that the parents can’t let them go at a distance from them but as long as they know what’s going on, that’s all. I have watched many things with my children at a distance and when I had to correct something I saw from a distance and they said, “Dad, how did you know?” Dad was watching. They didn’t know I was there watching but I saw them and could therefore direct their minds by asking “Can you see what happened there and there and there and how that has affected you?” By reaching their intelligence their minds go tick, tick and they say ‘okay’. You must understand their mind by watching.

2 Strategically exercise their minds in the paths of willing obedience.

There is strategy needed here. You need to see how the child is prone or not prone to do what you tell it. As you carefully work through those particular gremlins in the development of that child, you must use strategy according to what you saw in rule 1.

Troubles may invade, but these are the lot of humanity. AH 18.1

When trouble comes;

Let patience, gratitude, and love keep sunshine in the heart though the day may be ever so cloudy. The home may be plain, but it can always be a place where cheerful words are spoken and kindly deeds are done, where courtesy and love are abiding guests. Administer the rules of the home in wisdom and love, not with a rod of iron. AH 18.1

If you are using strategy and exercising the child’s mind because you’ve come to know it by watching it every day, what will happen?

Children will respond with willing obedience to the rule of love. AH 18.1

If the child gets a sense that you understand it and you are lovingly exercising its mind, the child gets a wonderful sense of warmth of ‘My mummy understands me’ or ‘My daddy understands me’. You know what it’s like when somebody understands you, you feel warm toward him or her. Then there will be loving obedience.

Commend your children whenever you can. AH 18.1

What does it mean by that? It does not mean to flatter them? If they are expressing something intelligently say, ‘I really appreciate what you’ve just said to me’. That’s commending a child, or ‘Oh, that was lovely. Thank you.’ That’s commending a child. Not ‘Oh, you’re a great kid, you’ve really done well there’. That’s merely flattery but just to express a sense of appreciation is enough. The child loves that, as it wants to make people happy.

Make their lives as happy as possible. . . . Keep the soil of the heart mellow by the manifestation of love and affection, thus preparing it for the seed of truth. Remember that the Lord gives the earth not only clouds and rain, but the beautiful, smiling sunshine, causing the seed to germinate and the blossom to appear. AH 18.1

Sometimes there needs to be a firm severity but that’s just like a thunderstorm. You know what it’s like after a thunderstorm, the air is fresh again, and children love it. After they have had a thunderstorm, they come back and they’re ever so sweet. Fresh air and sunshine must be there.

Remember that children need not only reproof and correction, but encouragement and commendation, the pleasant sunshine of kind words. ….It is gentleness and peace that we want in our homes. AH 18.1

Be so calm, so free from anger, that they will be convinced that you love them, even though you punish them. CG 249.3

Is that strategy? Is that trying to reach their intelligence? You have to punish them now and you punish them according to the intelligence of their mind that you understand. Calmly communicate with them according to their comprehension and say, “You see now I have to actually correct that evil that you have permitted to exist. We have to use the rod this time, or miss out on something,” or whatever and the child says “ouch.” It’s suffering but the child can see that you love it and it must see it. Its intelligent mind must see it and then it will lovingly submit and obey. That is God’s way as it is conveyed. Do you want to lead it into willing obedience

Your children, that are under your control, should be made to mind you. Your word should be their law. CG 87.1

How do you do it?

In the strength of God, parents must arise and command their households after them. They must learn to repress wrong with a firm hand, yet without impatience or passion. They should not leave the children to guess at what is right, but should point out the way in unmistakable terms and teach them to walk therein. CG 87.1

The child will have a clear understanding because you have strategically understood and reached its mind to that objective.

3. You only make rules that the child can correctly understand

If you make rules that the child can’t understand, you will throw the child into confusion and the whole drama into something where you wonder what’s gone wrong. If you make a rule, that rule has to be in agreement with the child’s comprehension. As we read before, when you say to the child ‘You can’t have that’, the child has heard it and you’ve got to insist on that and once you have stipulated that rule, that child has to go over that rule again and again if it wants to get past you. But if that child is not able to comprehend it, how can it learn it? As an example, if the child is expected to do something in the kitchen and you’ve told the child it can’t have a knife but then later on you give it a knife, what’s happened? The intelligent mind goes buzz and short-circuits. What’s gone wrong here? If you know your child should not have a knife until it comes to a point where you know it can handle a knife without danger, once you’ve stipulated something, don’t give in until later on when the child can understand.

4. Never punish in anger

Don’t ever let it happen.  If you punish in anger you are immediately putting the child into a state of confusion. It doesn’t know whether you love it or not. When you punish the child, what do you punish? Do you punish it if it hasn’t succeeded in doing something it hasn’t learned? When do you punish a child?

Disobedience must be punished. CG 249.4

What must be punished? Disobedience. That’s the only thing you punish. When I was at school if I didn’t know my times table and wasn’t able to remember them the teacher pulled my ear. That didn’t help. That was punishment for something I didn’t mean to do.  I was just not capable. The only time punishment is used is when a child is blatantly disobedient and it knows it. Then punishment must take place. The kind of punishment is to be carefully selected.

5. Use the rod sparingly

The mother may ask, ‘Shall I never punish my child?’ Whipping may be necessary when other resorts fail, yet she should not use the rod if it is possible to avoid doing so. But if milder measures prove insufficient, punishment that will bring the child to its senses should in love be administered. Frequently one such correction will be enough for a lifetime, to show the child that he does not hold the lines of control. CG 250.1-3

Sometimes a child needs to have a thunderstorm and then it realizes.  ‘Nature has just stopped me’.

And when this step becomes necessary, the child should be seriously impressed with the thought that this is not done for the gratification of the parent, or to indulge arbitrary authority, but for the child’s own good. He should be taught that every fault uncorrected will bring unhappiness to himself and will displease God. Under such discipline children will find their greatest happiness in submitting their wills to the will of the heavenly Father. CG 250.1-3

That is very important. Never punish in anger and let the children know that when you use the rod, it is not for arbitrary control. Remember what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to reach the intelligent mind of the child to control itself. That’s what these rules are all about.

In conclusion, let’s look at some of the questions we had. One the question was dealing with an incessant rebellion. What do you do if a child is rebellious consistently, you’ve missed the point, and the child is developing a great rebellious nature? Firm severity with intelligence is needed. You’re reaching the intelligent mind of the child. It must discover that you love it. You’ve got to guide the punishment to reach the child’s responses. As you know that the child will keep on rebelling against you every time do not relent until the intelligence of the child is reached and it finally realises. That’s a hard job. When a child has been left for a long time to rule in the household and be rebellious when you want to put your foot down, then you must be strictly consistent. Take that on as an on-going project until it is conquered. Do not stop and think, “This is too hard”, go on until you’ve conquered.

Sabbath-day Discipline

On the Sabbath day, how do we discipline or punish disobedience or naughtiness? It is better to take the punishment home. Let the child know that what he or she has done will be dealt with at home. Then try to distract it to do what is right so that the child can enjoy the Sabbath hours. The Sabbath is not specifically to be used to punish. Unfortunately, sometimes that has to be done in a very careful way but not as a very austere punishment, but a little clap on the backside to help the child realise it can’t get past with disobedience. The Sabbath it’s a day of sunshine and happiness not a day of clouds. On the Sabbath the only thing you have to guard is noise and property. Make a few rules in reference to noise and the use of property. If a child wants to hold something that is sacred or the hymnbook that you know it’s not able to safely care for then a rule applies.

There is also a rule for no noise in the church. These are two rules but not too many more rules if any more. Enhance in the child a love for the sacred so that the child enjoys the Sabbath. When the children are old enough to listen to the sermon, you don’t need to occupy them. Just keep them directed to the message saying, ‘You’re old enough to understand, listen carefully’. That is a rule. There comes a time when the child can understand what’s going on in the message that you can make a rule at that age and say ‘No more drawing, colouring or doing crossword puzzles at this age. You’re old enough to concentrate on Jesus’. That is a rule that can be applied. Remember we are in the church to listen to God speaking to us.

I’ve watched when children come into the church with a crossword puzzle. You are there listening carefully trying to grasp the message and the child says ‘Mummy, look, what does that mean?’ The child distracts you. This is wrong. The child must respect the Lord speaking amongst us. The child must not distract the mother or the father to pay attention to something that has got nothing to do with God speaking to them. When a child is at that age you can make this a rule but for the little ones have rules only for noise and careful handling of property.

How close should the children remain with the parents? They need to be within eyeshot. They don’t have to be crowded around you all the time, but within eyeshot. If they are outside and you can’t see what they are doing, you better go out there to be with them or bring them in, one or the other. You have to see them at a distance at least. If you want your children to grow up to be tidy and clean, you must surround them with the example of tidiness and cleanliness. The children grow up doing what they see and observe.

Much depends on the father and mother. They are to be firm and kind in their discipline, and they are to work most earnestly to have an orderly, correct household, that the heavenly angels may be attracted to it to impart peace and a fragrant influence. AH 17.3

There’s to be order in the home. Mother’s must not be so busy that the house is in chaos with all sorts of things lying around. That doesn’t mean that everything has to be absolutely perfectly in place as if a book is left on the table and the children want to go back to the book, that’s a different story; but that the children are trained in early stages to keep the place tidy and orderly. When it comes to cleanliness:

God is displeased with disorder, slackness, and a lack of thoroughness in anyone. These deficiencies are serious evils, and tend to wean the affections of the husband from the wife when the husband loves order, well-disciplined children, and a well-regulated house. A wife and mother cannot make home agreeable and happy unless she possesses a love for order, preserves her dignity, and has good government; AH 22-23.

A neglect of cleanliness will induce disease. Sickness does not come without a cause. Violent epidemics of fevers have occurred in villages and cities that were considered perfectly healthful, and these have resulted in death or broken constitutions. In many instances the premises of the very ones who fell victims to these epidemics contained the agents of destruction which sent forth deadly poison into the atmosphere, to be inhaled by the family and the neighborhood. It is astonishing to witness the prevailing ignorance relative to the effects which slackness and recklessness produce upon health. AH 22-23

There was an occasion in my own family when I tolerated dirty dishes being left night after night and they were sitting there and gathering germs. If you leave food particles on the plate, eventually those germs will multiply. If you wash them maybe not at lunchtime but in the evening, it’s not a problem but if you leave them overnight and maybe through the next day till you finally get to them, you actually multiply germs. Those germs when multiplied will cause you trouble. They can make you sick. Your body handles a few germs all right but when there’s a great hoard of them, down you go.

My little daughter ended up with osteomyelitis from dirty dishes sitting, repeatedly for a whole day and an half. Where did it come from? The pneumonia germ went through the system and got caught in the bone.  We had to confess to the Lord, “Please forgive us for being negligent in cleanliness” because the germs had multiplied. In a clean home, the germs are there but not multiplied. This is very important. So cleanliness is very much part of training. Explain it to your children. As you keep your house tidy, show them why. Educate them. In conclusion, enforce but don’t force. Drive out the propensity of disobedience but draw out the nature that loves to please. May God help us to understand these things.



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