There is no definite rule whereby parents may control their home, except to seek advice from God, for no two families have the same environment. Any method that will bring about the desired result may be applied; but the method must be systematic and thorough. A positive attitude is good, and should be encouraged, but harshness ought never to be used. The latter will tend to discouragement and resentment in the child, while the former will teach the difference between right and wrong.
Be charitable to your children in regard to their faults and failings, so that they may learn by your example to be charitable to each other and to their fellows. Teach them the blessings that charity will bring to them; show them that it is the greatest of God's gifts and that without it they will meet many buffetings from their contact with the world. Remember that Paul speaks of it as |the more excellent way| and admonishes us to desire it above all things else.
Children must have entertainment. Rich and costly furniture, elaborate parties, or even guests are not necessary. Children may be entertained in a very simple manner. What child does not enjoy the old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek, tag, or some such innocent amusement with Papa and Mama? It may take a little of your time, but what of that? Do all you can to make your home the happiest place on earth for your children.
|Yes,| says one, |that will do while the children are little; but just wait until they grow up, and then they will seek other company.| I did not say that they must always stay with you. Of course they will desire to go from home sometimes. What I mean is that we can make home so attractive that they will note the difference between it and the outside world. The interest we take in them will constrain them to remain at home and to return when away from it. Home! Oh that beautiful word! Poets have written about it, choirs have sung about it, but who can fathom the meaning of that little word, home! None but the child who has been taught to revere, cherish, and enjoy it, and then looking back remembers the happy years spent in the home circle.
I think that I hear a father say, |When I return from my work, I am so tired I can not stand the children's noise.| Is that so? Do you not love your children, and are you not working for their welfare! If so, do you not think that a little less labor with your hands and a little time spent with them would be more profitable? Perhaps a little romp or chat with them would rest you. Try it anyway. You who are desk workers can afford it: it will help you to cast off the responsibilities of the day and the better prepare you for the morrow. A romp with the children is not lost; but, on the other hand, is a benefit for both parent and child. Thoughtful parents can think of many things that will increase the interest in home and will draw them closer to their children.
Sometimes it is good for the children to visit their friends, but parents should always be acquainted with these friends. Never let your child go where games are played that you would not allow played in your own home. Here is where conscience and confidence will help you. Be cautious about allowing your child to go somewhere to stay all night. In this way many a child has learned evil practises and in some cases been ruined. Then, too, it draws his mind away from the home circle.
|But,| you say, |all this I have done, and yet my children are now forgetful of it all. They are indulging in many things that they were taught to be harmful to the soul.| My dear friend, can you not remember when this state of things began? Can you not point to a time when there was a drifting from your home circle? when home life began to seem too narrow for your child? when he began to crave the association of others more than that of his own brothers and sisters? Did you at that time lift up your home banner and shield? Did you tell him of the rapids in the distance? |No,| you falteringly answer; |I thought there could be no harm in allowing him to mingle with his chums at school and to visit them in their homes. I was afraid to be too particular, lest he should think me too strict with him.| Ah! friend, that was your golden opportunity, and you failed to see it. After instructing the child, you should have bowed with him in prayer, giving him over to God's keeping. Then, if he chose to go -- remembering that your prayers were following him -- nine chances out of ten he would have returned with words similar to those spoken by a youth who had been permitted to attend a party. In answer to his father's question he said, |Yes; I had a good time, but I have better times at home.| |Better times at home!| Think of it, parents! Is it not worth some self-denial, some sacrifices, on pour part, to have your home spoken of in this manner?
|Yes,| says a mother, |that is all right when both parents are in harmony and have salvation; but suppose that the parents are poor and that one is unsaved?| I have seen just such homes as this governed in the manner whereof I speak. God gave more grace and strength to the saved companion; and, although there were many difficulties to encounter, yet the saved one was able to influence the home for God. |All things are possible to him that believeth,| said Christ in olden times, and his statement is still true.
Again, I hear a parent whose loved companion has recently died say, |What can I do now to train my children aright?| There comes before my mind a beautiful scene of a faithful mother with her son and daughter whom she had brought up to God's glory. She was left alone with these two precious ones to guide and rear to manhood and womanhood. She bade adieu to the words |I can't| and with determination went about her task. As God never lets such zeal go without assistance, this mother found help in time of need. Another scene which I love to recall is that of a devoted father and by his side his two motherless daughters just entering womanhood. He gives them every spare moment that he has, and both are real examples of trust and purity.
In your zeal to find entertainment for your children, do not forget that they must have employment. See that every member of your household has certain work to do. This work should be suited to the years and the strength of the individual and, if possible, to his likes and dislikes. Work of the proper kind will strengthen the muscles, improve the health, keep out many evils, and create in the young a desire to help bear the burdens of life. Periods of rest may be made profitable by having on hand as much wholesome literature as you are able to secure. By this means much useful knowledge may be stored. The reading need not be confined wholly to religious works; reliable treatises on science, art, mechanics, cooking, chemistry, domestic economy, health, etc., are all profitable if not indulged in to the exclusion of religious literature. If you trust God, he will help you to know what to do.
A lady once said, |Our children are what we make them, and we get out of them just what we put in.| These words contain much truth. God holds all parents, according to their light and understanding, responsible for the training of their children.
If you have a preference among your children, never reveal it. On the contrary, endeavor to place the less favored ahead in your care and attention. You can justly do this, for the favorite will get all the attention he deserves anyway. I well remember a case where the mother's favorite son brought sorrow and shame to the entire household by stealing from his own father, simply because she had humored and petted him in childhood. Parents can not be too careful in this respect.
Many a mother does not realize how highly her children value her opinion. A boy had met with an accident that somewhat disfigured him for a time. While he was preparing to leave for school, his mother said, |You will no doubt be made sport of today; are you able to bear it?| His answer was, |Oh, I don't care what any one says about me but you; but if you were to make fun of me, I couldn't stand it.|
SWEET GEM OF THE HOME.
Thou formal home, so graced, so blest,
With earthly treasures rare;
Within thy portals we expect
All graces rich and fair.
We gaze, we search, but all in vain;
The gem we love so well,
|Sweet innocence,| doth not remain,
Nor in thy chambers dwell.
Thy children, as the world they greet,
Are bearing tales of thee;
|I was not warned,| they oft repeat,
Nor taught at Mother's knee.
Sweet Innocence, thou heav'nly grace,
Rich gem from God above!
Thy touch upon the human face
Reveals but peace and love.
Thy treasures richer far than gold,
Thy gifts of greatest worth,
Might grace our homes, except for sin,
Whose curse now sweeps the earth.
We look for thee within the maid,
With beauty, grace, and charm,
But find thy flight she hath not stayed,
Nor doth she feel alarm.
Then in the lad, whose noble brow
Thy presence might suggest;
With closer view we must allow
By thee he is not blest.
E'en when we look within the child
And laud his graces sweet,
We find his mind so soon defiled
For thee 'tis no retreat.
|And why?| we ask, |oh! why is this?
Such need and dearth abound.
Oh! why in homes of promised bliss
May not this gem be found?|
The mystery, so deep, so great,
Is simply lack of prayer;
Is bidding timely warning wait
For daily toil and care.
Allowing things that crumble, waste,
Our whole attention claim,
We cause sweet Innocence in haste
To leave our homes to shame.
But thee, sweet grace, we find in some --
Thank God thou art not lost! --
We see thee in the Christian home
As royal guest and host.
We note the mother as she pleads
For counsel from God's throne,
Then goes with wisdom that she needs
And strength to make it known.
We watch the child in this true home,
And in its face so fair
We recognise what doth become
A faithful mother's prayer.
Sweet Innocence! may we extol,
Within the home, thy art;
Thy power to beautify the soul,
To teach the pure in heart.
Thou gift divine! thou fairest gem!
Thy presence may we crave,
That thou mayst grace our diadem
In life beyond the grave.
Reveal, O grace, unto the world
Thy beauties rich and rare,
That all may understand and know
What mothers find in prayer.