How to Train and Save Your Children – By Elmer & Julia Shelhamer

Chapter 5

Advice of Rev. B. T. Roberts

1. “If there is any one particular above another, in which Christians should not conform too the world, it is in the training of their children. Generally, in religious, as well as in irreligious families, the proper training of children is neglected. There is no exaggeration in saying that in the vast majority of families the children are wrongly trained. One of the miracles of the age is a well-trained Christian family.

2. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old e will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6. This is doubtless true generally; and we should not like to say it is not true universally. We have never seen an exception: we have never read of one. Yet is must be confessed that the children of godly parents are, in many cases, ungodly.

“A large part of proper training consists in practice. ‘Trained’ soldiers have had more exercise than instruction. To ‘train up’ implies continued instruction and practice, so that fixed habits are formed. To ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ is not only to give him right instruction, but to see that he practices, regularly, every duty that he owes to God, to his parents, to himself, and to all with whom he is associated. The practice, which is so generally neglected, is the main practice, which is so generally neglected, is the main part. Without it, instruction becomes, at best, mere theory – like laws which are not executed. A child may have the best instruction and yet, from natural perverseness, or through outside influences, go astray. It does not follow that a child will do right simply because he knows what is right. He must be made to do right; he must be restrained from doing wrong until his principles are fixed, and his habits formed.

A child should be trained up: To obey unhesitatingly those to whom obedience is due. A child brought up to have his own way is not likely to make a Christian; but is very likely to make a bad citizen.

“Take your children with you to church, and as soon as they can, have them take a part in worship. Have them kneel with you and frequently take a part in family prayer. Never allow them to eat without a blessing is asked, and have them ask a blessing. Instead of being afraid of formality, you should be careful to make your children formal Christians. This is as far as you can go. You should teach them that this is not sufficient, and that they must ask God to change their hearts. If they have the form of godliness they will be much more likely to seek the power than they will if they despise both the form and the power.

“Our evangelists who have labored in England have met with much greater success than in this country. The reason is, the people there observe the forms of Christianity much better than they do in this country. Nearly everybody belongs to the church.

3. “Begin early to train your child to work. Instead making yourself the slave of your child, bring up your child to wait upon you. Do not do anything which he should do, because it would take more time to show him how, than it would to do it yourself. In working for you he is benefited more than he is by your working for him. It is a sad sight to see, as a rule, mothers in the kitchen and the girls in the parlor or on the street – to see fathers in the fields at work, and the sons off playing ball. Such scenes ought not to be witnessed.

“One of the first things for a child to learn is to work. Oftentimes a boy would derive more permanent good from working out a season on a farm by the month, than by a year at college. He would gain muscular strength, health, tact, and form a habit of steady, persistent labor.

“One of the greatest trust committed to a mortal is the care of a child. To every mother God says, ‘Take the child and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages.’ ”

4. B. T. Roberts further says, “unless the habit of obedience is early formed, it is not likely ever to be formed. Put a boy of seventeen who, up to that time, has had his own way, under military or naval discipline, and it is next to impossible to make a good soldier or sailor of him. He is always giving his officers trouble. Discharge him, and he is, in society, insolent and lawless. The earlier a twig is bent, the easier it is bent and the more likely it is to keep its place. Before a child is two years of age he should have firmly formed the habit of obeying, without question, his father and mother. It may take some trouble to train a child to this habit; but do it well, and it will save the child and the parents a great deal of trouble afterwards. The criminal class is made up largely of those who did not learn obedience in childhood. The great army of traitors to the cause of Christ is composed of those who never learned obedience. The ranks of backsliders are filled to repletion with those who were always stranger to a spirit of submission. It is more important that a child should be taught to obey than it is that it should be taught grammar, or arithmetic, or the catechism, or the creed.

5. “It is at this point that the education of the day, both at home and in the schools, most signally fails. “The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame’ (Proverbs 29:15). But the fashion of the day requires that neither the parent nor teacher use the rod. This is one reason why there is the great proportion of crime in those states in which there is the least illiteracy. Learning, whether little or much, is dangerous unless it be attended with a spirit of obedience.

Begin then early. Control your child while you can, and you can always control it. But if you allow him to disobey when you can easily enforce obedience, and then console yourself with the thought that when he gets older and knows better he will do as he should, you will find yourself utterly mistaken. As he gets able, he will be likely to abuse you in proportion as you unduly indulged him when he was within your power.

“Respect is the foundation of love. A child, to have proper filial affection, must be trained up to respect the authority of his parents.”