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

Chapter 6

How to Spoil a Child

Your child! The most precious little bundle the kind Heavenly Father ever laid in your arms! Would you like to know his value? Chemists tell us that his body is worth less than eighty-seven cents, that is, were it reduced to the primary elements of which it is composed: lime, salt magnesia, phosphorus, etc. But, socially speaking, your baby could not be bought with millions. It is yours, a part of you, and reflects your image. There is no question about it, he is the finest little creature ever born. From a mental standpoint he is but a “little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor.”

Spiritually he is of inestimable value, so precious that Jesus gave Himself up to die a most horrible death to redeem him. Better spoil anything you have than that child. Since some fond parents are so bent on ruining their little ones, we herewith give helpful suggestions for doing so.

1. Let him have his own way. Every department of this world is governed by laws which are for the well being of humanity. To be a law abiding citizen must be instilled into one from infancy, or we can expect nothing but lawlessness and its many ill effects later on in life. Your little darling is cute and his ways are charming. It is a temptation to parents to palliate little offenses in a two-year-old because he is such an angel that nothing he does seems really wrong.

2. Flatter him and praise him to his face for his beauty. A child usually gets enough flattery from outside the home to spoil him. When members of his family add to this it is natural that he should grow up to be conceited, which will lead to insubordination. One mother had a nice way of warding off flattery from friends. When someone would casually remark about her baby, “Oh, isn’t she pretty?” she would always say, “She’s pretty when she’s good.”

3. Do not reprove or punish him when he abuses dumb animals, or shows disrespect to cripples or the aged. A child who is permitted to laugh at, or mimic, one who is poor or deformed, is sure to grow up hardhearted and unsympathetic. There is nothing more beautiful than to see a boy or girl help an old person across the street, or rise and give him a seat. What says the Word?

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God. And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Lev. 19:32-34.

4. Do not compel him to work; and if you do, always hire him. A child should be thrown upon his own resources more or less and taught to do things without assistance. This is worth more to him than money which is soon spent. A boy or girl of sixteen ought to be able largely to take care of themselves, plus help father or mother. Some have worked their way through college at this age without asking a cent of the parents. History proves that self-made men are as a rule more dynamic than those who have been pampered with ease and luxury.

5. Give him fine clothes and jewelry. It may be gratifying to your pride to dress your little ones in a worldly way and a little better than others. This is a temptation to many parents, but consider the effect upon the child. Mrs. Catherine Booth once wrote thus to her mother explaining why she did not like the dress she had sent for one of the little Booths:

“Accept my warm thanks for the little frock you sent. There is only one difficulty – it is too smart. We must set examples in this direction. I feel no temptation now to decorate myself, but I cannot say the same about the children; and yet, oh, I see I must be decided. Besides, I find it would be dangerous for their sakes. The seed of vanity is too deeply sown in their young hearts for me to dare to cultivate it.”

A little dress was once given mother for one of her babies. Mother was thankful indeed, for father was in debt; but the dress was of bright red and rather stylish. Mother noticed that when the little one had it on she strutted about in an important way and her spirit was so haughty that she was not easily controlled. It is alarming to see some parents, who themselves are neat and modest in attire, put little ornaments upon their children. Why put something on your child when she is little that you know she will have to remove if she ever becomes a mature saint: “Train up a child in thee way he should go,” was formerly good advice; but then that seems to be behind the times now. The same rule will apply to movies, parties, and dances. It is easier to keep him away and educate him against the world now, than it will be later on to induce him to discontinue his attendance at such places after he has acquired a taste for them and after he has been spoiled by their influence.

6. Let your daughter go half naked. Heathenism has always been marked by nudity and our nation is degenerating as other cultured nations have done until we actually are now much like the uncivilized peoples of the globe. Your little girl has a fine, innate sense of modesty placed there by heaven. This lovely trait may be cultivated until she grows up into a fine, modest woman, too lofty in her ideals to stoop to anything unbecoming to an angel in human form. Or, she may be so dressed when a little tot that she will not develop sufficient modesty to hold her own when in her teens from carelessness and sin. Parents often wonder why their own pure girls go astray. It is simply because they were not taught when in their babyhood that their little bodies must be kept covered.

Many parents unwittingly start their children in the way of the world and then expect them to come back into the narrow way later on. They dress them with short skirts, and bare legs, so it is impossible for the dear little ones to cover their nakedness, or be modest if they wanted to be.

One writer gives the following on this subject: “I have observed many little girls eight or ten years old, exposing their limbs nearly to their bodies without any sense of shame. I saw one like this a few days ago among a group of other children. This little girl was the daughter of devout Christian workers. Shame on you, holiness mother, dressing your girls in a way that destroys that delicate sense of modesty which is thee safeguard to every young lady’s virtue. How can you expect your daughters to grow into pure and virtuous young women when you lay the foundation for unchastity? How can you expect God to hear your prayer for their salvation when you have violated His command, “Train up a child in the way he (or she) should go”?

“Not one of you mothers would think of dressing your little girls as you do if it were not the fashion. It is easier to keep your children from the pride of the world, than to get them out after they have been cultivating their pride under your sanction, for only a few years. Just observe the younger girls, 12 or 15 years old, children of holiness people! They are dressing in the fashions with brazen faces. How few of them are saved and live for God. They sit in the house of God, unmoved under the most earnest appeals of the faithful minister. They sit and whisper, chew gum and laugh in the face of the preacher. I want to say emphatically, that as long as your daughters live under your roof and are supplied by you with the money to buy their clothing, you are responsible for the kind of clothes they wear, also for the company they keep.”

7. If you would spoil your child, let him flirt and go out nights. The place for every child in the evening is at home with his parents. Suitable books and periodicals should be provided so he will have no excuse for wanting to leave. Home should not be extravagant but it should be attractive. My grandfather on my father’s side subscribed for nineteen educational and religious papers and magazines for his large family of children. In the evening they practice music, studied French, and sat around the fire reading. The boys all turned out well. One of them, Rev. T. B. Arnold, became the publisher of the Sunday School literature for the Free Methodist Church. Another was a professor of music in a holiness college. Another became a noted Sunday School worker, and still another the editor of “The Reformer,” a minister and a lecturer.

It pays to put money into home comforts, and the best of literature for your children. If your child shows talent for art or elocution, see that he has lessons. Let his mental nature develop as fast as it likes, for

“Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do.”

Place in the children’s hands all the literature you can find on the subject of purity. Educate them to look upon children who flirt and who marry young, as beneath their respect. Show by precept and example, from the start, the evils of impurity, and of associating with anyone, either boy or girl, who is not an earnest Christian, and has not the highest ideals of purity. If your child is properly trained, he will then be obedient, and God will become responsible more or less in protecting, promoting and prospering him in after life. J.A.S.