H. Leo Boles
Perhaps few subjects need to be stressed more than this one. Parents have lost sight of their responsibility to their children, and children are growing up to disregard all restraints and parental authority. In the general decline of respect for authority, both human and divine, which prevails to an alarming extent at the present time, and which threatens to involve in social anarchy and confusion all of the elements of society, it is woeful to observe an almost total failure on the part of parents to exercise their authority in controlling their children. One of the great causes of disrespect for all authority by young people today is the failure of parents to exercise authority over their children. The parent stands to the child, in the years of its character and habits, in the place of God and of all other authority. God has enjoined upon parents that they exercise His authority over the child while it is young and tender. Children are most impressionable in youth, and the parent should not neglect the opportunity for training them.
If a child is not taught to respect the authority of a parent in its early years of life, or if it is allowed to follow its own will and to gratify its own desires and passions, that child will seldom be able to deny self and will be the slave of selfish passions and habits that will be destructive to good order in society and subversive of the divine law. In the human heart, as in the sin cursed soil, the briars, thistles, and thorns grow of themselves and choke out the tender plants that are desirable to promote the well-being here and hereafter. Parents should recognize this truth and should seek to restrain their children from all evil and selfish habits of life. The growth of obnoxious weeds in the human heart must be checked and destroyed, or tender plants of truth and kindness will be choked out.
No parents would plant a garden with vegetables or flowers and let the weeds and grass grow and choke out the tender plants. No farmer will plant the seed in the soil and let all sorts of weeds and briars grow and destroy the tender plants. Yet many parents do this very thing with their children. They are more careful in cultivating their gardens and fields than they are in cultivating the hearts and lives of their children. No parent can please God by neglecting the children. No parent can train the children as God would have them trained without exercising prayerful care and authority over them. Only the just and prayerful exercise of parental authority over children can keep down the selfishness and evil habits and passsions of childhood. Parents must exercise constant and watchful care over their children. No parent who fails to do this can wisely love his children. The tender hand of parental affection alone can nurture to their proper development and strength the plants of virtue and piety in the hearts of their children. Parents who fail to do this disobey God when He says: “Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) Not only do parents disobey God in failing to exercise proper authoritv over their children, but they also commit a crime against their children.
The parent that neglects to exercise proper authority and care over his children during the formative period is the most cruel enemy to the child that it will ever meet during life. Sometimes parents persuade themselves that they are good and kind to their children by not restraining them and punishing them as the child needs discipline. This is a mistake, and the day will come when the parent and the child will be made to realize that it was a mistake and heartless cruelty to let the child grow up unrestrained and develop evil habits which make it a menace to society. Thousands of young people are now in the jails and penitentiaries because parents failed to do their duty to their children. In many instances these young crimnals can point to an overindulgent parent as being largely to blame for the shame and suffering that now must be endured. Many of these young criminals have a just cause for blaming the parent for not exercising parental authority over them while they were forming their youthful habits of life.
Parents are responsible for the life and oftentimes the destiny of their children. Parents certainly are responsible oftentimes for the success in society of their children. Children should be kept under the home influence of their parents. This argues that the home influence must be directed by the wisdom of God as revealed in the Bible. Parents should keep their children under their own inflence. This means that the influence of parents must be that of Christians. Parents should be anxious about the company their children keep. They should firmly restrain their children from all evil influence and exercise with carefulness the parental authority by controlling the child. This should be done with gentleness and affection. Parents should nurture in the hearts of their children a feeling of respect and love that will guide them safely and innocently through childhood and which will clothe their youth with sobriety, chastity, and honor, and which will crown their manhood or womanhood with integrity and uprightness. Parents are responsible if they do not give worth and respectibility to their children.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it,” is the law of God, as certain and sure as anv other law of heaven. To bring up a child “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” is to teach it the precepts of the Lord. It means to inspire in the heart of the child a holy reverence for God ; it means to teach the child honesty, truthfulness, kindness, and mercy; and it means to teach the child selfdenial, in simplicity of diet and dress, in habits of industry and economy. To “nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” is to train the children to be gentle, forbearing, and forgiving. It means to teach the children to find pleasure in denying self for the benefit of others; it includes teaching them reverence toward God and respect for age; and it means to teach them humility, gratefulness, and prayerfulness. By looking at the full content of this Scripture we will see the great responsibility of parents toward their children.
Gospel Advocate, April 30, 1931