The following comments have been selected from an article by Sister C H Jannaway appearing 100 years ago in the 1895 Christadelphian Magazine. Many of the circumstances of life in society have changed in that time, but Bible principles do not change and her advice is as wise and important today as it was when she wrote last century. They are particularly appropriate in view of plans for the commencement of a Christadelphian School in 1996.

Many parents, anxious to bring up their children in the fear of God, have been perplexed to know how to go to work. The one great end to keep in view is the child’s submission to the Truth. Let this be the goal, and let the path to it be kept always free. This policy will simplify the subject. Whatever instruction is given or arrangements are made, let them be of such a nature that they will not form an impediment in the way.

When to Start

As soon as a child is old enough to receive Bible instruction, some systematic method of daily imparting it should be adopted. Reading is not very successful with the very young. It is better to rehearse in simple language Bible narrative and incident. These can be made both interesting and profitable. It is a good plan to devote a few minutes previous study to the lesson, inasmuch as it is necessary to be thoroughly conversant with the subject to be spoken upon. It is a mistake to think that anything will do for a child. The impressions that are sought to be conveyed to him should be such as may be retained for life. As the child grows older he should be taught to read and study the Scriptures for himself. So long as he is under the control of his parents some daily Scriptural instruction should be arranged.

Obedience is Important

Obedience is a very important item in the training of children. A child who disobeys his parents is very unlikely to obey God. Parents who would have God’s approval should strive to have their children in subjection with all gravity. Disobedience to parents is one of the characteristics of a godlessage (Romans 1:30). Evil examples in this direction abound on every hand. These examples, children should be taught to shun. The youth of today love to set themselves on a pinnacle above their elders. The greater than Solomon acted not thus in his youth. Concerning his attitude towards his parents it is recorded that he was subject to them. Let parents take means to ensure the same demeanour in their children.

Both Gentleness and Firmness Called For

Timely and judicious punishment is often a necessary adjunct in successful child-training. “Correct thy son while there is hope and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Human nature both in childhood and adolescence requires continual correction and chastening to render it docile and teachable. The toleration of wrong doing strengthens the evil in a child’s disposition. To punish is sometimes the only way to bring a child to his senses: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of correction will drive it far hence.” The punishment, however, should be meted out aright. Undue severity hardens and brutalises. Some dispositions experience great difficulty in punishing except under the stress of great anger. But this is just when punishment should not be given. Reason, not passion should be the motor in the matter. The moral effect of the offence upon the child should be the standard by which to punish and not the annoyance caused to the parent. Let not a child be punished for accidentally damaging a valued possession whilst an act of disobedience or a lie is allowed to pass. Gentleness and thoughtfulness should characterise the parent’s rule, but firmness and severity should never be withheld when called for. God would have parents exercise the fullest authority they possessin holding back their children from wrong-doing. Eli mildly reproved his sons when he should have deprived them of their office and have punished them. God’s comment on Eli’s conduct was this: “You honour your sons above me in that they have made themselves vile and you have restrained them not.” For this offence God visited judgment upon Eli and his house. The example is recorded for the profit of those who were to come after.

Selecting a School

When school days approach, the father and mother will find new difficulties and dangers open out before them. Influences will be brought to bear upon the young minds, the effects of which the parents will have to be continually on the alert to counteract. In selecting a school one should, if possible, be chosen in which exemption from erroneous religious tuition can be secured. The Principal or teacher should be requested to arrange for the exclusion of the intended scholars from prayers and all doctrinal instruction. In most schools this is practicable. The children should be informed of the arrangement, and also of the necessity for it, arising out of the lack of harmony between the religious teaching of the school and the teaching of the Bible. They will probably feel their singular position, especially if it evoke ridicule from their companions. The parentsare in a position to administer comfort by showing that there is great reward in fearing God, and that those who have feared Him have had to be singular in all generations. Parents should endeavour to win their little ones’ confidence. They should have sympathetic ears for their troubles, whether small or great… If the parents act judiciously and considerately they will help the young minds to form convictions that will not easily be overthrown.

(To be continued).

An interesting editorial footnote stated: “A boarding school conducted on the principles of the Truth would be free from the objections referred to by Sister Jannaway. The only one we know of is the one kept by brother James Allen, Birmingham, referred to a month or two back.” One hundred years later, plans are in hand in the Adelaide area for such a school, although not a boarding school in this instance.