In the following article Brother Roberts draws together some sound instructions for parents on the bringing up of
children. Sadly we live in a world whose philosophy has challenged these God-inspired instructions at enormous
cost to itself. May we, as wise parents, allow God to guide us in this important work of bringing up children to His
glory and praise. The following comments are based upon Proverbs 22.

There is a good deal in the Proverbs about the training of children. It is a subject pressed also upon the attention of believers in the apostolic epistles. It is an important subject. Children are the men and women of the next generation, and all depends upon how they are managed in the first stage of life as to how they will turn out in the end. Solomon says, “Train up a child in the way that he should go”. This implies both that there is a right way and that the child left to itself will not take this way. This is most true, but much repudiated in the principles of most people. Solomon says, “A child left to itself bringeth its mother to shame”. Many work against this principle of Solomon’s and tacitly avow that the best way to train children is to leave them alone and let them unfold themselves. All experience shows Solomon to be right, and the Solomon contradiction to be wrong. When a child comes into the world, he brings no knowledge with him. His little brain is barbarism closely packed in little space. It is the material out of which a beautiful mentality can be fabricated by manipulation, just as coal, iron and water become a beautiful, useful engine in the hands of an operative mechanic. “Left to itself ”, the child will certainly grow up a curse to itself, and a nuisance to all around. It has to be taught and to be properly taught; it has to be made to listen.

How is this to be accomplished? The chapter gives a hint before it closes. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child: but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” This is a recommendation of corporal punishment—at the right moment. This world is going away from this, as it is from a great many other inculcations of wisdom. They even suggest that Solomon did not mean this, but that by the “rod” he meant the law of the parents orally enjoined. This extraordinary suggestion is sufficiently disposed of by the words of Solomon in the next chapter: Withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die”. And again, “Chasten thy son while there is hope: let not thy soul spare for his crying”. A child does not cry for the wise instructions of its parents. Solomon meant flagellation, of course. In this, there may appear to be a brutalising element. It all depends upon how it is employed. It is like every other good thing: it becomes evil if extremely or unskilfully used. But the cure for its wrong use is not its disuse. Its disuse will produce many more evils than its wrong use. The strongest and most useful men in history have all been men brought up under the coercion of parental authority. Spoiled children are a crying shame: an affliction and a disgrace both to themselves and their parents. Just as there is nothing more beautiful under the sun than an obedient and intelligent and well-trained family, so there is nothing uglier than to see wilful, whimpering youngsters whose only law is their own likes and their parents’ weakness.

It was not without a reason that Paul made wise government in the house the test of a man’s fitness for public service: “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how should he take care of the ecclesia of God?” (1 Tim 3:5) The rule of family government is simple if parents are enlightened and firm with the due flexibility. While there are many things in which parents will take their children into confidence almost as equals, there are two things in which they should never hesitate to punish: if children disobey them or do flagrant wrong (as lying, stealing, cruelty, etc.). It is mistaken kindness to let them off with a reprimand: it will pay to make them suffer. It may be painful at the moment, but afterwards it will yield sweetness and satisfaction beyond measure. It ought to be a law that the child should not be allowed to cry because its wishes are thwarted. Crying for such a cause should be a crime, and should be punished. The rule would work infallibly. Firmly, consistently, and kindly applied, such a method of treatment would banish the ugly phenomenon of whimpering children from every house, and change nuisances into sources of comfort, interest and joy.

Parents are afraid to use the whip for fear of alienating the affections of their children. It is a mistake. Things work the other way. No parents are loved so well as those who are not afraid to enforce the law of righteousness. No parents are despised and slighted so much, at last by their children, as those who are afraid to whip them. Their methods breed tyrants, and louts and boors. Enlightened and firm government produces men and women fit to be sons and daughters of God. “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Try it. Never mind the scornful and shallow philosophy of street fools. The wisdom of God shall come forth justified in everything at last. The saints are “called” that they may govern the world at last. Part of their preparation lies in present experience. How are they going to be able to enforce God’s authority on public communities, if they do not now do it in their own families?

It is, therefore, in place that we listen to the function of the Spirit of wisdom in Proverbs, which says: “Bow down thine ear and hear the words of the wise and apply thine heart to my knowledge… Have I not written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge?” The obedience of this precept makes the difference between wise men and fools. The number who obey at present is small indeed: but they are precious to God and man. There are no lovelier people upon earth than those who, in the fullness of true enlightenment, bow down the ear submissively to the voice of Divine wisdom as embodied in the Scriptures.