Searchlights on Health/Family Government
1. GENTLENESS MUST CHARACTERIZE EVERY ACT OF AUTHORITY.—The storm of excitement that may make the child start, bears no relation to actual obedience. The inner firmness, that sees and feels a moral conviction and expects obedience, is only disguised and defeated by bluster. The more calm and direct it is, the greater certainty it has of dominion.
2. FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF SMALL CHILDREN.—For the government of small children speak only in the authority of love, yet authority, loving and to be obeyed. The most important lesson to impart is obedience to authority as authority. The question of salvation with most children will be settled as soon as they learn to obey parental authority. It establishes a habit and order of mind that is ready to accept divine authority. This precludes skepticism and disobedience, and induces that childlike trust and spirit set forth as a necessary state of salvation. Children that are never made to obey are left to drift into the sea of passion where the pressure for surrender only tends to drive them at greater speed from the haven of safety.
3. HABITS OF SELF-DENIAL.—Form in the child habits of self-denial. Pampering never matures good character.
4. EMPHASIZE INTEGRITY.—Keep the moral tissues tough in integrity; then it will hold a hook of obligations when once set in a sure place. There is nothing more vital. Shape all your experiments to preserve the integrity. Do not so reward it that it becomes mercenary. Turning State's evidence is a dangerous experiment in morals. Prevent deceit from succeeding.
5. GUARD MODESTY.—To be brazen is to imperil some of the best elements of character. Modesty may be strengthened into a becoming confidence, but brazen facedness can seldom be toned down into decency. It requires the miracle of grace.
6. PROTECT PURITY.—Teach your children to loathe impurity. Study the character of their playmates. Watch their books. Keep them from corruption at all cost. The groups of youth in the school and in society, and in business places, seed with improprieties of word and thought. Never relax your vigilance along this exposed border.
7. THREATEN THE LEAST POSSIBLE.—In family government threaten the least possible. Some parents rattle off their commands with penalties so profusely that there is a steady roar of hostilities about the child's head. These threats are forgotten by the parent and unheeded by the child. All government is at an end.
8. DO NOT ENFORCE TOO MANY COMMANDS.—Leave a few things within the range of the child's knowledge that are not forbidden. Keep your word good, but do not have too much of it out to be redeemed.
9. PUNISH AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE.—Sometimes punishment is necessary, but the less it is resorted to the better.
10. NEVER PUNISH IN A PASSION.—Wrath only becomes cruelty. There is no moral power in it. When you seem to be angry you can do no good.
11. BRUTISH VIOLENCE ONLY MULTIPLIES OFFENDERS.—Striking and beating the body seldom reaches the soul. Fear and hatred beget rebellion.
12. PUNISH PRIVATELY.—Avoid punishments that break down self-respect. Striking the body produces shame and indignation. It is enough for the other children to know that discipline is being administered.
13. NEVER STOP SHORT OF SUCCESS.—When the child is not conquered the punishment has been worse than wasted. Reach the point where neither wrath nor sullenness remain. By firm persistency and persuasion require an open look of recognition and peace. It is only evil to stir up the devil unless he is cast out. Ordinarily one complete victory will last a child for a lifetime. But if the child relapses, repeat the dose with proper accompaniments.
14. DO NOT REQUIRE CHILDREN TO COMPLAIN OF THEMSELVES FOR PARDON.—It begets either sycophants or liars. It is the part of the government to detect offences. It reverses the order of matters to shirk this duty.
15. GRADE AUTHORITY UP TO LIBERTY.—The growing child must have experiments of freedom. Lead him gently into the family. Counsel with him. Let him plan as he can. By and by he has the confidence of courage without the danger of exposures.
16. RESPECT.—Parents must respect each other. Undermining either undermines both. Always govern in the spirit of love.