May 20, 2012 – May 26, 2012
“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2.
Study Help: Child Guidance, 193–198; The Adventist Home, 255–269.
“Infancy extends to the age of six or seven years. Up to this period, children should be left, like little lambs, to roam around the house and in the yards, skipping and jumping in the buoyancy of their spirits, free from care and trouble.” A Solemn Appeal, 133.
1 PRENATAL INFLUENCES
- What can we learn from the instructions given by heavenly angels to some prospective parents, soon to be educators? Judges 13:1–14; Luke 1:5, 11–15.
Note: “The effect of prenatal influences is by many parents looked upon as a matter of little moment; but Heaven does not so regard it. The message sent by an angel of God, and twice given in the most solemn manner, shows it to be deserving of our most careful thought.
“In the words spoken to the Hebrew mother, God speaks to all mothers in every age. … The well-being of the child will be affected by the habits of the mother. Her appetites and passions are to be controlled by principle. There is something for her to shun, something for her to work against, if she fulfills God’s purpose for her in giving her a child. If before the birth of her child she is self-indulgent, if she is selfish, impatient, and exacting, these traits will be reflected in the disposition of the child. …
“But if the mother unswervingly adheres to right principles, if she is temperate and self-denying, if she is kind, gentle, and unselfish, she may give her child these same precious traits of character.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 217.
2 THE BABY HAS ARRIVED . . . AND IT GROWS!
- If God entrusts us with a baby, why should we constantly pray for wisdom? Psalm 127:3; I Corinthians 3:2, first part; 10:31.
Note: “The best food for the infant is the food that nature provides. Of this it should not be needlessly deprived. It is a heartless thing for a mother, for the sake of convenience or social enjoyment, to seek to free herself from the tender office of nursing her little one.
“The period in which the infant receives its nourishment from the mother is critical. Many mothers, while nursing their infants, have been permitted to overlabor and to heat their blood in cooking; and the nursling has been seriously affected, not only with fevered nourishment from the mother’s breast, but its blood has been poisoned by the unhealthy diet of the mother, which has fevered her whole system, thereby affecting the food of the infant. The infant will also be affected by the condition of the mother’s mind. …
“The character also of the child is more or less affected by the nature of the nourishment received from the mother. How important then that the mother, while nursing her infant, should preserve a happy state of mind, having the perfect control of her own spirit. By thus doing, the food of the child is not injured, and the calm, self-possessed course the mother pursues in the treatment of her child has very much to do in molding the mind of the infant. If it is nervous and easily agitated, the mother’s careful, unhurried manner will have a soothing and correcting influence, and the health of the infant can be very much improved.” The Adventist Home, 260, 261.
“No general rules can be established in the care of all infants, in consequence of their almost endless varieties of condition at birth, and their different constitutional wants.
“The term properly called infancy, requires several changes as to the periods of taking food. Before birth it is receiving nourishment constantly. And the changes from this to the establishment of only two meals a day, which may, in most children, be done from the ages of one to three years, must be gradual.” The Review and Herald, April 14, 1868.
“The lessons that the child learns during the first seven years of life have more to do with forming his character than all that it learns in future years.” Child Guidance, 193.
3 BASIC EARLY LESSONS
- After the first joyful moments of parenthood, what sad reality also comes to light? II Timothy 3:2. What parental mistakes often follow?
Note: “One of the signs of the ‘last days’ is the disobedience of children to their parents [11 Timothy 3:2]. And do parents realize their responsibility? Many seem to lose sight of the watch-care they should ever have over their children, and suffer them to indulge in evil passions, and to disobey them. They take but little notice of them until their own feelings are raised, and then punish them in anger.” The Review and Herald, September 19, 1854.
“You should correct your children in love. Do not let them have their own way until you get angry, and then punish them. Such correction only helps on the evil, instead of remedying it. After you have done your duty faithfully to your children, then carry them to God and ask Him to help you.” Ibid.
- What warning must we heed regarding God’s house? Genesis 28:17; Leviticus 19:30, last part; Habbakuk 2:20.
Note: “The house of God is often desecrated by Sabbath-keepers’ children. Their parents allow them to run about the house, play, talk, take the attention of the people, and manifest their evil tempers in the very meetings where they have assembled to worship God. I have seen that in the assembly of the saints a holy stillness should reign. But the house where God’s people assemble is often made a perfect babylon, a place of confusion and disorder. This is displeasing to God. If the parents have not government, and cannot control their children in meeting, God would be better pleased for them to remain at home with their unruly children. They had better suffer the loss of meetings, than to have a large number annoyed, and their meetings spoiled. If parents leave their children uncontrolled, unsubdued at home, they cannot have them do as they wish in meeting. Who should be the sufferers in this case? Certainly, the parents. They should not feel afflicted if others do not wish to have their peace disturbed when they meet to worship God.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 288, 289.
4 WE NEED HELP!
- What curse rests upon the disobedient nations today? Isaiah 3:1–4.
Note: “As parents who profess to love the Lord Jesus Christ, we should see to it that the spirit of peace is in our households. God commands us to take our children and fashion them after the divine similitude. From their earliest life children should be taught to obey their parents, to respect their word, and to reverence their authority. But many allow Satan to take their children under control, and in their early life the spirit of Satan manifests itself in the little ones in passionate screams or in sullen manners. One child under the control of this evil disposition will disturb the whole household, and banish peace from its borders. Parents should take time to discipline their children. Our most precious time belongs to our own flesh and blood. Never let your child hear you say, ‘I cannot do anything with you.’ As long as we may have access to the throne of God, we as parents should be ashamed to utter any such a word. Cry unto Jesus, and He will help you to bring your little ones to Him, and to keep them out of the power of the enemy. If Satan cannot succeed in ruling the fathers and the mothers, he will try with all his power to control the children, and make them rebel against God, and become disturbers of the peace of a family.
“Parents, you have a solemn responsibility resting upon you. It is your duty to co-operate with Christ in aiding your children to form right characters. Jesus can do nothing without your co-operation. It is not mercy or kindness to permit a child to have [his] own way, to submit to [his] rule, and to neglect to correct [him] on the ground that you love [him] too well to punish [him]. What kind of love is it that permits your child to develop traits of character that will make him and every one else miserable? Away with such love! True love will look out for the present and eternal good of the soul. …
“Do not indulge your children in evil ways, but from their very infancy let them see that you love the Lord, and that you mean to train them up as He would have you. … Of what avail will be a list of church resolutions, if we have not the Spirit of God in our homes? Christ is watching to see who are training their families for the great family above. Suppose one of your little children whom you have failed to correct, should be taken away in one of its fits of temper, what would be the result? I leave you to answer the question.” The Review and Herald, July 16, 1895.
5 CHOOSING GOODNESS
- What woe must God’s people determine to avoid? Isaiah 3:12.
Note: “Parents, if you wish the minds of your children to be evil, let them have their own way.” The Signs of the Times, February 18, 1897.
- Why is the example of Hannah an inspiration? I Samuel 1:20–22.
Note: “From the earliest dawn of intellect she [Hannah] had taught her son to love and reverence God, and to regard himself as the Lord’s.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 572.
“During the first three years of the life of Samuel the prophet, his mother carefully taught him to distinguish between good and evil.” Child Guidance, 197.
- Name some things to teach during infancy and childhood. Matthew 5:8; Philippians 4:8.
Note: “During the first six or seven years of a child’s life, special attention should be given to its physical training, rather than the intellect.” Child Guidance, 300.
“From their infancy, children should be taught lessons of purity. Mothers cannot too early begin to fill the minds of their children with pure, holy thoughts. And one way of doing this is to keep everything about them clean and pure. Mothers, if you desire your children’s thoughts to be pure, let their surroundings be pure. Let their sleeping rooms be scrupulously neat and clean. Teach them to care for their clothing.” Counsels on Health, 103.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 In pregnancy, what can both parents do for their baby’s character?
2 How does the way an infant is nourished affect his or her character?
3 Why must we take heed of our infants’ behavior in public worship?
4 How do many misinterpret the essence of true parental love?
5 What priority of Hannah should be shared by us today?
© 2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.