Let’s say you were about to embark on a camping adventure to a camping spot you hadn’t been to before. Before you left, I’m sure you would get all your camping gear ready, make a quick meal plan and grab some groceries, check the weather to make sure you had warm enough or cool enough clothing packed, carefully study the route you are planning to take to get there, fill the car with petrol/gas and get the tyres checked … and perhaps do a little research of things to do in the area and sights worth seeing. A lot of preparation would have gone in to your trip until you are fully satisfied that you are absolutely ready and have everything packed. And then off you would set.

It would be crazy to simply leave for this camping adventure without doing some kind of preparation, planning or at least the gathering of necessary food supplies, wouldn’t it? And yet many parents take on a far greater responsibility of training up God’s children with little or even no knowledge at all of how to accomplish this task!

The child’s physical needs are not usually a problem – in most cases children are fed, clothed, given adequate rest, shelter and fresh air. But when it comes to the inner nature of the child, parents are often clueless. Often, they find out too late that they have taken on the responsibility of trying to control the most powerful of created forces: the human will!

This mammoth task requires everything a parent’s got. Utter self-denial and utter self-control. Simply put, what you are will teach your child far more than what you say. Whatever you want to see in your child’s character, you first have to model in your own character. A consistent self-discipline is absolutely essential if you wish to shape your child’s character correctly.

But it is only when she seeks, in her own life, to follow the teachings of Christ that the mother can hope to form the character of her children after the divine pattern. AH 234.2

But wait! Let us not forget that it is impossible to truly complete this task alone – it can only be done with Divine help.

Parents may well inquire: “Who is sufficient for these things?” God alone is their sufficiency, and if they leave Him out of the question, seeking not His aid and counsel, hopeless indeed is their task. But by prayer, by study of the Bible, and by earnest zeal on their part they may succeed nobly in this important duty and be repaid a hundredfold for all their time and care. 4T 198.2

So, what are the tools that every parent needs before they embark on the adventure of parenthood? Love, compassion and tenderness goes without saying. But something more is needed! Let’s take a look!

1. Patience

This is your go-to tool. It’s required hourly. Do not put this tool back in your toolbox. Keep it out. In your hand. All the time. Let me give you some examples where patience is needed …

  • The children are out of routine, tired or a little bit worked up.
  • You, yourself, are tired.
  • The children are making special demands on your time and your strength.
  • The children are full of fun and life and noise.
  • Patience and persistence are needed in teaching the same lesson over and over again to the child, waiting for the result you require.
  • Patience is needed everywhere in every circumstance: at home, in the shop, at church, visiting others.

Impatience shown by parents will ultimately lead to impatience shown by the child.

Have patience, fathers and mothers. Often your past neglect will make your work hard. But God will give you strength if you will trust in Him. Deal wisely and tenderly with your children. AH174.4

Harsh, angry words are not of heavenly origin. Scolding and fretting never help. Instead, they stir up the worst feelings of the human heart. CG 246.2

As you deal kindly and tenderly with your children, they and you will receive the blessing of the Lord. And think you that in the day of God’s judgment anyone will regret that he has been patient and kind with his children? CG 246.3

Remember this: This is God’s child that you are training. Reverence the child and never lose your faith in him/her no matter how headstrong he/she may seem to be.

2. Self Control

This tool goes hand-in-hand with patience! I’ve already mentioned that it is absolutely essential for a parent to have self-denial, self-discipline and self-control. If we want to be successful in parenting our children, we must be able to control our feelings, our words and our actions.

Parents should first learn to control themselves, then they can more successfully control their children. Every time they lose self-control, and speak and act impatiently, they sin against God. 1T 398.1

Parents and schoolteachers are certainly disqualified to properly educate children if they have not first learned the lesson of self-control, patience, forbearance, gentleness, and love. FE 15.1

A mother who does not have perfect control of herself is unfit to have the management of children. 3T 532.3

3. Loyalty to Truth

As a parent, if we want to teach our children to have a love for truth, we must also have a love for and a loyalty to truth. If we want to raise children of integrity, then we need to be parents of integrity. Live it!

Always keep your word with your children. If you make a promise, and at a later stage forget about it or even intentionally break it, you have just given your child a lesson in untruth.

I love the story about the Earl of Chatham who once promised his son that he could witness a certain wall about the estate being torn down. Unfortunately it came about that the wall was demolished and the child was not present. The Earl felt so deeply the sacredness of a promise that he had the wall rebuilt so that his son could be there to witness it’s demolition and have an unshaken faith in his father’s word!

Unless parents plant the seeds of truth in the hearts of their children, the enemy will sow tares. CT 121.2

Parents should be models of truthfulness, for this is the daily lesson to be impressed upon the heart of the child. CG 151.1

 If you want your child to be truthful, be truthful yourself. Be straight and undeviating. CG 151.3 

As children advance in years, parents should not give the slightest occasion for the sowing of that seed which will develop into deceit and falsehood, and mature into untrustworthy habits. CG 150.3

4. Stability

Children pick up very quickly if a parent is swayed by indecision and impulse. They latch on to this “weakness” and if you compromise once, they will whine, plead, sulk and tantrum until you compromise again.

In order to gain respect from your children, carefully consider what position you should take before giving an answer to a child’s request. Once made, let your decision be final unless the circumstances change. Always be gentle, but firm.

It’s important to consistently enforce any rules you have put in place. Do not allow yourself to get distracted and pre-occupied with other things to the point that rules get pushed aside, deemed unimportant or even forgotten about.

The word of the parents should be law, precluding all arguments or evasions. CG 85.2

There is need for constant watching that the principles which lie at the foundation of family government are not disregarded. AH 306.1

 Say what you mean calmly, move with consideration, and carry out what you say without deviation. 3T 532.2

5. Sympathy

Between every child and parent should exist the bond of true sympathy. This helps the parents to see things from the child’s point of view and then treat them according to the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. We are all God’s children (both the young and the old). Bind your children to your heart. Speak gently, tenderly and show abundant compassion.

Parents should encourage their children to confide in them and unburden to them their heart griefs, their daily little annoyances and trials. If they do this, the parents can learn to sympathize with their children, and pray for them and with them, that God would shield and guide them. They should point them to their never-failing Friend and Counselor, who will be touched with the feelings of their infirmities. RC 180.2

It will pay to manifest affection in your association with your children. Do not repel them by lack of sympathy in their childish sports, joys, and griefs. Never let a frown gather upon your brow or a harsh word escape your lips. God writes all these words in His book of records. Harsh words sour the temper and wound the hearts of children, and in some cases these wounds are difficult to heal. 3T 532.3

 Young hearts yearn for sympathy and tenderness, and if they do not obtain it from their parents, they will seek it from sources that may endanger both mind and morals. FE 156.1

6. Insight

As parents, we need to know our children. We need to understand their way of thinking, their likes and dislikes, their hopes, their strengths and their weaknesses. How do we get to know our children? Simply by recognizing our need, asking God for help, spending time with our children and asking questions (and listening to the answers!)

Mothers, … take time to get acquainted with your children. Study their dispositions and temperaments, that you may know how to deal with them. Some children need more attention than others. CG 207.3

No barrier of coldness and reserve should be allowed to arise between parents and children. Let parents become acquainted with their children, seeking to understand their tastes and dispositions, entering into their feelings, and drawing out what is in their hearts. MH 394.1

Remember this: God never asks from parents, what He does not give us the ability to perform – as long as we recognize our need and put in the required effort from our side. We are co-workers with God.

7. In Unity

The relationship between parents needs to be one harmonious unit. Disagreements, hasty words, faultfinding or differing of opinions (especially with regards to discipline) should never be witnessed by the child. Obviously the two of you will not agree on everything. But with careful discussion and perhaps mutual concession, differences can be pleasantly and courteously talked over. It is disastrous for a father to disregard the mother’s opinions and for the mother to have no regard for the convictions of the father.

Unitedly and prayerfully the father and mother should bear the grave responsibility of guiding their children aright. Parents are to work together as a unit. There must be no division. AH 312.2

The father and mother should never in the presence of their children criticize each other’s plans and judgment….If parents do not agree, let them absent themselves from the presence of their children until an understanding can be arrived at. AH 314.4

Father and mother, bind your hearts in closest, happiest union. Do not grow apart, but bind yourselves more closely to each other; then you are prepared to bind your children’s hearts to you by the silken cord of love AH 316.1

Remember this: the secret to true unity in the family, is union with Christ.

8. Growth

Any parent will agree that children tend to ask millions of questions. It is the parent’s job to know enough and to give reasonable answers to these many questions! If you are not willing to take the time to answer your child’s questions, they will surely find answers elsewhere (and they may not be the right answers!)

Let every question be an opportunity to point your child to spiritual things. Turn your child’s questions into a progressive education. As parents we need to fill our minds with the Word and be able to easily see God and spiritual object lessons in nature. If we are thinking along these right lines, it is easy and natural to lead the child’s mind from the creation up to the Creator. This is True Education.

We are to never stop learning, to never stop asking questions.

Whatever his calling, he is to be both a learner and a teacher as long as life shall last. Thus he may advance continually, making God his trust, clinging to Him who is infinite in wisdom, who can reveal the secrets hidden for ages, who can solve the most difficult problems for minds that believe in Him. MH 402.2

We are learners, that we may be teachers. 6T 115.4

We may be ever searching, ever inquiring, ever learning, and yet there is an infinity beyond. 8T 261.2

Remember this: even in heaven we will never stop learning! Learning is a gift from God and should be consecrated to Him.

9. Faithfulness

If we are faithful in the little things, we can be entrusted with greater things. God is asking us to be faithful in the little duties of everyday life. We rob God if we are ever less than faithful.

Parents need to be in good health, patient and definitely not irritable. Parents (especially mothers) create the atmosphere in the home.

The atmosphere surrounding the souls of fathers and mothers fills the whole house, and is felt in every department of the home. AH 16.1

Make your home atmosphere fragrant with tender thoughtfulness. AH 16.2

Parents should realize their accountability to keep their homes free from every taint of moral evil. AH 19.4

Mommy’s Toolbox Scripture Cards

It certainly isn’t easy being a good parent. Its one of those things that is easier said than done. Thankfully God has not left us alone in this responsibility – He wants to work with us in raising His children.

There is a God above, and the light and glory from His throne rests upon the faithful mother as she tries to educate her children to resist the influence of evil… It is hers, with the help of God, to develop in a human soul the likeness of the divine.

MH 377.1

What an opportunity! Let us search our hearts and set our standards high in raising godly children. As mothers, we need to spend much time on our knees in humble prayer and much time in His Word searching for instruction and guidance.

The mother who appreciates this will regard her opportunities as priceless. Earnestly will she seek, in her own character and by her methods of training, to present before her children the highest ideal. Earnestly, patiently, courageously, she will endeavor to improve her own abilities, that she may use aright the highest powers of the mind in the training of her children. Earnestly will she inquire at every step, “What hath God spoken?” Diligently she will study His word. She will keep her eyes fixed upon Christ, that her own daily experience, in the lowly round of care and duty, may be a true reflection of the one true Life.

MH 378.1

For those interested, I’ve put together what I call “Mommy’s Toolbox” – a selection of valuable scripture verses that can be used to fight off Satan with an “It is written…!” Feel free to download, print, memorize and share! 🙂

You may find the following posts useful:

This post was based on Chapter 2 "The Parents Equipment" from the book Studies in Character Building by Ella Kellogg. You can download the entire book, print it and read it for free by clicking on the thumbnail.

Or you can visit this post which was based on Chapter 1 from the same book: 
  - Held in Trust

About the book:
In the spring of 1891, the Haskell Home for Orphans was established. It was composed of "family units" with a "mother" in charge of about a dozen children. The main goal was to provide more than just food and shelter for needy children. Instead, these children were to be raised as closely as possible to how God wanted children to be raised, according to His child-rearing principles.
The "mother" would do all the ‘mothering’ that was necessary, and everything that an ordinary mother would do. These sincere, willing, self-sacrificing mothers did the best job they could do, but, to be honest, it was no easy task. Each individual child was an individual problem. Each came with different habits, tendencies, dispositions and histories as a result of their previous education and environments.
And so there was a need for special study and training to be provided for these mothers. A missionary mothers training school was established. Ella Kellogg (Dr John Harvey Kellogg’s wife) gave lectures at this training school, and due to popular demand, eventually put her studies and lectures on pen and paper in a book form called “Studies in Character Building”.
And I am so thankful that she did! Any mother who is looking for help in developing beautiful characters in her children will appreciate the work that has gone into this book.
In the words of Mrs Kellogg herself, “If in its pages these mothers shall find a light in some dark hour, a help in some time of need, a solution to some of the everyday problems, whereby they are enabled the better to accomplish their God-given task, this little book will have fulfilled its mission.