Category Archives: Parenting

“Love is one grand secret of successful training” by J.C. Ryle

“Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience. I do not mean that you are to spoil him, but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him.

Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys,—these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily,—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart.

Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very idea of a forced obedience.

We are like young horses in the hand of a breaker: handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many a month before you get the mastery of them at all.

Now children’s minds are cast in much the same mould as our own. Sternness and severity of manner chill them and throw them back. It shuts up their hearts, and you will weary yourself to find the door.

But let them only see that you have an affectionate feeling towards them,—that you are really desirous to make them happy, and do them good,—that if you punish them, it is intended for their profit, and that you would give your heart’s blood to nourish their souls.

Let them see this, I say, and they will soon be all your own. But they must be wooed with kindness, if their attention is ever to be won.

And surely reason itself might teach us this lesson. Children are weak and tender creatures, and, as such, they need patient and considerate treatment.

We must handle them delicately, like frail machines, lest by rough fingering we do more harm than good. They are like young plants, and need gentle watering,—often, but little at a time.

We must not expect all things at once. We must remember what children are, and teach them as they are able to bear.

Their minds are like a lump of metal—not to be forged and made useful at once, but only by a succession of little blows. Their understandings are like narrow-necked vessels: we must pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or much of it will be spilled and lost.

‘Line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,’ must be our rule. The whetstone does its work slowly, but frequent rubbing will bring the scythe to a fine edge.

Truly there is need of patience in training a child, but without it nothing can be done.

Nothing will compensate for the absence of this tenderness and love. A minister may speak the truth as it is in Jesus, clearly, forcibly, unanswerably; but if he does not speak it in love, few souls will be won.

Just so you must set before your children their duty,—command, threaten, punish, reason,—but if affection be wanting in your treatment, your labour will be all in vain.

Love is one grand secret of successful training. Anger and harshness may frighten, but they will not persuade the child that you are right; and if he sees you often out of temper, you will soon cease to have his respect. A father who speaks to his son as Saul did to Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:30), need not expect to retain his influence over that son’s mind.

Try hard to keep up a hold on your child’s affections. It is a dangerous thing to make your children afraid of you.

Anything is almost better than reserve and constraint between your child and yourself; and this will come in with fear. Fear puts an end to openness of manner;—fear leads to concealment;—fear sows the seed of much hypocrisy, and leads to many a lie.

There is a mine of truth in the Apostle’s words to the Colossians:’“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged’ (Col. 3:21).

Let not the advice it contains be overlooked.”

–J.C. Ryle, The Upper Room (London: William Hunt and Company, 1888), 285–287.

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“Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother” by Charles Spurgeon

“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children.

I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother. Neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring.

A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother.

Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me.

How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent. Others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me.

How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, ‘Oh, that my son might live before Thee!’

Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,—that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities.

And her smiles have never faded from my recollection,—the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good things in me towards the Lord God of Israel.

My mother said to me, one day, ‘Ah, Charles! I often prayed to the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist.’

I could not resist the temptation to reply, ‘Ah, mother! The Lord has answered your prayer with His usual bounty, and given you exceedingly abundantly above what you asked or thought.'”

–Charles Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography: Volume 1, The Early Years (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1898/1962), 44-45.

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“God is smiling” by Martin Luther

“Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason, takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.’

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.

It says, ‘O God, because I am certain that Thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with Thy perfect pleasure. I confess to Thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving Thy creature and Thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in Thy sight.’

Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool—though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith—my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all His angels and creatures, is smiling—not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.”

–Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 45; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 39–40.

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“A godly mother” by Charles Spurgeon

“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother.

Neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot.

Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother.

Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me.

How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent. Others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me.

How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, ‘Oh, that my son might live before Thee!’

Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,– that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities.

And her smiles have never faded from my recollection,– the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good thing in me towards the Lord God of Israel.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Vol. 1, 1834-1854 (New York: Fleming Revell Co., 1898), 68-69.

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“What are arrows for but to shoot?” by Jim Elliot

“I do not wonder that you were saddened at the word of my going to South America. This is nothing else than what the Lord Jesus warned us of when He told the disciples that they must become so infatuated with the kingdom and following Him that all other allegiances must become as though they were not.

And He never excluded the family tie. In fact, those loves which we regard as closest, He told us must become as hate in comparison with our desires to uphold His cause. Grieve not, then, if your sons seem to desert you, but rejoice, rather, seeing the will of God done gladly.

Remember how the Psalmist described children? He said that they were as a heritage from the Lord, and that every man should be happy who had his quiver full of them. And what is a quiver full of but arrows?

And what are arrows for but to shoot? So, with the strong arms of prayer, draw the bowstring back and let the arrows fly–all of them, straight at the Enemy’s hosts.

‘Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious, Give of they wealth to speed them on their way, Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious, And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.'”

–Jim Elliot, in Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1958/2008), 182-183. Elliot wrote these words to his parents after telling them he was going to the mission field. He was martyred in Ecuador on January 8, 1956.

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“This is what it means to be a king” by C.S. Lewis

As was certain to happen sooner or later, King Lune said it was time for young people to be in bed. “And tomorrow, Cor,” he added, “shalt come over all the castle with me and see the estate, and mark all its strength and weakness: for it will be thine to guard when I’m gone.”

“But Corin will be the King then, Father,” said Cor.

“Nay, lad,” said King Lune, “thou art my heir. The crown comes to thee.”

“But I don’t want it,” said Cor. “I’d far rather–”

“‘Tis no question what thou wantest, Cor, nor I either. ‘Tis in the course of law.”

“But if we’re twins we must be the same age.”

“Nay,” said the King with a laugh. “One must come first. Art Corin’s elder by full twenty minutes. And his better too, let’s hope, though that’s no great mastery.” And he looked at Corin with a twinkle in his eyes.

“But, Father, couldn’t you make whichever you like to be the next King?”

“No. The King’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king. Hast no more power to start away from thy crown than any sentry from his post.”

“Oh dear,” said Cor. “I don’t want to at all. And Corin– I am most dreadfully sorry. I never dreamed my turning up was going to chisel you out of your kingdom.”

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be king. I shan’t have to be king. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”

“And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,” said King Lune. “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy in The Chronicles of Narnia (New York: HarperCollins, 1954/1994), 309-310.

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“Show God to your children” by John Piper

“The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation.

The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules the universe.

Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mom her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love—and, of course, all these overlap.

And all this is happening before the child knows anything about God, but it is profoundly all about God. Will the child be able to recognize God for who He really is in His authority and love and justice become mom and dad have together shown the child what God is like?

The chief task of parenting is to know God for who He is in His many attributes—especially as He has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus and His cross—and then to live in such a way with our children that we help them see and know this multi-faceted God. And, of course, that will involve directing them always to the infallible portrait of God in the Bible.”

–John Piper, This Momentary Marriage (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 143-144.

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