Observe the wayward boy whose chief inheritance is a wild, wilful nature. He is nearing his fourteenth birthday. Having been allowed to have his own way while small, he has cultivated an ungovernable desire to do as he pleases. Let the mother of that boy cease her old habit of saying, “I don’t know what will become of that boy! I don’t understand how he can treat me so rudely. I’ve done all I can, and he just grows worse,” and take a more rational method. Have you gone to that boy and told him the sweet, simple story of Jesus and why he came from his beautiful home; that a part of his mission was to teach you how to make your home after the pattern of his heavenly home; that his heart is touched with compassion when he beholds any one in trouble; that he is grieved because you have made a mistake; but that you are sorry and are decided to do your duty? Have you told the boy all that? Have you knelt beside his bed at night with your tear-dimmed eyes pressed upon his hand, and told him the great dangers that are before him, even surrounding him, and informed him how to avoid them? Have you told him that he is at the most critical time in his life, that a mistake now will mean a life of suffering for both him and you, and that he can with you begin over and remove some of his past mistakes? Have you talked thus to your boy? If not, why not? It is your privilege as well as your duty.
The first duty of father and mother to their child is to see that they are a unit on family government. Second, they must study themselves and their failures, trying to make the weak places strong. Third, study the disposition of the child, gain an understanding of its inner life, and find out what pleases and displeases it; and, while cultivating the good, hold in check the bad. A mother should understand her children better than any one else. If she is a thoughtful mother, she knows not only the surroundings of her children, but many of the impressions that she has stamped upon their undeveloped minds.
Children are not putty that can be moulded into any form to suit our fancy, but there is a method by which we can fashion their young lives. Much patience, devotion to the child, and fervent prayer will be needful to accomplish anything worth while.
Every parent should see that their attitude toward their children is what it should be. Consider their feelings and show them respect, remembering that they have rights upon which you must not intrude; but never loosen the reigns of home government. Make any rules that you think practicable and necessary; explain each rule carefully to your child, giving your reason for making it, and then demand obedience. Never, unless for some special reason, ignore any good rule. Should your child happen to break one of these rules, do not punish without first finding out the cause. He may not have understood your meaning,