Susannah Wesley on Raising Children
- Susannah lived in the late 1600’s and early 1700′s, was the mother of 19 children, and dealt with the loss of nine of those children died before the age of 2 (including 2 sets of twins).
- She was the mother of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Christian denomination
- She was also the mother of Charles Wesley who is remembered for writing thousands of Christian hymns
Clearly Susannah Wesley, as a mother, had her share of joys as well as profound sorrow during her lifetime. Someone asked her once what was the secret in raising her children. Many of her guidelines, now 300 years later, are still good ones to follow.
Some of these have great validity for forming good character in our children.
Each should be considered and prayed over to see if these would be a help for the child given to you by the Lord.
Someone said….”For a child to be a self disciplined person, they must first be a parent disciplined child.”
Susannah Wesley’s Guidelines for Raising Children
- Allow no eating between meals.
- Put all children to bed by 8:00 PM
- Require children to take their medicine without complaining.
- Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his or her soul.
- Teach each child to pray as soon as they can speak.
- Require all children to be quiet during family worship.
- Give a child nothing that they cry for, and only that which they ask for politely.
- To prevent lying, punish no fault that is first confessed and repented of.
- Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
- Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
- Commend and reward good behavior.
- Commend any attempt to please, even if poorly performed.
- Preserve property rights in even the smallest of matters.
- Strictly observe and enforce all promises.
- Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
- Teach children to fear the rod.
Each of us may have our own definition of sin, but this one from Susannah Wesley to her preacher son is …really amazing.
….whatever weakens your reasoning,
….what ever impairs your tenderness of conscience,
….whatever obscures your sense of the things of God,
….whatever takes away your desire for spiritual things,
In short ….whatever increases the power and authority of the flesh over the Spirit,
Then, this thing is sin, no matter how innocent it may be in itself.
This is one of the most awesome privileges,
but probably the greatest responsibility that
the Lord will entrust to us as Mothers.
These are eternal souls that have been entrusted to us.
“Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Prov. 22:6)
“Provoke not your children to wrath, lest they be discouraged.” (Colos. 3:21)
The task is not an easy one. Often when we have little ones, we have more than one little one.
We may be a working Mother, and are balancing many other tasks, responsibilities, and
facets of our lives that require a great deal of time and energy.
Many times our energy runs out before we reach the end of our day,
and we still have these precious impressionable souls to mentor
in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephes. 6:4).
If you are in this stage of your journey in life,
there is One who can help you with the strength and courage you need for this privilege.
Please do not try to accomplish all of this in your own strength.
You are setting yourself up for discouragement and defeat.
The Lord, the Creator of these little “empty slates”,
is not only the One who gave them to you, but is also the One who wants to give you
the wisdom and the knowledge to accomplish this task successfully and well.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee
great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.”
I Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”
The Lord does not take his “care” for you lightly. He loves you and wants,
more than you do, for you succeed in this task He has entrusted to you.
He asks you to come to Him, trust Him with your burdens, your cares,
whatever they are, and He wants to work on your behalf.
An important question here is …….
Are you coming to Him as His child or as one who does not really have
a personal relationship with Him? Do you know Him personally?
He is a personal God. He loved you so much that He took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ,
and lived a perfect sinless life here on Earth. While He was here, the Bible says that He
suffered in all the ways we suffer (Hebr. 4:15). He then went to the cross
and died for our sins, in our place, suffering the wrath of God for us.
He rose again proving that He was the Almighty God who could conquer death.
He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, taking our requests to the Father personally for us.
He asks you to believe this, take Him as the total payment for your sin, and become His child.
John 1:12 says, “ But as many as receive Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God,
to them that believe on His name.”
The Lord would like to answer your requests as His child, in the same manner that
you would answer the request of your own child, before you would
answer the requests of a child that you did not know.
If you do not know the Lord as His child, and do not have a personal relationship with Him,
please go to….. “Where will I spend Eternity?” on the home page.
Treasures from the Word of God
This treasure is for mothers and fathers of young children.
What a wonderful privilege you have to influence a life for God.
What kind of children do you like? That is a good question….do you like
obedient children? polite children? respectful children? Do you like to be around
children that are courteous to others, especially adults? Do you like children that
are kind and sharing with your children?
I suggest you make a “Character Manuel” for your children.
This can be as simple as a notebook with these goals in it…polite to others,
courteous, kind etc. It can then have verses from the word of God that will help
you realize that these goals are Biblical. When the principles are Biblical,
you are on praying ground for the power of God to be with you in your efforts
to bring your children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephes.6:4)
Or it could be as in-depth as having each child’s name on a given page,
and verses that child is working on to commit to memory. This may also include
certain character traits that are weaknesses to that particular child with some specific verses.
Then teach these verses to your children. Maybe take one character trait per week
and work on that trait for the whole week. Children are delightful when they are disciplined.
Unruly and undisciplined children are not a delight to be around,
for you the parent or for other adults and children.
When my children were little, I could be quoted as saying…. “The principle is…..”
and then there would be some explanation as to why this was going to be the standard
because the principle was found in scripture.
There was a Biblical explanation why they were going to behave in this certain way.
This next section will be devoted to some of the principles that we
as parents need to reflect on to accomplish Godly character
and good manners in our children.
Guidelines for Parents
#1. Love each child unconditionally. (John 15:9)
We are loved unconditionally by God as His child. He does not require that we
live up to a certain standard, to be a recipient of His love.
John 3:16 says: “God so loved…that he gave,” and in Romans 5:8 says:
God showed “His love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Show unconditional love for your child. Learn a way to portray to your child
that you love them, but it is their sin, misbehavior, etc. that is unacceptable.
#2. Consider… Ephesians 5:21-33; Ephesians 6:1-4
There are four essentials here: Husbands love; Wives submit; Children obey;
and Parents provoke not.
This is the plan of God for order and authority in the home…for His blessing.
Submitting one to another, with the husband as the final authority…
and the ultimate accountability to God for this family.
God holds the husband accountable, and the wife is to be the loving supporter.
#3. Spend spiritually enriching time
…..playing and working with each child (Col.3:14-17; Ephes. 5:19)
#4. Give specific approval and affirmation…(Phil. 2:1-4)
to each child for any attempt to do right, especially when completing
a required task like making their bed.
****Do not go back and remake the bed of a 2, 3, 4 year old.***
****Do not reprimand a child for “spilled milk” that was an accident
in the natural course of events for a young child who does not
yet have the coordination that an older child would have.***
#5. Tell each child “I Love You”,
and hug him or her….or something similar, even with older children.
#6. Read the Bible, teach Bible principles, and pray as a Family.
#7. Severely restrict (Psalm 101:1-8)
TV (Romans 1:28-32…especially verse 32…
Do we “have pleasure in them” that we watch committing sin on TV?)
video games, and electronic devices that seclude the child from family interaction.
This becomes their gods and is addicting. Children’s social skills are being retarded.
#8. Be ”around” a significant amount of time.
Children do what you inspect, not expect.
#9. Discipline for sinful actions or attitudes.
Paddle each child in a Godly manner (or discipline in some way) when he or she
disobeys, tells a lie, is unkind, or lazy. (Prov. 29:15,17)
#10. Pray with your child, for your child and for your child’s teachers.
#11. Family relationships:
Work at having a good relationship and spending time alone with your spouse.
Husbands….keep dating your children’s mother.
It is said…”Fathers, the best thing you can do for your child is to love that child’s mother.”
Wives…carry out Ephesians 5:33…”see that she reverence her husband”.
Learn what that word “reverence” means, and do it.
The Bible says to submit to Him as unto the Lord (Col. 3:18). What does that mean?
As we would defer and yield ourselves to the Lord for His leadership
and guidance, so we do to our husbands.
(If our husband is not asking us to do something…ungodly or against scripture,
then God expects…and blesses our lives …as we reverence our husbands.)
Some Good Character Traits For Children to Learn
(and us parents if we have not learned them).
#1. “Be ye Kind” – Ephes. 4:32
God calls this “kind” and “tenderhearted”. Unkindness should never be tolerated.
This is against our “old nature”. Self is always exalted sinfully.
Make sure your children are tender toward other children’s feelings.
This would eliminate all the “bullying” that is so prevalent in our society today.
Do not let you children be insensitive to their siblings feelings.
Do not let them “make fun” of other children.
If that other child (being teased or made fun of) is not having fun, it is sin.
#2. Speak kindly …” always with grace” Col. 4:6.
Speak to edify…. building others up, not tearing down
“…that which is good to the use of edifying,
that it may minister grace to the hearers” (Ephes. 4:29).
Mothers, let me encourage you to be very careful of the tone of
your voice when you are speaking to your children.
Even the tone of your voice can convey acceptance of them,
while you are at the same time addressing their disobedience.
Convey the love of Christ for them at all times because He loves
us at all times…..unconditionally.
#3. Forgive others.
Ephes. 4:32…”forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake
hath forgiven you.”
(We adults need to learn this with our children, if we have not already learned it.)
We do not have the right NOT to forgive .
God does not hold a grudge against us; He freely forgives as we ask.
Are we more righteous than God, that we cannot forgive someone
when it is the right thing to do, or we are asked to do so?
He loved and forgave us ”while we were yet sinners” (Rom. 5:8)
Speak forgiveness to your children….say…”I forgive you” when they disobey
and ask for forgiveness. There are times when we as parents need to ask forgiveness
of our children. We are not perfect parents. And guess what…our children know it.
If perhaps you misjudge a situation, or discipline the wrong child,
be quick to say and convey….”I’m sorry, please forgive me.” This humility will teach your child
more than you can teach them any other way. It in no way lessens your authority or
leadership with the children. Leaders make mistakes.
It takes a Godly person to admit that they made a mistake, and ask for forgiveness.
#4. Speak Truth.
The book of proverbs is wonderful for verses on truth.
God hates lying lips…Prov. 6:17,19; 12:22;
(If our previous President and those who are leading our country
had learned this when they were little, we would be far better off.)
#5. Let“No corrupt communication” (Ephes. 4:29) proceed out of their mouth.
This means sinful dirty talk, as well as “foolish talking,
nor jesting, which are not fitting; but the giving of thanks.” Ephes.5:4.
This verse gives us a substitute for this bad and empty talk….
it is the giving of thanks to the God whom we are accountable to.
We need to get a concept of the holiness of God (I Peter1:14,15) in our lives
and teach that to our children.
#6. Teach a child to be thankful and grateful.(Ephes. 5:19,20; I Thes. 5:18)
Those who turned their back on God are referred to as unthankful and ungrateful