Ruined Character

While in the frozen food section of the grocery store with my husband and daughter in peaceful tow, we suddenly found ourselves moving out of the way of two children who came running around the corner. The older girl (of elementary school age) was chasing her younger brother (2 years old). They were followed a few seconds later by a nonchalant father who averted his eyes from the mayhem in the aisle. A few seconds later, they rounded the corner, running down the next aisle.

My husband was very quick to explain to our daughter that such behavior is not acceptable inside; they agreed that such children should go to a park to run and play.

Suddenly, the rowdy children re-entered the aisle; again followed by the nonchalant father. This time, though, the mother followed with the grocery cart. She continued shopping, occasionally raising her voice in reprimand at her children. A moment or two later, the children were gone again. This time, mother began to yell their names and “Get back here!”

By now, my little family was quickly moving to another aisle. As we neared the turn, the two year old boy ran past us – unsupervised and oblivious to everyone, especially his mother. My chance had come! In my best mother-means-business-voice I sternly called the boy’s name and said “Go to your mother.” I said it twice and waited. He stopped running, looked around and returned to his mother.

His mother was obviously embarrassed. The father should have been! The situation did not improve though. The mother’s mad rush to the checkout stand was accompanied by yelling at the kids, threats of punishment, etcetera. The whole situation made shopping an unpleasant experience.

After peace and quiet ensued, my husband, daughter and I discussed the situation: Parents who fail to properly restrain and direct their children are training them to have deformed characters, lax morals and impulsivity. With such training, it is only natural that these children grow up murmuring against reproof, rebellious and insubordinate. If allowed to go uncorrected, they are emboldened to continue. Emotional and temperamental outbreaks are soothed and faults petted or ignored as a phase of development.

It is hard work to check the unruly inclinations of our children. The truth, though, is that willfulness and pride were the evils that turned heavenly angels into demons.

As a God-fearing mother, I will not be negligent to correct; and by God’s grace, I will not allow insensibility to cause me to be slow to detect the attributes of Satan being forced onto my child by unseen principalities (Ephesians 6:12).

Satan is trying to destroy my child – your child. I, the parent, am the gatekeeper. Prayer is my weapon; my Heaven-imparted battle techniques are wisdom, calmness and determination. With these, the Lord, through me, will train and subdue my child’s carnal nature (Ephesians 6:1 -4).


© 2011, C. Gillan Byrne

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1White, E. G. (1954/1982). Ways in Which Character is Ruined (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Child Guidance. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.


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