And you shall teach them your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down…
The most powerful institution that abides today is not the regal, nor the noble; it is not political economy; it is not industry, nor is it the Church: it is the family, the household.
1. In rearing children, the first step should be in securing health; and for this sake the requirement is healthy parents. Children that bear the sins of their fathers are not few, and miserable are they; but taking it for granted that children are born with fair chances of life, sound in every part, and well-tempered together, the very first parental duty is to secure for them, from year to year, air, exercise, and wholesome food, that they may grow up healthily. Under this general head of health parents need instruction against the early forcing of their children. See that your children are kept down to animal conditions, so that the brain shall not destroy them.
2. Next to health in importance in the family, as well as in order, is obedience. The child is born into a world of infinite subordinations, where the business of life itself is to suppress one's self, and to give way here and there to strength, to social arrangements, to law. There can, therefore, be nothing less wise in the parent, and nothing less beneficial to the child, than that questioning, hesitating obedience which finally dragged into an unwilling submission, the child at last yields; but that is family government, as it is seen in many households; and wherever you see this — especially if you see it in your own house — understand that you are bringing up your children to disobey God, and the magistrate, and their fellow men, by teaching them to disobey you, or to give only a grudging instead of a cheerful and prompt obedience. It may be said that this is to break the will of the child, and that he needs all the will he is possessed of with which to fight his way through life. Now it is no more breaking the will of the child to teach him to obey his father and mother, than it is the breaking of the bones of my arms to teach me exactly how to use them, or exactly how to hold my hand to the keyboard of a piano. It is merely teaching the child how to use his will; and without teaching of that kind we are all brutes and barbarians.
3. We are next to consider that our children are not given to us for our accommodation and our pleasure. They are not, in one sense, our own children; they are lent to us; and no trust was ever reposed by king, by noble, by any human being upon another, so august, and of which the responsibilities are so tremendous, as the trust of a child placed in the hands of fallible, feeble, erring men, to be brought up for his destiny in this life, and in the life which is to come. These considerations reach backward. The laws of taking care of our children ought to go back further than the birth of the child, to antecedent conditions. I do not think that civilisation will ever take its last flight, or that religion will ever universally prevail, until physiological laws are observed to the letter.
4. Let me say that I regard a happy Christian family, consisting of wise parents and dutiful children, dwelling together in love as Eden restored. I regard the development of love in the family, its impartiality, its pitifulness to the weak, its watch and care, its patience, its suffering, its power to suffer, its stern requisition, its discrimination between right and wrong, its endurance of pain for the objects of its discipline, as the grandest, and as the only perfect revelation of Divine moral government.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.