Raising Godly Children: Susanna Wesley

susanna_wesleySusanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley (a preacher and a great hymn writer, the founders of Methodism ) is someone I look up to a lot, especially as I enter a new season of motherhood. She endured between 17 and 19 pregnancies but only had ten surviving children, whom she raised with strictness but love. I want my little boy to feel the same sense of security that her children had, and to see the same example of love for God.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from her life: her 16 house rules (here’s my source).

1. Eating between meals not allowed.

2. As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.

3. They are required to take medicine without complaining.

4. Subdue self- will in a child, and those working together with God to save the child’s soul.

5. To teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.

6. Require all to be still during Family Worship.

7. Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.

8. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.

9. Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.

10. Never punish a child twice for a single offense.

11. Comment and reward good behavior.

12. Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.

13. Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.

14. Strictly observe all promises.

15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.

16. Teach children to fear the rod.

I had to pause at number three. What kinds of medicine were they forcing their children to take back then? Next research project, just for fun!

She sent her son John, at his request, some of her thoughts on raising children and some pieces of her experience. (A sample quote: “When turned a year old (and some before), they were taught to fear the rod, and to cry softly; by which means they escaped abundance of correction they might otherwise have had…”) Read the letter HERE.

A short biography of Susanna can be read HERE. A quote from it: “With children always in the nursery and in the schoolroom, Susannah’s hands were always full. However it was the spiritual welfare of her children–present and absent–that concerned her most.”
With so many children, she struggled to find a quiet place for prayer with the Lord. So she told her children that when they saw her with an apron over her head, they should leave her alone because she was talking with Jesus. Read this article by Erin Davis on the Revive Our Hearts website that refers to this habit of Mrs. Wesley’s and that gives tips for how busy mothers can make time for God: “Duck and Cover for Quiet Time.”
After all, when you’re a sinful person yourself who is very liable to make mistakes, it is time with God that is the key to being a good mother.
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