As you train your children, continually remember how God trains His children.
The Bible tells us that God has an elect people—a family in this world. All sinners who have been convinced of sin, and fled to Jesus for peace, make up that family. All of us who really believe in Christ for salvation are its members.
Now God the Father is always training the members of this family for their everlasting home with Him in heaven. He acts like a farmer pruning his vines, that they may bear more fruit. He knows the character of each one of us—our besetting sins—our weaknesses—our special needs. He knows our deeds and where we live, who our companions in life are, and what our trials are, what our temptations are, and what our privileges are. He knows all these things, and is always working out everything for our good. He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need, in order to bear the most fruit—He gives us as much sunshine and rain as we can stand—as much of bitter things as we can bear, and as much of sweet things that would be good for us. Dear friend, if you want to train your children wisely, note well how God the Father trains His children. He does all things well; the plan which He adopts must be right.
Notice, too, how many things there are which God withholds from His children. The majority of His children, have had desires which God has determined not to fulfill. There has often been some one thing they wanted to attain, and yet there has always been some barrier to prevent fulfillment. It has been just as if God was placing it above our reach, and saying, "This is not good for you; this must not be." Moses greatly desired to cross over the Jordan, and see the land of promise; but you will remember his desire was never granted.
Notice, also, how often God leads His people by ways which seem dark and mysterious to our eyes. We cannot see the meaning of all His dealings with us; we cannot see the reasonableness of the path in which our feet are walking. Sometimes so many trials have assaulted us—so many difficulties surrounded us—that we have not been able to discover the purpose of it all. It has been just as if our Father was taking us by the hand into a dark place and saying, "Don’t ask any questions, but just follow Me." There was a direct road from Egypt to Canaan, yet Israel was not led into it; but round and round, through the wilderness. And this seemed very hard at the time. "The soul of the people," we are told, "became very discouraged on the way." [Exodus 13:17; Numbers 21:4]
Also, see how often God chastens His people with trial and affliction. He sends them crosses and disappointments; He lays them low with sickness; He strips them of property and friends; He changes them from one position in life to another; He visits them with things that are most difficult to flesh and blood; and some of us have almost fainted under the burdens laid on us. We have felt pressed beyond strength, and have been almost ready to murmur at the hand which chastened us. Paul the Apostle had a thorn in the flesh assigned to him, some bitter bodily trial, no doubt, though we do not know exactly what it was. But this we do know—he pleaded with the Lord three times that it might be removed; yet it was not taken away [2 Corinthians 12:8, 9].
Now, dear friends, despite all these things, did you ever hear of a single child of God who thought his Father did not treat him wisely? No, I am sure you never did. God's children will always tell you, in the long run, it was a blessed thing they did not have their own way, and that God had done far better for them than they could have done for themselves. Yes! And they could tell you, too, that God's dealings had provided more happiness for them than they ever would have obtained themselves, and that His way, however dark at times, was the way of joy and the path of peace.
I ask you to take to heart the lesson which God's dealings with His people is meant to teach you. Do not be afraid to withhold from your child anything you think will do him harm, whatever his own wishes may be. This is God's plan.
Do not hesitate to give him commands, of which he may not presently see the wisdom, and to guide him in ways which may not now seem reasonable to his mind. This is God's plan.
Do not shrink from chastising and correcting him whenever you see his soul's health requires it, however painful it may be to your feelings; and remember medicines for the mind must not be rejected because they are bitter. This is God's plan.
And, above all, do not be afraid that such a plan of training will make your child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, the road to unhappiness is always having our own way. To have our wills checked and denied is a blessed thing for us; it makes us value enjoyments when they come. To be perpetually indulged is the way to become selfish; and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy.
Brethren, do not pretend to be wiser than God—train your children as He trains His.
The book "The Duties of Parents" can be found here: J.C. Ryle