Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 12, 1884

Brownsberger, Brother and Sister [Sidney]

Healdsburg, California


Portions of this letter are published in 3SM 293-294; 7MR 3-6.

Dear Brother and Sister Brownsberger:

You invite me to visit you at Brother Fred Harmon’s. I do not say I will not come, but I should do injustice to myself and to you should I come and converse with you both as [I] have done several times. A plain statement it is my duty to make to you. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 1

You ask me serious questions which must not be answered by me in any careless way, for much is involved in these questions and, in order to answer you with due thought and intelligence, I must not be constantly interrupted by your playing with your children. Have you not thought, my sister, you are not doing justice to yourself and [not] showing due respect and courtesy to me, your guest? 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 2

Your daughter Daisy is a very promising child. She attracts notice and praise and flattery from others, and all praise her for her smartness; but be very careful that you do not administer to her vanity. When you have guests, you can say to your children, “Now I wish to visit with my friends and you must amuse yourselves.” Daisy is [4 (?)] years old, a very nice little girl, and her perceptions are large. She will form habits rapidly. You can, when you have special visiting to do with your friends, say that she must not disturb you by putting in her little sharp voice to distract your mind, and you lose all the benefit it is your privilege to have. It will be just as you shall manage the matter. You held the lines and a little whip and [were] carrying on an imaginary driving [of] a horse. Your voice [was] heard in directing and et cetera, then her voice was constantly interspersed in the conversation and a laugh. It was a mixing of the common and sacred in such a way that it was a most painful interview to me, for you could not possibly have been able to get clear ideas of what I was trying to say to you and could not be a reliable one to communicate that which was said. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 3

You will not educate your children to respect those who are older and those who are laborers together with God. [You] yourselves have been exacting teachers. You have needed caution in regard to being so severe if all respect and due attention were not given to your words of instruction. You have a little school in your own family, and you need to move as parents wisely. If you consider that every expressed wish of your little ones must be gratified, you will make them selfish, and their wishes will multiply and be predominating. In visiting our people in other places, the education you give your children will make them an annoyance. I advise you now to leave them at home, for it is evident they are placed on exhibition as prodigies of smartness, and the good you might accomplish as laborers together with God in families you visit is not done. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 4

It is not pleasant to you [to] be separated from your children and let others have a care for them. But I learned in our labors [that] the formation of the right character [in] my children required this. The continual changing brought the children to notice and to the hearing of remarks calculating to indulgence, and praising and petting brought into their education a love of self and the idea that they were to be administered to as the all-important part of the program. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 5

I would advise you, as missionaries doing a work for God, have your little ones under as good care and discipline as possible. It is not in any way perfect. It would be far more so than the advantages you can give them under all circumstances. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 6

We would not sever youth and old age, and I love to have children in the room where I am, if they do not fill the whole room and are the all-pervading element in the room. It is proper to teach the little ones that there are times when they must not command your whole time and resources to amuse them. You need not make a long recitation of the matter to the children, but act as opportunities present themselves. Tell them you must not be interrupted, for you wish to hear and to talk now. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 7

The character of the child must be formed so as not to consider your children in this world to carry through without restrain their own desires. They are to be educated as [to] what is proper and right. Hannah gave to the Lord her son and separated him from her as soon as he was weaned, and [she] brought a little coat to the lad every year. How many tears and prayers mingled in the stitches put in that little coat. Was it not a sacrifice for her to be deprived of the care of her loved one? With what pride she would have cherished the child given her of God, but she gave this child to the Lord to serve Him, and how grateful and joyous her heart that the Lord accepted the offering and evidenced that He regarded the mother’s gift as a fragrant savor offered to God. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 8

Brother and Sister Brownsberger, will you please consider these things? I am willing to give you any counsel that is in my power through the grace given me of God, but I am not willing to accede to your oft-repeated requests for a good long talk when your time is largely occupied in playing with and amusing your child. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 9

Our work now is a very solemn, earnest work. We cannot evade it. There is the greatest necessity of education in more lines than one. The one great need with you both is to feel that you must be under [the] supervision [of] God. You are His property. Your children are His property to be trained as younger members of the Lord’s family, not to consider themselves to be especially indulged in any whim and denied nothing. Were you an observer of the same plan of discipline you see others pursuing in managing their children, you would criticize them severely. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 10

And again, [do] not indulge yourselves in sitting at the table spread with a large variety of food and because you enjoy these things, eat them before your children, and say, “No, you cannot have this. You cannot have that, it will hurt you,” while you eat largely of the very things you forbid them to touch. Your discipline in this line needs the reformation and the principle of practice. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 11

It is cruelty to sit down yourself to the third meal, and take satisfaction in talking and enjoying yourselves while you have your children sit by and eat nothing, representing the excellent discipline your children are under—to let them watch your eating and not rebel against your authority. They do rebel. They are young now, but you continue this kind of discipline and you will spoil your authority. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 12

Then again, you seem to fear when your children are at the table, that they will not eat enough, and urge them to eat and to drink. You need not have the slightest concern and show the anxiety you have manifested lest they should not eat sufficiently. Their little stomachs are small and cannot hold a large amount. Better far let them have three meals than two for this reason. You let them have a large amount of food at one meal. The foundation is being laid for distention of the stomach, which results in dyspepsia. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 13

To eat and to drink that which is not agreeable to them is not wisdom. Again, be sure and set before them the very food you desire they shall eat. That which is of a healthful quality of food for them is healthful for you, but the quantity of even healthful food should be carefully studied, [so as] not to introduce into the stomach too large a quantity at one meal. We must ourselves be temperate in all things if we would give the proper lessons to our children. When they are older, any inconsideration on your part is marked. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 14

But I am sure, from the light given me of God, the less excitement there is brought into childhood’s life and experience, the better for the children. The custom of having little children attend morning religious services is not wisdom. The breath of the company assembled is [not] free of disease. The kissing of children should be strictly forbidden, for disease is communicated in this way. I have had these cautions given to me again and again. Their attending meetings very young, the confinement, breathing impure air exhaled from the lungs and bodies, is a tax to them and produces a hatred of the meetings in time. I decided to leave my children at home, under a wise instructor, for their present and future good. [I did] not compel them to travel to see many people and be brought to the notice of people, for all feel that they must give attention to little children, and they learn to love to be noticed, praised, and petted. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1884, par. 15