Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12

388/457

Ms 126, 1897

The Training of Children

NP

November 15, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in CG 27, 86-87, 151, 213-214, 232, 272; AH 187, 283, 287, 432; OHC 143; 4MR 99-100, 360-361; 8MR 380-381.

There are two kinds of education going on in our world. Parents love their children, but their love is not always accompanied by that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. In too many cases the parents are only grown up children. They are no intelligent teachers. They do not sense the responsibilities that rest upon them. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 1

In the ignorance of the wants of their infants, many parents think that they can be fed upon those things which they themselves eat. These parents have no knowledge of what constitutes a proper diet. Many mothers have come to me, saying, “My baby does not thrive. What is the matter with it? It is poor and fretful, and sick.” “What do you give your child to eat?” I have questioned. “The same food that we eat ourselves, a little bit of everything, a little tea, and coffee, and potatoes, a little beer and meat.” 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 2

This variety of food is unwholesome for the parents, and how much more so for the child. The child has but a small stomach, and should have its regular periods of eating, and then not eating too largely. This crowds the stomach, and distress is the result. This “stuffing” process has placed many a little child in its narrow bed, just because of the ignorance of the parents in managing them. And they serve their own bodies in the same way. They have not an intelligent knowledge of how to eat properly themselves. The simplest preparation for the table is always the most wholesome and healthful. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 3

Parents, it is impossible for you to give your children a proper training unless you first give yourselves to God, learning of the great Teacher the most precious lessons of obedience to His will. The mother should feel her great need of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that she may herself have a genuine experience in submission to the way and will of the Lord. Then, through the grace of Christ, you can be a wise, gentle, loving teacher of your children. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 4

Parents, never prevaricate; never tell an untruth in precept or in example. If you want your child to be truthful, be truthful yourself. Be straight and undeviating. Even a slight prevarication should not be allowed. Because mothers are accustomed to prevaricate and be untruthful, the child follows her example. She will deceive her parents, while her mother will say of her, “She never told me an untruth.” Thus the statement to which the child has just listened, she knows to be a falsehood. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 5

In some families, the wishes of the child is law. Everything he desires is given him. Everything he dislikes, he is encouraged to dislike. These indulgences are supposed to make the child happy, but it is these very things that make him restless, discontented, and satisfied with nothing. Indulgence has spoiled his appetite for plain healthful food, for the plain healthful use of his time; gratification has done the work of unsettling that character for time and for eternity. Let the child dress simply, eat of the most plain, wholesome food. Let him not be indulged, and tempted to eat more than he should. This will ruin the digestive organs before the child or youth can become intelligent upon the important subjects of how to eat, how to dress, how to exercise in order to retain health. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 6

Fathers and mothers are responsible for the health, the constitution, the development of the character of their children. No one else should be left to see to this work. In becoming the parents of children, it devolves upon you to co-operate with the Lord in educating them in sound principles, keeping their minds open and impressible by the inculcation of sound principles. This will develop strong characters. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 7

A child’s truest graces consist of modesty and obedience—they will have attentive ears to hear the words of direction, in willing feet and hands to walk and work in the path of duty and obedience. And a child’s true goodness will bring its own reward even in this life. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 8

The happiness of every child may be secured by strong, even discipline. In the years of childhood and youth is the time for the training process, not only to be the most serviceable and full of grace and truth in this life, but to secure the place prepared in the home above for all who are true and obedient to the oracles of God. The children are God’s precious heritage to be disciplined, educated, and trained to consider that duties rest upon them because they are part of the family firm. They should be educated to lift the burdens in their early years. These should be light at first. They should be carefully educated to do their part, that they may understand how to do their work with willing aptitude. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 9

Practice makes perfect. All slow motions may be overcome by proper training. The youth who are trained to do their work with dispatch will have no slow, moderate, lazy habits of working. It is a great neglect on the part of parents to allow their children to occupy two hours in the work that could be performed in one. It is all the result of the education and training which the child has had. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 10

On every hand we see parental failure in the instruction and training of their children to engage in useful labor. The children are allowed to grow up in ignorance of how to do simple and necessary things. Such children, who are so unfortunate in their training, must awake and take the burden of the matter upon themselves, and if they ever expect to have success, find incentives to honest employment of their God-given powers. Their own enlightened understanding must lead them to engage in useful work. Without this kind of education, this principle of action will not be established. Their work will be fitful, and their efforts in any line feeble. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 11

There are home domestic duties calling for a helping hand; in every place there are things needing to be done, requiring stern impulses, energetic, persevering, well-skilled activity, which ready, experienced hands know how to undertake. The laws of necessity require that our missionaries become wise in methods and plans, in the fulfillment of the duties of common practical life. Young men and young women who have been so unfortunate as to have the idea impressed upon their minds that work is degrading to ladies and gentlemen will in the end lose the credit of being ladies and gentlemen. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 12

The long, protracted efforts made to obtain an education in books is a mistake. There is danger of this arousing a love for pleasure and recreation. This gives the youth an education that is deleterious and unprofitable, and which God cannot bless, for it divorces the thoughts and corrupts the soul. This class is wavering, irresolute in disciplining themselves and others. They crave those things that are not essential for this life or the future eternal life. They are full of conceit and self-importance. These will never learn to understand and know the truth. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 13

All are students in this life. We are to improve our faculties to do the best kind of service for Jesus Christ, who has given His life to redeem us. We are to think soberly, and consecrate ourselves to God day by day. Then we shall consider every hour precious, and shall purify our souls with stern resolutions. Our opportunities and privileges are golden. We have a high standard to reach. We are to do missionary work for the Master, co-operating with Christ in restoring the moral image of God in man. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 14

The glory of God is to be kept before the mind’s eye. This should be the one aim and purpose of parents in life. Everything that would hinder in this consecrated service is to be left. We are to separate ourselves from whatever position we have placed ourselves in that would fetter us to cheap habits, common words, or littleness of purpose. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 15

Work is constantly being done in heaven. There are no idlers there. “My Father worketh hitherto,” said Christ, “and I work.” [John 5:17.] We cannot suppose that when the final triumph shall come, and we have the mansions prepared for us, that idleness will be our portion, that we shall rest in a blissful do-nothing state. We have a great work in many lines to do in this our day to prepare the way for the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Be sure that He finds us at the occupation He has given us. To every man He has given his work, a fitting occupation, to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 16

Children’s Will

The work of “breaking the will,” is a mistake. It is not the proper thing to do. The will of the child must be directed and guided. Save all the strength of the will, for the human being needs it all; but give it a proper direction. The parents are to take that will wisely and tenderly, as a sacred treasure. They are not to hammer it to pieces, but by precept, by true example and love, wisely fashion and mold it until the child comes to years of understanding. Then guide them still will your counsel, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 17

A great mistake is made when the lines of control are placed in the child’s hands, and he is allowed to bear sway and control in the home. This is giving undue direction to that wonderful thing, the will power. But this has been done, and will continue to be done because fathers and mothers are blind in their discernment and calculation. Every child that is not carefully and prayerfully disciplined will be unhappy in this their probationary time, and will form such unlovely traits of character that the Lord cannot unite them with His family in heaven. There is a very great burden to be carried all through the life of a spoiled child. In trial, in disappointment, in temptation, he will follow his undisciplined misdirected will. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 18

Children who have never learned to obey will have weak and impulsive characters, and will reveal great weakness when assailed by the enemy. They may profess to be Christians, but how sad is their experience through the neglect of parents in letting their children have their own way in their own strength. They rule, but have not learned to submit. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 19

What sin can be greater than that of allowing the child to be spoiled by mismanagement? When they have families of their own, they carry their defects with them, and thus the neglect of parents to deal faithfully with their children carries the deformity from generation to generation. Thus the world is deprived of the moral power of rectitude and integrity which it should have. The marred half-educated children are enervated, without the moral strength to overcome their own defective tempers and habits of work and uncontrolled wills. When their wills are crossed, they are roused to anger. The evil work begun in their homes in babyhood and childhood shall be perpetuated to the third and fourth generation. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 20

That mother who, knowing what is best for the spiritual and physical help of her child, yields to his tears and importunity, will, through her own training, be pierced through with many sorrows. We have proved in the training of our own children, and in the training of children of others, that they never love parents and guardians less for restraining them from doing evil. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 21

God will bless a just and correct discipline. But “without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] The heavenly intelligences cannot co-operate with fathers and mothers who are neglecting to train their children, who are allowing Satan to handle that little piece of infant machinery, that youthful mind, as an instrument through whom he can work to counteract the working of the Holy Spirit. They may profess to be converted, but the character will reveal if the neglected work of the parents has been overruled for good. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 22

The future of society is indicated in the education and training that the youth are receiving in our day. Parents, a solemn work is resting upon you. The greatest power, the efficient gospel, has its effect in the well-ordered and well-disciplined family. The children are not to be treated as dolls, made to be dressed and undressed, [or] idols, to have affections and indulgence lavished upon them, and parental self-sacrifice cater to their impulses. The children are to learn to obey in the family government. They are to form a symmetrical character that God can approve, maintaining law in the home life. Christian parents are to educate their children to obey the law of God. They are not to forget that their children are to be trained to be their helpers. Parents are not to be slaves to their children, doing all the sacrificing, while the children are permitted to grow up careless and unconcerned, letting all the burdens rest upon their parents. They are to be educated to share in the burdens of the home. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 23

Make your beginning right, parents. It is your duty to educate and train your children to do service for Him whose they are by creation and by redemption. Your children are God’s property, bought with a price. Be very particular, O fathers and mothers, to treat them in a Christlike manner. The mother often allows herself to become irritable and nervous. Often she snatches at the child, and speaks in a harsh manner. But if a child is treated in a quiet, kindly manner it will do much to preserve it in a pleasant temper. The most grand and noble work that parents have to do for their Master is to bring into their government Bible discipline. All mothers, all teachers of the youth, all guardians of children, be careful how you blame. Let love and tenderness, patience and self-control, at all times be the law of your speech. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 24

God requires obedience of every human being. Our eternal future hangs here. In obedience to the law of God we shall form a beautiful character. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” [Psalm 19:7.] The children should be taught respect for every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Parents are ever to magnify the precepts of the law of the Lord before their children, by showing obedience to that law, by living themselves under the control of God. If a sense of the sacredness of the law gets hold of the parents it will surely transform the character by converting the soul. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 25

The reasons for this obedience and respect for the law of God may be impressed upon the children as soon as they can understand its nature, so that they will be ready to know what they should do, and what they should abstain from doing. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 26

Parents, be cheerful, not common and cheap, but be thankful and obedient and submissive to your heavenly Father. You are not at liberty to act our your feelings if things should arise that irritate. Winning love is to be like deep waters, ever flowing forth in the management of your children. They are the lambs of the flock of God. Bring your little ones to Christ. If parents would educate their children to be pleasant, they should never speak in a scolding manner to them. Educate yourself to carry a pleasant countenance, and bring all the sweetness and melody possible into your voice. The angels of God are ever near your little ones, and your harsh, loud tones of fretfulness are not pleasant to their ears. Bear in mind the words of One who knows: 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 27

“And Jesus called a little child to Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso receiveth one such little child in my name receiveth me.” [Matthew 18:2-5.] 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 28

If the Lord could present a little child in its simplicity as an object lesson, then be careful how you treat the precious little ones, the lambs of the flock. There need be no harsh tones of voice, no hard, painful strokes upon the little form, if you will in the fear and love of God so do your duty that you yourselves, father and mother, may not deserve the pain you cause your child to suffer because of your masterly spirit that is so easily provoked. We would be much happier if we would manifest the gentleness of Christ in dealing with the little ones who have everything to learn from the lips and the manifest character of the parents. It is a pleasant thing for God and the angels above to behold this work carried on in the families on earth in a Christlike manner, the parents fully appreciating the value of the souls of the precious little ones committed to their care. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 29

If parents will have a sense of their responsibility, they will heed the words of Christ, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of their Father which is in heaven.” [Verse 10.] 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 30

What a thought! These words are not alone spoken for the benefit of the little ones in years, but it embraces them. These words embrace all who are newly come to the faith, who are little children in experience, born again into the kingdom of God. The disciples were contending as to which should be the greatest, which should have the highest place in the kingdom of heaven. Our Lord would have them see and understand that such a spirit cherished was not praiseworthy, that in seeking to be greatest they were bringing in attributes of character which would not give to the little ones a correct example. They would hurt the souls of the very ones whom Jesus was receiving as subjects of His kingdom. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 31

Christians are to be Christlike. Change of location will not change the heart. All who sincerely believe that the living oracles of God mean just what they say will act that faith. The youth are not perseveringly educated by their parents to respect the laws of their own being, therefore they easily turn aside from the laws which God has ordained for their spiritual life. In the education of their children, parents should begin early to establish them in correct methods and habits. Every action is liable to be repeated. Every course of action has a twofold character and importance. It is virtuous or vicious, right or wrong, according to the motive which prompts it. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 32

A wrong action, by frequent repetition, leaves a permanent impression upon the mind of the actor and also in the mind of those who are connected with him in any relation, spiritual or temporal. The parents or teachers who give no attention to the small actions that are not right, establish that habit in the performer of it. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 33

The education that is general in the schools is not that which should be recognized as education. The educators of youth should be Christians, who are themselves under the discipline of God. Then they will have a sense of their responsibility to themselves, which they will maintain as Christians under all circumstances and provocations, never displaying passions or an arbitrary spirit. They will reveal sound principles, unswerving integrity, pure sentiments revealed in pure words. These are the high thoughts that will draw the youth to the higher education. An atmosphere of purity will surround the soul. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 34

A conscience void of offense toward God and man is a wonderful acquirement. The love of God and our fellow men proceed from God who is the storehouse of all power. Let every man and woman, in the training of their children, inculcate in them ideas of right. Principle must be firmly held by the parents and teachers of the youth. They must reverence the principles of God’s holy Word, and let their own life reveal that they are pure and noble and heavenly. Nothing can excuse parents from the responsibility toward their children in their influence, in the home discipline and education. Low, cheap, common talk should find no place in the family. When the heart is pure there will flow from the heart rich treasures of wisdom. The inward parts are as a holy temple of God, and any entrance of corrupt principles reveals itself in words and actions that divorce them from God and extinguish moral and spiritual power. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 35

God will not trust His Holy Spirit to those who would work contrary to its deep inward, earnest working. Young men who will indulge in intemperate habits, in smoking and tampering with the wine cup, will so corrupt the principles of the soul, that these objectionable things become one with their nature, a part of themselves, not only to demoralize themselves, but others. Low gratifications indulged, and indulged continuously, degrade the entire being. The taste for evil and love of coarseness becomes natural. Stain after stain gathers like leprosy upon the soul, until they are suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy. The sinner may repent, and Jesus may accept his contrition, and will pardon his transgression, but the influence of that time of evil doing upon others can never be entirely counteracted. 12LtMs, Ms 126, 1897, par. 36