Daughters of God


Traits of Character Are Passed Along in Children

The following counsel was given to elder and Mrs. E. P. Daniels in 1888 regarding the training of their children. Elder Daniels was a prominent minister and his children were an item for discussion. Ellen White felt it her duty to again remind Elder and Mrs. Daniels that they were not bringing up their children in the fear of God. E. P. Daniels is not to be confused with A. G. Daniells. DG 203.1

For years testimonies have followed you upon the subject of economy and the wise expenditure of means, but neither you nor your wife has made decided changes in your practices. You love display; you love indulgence of appetite; you love to gratify your taste. The same traits of character shown in yourself are reproduced in your children, and you will reap that which you have sown. There never can be sufficient means granted you for your labors to sustain you in your indulgence in extravagant, spendthrift habits. Why do you not learn from those brethren who comfortably support themselves and their families on less money than you receive for your labors? The reason that you are in embarrassed circumstances is not because your wages are not enough to support you as a Christian, but [because] you do not manage your means in such a way as to keep you from embarrassment. If you had twenty dollars a week, you would still complain of financial pressure. DG 203.2

In Healdsburg the Lord wrought through you, not because you were perfect, but in spite of your imperfections. Self was mingled with your work. When you realized that the spirit and power of God were working with the people, if you had humbled yourself, if you had walked carefully and tenderly before God, feeling your unworthiness and His goodness, the influence you left in Healdsburg would have been far better than it now is. You charge all your financial embarrassment to circumstances. DG 203.3

You can talk well in regard to parents training their children. Your wife, whom I love and respect in the Lord, would make an excellent lecturer upon this subject. But your practice contradicts the excellent principles that you have presented. She does not practice her own teachings. When your customs are seen and your home life practices revealed, the people become confused and disgusted. You do not train your children for usefulness, to practice self-denial, and to keep the way of the Lord. Why are you so irresolute in purpose, so feeble in action, so vacillating in principle, so weak in faith? DG 203.4

These things are a mystery to those who have an opportunity to become acquainted with you in the pulpit and at home. Elder Daniels, they see you one day strong and self-assured; next day they see in you a complete change. You affirm strongly things exactly opposite to what you affirmed as strongly the day before.... DG 204.1

When I was shown the great need of reform in the education and training of your children, I was filled with pain that I cannot express, because I saw that you did not act your part in bringing about the best good of your children. You need the work of the Spirit of God in your own heart, for right principles are not governing your life. If you were right with God, you would not be doing as you have been doing in reference to your children; you would not present such an example as you have in their management. You should depend far less upon self and far more upon Jesus. If you were closely connected with God, you would rule your children wisely. DG 204.2

Zua [Daniels’ daughter] is impulsive; she lacks experience in the right direction; she needs to be guided and restrained instead of being indulged and flattered. If you were discerning, if your souls were imbued with the sanctifying power of the truth, you would need no advice in regard to her attending Snell's Seminary. If you were asked concerning the daughter of another, you would know just what course parents should pursue in relation to the education of their child. You have placed barriers in the way of Zua's salvation, for you have yourselves chosen as her associates the vain, the proud, the unbelieving.... DG 204.3

Sister Daniels, you have not met your solemn responsibilities as a mother ... [when you have] aided your daughter to deceive her father in regard to her dress and expenditures. Both of you have been deceived and carried away with false ideas in regard to the training of your children. You must be thoroughly transformed by the grace of Christ, so that you can teach your children, by precept and example, the good and right way. Zua is full of affectation and deception. She is superficial in nearly all her attainments. Her school life has given her an outside polish, but her heart is unrenewed, for she has no love for God, no love for the society of Christians. She is in the ranks of the enemy, and should she die today she would not enter the kingdom of heaven. DG 204.4

Paul [the son] is in no better condition, and your youngest girl is far from having a lovely character. Your own training is in every way defective. May the Lord have mercy on you all, that you may not lose your soul and the souls of your children.... DG 205.1

Paul is a boy who has good qualities as well as objectionable traits of character that have been cultivated and indulged rather than restrained. You have not taught him the sinfulness of a sullen, stubborn disposition and firmly restrained this growing evil. Even in the expression of his countenance your indulgence is leaving its mold. The impressions made in youth are most abiding, and early life is the best time to cultivate correct habits. DG 205.2

Paul has been encouraged to be exacting and particular in his diet, but you should set the food before him and never allow him to turn from it in disdain, calling for something that you have not provided. He may cherish his exacting habits in regard to his diet until he shall be disagreeable to himself and all connected with him. If he were obliged to labor according to his strength, hunger would give him a relish for his food and remove his murmuring. Decided measures should be taken in this matter. I love this son of yours; he can be molded in the right way, for, if properly trained, he will respond after a time.... DG 205.3

Give your boy something to do. Teach him to be industrious. He has naturally no love for work; he loves indolence and seeks to shirk responsibility. If you want your children to bless you, teach them to be useful and self-denying. Restrict their reading. They should not be allowed to pore over the pages of novels or story books filled with the tales of lust and knavery, for it will not leave a heavenly influence on their minds. They are young and inexperienced and will be just what you make them. All such habits of reading will cut up by the roots the principles of virtue which enter into the formation of a good, firm character. Novel reading is like taking poison and will sooner or later reveal its bitter results. DG 205.4

The mark for good or evil made upon the characters of your children is not written in the sand, but is traced as on enduring rock. Their associations will have to be guarded, for what is learned from the words and habits of their companions will mold the whole after-life. The company your children keep, the principles they now adopt, [and] the habits they now form are settling the destiny of their future with an almost infallible certainty. DG 206.1

Heretofore, what I have said to you has left no lasting impression, but will you not now become a different man? If you do not, I greatly fear that you will depart from the faith.... DG 206.2

May the Lord give you such clear views of Jesus that your soul will be enraptured. I commit these plain words to you both, to tell you that one-half your usefulness is counteracted by defects that you can and must overcome. Make thorough work for eternity, as in the sight of God. DG 206.3

Elder Daniels, I am your friend because I tell you the truth. You are engaged in a solemn work, and as an ambassador of Christ, I desire that you should make no failure, but give full proof of your ministry. Pray much, my brother; talk less. Pray that you may be endowed with wisdom and courage necessary to accomplish the work, whatever it may be. Say before God, “I will do my duty with an eye single to Thy glory.”—Letter 10, 1888. DG 206.4