Daughters of God


Parents Can Be Too Indulgent

In 1871 Ellen White wrote to her friends, Brother and Sister Bailey, about their indulgence toward their children. DG 208.3

Dear Friends, Brother and Sister Bailey,

I have been feeling it to be my duty to write you since I have been writing for others the things that have been shown me in regard to them. I have had some things to write to you but have not felt free to write until now. When at your house if a favorable opportunity had presented, I should have spoken to you and relieved my mind. Since my returning home, I do not feel free unless I write to you. DG 208.4

I have had much writing to do in regard to the errors of parents in properly instructing their children and the result upon their children. Your course was opened before me. You have both been too indulgent to your children. Your dangers and errors are not seen and realized so fully as to lead you to take a position you should in your family and command your household after you. DG 208.5

God in His great mercy has brought the truth to your knowledge. You love the truth. You see its claims upon you. It has wrought a reformation in the life and has led you to have a deep interest in the spiritual welfare of your children. All this is in accordance with the Spirit of God. But while you feel thus anxious you fail seriously to do the work the Lord has left you as parents to do. Your children have not been restrained. They have been indulged to their injury. They have not been brought into subjection as God requires. DG 208.6

There has been a serious lack with you in the training of your children. Your daughter especially has been petted. Your sons have not been educated aright. Your daughter has been petted and indulged until her practical usefulness is very small. Her attention has been mostly directed to herself until her mind has become supremely selfish and centered upon herself. If she has had indisposition, she is averse to labor. She has been favored and excused from any exertion. You have talked before her that she was not well. Her imagination has been excited in this direction. The mother has borne the heavy burdens she should have shared with the daughter and with her sons. The mother would have been spared much suffering in consequence of acute attacks by disease, could she have had the help she might have had from her children, especially her daughter. Such labor would have been the greatest benefit to the daughter healthwise and saved her from sickness and been a blessing to her mother.... DG 209.1

Another evil which threatens to destroy the usefulness of your daughter is a love of the world, and pride of appearance. She has cherished an affectation which is death to spirituality. DG 209.2

Sister Bailey, you have committed a serious error in bringing up your children. Just as the twig is bent, the tree inclines. Your petting and excusing their errors and disrespect of your authority have stood directly in the way of their salvation. Children who are not trained to be courteous and to yield to the claims of their parents will not have a sense of their duty to God and His claims upon them for obedience and submission.... DG 209.3

Your children, who share your bounty and hospitality, should be made to understand that in return they must show obedience and respect for your authority. Your children will yet be without the grace of God; they will cause you heartaches and the keenest pangs of anguish without one feeling of remorse. They will consider the slightest restraint an invasion of their rights and will despise reproof. DG 209.4

Your children lost the benefits of the early training they should have had, but now you should change your discipline entirely and redeem your neglect. Your children lack those noble, desirable qualities of mind which right discipline and self-culture would have given them. Your children are not courteous, neither are they respectful. You listen to words from their lips that you should not permit under your roof. The young who are not restrained at an early age become their own masters and their own mistresses. They take the reins in their own hands. They are self-important, self-conceited, and impetuous, and do not have much taste or ambition for self-respect or to discipline their mind by close application to anything. They will not be restrained. They despise school discipline, for they have not been disciplined at home.... DG 210.1

God is not pleased with Sister Bailey's course in the management of her children. [She is] remiss in duty, weighed in the balance and found wanting. This is a serious defect in a mother—to be so tender of her children that she would allow sin upon them, allow them to be passionate, unthankful, disobedient, heady, high-minded—and yet excuse this and cover it from others’ eyes and even from her own eyes. In this she is partaker of their wrongs and has been sustaining them in sin, and the blood of their souls will be in the skirts of her garments and their father's. They can now redeem the past by a reformation on their part, but they can never blot out the results of their great neglect as far as their children are concerned. God holds parents responsible for the conduct of their children in a great degree, for they have [responsibility for] the formation of their characters.... DG 210.2

Your daughter needs to be energized by active labor. She is far better able to work and bear her share of life's burdens than for her mother to bear them for her. Work, every day, that will bring into action her muscles and the organs of the body will be the best medicine your daughter can have. Delicate idleness is keeping her bilious and discontented and unhappy.... May God bless these lines to you, my brother and sister.—Letter 1, 1871. DG 210.3