Manuscript Releases, vol. 8 [Nos. 526-663]


MR No. 634—Importance of Parental Establishment of Children's Eating Habits

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 supervision to 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 pushing in managing their children, you would criticize them severely. And again, not to 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, and your discipline in this line needs the reformation and the principle of practice. 8MR 379.1

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. 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 shall 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. 8MR 379.2

To eat and to drink that which is not agreeable to them is not wisdom. And 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, 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.—Letter 12, 1884, pp. 3, 4. (To Brother and Sister Brownsberger, 1884.) 8MR 380.1

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.” 8MR 380.2

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. 8MR 380.3

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.—Manuscript 126, 1897, 1, 2. (“The Training of Children,” November 15, 1897.) 8MR 381.1

Some infants are being constantly fed, which creates a feverishness in the stomach. Let the infant have its regular hours of eating. Educate it to correct habits.—Manuscript 9, 1893, 4. (“True to Principle,” March 5, 1893.) 8MR 381.2

Released June 21, 1978.