Manuscript Releases, vol. 19 [Nos. 1360-1419]


MR No. 1372—Parents to Exercise Loving Authority in the Home; Children to Seek and Follow Parents’ Counsel

(Written January 9, 1904, at “Elmshaven,” Sanitarium, California, to “My dear granddaughter Mabel.”)

I have not been able to sleep since twelve o'clock. In my sleeping hours I have been troubled over your case. 19MR 81.1

Your mother, during her last sickness, said to me, “I do not know that I need to ask you, Mother, to take a special interest in Ella, and especially in Mabel. They both will need much care, especially Mabel, in order to overcome her predisposition to pulmonary difficulties. The more she can be in the open air, the better it will be for her. She has an independent nature, and unless she is judiciously managed, she may bring much trouble upon herself in more ways than one. But you will know how to counsel her if she is in any danger.” 19MR 81.2

I promised your mother that I would guard you faithfully. I should have done this even if she had not made the entreaty. I have always felt a special interest in you both, Ella May and Mabel White. 19MR 81.3

There are many things on which you must be guarded healthwise. For several years you will need to be very careful. You are ambitious, and at times inconsiderate and reckless. 19MR 81.4

As I have seen the delicacy of your eyesight, I have had misgivings as to whether you would be able to keep up studies in school. Light has been given me that if you will exercise great care, doing all in your power to preserve your eyesight, you may be able to study, and make a success of your school work. But you must be very careful. Do not misuse your eyes by reading books that are no help to you in your studies. Rest your eyes all that you can. Do not strain them at all. This I have been instructed to say to you. 19MR 81.5

I have ventured to make a trial of paying your way through school for this year. God has given you talents. Improve the advantages that you now have. Do not waste your eyesight in reading stories. Do not venture to trifle with your eyes. 19MR 82.1

The Lord desires you to be a sensible girl, and, by appreciating and improving the advantages given you, to develop into a useful woman, able to act a part in some line of service in the Lord's cause. 19MR 82.2

I want you to listen to what I am going to say to you. You must on no account entertain thoughts of marriage. Such a thing must not be thought of until you have gained a decided victory over the dangers that threaten your physical health. 19MR 82.3

In order to obtain the full benefits of the educational advantages offered you, you must keep yourself free from attachments with young men. You are a minor, and you have no moral right to take yourself into your own control in this matter, as if you were free to do as you pleased. You have done wrong in following the course that you have in regard to the important question of marriage without asking counsel from your father and mother. I have questioned you again and again in regard to this matter, but you have evaded my questions. Some time ago you said that you liked _____, but that you had not decided to, or even thought of, marrying anyone. 19MR 82.4

You have regarded the whole matter in a wrong way. Again and again I have charged you not to form any attachments for boys or young men. And you and Ella have assured me that you would not allow yourselves to be drawn into any familiarity with young men. 19MR 83.1

Last night words were spoken to me to speak to you. I was instructed that you have not been walking as a child should. Your course has not been what it should have been. You should be guided and controlled by your father. You have no right to do as you have done. But in spite of the cautions so delicately given, you have followed your own way. One such caution should have been sufficient. 19MR 83.2

You have no right to place your affections on any young man without your father's and your mother's full sanction. You are but a child, and for you to show a preference for any young man, without the full knowledge and sanction of your father, is to dishonor him. Your attachment to this young man is robbing you of a peaceful mind and of healthful sleep. It is filling your mind with foolish fancies and with sentimentalism. It is retarding you in your studies, and is working serious evil to your mental and physical powers. If opposed, you become irritable and low-spirited. 19MR 83.3

Is this course of action an honor to your father? You should respect your father, whom you know to be honored of God. He has not much time to give to the education and training of his children. They have had religious training, but not as much of their father's presence as they should have had. Every father who, because he is called to public work, [and] is obliged to deprive his children of the care that they should receive from him, will have keen trials. 19MR 83.4

Home education means much. It is a matter of great scope. Abraham was called the “father of the faithful.” Among the things that made him a remarkable example of godliness was the strict regard that in his home he paid to the commands of God. He cultivated home religion. He who sees the education given in every home, and who measures the influence of this education, said, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” 19MR 84.1

The father must not betray his sacred trust. He must not, on any point, yield up his parental authority. He is to be the priest and house-band of his home. 19MR 84.2

The moment that the child begins to choose his own will and way, that moment his education in discipline is to begin. This may be called an unconscious education. It is then that a work, conscious and powerful, is to begin. The greatest burden of this work necessarily rests on the mother. She has the first care of the child, and she is to lay the foundation of an education that will help the child to develop a strong, symmetrical character. 19MR 84.3

When the family is large, and the mother has many duties, care should be taken that the younger children are not neglected. As the older children grow up, they are to be taught to care for the younger ones. 19MR 84.4

Neither father nor mother is to permit blind affection to lead them to indulge their children. Frequently mere babies show a most determined will. If this will is not brought into subjection to a wiser authority than the child's untrained desires, Satan takes control of the mind, and fashions the disposition in harmony with his will. 19MR 84.5

Abraham did not allow Satan to control in his household. He realized the responsibility of the work committed to him, and he did not betray the sacred trust placed in his hand. He did not yield to the enemy who was striving to gain control in his home. He honored the law of God, and strove earnestly to bring those in his charge up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. 19MR 85.1

Every father and mother is answerable to the great Lawgiver for the children placed in their care. They are to guard their children with untiring watchfulness. Together parents and children are to walk in the way of the Lord, ruled and guided by His Holy Spirit. Obedience that the Lord has given to control in the home will prevent all disobedience on the part of the children and all oppression and cruelty on the part of the parents. 19MR 85.2

“I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him.” This commanding on the part of Abraham, God justified. It is essential, and in harmony with the will of the Lord of love, that parents exercise wise, Christlike authority in the home. It is this love that requires parents to repress in the child all that savors of disobedience, all that would lead the child to dishonor his parents and to dishonor God. If children are not restrained, they will cherish ideas and take liberties that will make their example and influence a power for evil. He whose heart is love has spoken decidedly, saying that evil habits are to be repressed by the combined influence of authority and affection. 19MR 85.3

He who is chosen by God to bear responsibilities in the work carried on by His church, and to give counsel and advice, should set a correct example in his own family. His children should be taught to honor their father and their mother. 19MR 85.4

God has given rules for the guidance of parents and children. These rules are to be strictly obeyed. The children are not to be indulged, and allowed to think that they can follow their own desires without asking the advice of their parents. 19MR 86.1

Holiness to God is to pervade the home. This will bring angels of God into the home circle. Parents and children are to educate themselves to cooperate with God. They are to bring their habits and practices into harmony with God's plans. 19MR 86.2

From the rules that God has given for the guidance of parents and children, there can be no sinless swerving. God expects parents to give their children a training that is in accordance with the principles of His Word. Faith and works are to be combined. Everything that is done in the home life and in the school life must be done decently and in order. 19MR 86.3

God has given the ten commandments as His law for His household here below. The influence of every minister, every teacher, every physician, is to be Christlike. All commonness, all cheapness, is to be purged from every home. Of Cornelius it is said that he “feared God with all his house”. 19MR 86.4

Parents are to keep the way of the Lord. Every other way is forbidden. Parents and children, “make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way”. There must be no laxness in the principles governing the family. The fear of God reigning in the home will bring the softening, subduing influence of the angels, and the hearts of parents and children will be filled with holy joy. The children are not to be allowed to be cross and refractory, for this is dishonoring to God. 19MR 86.5

Study the experience of Eli. His sons did wickedly, and he restrained them not. A priest and ruler in Israel, he should have ordered his household in accordance with the will of God. But wishing to shun the unpleasant task of correcting his sons, he allowed them to follow their own way. He did not manage his household according to God's rules for family government. He followed his own judgment. The fond father overlooked the faults and sins of his sons in their childhood, flattering himself that after a time they would outgrow their evil tendencies. 19MR 87.1

Many are now making a similar mistake. They think they know a better way of training their children than that which God has given in His Word. They foster wrong tendencies in them, saying, “They are too young to be punished; wait till they become older and can be reasoned with.” Thus wrong habits are left to strengthen until they become second nature. The children grow up without restraint, with traits of character that are a lifelong curse to them and are liable to be reproduced in others. 19MR 87.2

Terrible was the judgment pronounced on Eli. “The Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.”—Letter 9, 1904. 19MR 87.3

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 14, 1988.

Entire Letter.