Manuscript Releases, vol. 7 [Nos. 419-525]


Small Children Must be Taught Courtesy

You invite me to visit you at Bro. Fred Harmon's. I do not say I will not come but I should do injustice to myself and to you should I come and converse with you both as I have done several times. A plain statement it is my duty to make to you. 7MR 3.2

You ask me serious questions which must not be answered by me in any careless way for much is involved in these questions and in order to answer you with due thought and intelligence, I must not be constantly interrupted by your playing with your children. Have you not thought, my sister, you are not doing justice to yourself and showing due respect and courtesy to me, your guest? 7MR 3.3

Your daughter Daisy is a very promising child. She attracts notice and praise and flattery from others and all praise her for her smartness; but be very careful that you do not administer to her vanity. When you have guests, you can say to your children, Now I wish to visit with my friends and you must amuse yourself. Daisy is 4(?) years old, a very nice little girl and her perceptions are large. She will form habits rapidly. You can, when you have special visiting to do with your friends, say that she must not disturb you by putting in her little sharp voice to distract your mind, and you lose all the benefit it is your privilege to have. It will be just as you shall manage the matter. You held the lines and a little whip and were carrying on an imaginary driving a horse. Your voice [was] heard in directing and etc., then her voice was constantly interspersed in the conversation and a laugh. It was a mixing of the common and sacred in such a way that it was a most painful interview to me, for you could not possibly have been able to get clear ideas of what I was trying to say to you, and could not be a reliable one to communicate that which was said. 7MR 4.1

You will not educate your children to respect those who are older and those who are laborers together with God. You yourselves have been exacting teachers. You have needed caution in regard to being so severe if all respect and due attention was not given to your words of instruction. You have a little school in your own family and you need to move as parents wisely. If you consider that every expressed wish to your little ones must be gratified, you will make them selfish and their wishes will multiply and be predominating. In visiting our people in other places, the education you give your children will make them an annoyance and I advise you now to leave them at home for it is evident they are placed on exhibition as prodigies of smartness and the good you might accomplish as laborers together with God in families you visit is not done. It is not pleasant to you to be separated from your children and let others have a care for them. But I learned in our labors the formation of right character in my children required this. The continual changing brought the children to notice and to the hearing of remarks calculating to indulgence, and praising and petting brought into their education a love of self and the idea that they were to be administered to as the all important part of the program. 7MR 4.2

I would advise you as missionaries doing a work for God, have your little ones under as good care and discipline as possible. It is not in any way perfect. It would be far more so than the advantages you can give them under all circumstances. 7MR 5.1

We would not sever youth and old age, and I love to have children in the room where I am if they do not fill the whole room and are the all pervading element in the room. It is proper to teach the little ones that there are times when they must not command your whole time and resources to amuse them. You need not make a long recitation of the matter to the children, but act as opportunities present themselves. Tell them you must not be interrupted for you wish to hear and to talk now. And the character of the child must be formed so as not to consider your children in this world to carry through without restraint their own desires. They are to be educated as to what is proper and right. Hannah gave to the Lord her son and separated him from her as soon as he was weaned and brought a little coat to the lad every year. How many tears and prayers mingled in the stitches put in that little coat. Was it not a sacrifice for her to be deprived of the care of her loved one? With what pride she would have cherished the child given her of God, but she gave this child to the Lord to serve Him, and how grateful and joyous her heart that the Lord accepted the offering and evidenced that He regarded the mother's gift as a fragrant savor offered to God.—Letter 12, 1884, pp. 1-3. (To Brother and Sister Brownsberger, 1884.) 7MR 5.2