Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1


Chapter 19—Parental Influences

Controlled by Divine Principles—There rests upon parents the most solemn obligation to train their children in the fear and love of God. In the home the purest morals are to be preserved. Strict obedience to Bible requirements is to be taught. The teachings of the Word of God are to control mind and heart of the homelife may demonstrate the power of the grace of God. Each member of the family is to be “polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalm 144:12) by the divine principles and precepts.—The Review and Herald, November 10, 1904. 1MCP 163.1

Parents Need to Understand Children—Parents should not forget their childhood years, how much they yearned for sympathy and love and how unhappy they felt when censured and fretfully chided. They should be young again in their feelings and bring their minds down to understand the wants of their children. Yet with firmness, mixed with love, they should require obedience from their children. The parents’ word should be implicitly obeyed.—Testimonies for the Church 1:388 (1863). 1MCP 163.2

God Has Appointed a Path—Angels of God are watching the children with the deepest interest to see what characters they develop. If Christ dealt with us as we often deal with one another and with our children, we would stumble and fall through utter discouragement. I saw that Jesus knows our infirmities and has Himself shared our experience in all things but in sin; therefore He has prepared for us a path suited to our strength and capacity, and like Jacob, has marched softly and in evenness with the children as they were able to endure, that He might entertain us by the comfort of His company and be to us a perpetual guide. He does not despise, neglect, or leave behind the children of the flock. He has not bidden us move forward and leave them. He has not traveled so hastily as to leave us with our children behind. Oh, no; but He has evened the path to life, even for children. And parents are required in His name to lead them along the narrow way. God has appointed us a path suited to the strength and capacity of children.—Testimonies for the Church 1:388, 389 (1863). 1MCP 164.1

Fretfulness Should Be Repressed—Parents, when you feel fretful, you should not commit so great a sin as to poison the whole family with this dangerous irritability. At such times set a double watch over yourselves and resolve in your heart not to offend with your lips, that you will utter only pleasant, cheerful words. Say to yourselves: “I will not mar the happiness of my children by a fretful word.” By thus controlling yourselves you will grow stronger. Your nervous system will not be so sensitive. You will be strengthened by the principles of right. The consciousness that you are faithfully discharging your duty will strengthen you. Angels of God will smile upon your efforts and help you. 1MCP 164.2

When you feel impatient, you too often think the cause is in your children, and you blame them when they do not deserve it. At another time they might do the very same things, and all would be acceptable and right. Children know and mark and feel these irregularities, and they are not always the same. At times they are somewhat prepared to meet changeable moods, and at other times they are nervous and fretful, and cannot bear censure.... 1MCP 164.3

Some parents are of a nervous temperament, and when fatigued with labor or oppressed with care, they do not preserve a calm state of mind, but manifest to those who should be dearest to them on earth a fretfulness and lack of forbearance which displeases God and brings a cloud over the family. Children, in their troubles, should often be soothed with tender sympathy. Mutual kindness and forbearance will make home a paradise and attract holy angels into the family circle.—Testimonies for the Church 1:386, 387 (1863). 1MCP 165.1

Paralyzed Minds of Parents—We have some knowledge of Satan's manner of working and how well he succeeds in it. From what has been shown me, he has paralyzed the minds of parents. They are slow to suspect that their own children can be wrong and sinful. Some of these children profess to be Christians, and parents sleep on, fearing no danger, while the minds and bodies of their children are becoming wrecked. 1MCP 165.2

Some parents do not even take care to keep their children with them when in the house of God. Young girls attend meetings and take their seats, it may be, with their parents, but more frequently back in the congregation. They are in the habit of making an excuse to leave the house. Boys understand this and go out before or after the exit of the girls, and then, as the meeting closes, they accompany them home. Parents are none the wiser of this. Again, excuses are made to walk, and boys and girls assemble in the fairgrounds or some other secluded place, and there play and have a regular high time, with no experienced eye upon them to caution them.—Testimonies for the Church 2:481, 482 (1870). 1MCP 165.3

Diet and Parental Influences—If parents had lived healthfully, being satisfied with simple diet, much expense would have been saved. The father would not have been obliged to labor beyond his strength in order to supply the wants of his family. A simple nourishing diet would not have had an influence to unduly excite the nervous system and the animal passions, producing moroseness and irritability. If he had partaken only of plain food, his head would have been clear, his nerves steady, his stomach in a healthy condition, and with a pure system he would have had no loss of appetite, and the present generation would be in a much better condition than it now is. 1MCP 165.4

But even now, in this late period, something can be done to improve our condition. Temperance in all things is necessary. A temperate father will not complain if he has no great variety upon his table. A healthful manner of living will improve the condition of the family in every sense and will allow the wife and mother time to devote to her children. 1MCP 166.1

The great study with the parents will be in what manner can they best train their children for usefulness in this world and for heaven hereafter. They will be content to see their children with neat, plain, but comfortable garments, free from embroidery and adornment. They will earnestly labor to see their children in the possession of the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.—Healthful Living, 45, 1865 (Part 2) . (Selected Messages 2:437, 438.) 1MCP 166.2

Father, the Family House-Band—A Christian father is the house-band of his family, binding them close to the throne of God. Never is his interest in his children to flag. The father who has a family of boys should not leave these restless boys wholly to the care of the mother. This is too heavy a burden for her. He should make himself their companion and friend. He should exert himself to keep them from evil associates. It may be hard for the mother to exercise self-control. If the husband sees that his wife's weakness is endangering the safety of the children, he should take more of the burden upon himself, doing all in his power to lead his boys to God.—The Review and Herald, July 8, 1902. 1MCP 166.3

Mothers Not to Seek Excitement—Mothers who have youthful minds to train and the characters of children to form should not seek the excitement of the world in order to be cheerful and happy. They have an important lifework, and they and theirs cannot afford to spend time in an unprofitable manner. Time is one of the important talents which God has entrusted to us and for which He will call us to account. A waste of time is a waste of intellect. The powers of the mind are susceptible of high cultivation. It is the duty of mothers to cultivate their minds and keep their hearts pure. They should improve every means within their reach for their intellectual and moral improvement that they may be qualified to improve the minds of their children. 1MCP 167.1

Those who indulge their disposition to be in company will soon feel restless unless visiting or entertaining visitors. Such have not the power of adaptation to circumstances. The necessary, sacred home duties seem commonplace and uninteresting to them. They have no love for self-examination or self-discipline. The mind hungers for the varying, exciting scenes of worldly life; children are neglected for the indulgence of inclination; and the recording angel writes, “Unprofitable servants.” God designs that our minds should not be purposeless but should accomplish good in this life.—Testimonies for the Church 3:146, 147 (1872). 1MCP 167.2

Nursing Mother to Preserve a Happy State—The character also of the child is more or less affected by the nature of the nourishment received from the mother. How important, then, that the mother, while nursing her infant, should preserve a happy state of mind, having perfect control of her own spirit. By thus doing, the food of the child is not injured, and the calm, self-possessed course the mother pursues in the treatment of her child has much to do in molding the mind of the infant. If it is nervous and easily agitated, the mother's careful, unhurried manner will have a soothing and correcting influence, and the health of the infant will be much improved.—The Review and Herald, July 25, 1899. (Counsels on Health, 80.) 1MCP 167.3

Mother Should Endeavor to Be Self-possessed—The more quiet and simple the life of a child, the more favorable it will be to both physical and mental development. At all times the mother should endeavor to be quiet, calm, and self-possessed. Many infants are extremely susceptible to nervous excitement, and the mother's gentle, unhurried manner will have a soothing influence that will be of untold benefit to the child.—The Ministry of Healing, 381 (1905). 1MCP 168.1

Sensitive Child Not to Be Wounded by Indifference—Young children love society. They cannot, as a general thing, enjoy themselves alone, and the mother should feel that, in most cases, the place for her children, when they are in the house, is in the room she occupies. She can then have a general oversight of them; be prepared to set little differences right, when appealed to by them; correct wrong habits or the manifestation of selfishness or passion; and can give their minds a turn in the right direction. That which children enjoy, they think mother can be pleased with, and it is perfectly natural for them to consult mother in little matters of perplexity. 1MCP 168.2

And the mother should not wound the heart of her sensitive child by treating the matter with indifference or by refusing to be troubled with such small matters. That which may be small to the mother is large to them. And a word of direction, or caution, at the right time will often prove of great value. An approving glance, a word of encouragement and praise from the mother, will often cast a sunbeam into their young hearts for a whole day.—Healthful Living, 46, 47, 1865 (Part 2) . (Selected Messages 2:438, 439.) 1MCP 168.3

Deal Gently With Little Ones—Mothers, deal gently with your little ones. Christ was once a little child. For His sake honor the children. Look upon them as a sacred charge, not to be indulged, petted, and idolized but to be taught to live pure, noble lives. They are God's property; He loves them and calls upon you to cooperate with Him in helping them to form perfect characters.—The Signs of the Times, August 23, 1899. (The Adventist Home, 280.) 1MCP 169.1

Your Child Is the Property of God—My sister, can you be surprised that your daughter has little confidence in her mother's word? You have educated her to be untruthful; and the Lord is grieved to see one of His little ones led in the wrong path by her mother. Your child is not your own; you cannot do with her as you like, for she is the property of the Lord. Exercise a steady persevering control over her; teach her that she belongs to God. With such a training she will grow up to be a blessing to those around her. But clear, sharp discernment will be necessary in order that you may repress her inclination to rule you both, to have her own will and way, and to do as she pleases.—Letter 69, 1896. 1MCP 169.2

Sunny Dispositions and Sweet Tempers—Teach your children from the cradle to practice self-denial and self-control. Teach them to enjoy the beauties of nature, and in useful employment to exercise all the powers of mind and body. Bring them up to have sound constitutions and good morals, to have sunny dispositions and sweet tempers. Teach them that to yield to temptation is weak and wicked; to resist is noble and manly.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 127 (1913). 1MCP 169.3

Mothers Are an Example—If mothers would have their daughters come to womanhood with healthful bodies and virtuous characters, they must in their own lives set the example, guarding them against the health-destroying fashions of this age. Christian mothers have resting upon them a responsibility which they do not realize. They should so train their children that they may have firm principle and moral health in this age of corruption.—Manuscript 76, 1900. 1MCP 169.4

When the Wish of Child Is Law—In some families the wish of the child is law. Everything he desires is given him. Everything he dislikes, he is encouraged to dislike. Indulgence is supposed to make the child happy, but it only makes him restless and discontented. Indulgence has spoiled his appetite for plain, healthful food and for the plain use of his time; self-gratification has done the work of unsettling his character for time and for eternity.—The Review and Herald, May 10, 1898. 1MCP 170.1

Satan Seeks to Control Children's Minds—Parents, you know something of the inducements by which Satan tries to lead your children into folly. He is working with all his powers to lead them astray. With a determination that many do not dream of he is seeking to gain control of their minds and to make the commandments of God of no effect in their lives.—Manuscript 93, 1909. 1MCP 170.2

Parents to Bind Children to Their Hearts—Do not let your children see you with a clouded brow. If they yield to temptation, and afterward see and repent of their error, forgive them just as freely as you hope to be forgiven by your Father in heaven. Kindly instruct them and bind them to your hearts. It is a critical time for children. Influences will be thrown around them to wean them from you, which you must counteract. Teach them to make you their confidant. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys. By encouraging this, you will save them from many a snare that Satan has prepared for their inexperienced feet. 1MCP 170.3

Do not treat your children only with sternness, forgetting your own childhood and forgetting that they are but children. Do not expect them to be perfect or try to make them men and women in their acts at once. By so doing you will close the door of access which you might otherwise have to them and will drive them to open a door for injurious influences, for others to poison their young minds before you awake to their danger.—Testimonies for the Church 1:387 (1863). 1MCP 170.4

Strong, Even Discipline—The happiness of every child may be secured by strong, even discipline. A child's truest graces consist in modesty and obedience—in attentive ears to hear the words of direction, in willing feet and hands to walk and work in the path of duty. And a child's true goodness will bring its own reward, even in this life. 1MCP 171.1

The early years are the time for the training process, not only that the child may become most serviceable and full of grace and truth in this life, but that he may secure the place prepared in the home above for all who are true and obedient. In our own training of children and in the training of the children of others, we have proved that they never love parents and guardians less for restraining them from doing evil.—The Review and Herald, May 10, 1898. 1MCP 171.2

Jesus Manifested a Peculiar Loveliness of Disposition—As a child, Jesus manifested a peculiar loveliness of disposition. His willing hands were ever ready to serve others. He manifested a patience that nothing could disturb and a truthfulness that would never sacrifice integrity. In principle firm as a rock, His life revealed the grace of unselfish courtesy. 1MCP 171.3

With deep earnestness the mother of Jesus watched the unfolding of His powers and beheld the impress of perfection upon His character. With delight she sought to encourage that bright, receptive mind. Through the Holy Spirit she received wisdom to cooperate with the heavenly agencies in the development of this child, who could claim only God as His Father.—The Desire of Ages, 68, 69 (1898). 1MCP 171.4

Preoccupation of Mind Rules Out Low Thoughts—Educate the faculties and tastes of your dear ones; seek to preoccupy their minds so that there shall be no place for low, debasing thoughts or indulgences. The grace of Christ is the only antidote or preventive of evil. You may choose, if you will, whether the minds of your children shall be occupied with pure, uncorrupted thoughts or with the evils that are existing everywhere—pride and forgetfulness of their Redeemer.—Letter 27, 1890 (Child Guidance, 188.) 1MCP 172.1

Surrounded by a Wall Not Easily Broken Down—Every Christian home should have rules; and parents should, in their words and in their deportment toward each other, give to the children a precious living example of what they desire them to be. Purity in speech and true Christian courtesy should be constantly practiced. Let there be no encouragement of sin, no evil surmising or evil speaking. 1MCP 172.2

Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to God, true to principle; teach them to respect and obey the law of God. Then these principles will control their lives and will be carried out in their association with others. They will love their neighbor as themselves. They will create a pure atmosphere, one that will have an influence to encourage weak souls in the path that leads to holiness and heaven. Let every lesson be of an elevating, ennobling character, and the records made in the books of heaven will be such as you will not be ashamed to meet in the judgment. 1MCP 172.3

Children who receive this kind of instruction will not be a burden, a cause of anxiety, in our institutions [educational, medical, publishing, etc.]; but they will be a strength, a support to those who bear responsibility. They will be prepared to fill places of trust and by precept and example will be constantly aiding others to do right. Those whose moral sensibilities have not been blunted will appreciate right principles and will practice them. They will put a right estimate upon their endowments and will make the best use of their physical, mental, and moral powers. 1MCP 172.4

Such souls are constantly fortified against temptation; they are surrounded by a wall not easily broken down. All such characters are, with the blessing of God, light-bearers; their influence tends to elevate others for a practical Christian life. The mind may be so elevated that divine thoughts and contemplations come to be as natural as the breath.—Letter 74, 1896. 1MCP 173.1