The Signs of the Times


December 6, 1877

Home Duties of the Father


While we have dwelt upon the importance of the mother's work and mission, we would not lightly pass over the duty and responsibility of the husband and father in the training of his children. His efforts should be in harmony with those of the God-fearing mother. He should manifest his love and respect for her as the woman he has chosen and the mother of his children. ST December 6, 1877, par. 1

Many husbands do not sufficiently understand and appreciate the cares and perplexities which their wives endure, generally confined all day to an unceasing round of household duties. They frequently come to their homes with clouded brows, bringing no sunshine to the family circle. If the meals are not on time, the tired wife, who is frequently housekeeper, nurse, cook, and housemaid, all in one, is greeted with fault-finding. The exacting husband may condescend to take the worrying child from the weary arms of its mother that her arrangements for the family meal may be hastened; but if the child is restless, and frets in the arms of its father, he will seldom feel it his duty to act the nurse, and seek to quiet and soothe it. He does not pause to consider how many hours the mother has endured the little one's fretfulness, but calls out impatiently, “Here, mother, take your child.” It is not his child as well as hers? Is he not under a natural obligation to patiently bear his part of the burden of rearing his children? ST December 6, 1877, par. 2

In most families there are children of various ages, some of whom need not only the attention and wise discipline of the mother, but also the sterner, yet affectionate, influence of the father. Few fathers consider this matter in its due importance. They fall into neglect of their own duty, and thus heap grievous burdens upon the mother, at the same time feeling at liberty to criticise and condemn her actions according to their judgment. Under this heavy sense of responsibility and censure, the poor wife and mother often feels guilty and remorseful for that which she has done innocently or ignorantly, and frequently when she has done the very best thing possible under the circumstances. Yet when her wearisome efforts should be appreciated and approved, and her heart made glad, she is obliged to walk under a cloud of sorrow and condemnation, because her husband, while ignoring his own duty, expects her to fulfill both her own and his to his satisfaction, regardless of preventing circumstances. ST December 6, 1877, par. 3

He feels that his wife belongs to him, and is subject to his order and dictation, and liable to fall under his disapprobation. Who gives him this right of dictation and condemnation? Does the law of God, which commands him to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself? Does he find it among the injunctions of the apostles, who exhort: “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them”? No, there is no moral or religious defense for such an unjust authority. ST December 6, 1877, par. 4

Domestic duties are sacred and important, yet they are often attended by a weary monotony. The countless cares and perplexities become irritating, without the variety of change and cheerful relaxation, which the husband and father frequently has it in his power to grant her if he chose, or rather if he thought it necessary or desirable to do so. The life of a mother in the humbler walks of life is one of unceasing self-sacrifice, made harder if the husband fails to appreciate the difficulties of her position, and to give her his support. ST December 6, 1877, par. 5

But to return to the father who has so unconcernedly resigned the fretful child to its mother. How is his time employed while she is doing the double duty of preparing the meal and quieting the child? Frequently he may be seen, his feet elevated to a level with his head, reading a newspaper and smoking a cigar. Tobacco, then, is his solace. There are his children, of various ages, and of restless, nervous temperament, transmitted to them by the tobacco or liquor-using father. But, after giving those children their stamp of character by his own morbid appetite and selfish indulgence, he shirks the responsibility of training them, and of correcting the faults which they have received as a legacy from him. ST December 6, 1877, par. 6

Fathers should unbend from their false dignity, deny themselves, some slight self-gratification in time and leisure, in order to mingle with the children, sympathizing with them in their little troubles, binding them to their hearts by the strong bonds of love, and establishing such an influence over their expanding minds that their counsel will be regarded as sacred. ST December 6, 1877, par. 7

The average father wastes many golden opportunities to attract and bind his children to him. Upon returning home from his business he should find it a pleasant change to spend some time with his children. He may take them into the garden, and show them the opening buds, and the varied tints of the blooming flowers. Through such mediums he may give them the most important lessons concerning the Creator, by opening before them the great book of nature, where the love of God is expressed in every tree, and flower, and blade of grass. He may impress upon their minds the fact that if God cares so much for the trees and flowers, he will care much more for the creatures formed in his image. He may lead them early to understand that God wants children to be lovely, not with artificial adornment, but with beauty of character, the charms of kindness and affection, which will make their hearts bound with joy and happiness. ST December 6, 1877, par. 8

Parents may do much to connect their children with God by encouraging them to love the things of nature which he has given them, and to recognize the hand of the Giver in all they receive. The soil of the heart may thus early be prepared for casting in the precious seeds of truth, which in due time will spring up and bear a rich harvest. Fathers, the golden hours which you might spend in getting a thorough knowledge of the temperament and character of your children, and the best method of dealing with their young minds, are too precious to be squandered in the pernicious habit of smoking, or in lounging about the dram-shop. ST December 6, 1877, par. 9

The indulgence of this poisonous stimulant disqualifies the father to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The directions given by God to the children of Israel were that the fathers should teach their children the statutes and precepts of his law, when they rose up, and when they sat down, when they went out, and when they came in. ST December 6, 1877, par. 10

This commandment of God is too little heeded; for Satan, through his temptations, has chained many fathers in the slavery of gross habits, and hurtful appetites. Their physical, mental, and moral powers are so paralyzed by these means that it is impossible for them to do their duty toward their families. Their minds are so besotted by the stupefying influences of tobacco or liquor that they do not realize their responsibility to train their children so that they may have moral power to resist temptation, to control appetite, to stand for the right, not to be influenced to evil, but to wield a strong influence for good. ST December 6, 1877, par. 11

Parents by a sinful indulgence of perverted appetite often place themselves in a condition of nervous excitability or exhaustion, where they are unable to discriminate between right and wrong, to manage their children wisely, and to judge correctly their motives and actions. They are in danger of magnifying little matters to mountains in their minds, while they pass lightly over grave sins. The father who has become a slave to abnormal appetite, who has sacrificed his God-given manhood to become a tobacco inebriate, cannot teach his children to control appetite and passion. It is impossible for him to thus educate them either by precept or example. How can the father whose mouth is filled with tobacco, whose breath poisons the atmosphere of home, teach his sons lessons of temperance and self-control? With what dignity can he exhort them to shun the wine-cup, when he himself has fallen beneath the tempter's power, and is bound by an appetite that has no foundation in nature? He is in no condition to rouse moral courage and independence in the young. ST December 6, 1877, par. 12

When we approach the youth who are acquiring the habit of using tobacco, and tell them of its pernicious influence upon the system, they frequently fortify themselves by citing the example of their fathers, or that of certain Christian ministers, or good and pious members of the church. They say, “If it does them no harm, it certainly cannot injure me.” What an account will professed Christian men have to render to God for their intemperance! Their example strengthens the temptations of Satan to pervert the senses of the young by the use of artificial stimulants; it seems to them not a very bad thing to do what respectable church-members are in the habit of doing. But it is only a step from tobacco using to liquor-drinking; in fact the two vices usually go together. ST December 6, 1877, par. 13

Thousands learn to be drunkards from such influences as these. Too often the lesson has been unconsciously taught them by their own fathers. A radical change must be made in the heads of families before much progress can be made in ridding society of the monster of intemperance. ST December 6, 1877, par. 14

If tobacco is what it is often claimed to be, a nerve-quieter, instead of a nerve-paralyzer; if it is such a solace to men that they require it just before eating, just after eating, and most of the time between; if it is so great a comforter that large amounts should be expended upon it, and many hours of precious time devoted to indulging in its use,—then why should not women use it? Would it not be as beneficial to them as to their fathers, husbands and brothers? Women have cares and perplexities to soothe, and, viewed from the standpoint of the tobacco inebriate, they are sustaining great loss, and practicing a useless self-denial, in refraining from the luxury which affords their husbands and sons so much comfort and strength. ST December 6, 1877, par. 15

If men cannot maintain their energy and spirits without this stimulus, what martyrdom do women constantly practice in letting it alone! The very fact that women do live and bear the heaviest burdens of mind and body without its aid, and that the best men conscientiously refrain from using it, is evidence that tobacco-using is a necessity to no one, but simply a habit which enslaves its victim in a terrible bondage. ST December 6, 1877, par. 16

God forbid that woman should degrade herself to the use of a filthy and besotting narcotic. How disgusting is the picture which one may draw in the mind, of a woman whose breath is poisoned by tobacco. One shudders to think of little children twining their arms about her neck, and pressing their fresh, pure lips to that mother's lips, stained and polluted by the offensive fluid and odor of tobacco. Yet the picture is only more revolting because the reality is more rare than that of the father, the lord of the household, defiling himself with the disgusting weed. No wonder we see children turn from the kiss of the father whom they love, and if they kiss him seek not his lips, but his cheek or forehead, where their pure lips will not be contaminated. ST December 6, 1877, par. 17

Mrs. E. G. White, in Health Reformer.