The Review and Herald


August 30, 1881

The Parents’ Work


God has made it the privilege and the duty of parents to become co-workers with himself in the education and training of their children. Parents are responsible, in a great degree, for the characters which their children develop. Would that every father and mother could see that in their own home is a missionary field in which they may work unitedly for the salvation of the precious souls committed to their care. RH August 30, 1881, par. 1

It is a sad fact, almost universally admitted and deplored, that the home-education and training of the youth of today have been neglected. The father, as the head of his own household, should understand how to train his children for usefulness and duty. This is his special work, above every other. During the first few years of a child's life, the molding of the disposition is committed principally to the mother; but she should ever feel that in her work she has the co-operation of the father. If he is engaged in business which almost wholly closes the door of usefulness to his family, he should seek other employment which will not prevent him from devoting some time to his children. If he neglects them, he is unfaithful to the trust committed to him of God. RH August 30, 1881, par. 2

The father may exert an influence over his children which shall be stronger than the allurements of the world. He should study the disposition and character of the members of his little circle, that he may understand their needs and their dangers, and thus be prepared to repress the wrong and encourage the right. Parents should remember that occupation is essential for children. If their hands are kept active in useful employment, a door will be closed against the temptations of Satan. Let children be taught, when quite young, to bear the smaller responsibilities of life, and the faculties thus employed will strengthen by exercise. Thus the youth may become efficient helpers in the greater work which the Lord shall afterward call them to do. RH August 30, 1881, par. 3

Children and youth who are allowed to devote much of their time to amusement and pleasure-seeking are never really happy; and in after-life they will be unprepared for positions of trust. Few have been trained to habits of industry, thoughtfulness, and care-taking. Indolence, inaction, is the greatest curse to children of this age. Wholesome, useful labor, will be a great blessing, by promoting the formation of good habits and a noble character. RH August 30, 1881, par. 4

As they consider their duties and their responsibility, parents will often be led to inquire, Who is sufficient for these things? At times the heart may be ready to faint; but a living sense of the dangers threatening the present and future happiness of their loved ones, should lead Christian parents to seek more earnestly for help from the Source of strength and wisdom. It should make them more circumspect, more decided, more calm yet firm, while they watch for these souls, as they that must give account. RH August 30, 1881, par. 5

Parents should study the best and most successful manner of winning the love and confidence of their children, that they may lead them in the right path. They should reflect the sunshine of love upon the household. There are no influences so potent, no memories so enduring, as those of childhood. The parents’ work must begin with the child in its infancy, that it may receive the right impress of character ere the world shall place its stamp on mind and heart. RH August 30, 1881, par. 6

While the spirit of love should pervade the household, it is the duty of parents not to be ruled, but to rule. All under the roof should respect the parental discipline. The law of the household should be held sacred. Parents should bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. By their own example they should lead the way to Heaven. The father, as priest of the household, should explain and enforce the word of God. Let the children be taught to honor and obey their parents, that they may also learn to honor and obey their Heavenly Father. Parents stand in God's place to their little ones. When fathers and mothers realize this, they will find at home a field wherein to exercise their powers for the accomplishment of great good. RH August 30, 1881, par. 7

There are two ways to deal with children,—ways that differ widely in principle and in results. Faithfulness and love, united with wisdom and firmness, in accordance with the teachings of God's word, will bring happiness in this life and in the next. Neglect of duty, injudicious indulgence, failure to restrain or correct the follies of youth, will result in unhappiness and final ruin to the children, and disappointment and anguish to the parents. RH August 30, 1881, par. 8

The history of Eli is a terrible example of the results of parental unfaithfulness. Through his neglect of duty, his sons became a snare to their fellow-men and an offense to God, forfeiting not only the present but the future life. Their evil example destroyed hundreds, and the influence of these hundreds corrupted the morals of thousands. This case should be a warning to all parents. While some err upon the side of undue severity, Eli went to the opposite extreme. He indulged his sons to their ruin. Their faults were overlooked in their childhood, and excused in their days of youth. The commands of the parents were disregarded, and the father did not enforce obedience. The children saw that they could hold the lines of control, and they improved the opportunity. As the sons advanced in years, they lost all respect for their faint-hearted father. They went on in sin without restraint. He remonstrated with them, but his words fell unheeded. Gross sins and revolting crimes were daily committed by them, until the Lord himself visited with judgment the transgressors of his law. RH August 30, 1881, par. 9

We have seen the result of Eli's mistaken kindness,—death to the indulgent father, ruin and death to his wicked sons, and destruction to thousands in Israel. The Lord himself decreed that for the sins of Eli's sons no atonement should be made by sacrifice or offering forever. How great, how lamentable, was their fall,—men upon whom rested sacred responsibilities, proscribed, outlawed from mercy, by a just and holy God! RH August 30, 1881, par. 10

Such is the fearful reaping of the harvest sown when parents neglect their God-given responsibilities,—when they allow Satan to pre-occupy the field which they themselves should carefully have sown with precious seed of virtue, truth, and righteousness. If but one parent is neglectful of duty, the result will be seen in the character of the children; if both fail, how great will be their accountability before God! How can they escape the doom of those who destroy their children's souls? RH August 30, 1881, par. 11

It were well for parents to learn from the man of Uz a lesson of steadfastness and devotion. Job did not neglect his duty to those outside of his household; he was benevolent, kind, thoughtful of the interest of others; and at the same time he labored earnestly for the salvation of his own family. Amid the festivities of his sons and daughters, he trembled lest his children should displease God. As a faithful priest of the household, he offered sacrifices for them individually. He knew the offensive character of sin, and the thought that his children might forget the divine claims, led him to God as an intercessor in their behalf. RH August 30, 1881, par. 12

The will of God is the law of Heaven. As long as that law was the rule of life, all the family of God were holy and happy. But when the divine law was disobeyed, then envy, jealousy, and strife were introduced, and a part of the inhabitants of Heaven fell. As long as God's law is revered in our earthly homes, the family will be happy. The authority of the parents should be absolute; yet this power is not to be abused. In the control of his children, the father should not be governed by caprice, but by the Bible standard. When he permits his own harsh traits of character to bear sway, he becomes a despot. Imperfect man, not the all-wise and merciful Heavenly Father, then makes laws which become a crushing burden. RH August 30, 1881, par. 13

Prompt and continual obedience to wise parental rule, will promote the happiness of the children themselves, as well as the honor of God and the good of society. Children should learn that in submission to the laws of the household is their perfect liberty. Christians will learn the same lesson,—that in their obedience to God's law is their perfect freedom. RH August 30, 1881, par. 14

The parent who permits his rule to become a despotism, is making a terrible mistake. He wrongs not only his children but himself, quenching in their young hearts the love that would flow out in acts and words of affection. Kindness, forbearance, and love, manifested to children, will be reflected back upon the parents. That which they sow, they will also reap. RH August 30, 1881, par. 15

While educating and disciplining their children, parents are in a continual school. It is impossible for them to teach self-control, unless they first learn to govern themselves. Fathers and mothers may study their own character in their children. They may often read humiliating lessons, as they see their own imperfections reproduced in their sons and daughters. While seeking to repress and correct in their children hereditary tendencies to evil, parents should call to their aid double patience, perseverance, and love. God has apportioned them their work, and he will require it at their hands. No minister or friend can supply their place. The harder the battle, the greater their need of help from their Heavenly Father, and the more marked will be the victory gained. RH August 30, 1881, par. 16

There is no discharge in this work. Parents should labor with reference to the future harvest. While they sow in tears, amid many discouragements, it should be with earnest prayer. They may see the promise of but a late and scanty harvest, yet that should not prevent the sowing. They should sow beside all waters, embracing every opportunity both to improve themselves and to benefit their children. Such seed-sowing will not be in vain. At the harvest time, many faithful parents will return with joy, bringing their sheaves with them. RH August 30, 1881, par. 17

Parents, if you would succeed in this great work, you must have Christ enthroned in the heart. As an honored guest, he must be earnestly invited to the home circle. It is not enough merely to speak to your children of spiritual things. They must see you exemplify the principles of Christianity in your home. The power of divine grace should control all the regulations of the household. Let it be seen in your simplicity in dress and in the preparation of your food. All these things, as well as the society you choose, the amusements in which you indulge, and the whole round of duties of daily life, will have an abiding influence upon the characters of your children. RH August 30, 1881, par. 18

While you seek to administer justice, remember that she has a twin sister, which is mercy. The two stand side by side, and should not be separated. Be careful not to alienate the affections of your children by undue severity. Never correct them in anger. Many professedly Christian parents do this; but they make the case far worse than if they had administered no correction. They commit a greater sin than that of which the child has been guilty. Take time to reflect calmly and candidly before you correct your children, and then bow with them in prayer, interceding with God in their behalf. In most cases this will soften the hardest heart, and the object will be gained without using the rod. Oh, if this course were pursued, how many precious children might be won to obedience and love, and thus find happiness in this life, and through Christ secure the future life! RH August 30, 1881, par. 19

I entreat parents, and ministers also, to devote more time and attention to the children. Bring them to Jesus, as did the mothers of old, and intercede for his blessing upon them. Jesus loves all children, and he has a special care for the children of those who have given themselves to him in willing service. In his charge to Peter, the Saviour first bade him, “Feed my lambs.” and afterward commanded him, “Feed my sheep.” In addressing the apostle, Christ says to all his ministers, “Feed my lambs.” RH August 30, 1881, par. 20

When Jesus admonished the disciples not to despise the little ones, he addressed all disciples, in all ages. His own love and care for children is a precious example for his followers. If teachers in the Sabbath-school felt the love which they should feel for these lambs of the flock, many more would be won to the fold of Christ. At every suitable opportunity, let the story of Jesus's love be repeated to the children. In every sermon, let a little corner be left for the benefit of the children. The servant of Christ may have lasting friends in these little ones, and his words may be to them as apples of gold in pictures of silver. RH August 30, 1881, par. 21