The Review and Herald


November 15, 1892

Obligation of Children to Parents


The best way to educate children to respect their father and mother, is to give them the opportunity of seeing the father offering kindly attentions to the mother, and the mother rendering respect and reverence to the father. It is by beholding love in their parents, that children are led to obey the fifth commandment and to heed the injunction, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth.” RH November 15, 1892, par. 1

When children have unbelieving parents, and their commands contradict the requirements of Christ, then, painful though it may be, they must obey God and trust the consequences with him. The Lord has expressly enjoined the duty upon children of honoring their father and their mother. As they have opportunity and ability, they are kindly to care for their parents. This commandment to children stands at the head of the last six precepts which show the duty of man to his fellow-man. But while children are commanded to obey their parents, parents are also instructed to exercise their authority with wisdom. Paul writes, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Great care should be exercised by parents lest they treat their children in such a way as to provoke obstinacy, disobedience, and rebellion. Parents often stir up the worst passions of the human heart, because of their lack of self-control. They correct them in a spirit of anger, and rather confirm them in their evil ways and defiant spirit, than influence them in the way of right. By their own arbitrary spirit they thrust their children under Satanic influences, instead of rescuing them from the snares of Satan by gentleness and love. How sad it is that many parents who profess to be Christians, are not converted! Christ does not abide in their hearts by faith. While professing to be followers of Jesus, they disgust their children, and, by their violent, unforgiving temper, make them averse to all religion. It is little wonder that the children become cold and rebellious toward their parents. And yet children are not excused for disobedience because of their parents’ unsanctified ways. RH November 15, 1892, par. 2

O that every family professing to be devoted to God, were so in deed and in truth! Then would Christ be represented in the home-life, and parents and children would represent him in the church, and what happiness would exist! But instead of this, the books of heaven record the cruelty of parents to children, and the neglect of parents by their children. After children grow to years of maturity, some of them think their duty is done in providing an abode for their parents. While giving them food and shelter, they give them no love or sympathy. In their parents’ old age, when they long for expression of affection and sympathy, children heartlessly deprive them of their attention. There is no time when children should withhold respect and love from their father and mother. While the parents live, it should be the children's joy to honor and respect them. They should bring all the cheerfulness and sunshine into the life of the aged parents, that they possibly can. They should smooth their pathway to the grave. There is no better recommendation in this world than that a child has honored his parents, no better record in the books of heaven than that he has loved and honored father and mother. RH November 15, 1892, par. 3

Let children carefully remember that at the best the aged parents have but little joy and comfort. What can bring greater sorrow to their hearts than manifest neglect on the part of their children? What sin can be worse in children than to bring grief to an aged, helpless father or mother? Those who grieve their aged parents are written in the books of heaven as commandment breakers, as those who do not reverence the God of heaven, and unless they repent and forsake their evil ways, they will not be found worthy of a place in the saints’ inheritance. RH November 15, 1892, par. 4

Is it possible that children can become so dead to the claims of father and mother, that they will not willingly remove all causes of sorrow in their power, watching over them with unwearying care and devotion? Can it be possible that they will not regard it a pleasure to make the last days of their parents their best days? How can a son or daughter be willing to leave father or mother on the hands of strangers, for them to care for! Even were the mother an unbeliever, and disagreeable, it would not release the child from the obligation that God has placed upon him to care for his parent. Would that there were but few who would utterly ignore the duty that is due from a child to his mother. Alas! that there are so many who never bestow a thought upon their parents, except it be that they may gain some advantage from them. Many care not whether their parents are comfortable or uncomfortable. Their conduct reveals them to be thankless children, and their ingratitude is “sharper than a serpent's tooth.” Their indifference to their parents imbitters the life of father and mother, and brings down their gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. Through selfishness, self-love, unkindness, they have created an unwholesome atmosphere about their souls, and steeled their hearts to all good, until they are utterly loveless and unfeeling. Avarice has eaten out the good from their heart, and they even deny their parents the good which, without putting themselves to trouble, they could bestow upon them. The Satanic element predominates in their characters. But how bitter will be the close of the life of such children! They can have no happy reflection in their old age; for they will reap as they have sown. RH November 15, 1892, par. 5

The thought that children have ministered to the comfort of their parents is a thought of satisfaction all through the life, and will especially bring them joy when they themselves are in need of sympathy and love. Those whose hearts are filled with love will regard the privilege of smoothing the passage to the grave for their parents an inestimable privilege. They will rejoice that they had a part in bringing comfort and peace to the last days of their loved parents. To do otherwise than this, to deny to the helpless aged ones the kindly ministrations of sons and daughters, would fill the soul with remorse, the days with regret, if our hearts were not hardened and cold as a stone. RH November 15, 1892, par. 6

Our obligation to our parents never ceases. Our love for them, and theirs for us is not measured by years or distance, and our responsibility can never be set aside. When the nations are gathered before the judgment-seat of Christ, but two classes will be represented,—those who have identified their interest with Christ and suffering humanity, those who have ignored their God-given obligations, done injury to their fellow-men, and dishonor to God. Their eternal destiny will be decided on the ground of what they did, and what they did not do to Christ in the person of his saints. He will say to them, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. RH November 15, 1892, par. 7

Mrs. E. G. White