od 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.
It is a sad fact . . . that the home-education and training of the youth of to-day 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.
. . . He [the father] 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. . . . 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.
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.
The Importance of Parenthood
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.
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.
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 â€¨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.
Calling on the Heavenly Parent
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. . . .
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. . . .
The Most Important Guest for Heart and Home
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. . . .
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. . . .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. . . . 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!
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 addressing the apostle [Peter], Christ says to all his ministers, “Feed my lambs.”
This article is excerpted from one that first appeared in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, now the Adventist Review, AUGUST 30, 1881. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.