The following letter (Letter 16) from Ellen G. White was sent in 1879 to J. G. Matteson and his family as they served as the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries sent to Scandinavia. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.
Parents should make it a point to keep their own minds informed that they may impart knowledge to their children, thus providing their minds with proper food, leaving no place for hunger after debasing pleasure and indulgences. Good, sound instruction is the only preventative of evil communication which corrupts good manners.
You may choose, if you will, whether your children’s minds will be occupied with pure, elevated thoughts or with vicious sentiments. You cannot keep these active minds unoccupied, neither can you keep them away from evil. Only the inculcation of right principles in correct knowledge will exclude the elements of evil. But remember the Lord gives to the earth not only clouds and rain, but the beautiful, smiling sunshine which causes the seeds sown to spring up, the green foliage and buds and flowers to appear. Just so, dear parents, should be your work in your family and in the vineyard of the Lord. You need to give not only restrictions and reproofs and correction, but encouragement, the pleasant sunshine of kind words—cheerful, joyful, happy words—in your homes and in the church. You need to keep your souls in patience, waiting, hoping, and praying. You will reap if you faint not. You will not always see immediate results, but keep working in faith, quietly waiting for the salvation of God. You should be full of Bible truth, Bible stories, and interesting parables, your own heart softened and subdued with its pure morals and fascinating incidents; and as you teach your children, they will catch the inspiration you feel. Like the body, the mind derives its health and strength from the food which it receives. The mind becomes pure, and broad, and elevated when the thoughts and conversation are of that character. Yet it is too often debased, darkened, and soured with fretfulness, censure, and dwelling upon the things of the world instead of being elevated and attracted by heavenly subjects.
Our children may be made noble, elevated, pure, and refined if they have the proper Bible instruction. We want more sunshiny parents and more sunshiny Christians. Oh, what a revelation will be made in the great day of accounts when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened! We are too much shut up to ourselves. The kindly, encouraging word is withheld. The smile which costs us nothing is not given to the children, to the destitute, the oppressed and discouraged. There are some members in the families who need more discipline, kindly training, and patient labor than others. Their stamp of character was given them as their legacy, and they need pity, sympathy, and love from those who have transmitted to them their hereditary tendencies. By patient, persevering labor given in kindly sympathy and love, these wayward ones or apparently perverse ones or dull ones may be fitted to do a good work for the Master. Such ones may possess undeveloped power which will be aroused after a time, and they may fill a place far in advance of those from whom you expected very much.