Ellen G. White Writings

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Good Health

March 1, 1880

The Work of Parents

By Mrs. E. G. White.

Parents, in disciplining and training the minds of their children, are engaged in a grand and noble work. But too few realize the importance of retaining, as far as possible, their own youthful feelings, and not becoming harsh and unsympathizing in their nature. God would be pleased to have parents mingle the graceful simplicity of a child with the strength, wisdom, and maturity of manhood and womanhood. Some never had a genuine childhood. They never enjoyed the freedom, simplicity, and freshness of budding life. They were scolded and snubbed, reproved and beaten, until the innocency and trustful frankness of the child was exchanged for fear, envy, jealousy, and deceitfulness. Such seldom have the characteristics that will make the childhood of their own dear ones happy.

Parents should never hurry their children out of their childhood. Let the lessons given them be of that character which will inspire their hearts with noble purposes; but let them be children, and grow up with that simple trust, candor, and truthfulness, which will prepare them to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

The mother's daily influence upon her children is preparing them for eternal life or death. She exercises a power in her home more decisive than the minister in the desk, or even the king upon his throne. The day of God will reveal how much the world owes to godly mothers for men who have been unflinching advocates of truth and reform,—men who have been bold and brave to do, and who have stood unshaken amid trials and temptations; men who chose the high and holy interests of truth, and the glory of God, before worldly honor or life itself.

When the Judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, when the “well done” of the great Judge is pronounced, and the crown of immortal glory is placed upon the brow of the victor, many will raise their crown in sight of the assembled universe, and pointing to their mother say, “She made me all I am, through the grace of God. Her instruction, her prayers, have been blessed to my eternal salvation.”

We would refer mothers to Hannah, whose history is traced for our benefit by the pen of inspiration. Her husband was a man of influence and wealth, but he loved and feared God. She was a woman of deep and earnest piety, conscientious and humble,—a woman of prayer and of faith. Their son was a child of promise, given in answer to prayer. His mother called him Samuel, which means, “asked of the Lord.”

During the earliest part of his life, she had the molding of his character. She trained him for God, and then, as soon as he was old enough, she proceeded to faithfully fulfill the vow made previous to his birth, that he should be the Lord's. Taking this precious gift and journeying to Shiloh, she there presents him to Eli that he may minister before him in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. What a sacrifice is this on the part of faithful Hannah. But though separated from him, he is not forgotten. He is the subject of her prayers, and every year she makes him a little coat; and when she comes with her husband to the yearly sacrifice, she presents it to him as a token of her love. With every stitch of that coat she had breathed a prayer that her son might be pure, noble, and true. And she had the privilege of seeing him grow up to youth in favor with God and man, ever humble, reverent, prompt to duty, and earnest in the service of God.

This godly mother did not labor to place the hand of her son in that of the world, that he might follow its customs and practices; but she sought to place his hand in the hand of the Lord, thus connecting him with the Source of all wisdom, goodness, and power. When Samuel shall receive the crown of glory, he will wave it in honor before the throne, and gladly acknowledge that the faithful lessons of his mother, through the merits of Christ, have crowned him with immortal glory.

What a contrast has the pen of inspiration drawn between the life of this holy man and the mournful history of the neglected duty of Eli. While some parents are too severe in dealing with their children, often breaking the twig instead of judiciously bending it, others, like Eli, are too indulgent, and fail to properly restrain them. Parents little realize the harm done by withholding from their children wholesome and needed restraint, and by allowing them to grow up with uncontrolled passions, and selfish, debasing habits. Eli's neglect of duty in this respect was felt by the whole Hebrew nation. The sin of his sons spread like the leprosy throughout the entire camp of Israel; but he did not possess sufficient force of character to restrain them. It was because he did not cultivate this that the Lord condemned him. If he could not have done so, if it had been beyond his power to obtain by exercise those qualities which would make him a wise and faithful father, then the retributive justice of God would not have fallen so heavily upon him. He knew that his sons profaned the house and service of God by their conduct; but he loved ease, quiet, and peace, more than purity and righteousness.

Eli should have gained control of his sons by gentle firmness; but when this failed, more prompt and severe measures should have been employed. This he refused to do, and God, who doeth terrible things in righteousness, finally took the matter into his own hands, and speedily brought their sinful career to a close by allowing disaster and defeat to come upon them, resulting not only in death to themselves and to their father, but in disgrace to all Israel.

This impressive lesson is given to all parents and guardians of children and youth. If parents have restraining power and fail to exercise it over their children, and if sin is permitted to exist and increase, and they are too indolent or selfish to correct it, they are surely accountable for the evil which results. Selfishness and passion are no trifles. They bring unhappiness to our homes, unhappiness to all with whom we associate, and eternal ruin to ourselves and perhaps to thousands of others.

In the case of Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, we have another example. He was a headstrong, self-willed king; he rejected experienced counselors, claimed tyrannical power, and through his influence the people went into idolatry. The reason is given. His mother was an Ammonite, an idolater. Here the result of Solomon's sin in contracting marriage with heathen women is revealed. Rehoboam received his stamp of character from his mother, and through this one godless woman many of the people of God became idolaters.

The pen of inspiration has traced these things as encouragements and warnings to fathers and mothers. The mother has a power in her hands which she should use to the glory of God. She can build up a noble, virtuous, steadfast character in her children; or she can, by indulgence or by manifesting impatience and passion herself, encourage in them those traits which will prove their ruin. The sphere of the mother may be humble; but her influence, united with the father's, is as abiding as eternity. Next to God, the mother's power for good is the strongest known on earth.

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