Ellen G. White Writings

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Atlantic Union Gleaner

May 14, 1902

Child Training

Our artificial habits deprive us of many privileges and much enjoyment, and unfit us for living as useful lives as we might otherwise live. A life of fashion is a hard, thankless life. How much time and money women sacrifice in order to make a sensation! At the cost of their health they beautify the dress. Thus they lose their self-control, overtax their patience, and encourage pride and vanity in their children. Many parents fail to realize that their every action tells upon the future of their children. Mothers complain of weariness. They say they have so much to do that they can not take time to instruct their children. They have no time to sympathize with them in their little disappointments and trials. I have heard mothers refuse to gratify the innocent desires of their children. They were too hurried to grant their little ones that which would have been to them a great pleasure. The busy fingers and weary eyes were embroidering a garment. But children yearn for sympathy and if they do not obtain it from their parents, they will seek it from other sources, which may prove dangerous to their welfare.

Many mothers teach their daughters to vie with other girls in outward display. To dress as well as others dress—this is the ambition of their worse than useless lives. As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined. As the children approach manhood and womanhood, their parents deplore their errors. They forget that they have given these youth the lessons which have made them what they are.

If half the time that the mothers spend in preparing the dress in accordance with the demands of fashion were spent in beautifying the characters of their children, what a change would be seen in families! The inspired apostle writes of women, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Outward display and needless adorning can bear no comparison with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. The desire for outward show proceeds from the pride and vanity of a corrupt heart, and will perish with the user. The inward adorning is as enduring as eternity.

Many mothers spend much time in beautifying their houses. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and it is well to be clean; but this, like many other good things, can be carried too far, to the neglect of things of greater importance. Many mothers beautify their houses to the neglect of weightier matters, judgment, mercy, and the love of God.

Not long ago I heard a mother express great anxiety to see perfect arrangement and finish in the building of her home. I regretted that this mother did not bring the same desire for symmetry into the government of her children. In her home she was building and fashioning characters; but she failed to realize the importance of this work, and therefore did not see the mistakes she was making. Passion and self-will ruled in the home. Her children were rough and selfish, uncourteous and uncultured, seeming to have no sense of true politeness. Their character revealed no uniformity. As I looked upon these self-willed, stubborn pieces of humanity, mismatched indeed, symmetry painfully lacking everywhere, I asked myself involuntarily, Why is the mother so blind? Why is the arrangement of her house of so much more consequence in her eyes than the proper training of her children?

Parents, upon you God has laid the work of educating your children for usefulness. Do not, under any consideration, neglect this work. Do not trust the training of your little ones to any other hands. Take up your life duty bravely and cheerfully, facing your responsibilities candidly. To you has been given the work of bringing your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Make the word of God your standard. Do not allow the fashions of the world to prevent you from doing your duty. Take great pains to prepare the soil of the heart for the great Sower to scatter in it the seeds of truth.

Mothers, make the education of your children the highest aim of life. Their future happiness depends upon the education they receive in their early years. Do not send them away from you to school when they are young. If your habits and dress are as simple as they should be, you will find ample time to make your children happy, and to lead them to obey you. God will help you to teach them how to submit cheerfully and willingly. Take up your duties, inspired by the noble resolve to do your work faithfully and well. Do not become discouraged. In due time you will reap if you faint not. You will see your children growing up into Christian men and Christian women.

Mrs. E. G. White

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