Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

October 9, 1900

A Neglected Work

Mrs. E. G. White

Every Christian family should illustrate to the world the power and excellence of Christian influence. God designs that every family on earth shall be a symbol of the family in heaven, and parents should realize their accountability to keep their homes free from every taint of moral evil. Fathers and mothers should teach the infant, the child, and the youth, of the love of Jesus. Let the first baby lispings be of Christ. The father, the priest of the family, if he is connected with God, will feel a divine charge to set himself apart to the grand and elevating work of saving the souls of his children.

But the work of parents, which means so much, is greatly neglected. Awake, parents, from your spiritual slumber, and understand that the very first teaching the child receives is to be given to him by you. You are to teach your little ones to know Christ. This work you must do before Satan sows his seeds in their hearts. Christ calls the children, and they are to be led to him, educated in habits of industry, neatness, and order. This is the discipline Christ desires them to receive.

Parents, your children's future success depends on the home discipline they receive during their early years. If you have allowed Satan to discipline and control them, if you have not taken up and fulfilled your God given responsibilities, if you have neglected to seek the Lord for wisdom to enable you to co-operate with him in the work of training your children, if you have not taught them what it means to do the will of God, their lives will testify to your neglect.

The lessons given during the first years of life determine the future of the child. In husbandry, plants need constant and diligent care at the very first, that they may grow symmetrically. So it is with children. From the earliest moments of their life the children are learners. They are built up by what they see and hear, and parents are sowing the seed that will yield a harvest, either for weal or for woe. If pleasant scenes are kept before them in the home, they will become familiar with Christian courtesy, kindness, and love. But if parents are Christians in name only, and are not doers of the word, they place on their children their own superscription, and not the superscription of God. Children long for something to impress the mind. For Christ's sake, parents, give their hungering, thirsting souls something upon which to feed.

Children are naturally active, and if parents do not furnish them with employment, Satan will invent something to keep them busy in an evil work. Therefore train your children to useful work. But do not feel it your duty to make their lives unpleasant. The unpleasantness will come fast enough. Bring all the pleasure possible into your exercises as teacher and educator of your children. Encourage them to make a companion of you. Sinful impulses, sinful inclinations, and objectionable habits you will surely find in your children; but if you encourage them to seek your society, you can give a right mold to their tastes and feelings, and banish discontent, repining, and rebellion. Overcome their pride by giving them an example of meekness and lowliness of heart.

A woe rests upon parents who have not trained their children to be God-fearing, but have allowed them to grow to manhood and womanhood undisciplined and uncontrolled. During their own childhood they were allowed to manifest passion and willfulness and to act from impulse, and they bring this same spirit into their own homes. They are defective in temper, and passionate in government. Even in their acceptance of Christ they have not overcome the passions that were allowed to rule in their childish hearts. They carry the results of their early training through their entire religious life. It is a most difficult thing to remove the impress thus made upon the plant of the Lord; for as the twig is bent, the tree is inclined. If such parents accept the truth, they have a hard battle to fight. They may be transformed in character, but the whole of their religious experience is affected by the lax discipline exercised over them in their early lives. And their children have to suffer because of their defective training; for they stamp their faults upon them to the third and fourth generation.

This is a serious question, and one that should be carefully and prayerfully studied by those who have children, that they may know how to educate their little ones to be Christians. How many parents there are who are too careless and selfish to try to overcome the rude traits in their own characters lest they be perpetuated in the characters of their children. Such parents need to think solemnly of the training they are giving the younger members of the Lord's family.

The neglect of parents to train their children makes the work of the teacher doubly hard. The children bear the stamp of the unruly, unamiable traits revealed by their parents. Neglected at home, they regard the discipline of the school as oppressive and severe. Such children, if not carefully guarded, will leaven other children by their undisciplined, deformed characters. They practice deception by misrepresenting their school matters to their parents. They complain of their teachers and the rules, and parents believe their testimony before the testimony of Christian teachers who are seeking to do their duty in the fear of God. Thus the work of the teacher is made much more taxing than it should be, because parents have not the truth stamped upon their hearts. The good that children might receive in school to counteract their defective home training, is undermined by the sympathy which their parents show for them in their wrong-doing.

Shall parents who believe the word of God continue their crooked management, and confirm in their children their evil propensities? Fathers and mothers professing the truth for this time might better come to their senses, and no longer be partakers in this evil, no longer carry out Satan's devices by accepting the false testimony of their unconverted children. It is enough for teachers to have the children's influence to contend with, without having the parents’ influence also.

This great work is a work that can be done only by the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit can not do this unless parents welcome Christ into their hearts as an abiding guest. The Holy Spirit must be honored in the temple of the soul, where he delights to dwell.

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