A Father’s Place
A heart-to-heart interview with Ellen G. White
What exactly is the father’s position and responsibility in the home?
“The husband and father is the head of the household. The wife looks to him for love and sympathy and for aid in the training of the children; and this is right.
“The children are his as well as hers, and he is equally interested in their welfare. The children look to the father for support and guidance; he needs to have a right conception of life and of the influences and associations that should surround his family; above all, he should be controlled by the love and fear of God and by the teaching of His Word, that he may guide the feet of his children in the right way.”
It appears then that a father occupies a rather prominent position.
“All members of the family center in the father. He is the lawmaker, illustrating in his own manly bearing the sterner virtues: energy, integrity, honesty, patience, courage, diligence, and practical usefulness. The father is in one sense the priest of the household. . . .
“The father represents the divine Lawgiver in his family. He is a laborer together with God, carrying out the gracious designs of God and establishing in his children upright principles, . . . which will enable his children to render obedience not only to their earthly parent but also to their heavenly Father.”
Under what circumstances should a father transfer his duties to another?
“The father must not betray his sacred trust. He must not, on any point, yield up his parental authority.”
“The father’s duty to his children cannot be transferred to the mother. If she performs her own duty, she has burden enough to bear. Only by working in unison can the father and mother accomplish the work which God has committed to their hands.”
“The father should not excuse himself from his part in the work of educating his children for life and immortality. He must share in the responsibility. There is obligation for both father and mother. There must be love and respect manifested by the parents for one another, if they would see these qualities developed in their children.”
What is the father’s sphere of influence?
“A father must not be as a child, moved merely by impulse. He is bound to his family by sacred, holy ties.”
“What his influence will be in the home will be determined by his knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. . . .
“The father is to stand at the head of his family, not as an overgrown, undisciplined boy, but as a man with manly character and with his passions controlled. He is to obtain an education in correct morals. His conduct in his home life is to be directed and restrained by the pure principles of the Word of God. Then he will grow up to the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus.”
Given a father’s busy schedule, how important is the time spent with his children?
“The average father wastes many golden opportunities to attract and bind his children to him. Upon returning home from his business, he should find it a pleasant change to spend some time with his children.”
“Fathers should unbend from their false dignity, deny themselves some slight self-gratification in time and leisure, in order to mingle with the children, sympathizing with them in their little troubles, binding them to their hearts by the strong bonds of love, and establishing such an influence over their expanding minds that their counsel will be regarded as sacred.”
“Fathers, spend as much time as possible with your children. Seek to become acquainted with their various dispositions, that you may know how to train them in harmony with the Word of God. Never should a word of discouragement pass your lips. Do not bring darkness into the home. Be pleasant, kind, and affectionate toward your children, but not foolishly indulgent.
“Let them bear their little disappointments, as everyone must. Do not encourage them to come to you with their petty complaints of one another.”
“Combine affection with authority, kindness and sympathy with firm restraint. . . . Become acquainted with them; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate friendship with them. . . . In this way you will be a strong influence for good.”
What advice would you give fathers on the type of relationship they should cultivate with their children, especially boys?
“The father of boys should come into close contact with his sons, giving them the benefit of his larger experience and talking with them in such simplicity and tenderness that he binds them to his heart. He should let them see that he has their best interest, their happiness, in view all the time.”
“He who has a family of boys must understand that, whatever his calling, he is never to neglect the souls placed in his care. He has brought these children into the world and has made himself responsible to God to do everything in his power to keep them from unsanctified associations, from evil companionship.”
“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. . . .
“The father may exert an influence over his children which shall be stronger than the allurements of the world. He 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.”
How would you counsel today’s fathers?
“To the man who is a husband and a father, I would say, Be sure that a pure, holy atmosphere surrounds your soul. . . . You are to learn daily of Christ. Never, never are you to show a tyrannical spirit in the home. The man who does this is working in partnership with satanic agencies. Bring your will into submission to the will of God. Do all in your power to make the life of your wife pleasant and happy.
“Take the Word of God as the man of your counsel. In the home live out the teachings of the Word. Then you will live them out in the church and will take them with you to your place of business. The principles of heaven will ennoble all your transactions. Angels of God will cooperate with you, helping you to reveal Christ to the world.”
These excerpts are taken from The Adventist Home, pages 211-216, 220-223. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.