The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.Proverbs 14:1
Having a child is a blessing, a divine gift. The Bible says that “Children are a heritage from the Lord,” Psalm 127:3. Since the fall of mankind, motherhood has gained a very special meaning. God promised that through a woman would be born the Messiah (Genesis 3:15). The promise of Genesis was confirmed by the prophet Isaiah “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel,” Isaiah 7:14. And thus, each child that was born, renewed hope in the Promised Redeemer. Jesus came, fulfilled His mission, and motherhood took on new meanings, new labels, and many myths were formed around it. A common belief today is that every mother knows what is best for her child. Is this truth or myth?
First, it’s necessary to remember that babies are physically and emotionally connected to the mother during pregnancy, and, after birth, it is by her that the child will be introduced to the outside world. Because the mother is the person who spends the most time with her child, especially in the early years of development, she ends up being the one who most influences the child. Science has already proven and shown through theories of human development, that this first relationship becomes the basis for the construction of all the others that will follow. The Bible also points out the importance of this fundamental education when it says that parents should teach their children at all times, “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” Deuteronomy 6:7. Given the extent of the mother’s importance and responsibility, the decisions she makes can be subconscious, originating from her own life experience, the experience of others, and her intuition, or conscious, a combination of scientific knowledge and divine wisdom.
The birth of a mother
They say that when a baby is born, a mother is also born. This analogy is fantastic because it indicates that, just as a baby will grow and develop, the mother will also learn to be a mother. She will evolve and construct her maternal role. This growth can be based on one of the hypotheses above (subconscious or conscious) or even on a combination of both. The fact is that the more sources searched and the more secure the foundation for these decisions, the greater the chances of success, and the more valid the actions of this mother who is searching for the best for her child. Unlike animals that rely on instinct to live, God has endowed us with the capacity for reasoning to make conscious and intelligent decisions and actions, and once we are overwhelmed by feelings and emotions and let ourselves be carried away by them alone, we can end up making decisions that we will later regret. This can happen even more in motherhood, as the mother is often flooded with hormones that produce different reactions to situations. There are periods of greater sensitivity and greater nostalgia, in which depression and other clinical conditions of emotional imbalance can easily develop. Therefore, it does not seem safe to rely only on “I think…”, believing that the mother is guaranteed to be the one that best knows how to educate her child, with no need for study, research, and professional help.
The vital role of preparation and study
The search for knowledge is very neglected and many people find it unnecessary, but ask yourself: would you let a layperson, without proper training, perform surgery on you? Probably not. So why would study and qualification not be necessary for such a high and noble task as educating a human being? Ellen White says: “Fathers and mothers, obtain all the help you can from the study of our books and publications.”¹ She continues to caution: “More than human wisdom is needed by parents at every step, that they may understand how best to educate their children for a useful, happy life here, and for higher service and greater joy hereafter.”² Finally, she makes very clear the necessity for the mother to learn how to better educate her children: “You need to learn right methods, and acquire tact for the training of your little ones, that they may keep the way of the Lord. You need to seek constantly the highest culture of mind and soul that you may bring to the education and training of your children a restful spirit, a loving heart; that you may imbue them with pure aspirations, and cultivate in them a love for things honest and pure and holy. As a humble child of God, learn in the school of Christ; seek constantly to improve your powers, that you may do the most perfect, thorough work at home, by both precept and example.”³
The Bible is also full of guidelines regarding the education of children: Proverbs 22:6 (CEBV) says “Teach your children […]”. Proverbs 4:1 tells children to listen to their parents’ instruction. Proverbs 1:8 again talks about the father’s instruction and the mother’s teaching, and finally, we read: “[speak] wisely, teaching with gracious love,” Proverbs 31:26 (ISV). The persistent use of the words “instruction” and “teaching” stand out in these verses. They can be used interchangeably and mean “transmission of knowledge, the formation of skill”. Now, in order to transmit knowledge, it is first necessary to obtain the same, and in addition, to master methods and ways of how to successfully pass it on to children.
Mother doesn’t always know best
We can conclude, then, that not every mother knows what is best for her child since not all mothers are prepared for such a task, and many end up not achieving the expected goal. We don’t need extensive analysis to come to this conclusion. Just look at the number of broken homes, and petty, self-centered, and poorly educated adults in today’s society. The difference between the mother who seeks knowledge and the mother who thinks she knows everything and neglects seeking knowledge is seen in the words of the sage in Proverbs 14:1. The first woman is called wise and she builds up, contributes, and adds to her household. The second is the foolish woman, who—simply because she had children—believes that her innate opinion is the best regardless of her lack of preparation. She is the woman who, with her own hands, destroys her home, creating ill and childish adults as unprepared as she is for the future and its responsibilities.
We want to appeal to you, the Christian mother, and to you, the one considering motherhood for your future, to hear divine instructions regarding the education of the little ones entrusted to you and to study and prepare for this mission, aware of the responsibility placed in your hands. “Light has been shining from the word of God and the testimonies of His Spirit so that none need err in regard to their duty. God requires parents to bring up their children to know Him and to respect His claims; they are to train their little ones, as the younger members of the Lord’s family, to have beautiful characters and lovely tempers, that they may be fitted to shine in the heavenly courts. By neglecting their duty and indulging their children in wrong, parents close to them the gates of the city of God. These facts must be pressed home upon parents; they must arouse, and take up their long-neglected work.”⁴ Listen to the divine counsel so that you and your household will be saved.
¹ Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 138
² Review and Herald, September 13, 1881
³ Review and Herald, September 15, 1891 – p. 32
4 Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 325-326