Preparation for Marriage Is an Essential Part of Education. --Upon no account
should the marriage relation be entered upon until the parties have a knowledge
of the duties of a practical domestic life. The wife should have culture of mind
and manners that she may be qualified to rightly train the children that may be
Many ladies, accounted well-educated, having graduated with honours at some
institution of learning, are shamefully ignorant of the practical duties of
life. They are destitute of the qualifications necessary for the proper
regulation of family, and hence essential to its happiness. They may talk of
woman's elevated sphere and of her rights, yet they themselves fall far below
the true sphere of woman.
It is the right of every daughter of Eve to have a thorough knowledge of
household duties, to receive training in every department of domestic labour.
Every young lady should be so educated that if called to fill the position of
wife and mother, she may preside as a queen in her own domain. She should be
fully competent to guide and instruct her children and to direct her servants,
or, if need be, to minister with her own hands to the wants of her household. It
is her right to understand the mechanism of the human body and the principles of
hygiene, the matters of diet and dress, labour and recreation, and countless
others that intimately concern the well-being of her household. It is her right
to obtain such a knowledge of the best methods of treating disease that she can care for her
children in sickness, instead of leaving her precious treasures in the hands of
stranger nurses and physicians.
The idea that ignorance of useful employment is an essential characteristic
of the true gentleman or lady is contrary to the design of God in the creation
of man. Idleness is a sin, and ignorance of common duties is the result of
folly, which afterlife will give ample occasion to bitterly regret.
Young women think that it is menial to cook and do other kinds of housework;
and, for this reason, many girls who marry and have the care of families have
little idea of the duties devolving upon a wife and mother.
It should be a law that young people should not get married unless they know
how to care for the children that are brought into their family. They must know
how to take care of this house that God has given them. Unless they understand
in regard to the laws which God has established in their system, they cannot
understand their duty to their God or themselves.
Domestic Training Should Be in the College Curriculum. --The education which
the young men and women who attend our colleges should receive in the home life
is deserving of special attention. It is of great importance in the work of
character building that students who attend our colleges be taught to take up
the work that is appointed them, throwing off all inclination to sloth. They
need to become familiar with the duties of daily life. They should be taught to
do their domestic duties thoroughly and well, with as little noise and confusion
as possible. Everything should be done decently and in order. The kitchen and
all other parts of the building should be kept sweet and clean. Books should be laid aside till
their proper season, and no more study should be taken than can be attended to
without neglecting the household duties. The study of books is not to engross
the mind to the neglect of home duties upon which the comfort of the family
In the performance of these duties careless, neglectful, disorderly habits
should be overcome; for unless corrected, these habits will be carried into
every phase of life, and the life will be spoiled for usefulness.
A Knowledge of Homemaking Is Indispensable. -- Many of the branches of study
that consume the student's time are not essential to usefulness or happiness,
but it is essential for every youth to have a thorough acquaintance with
everyday duties. If need be, a young woman can dispense with a knowledge of
French and algebra, or even of the piano; but it is indispensable that she learn
to make good bread, to fashion neatly fitting garments, and to perform
efficiently the many duties that pertain to homemaking.
To the health and happiness of the whole family nothing is more vital than
skill and intelligence on the part of the cook. By ill-prepared, unwholesome
food she may hinder and even ruin both the adult's usefulness and the child's
development. Or by providing food adapted to the needs of the body, and at the
same time inviting and palatable, she can accomplish as much in the right as
otherwise she accomplishes in the wrong direction. So, in many ways, life's
happiness is bound up with faithfulness in common duties.
Give Attention to the Principles of Hygiene. --The principles of hygiene as
applied to diet, exercise, the care of children, the treatment of the sick, and many like matters should be
given much more attention than they ordinarily receive.
In the study of hygiene the earnest teacher will improve every opportunity to
show the necessity of perfect cleanliness both in personal habits and in all
one's surroundings. . . . Teach the pupils that a healthful sleeping room, a
thoroughly clean kitchen, and a tastefully arranged, wholesomely supplied table
will go farther toward securing the happiness of the family and the regard of
every sensible visitor than any amount of expensive furnishing in the drawing
room. That "the life is more than meat, and the body is more than
raiment" [Luke 12: 23] is a lesson no less needed now than when given by
the divine Teacher eighteen hundred years ago.
A Young Lady Counselled to Acquire Habits of Industry. --You have
peculiarities of character which need to be sternly disciplined and resolutely
controlled before you can with any safety enter the marriage relation. Therefore
marriage should be put from your mind until you overcome the defects in your
character, for you would not make a happy wife. You have neglected to educate
yourself for systematic household labour. You have not seen the necessity of
acquiring habits of industry. The habit of enjoying useful labour, once formed,
will never be lost. You are then prepared to be placed in any circumstances in
life, and you will be fitted for the position. You will learn to love activity.
If you enjoy useful labour, your mind will be occupied with your employment, and
you will not find time to indulge in dreamy fancies. Knowledge of useful labour will impart to your restless and dissatisfied mind
energy, efficiency, and a becoming, modest dignity, which will command respect.
Value of Practical Education for Girls. --Many who consider it necessary for
a son to be trained with reference to his own future maintenance seem to
consider it entirely optional with herself whether or not their daughter is
educated to be independent and self-supporting. She usually learns little at
school which can be put to practical use in earning her daily bread; and
receiving no instruction at home in the mysteries of the kitchen and domestic
life, she grows up utterly useless, a burden upon her parents. . . .
A woman who has been taught to take care of herself is also fitted to take
care of others. She will never be a drug in the family or in society. When
fortune frowns, there will be a place for her somewhere, a place where she can
earn an honest living and assist those who are dependent upon her. Woman should
be trained to some business whereby she can gain a livelihood if necessary.
Passing over other honourable employments, every girl should learn to take
charge of the domestic affairs of home, should be a cook, a housekeeper, a
seamstress. She should understand all those things which it is necessary that
the mistress of a house should know, whether her family are rich or poor. Then,
if reverses come, she is prepared for any emergency; she is, in a manner,
independent of circumstances.
A knowledge of domestic duties is beyond price to every woman. There are
families without number whose happiness is wrecked by the inefficiency of the
wife and mother. It is not so important that our daughters learn painting,
fancywork, music, or even "cube root", or the figures of rhetoric, as that they learn how to cut, make, and mend their own
clothing, or to prepare food in a wholesome and palatable manner. When a little
girl is nine or ten years old, she should be required to take her regular share
in household duties, as she is able, and should be held responsible for the
manner in which she does her work. That was a wise father who, when asked what
he intended to do with his daughters, replied, "I intend to apprentice them
to their excellent mother, that they may learn the art of improving time, and be
fitted to become wives and mothers, heads of families, and useful members of
The Prospective Husband Should Be Thrifty and Industrious. --In early times
custom required the bridegroom, before the ratification of a marriage
engagement, to pay a sum of money or its equivalent in other property, according
to his circumstances, to the father of his wife. This was regarded as a
safeguard to the marriage relation. Fathers did not think it safe to trust the
happiness of their daughters to men who had not made provision for the support
of a family. If they had not sufficient thrift and energy to manage business and
acquire cattle or lands, it was feared that their life would prove worthless.
But provision was made to test those who had nothing to pay for a wife. They
were permitted to labour for the father whose daughter they loved, the length of
time being regulated by the value of the dowry required. When the suitor was
faithful in his services, and proved in other respects worthy, he obtained the
daughter as his wife; and generally the dowry which the father had received was
given her at her marriage. . . .
The ancient custom, though sometimes abused, as by Laban, was productive of
good results. When the suitor was required to render service to secure his bride, a hasty marriage was
prevented, and there was opportunity to test the depth of his affections, as
well as his ability to provide for a family. In our time many evils result from
pursuing an opposite course.
No man is excusable for being without financial ability. Of many a man it may
be said, He is kind, amiable, generous, a good man, a Christian; but he is not
qualified to manage his own business. As far as the outlay of means is
concerned, he is a mere child. He has not been brought up by his parents to
understand and to practice the principles of self-support.