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Title: Hints on Child-training
Author: Trumbull, H. Clay (Henry Clay)
Language: English
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HINTS ON CHILD-TRAINING


BY

H. CLAY TRUMBULL

EDITOR OF THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL TIMES; AUTHOR OF TEACHING AND TEACHERS,
YALE LECTURES ON THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL, ETC.

PHILADELPHIA

JOHN D. WATTLES, PUBLISHER

1891

COPYRIGHT, 1890
BY
H. CLAY TRUMBULL



PREFACE.


Hints on Child-Training may be helpful, where a formal treatise on the
subject would prove bewildering. It is easier to see how one phase or
another of children’s needs is to be met, than it is to define the
relation of that phase of the case to all other phases, or to a system
that includes them all. Therefore it is that this series of Hints is
ventured by me for the benefit of young parents, although I would not
dare attempt a systematic treatise on the entire subject here touched
upon.

Thirty years ago, when I was yet a young father, a friend, who
knew that I had for years been interested in the study of methods
of education, said to me, “Trumbull, what is your theory of
child-training?” “Theory?” I responded. “I have no theory in that
matter. I had lots of theories before I had any children; but now I
do, with fear and trembling, in every case just that which seems to
be the better thing for the hour, whether it agrees with any of my old
theories or not.”

Whatever theory of child-training may show itself in these Hints, has
been arrived at by induction in the process of my experiences with
children since I had to deal with the matter practically, apart from
any preconceived view of the principles involved. Every suggestion in
these Hints is an outcome of experiment and observation in my life as a
father and a grandfather, while it has been carefully considered in the
light of the best lessons of practical educators on every side.

These Hints were begun for the purpose of giving help to a friend. They
were continued because of the evident popular interest in them. They
are sent out in this completed form in the hope that they will prove of
service to parents who are feeling the need of something more practical
in the realm of child-training than untested theories.

  H. CLAY TRUMBULL.

  PHILADELPHIA, _September 15, 1890_.



CONTENTS.


  I.                                               PAGE

  CHILD-TRAINING: WHAT IS IT?                        11


  II.

  THE DUTY OF TRAINING CHILDREN                      17


  III.

  SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF CHILD-TRAINING            23


  IV.

  DISCERNING A CHILD’S SPECIAL NEED OF TRAINING      29


  V.

  WILL-TRAINING, RATHER THAN WILL-BREAKING           37


  VI.

  THE PLACE OF “MUST” IN TRAINING                    53


  VII.

  DENYING A CHILD WISELY                             61


  VIII.

  HONORING A CHILD’S INDIVIDUALITY                   71


  IX.

  LETTING ALONE AS A MEANS OF CHILD-TRAINING         83


  X.

  TRAINING A CHILD TO SELF-CONTROL                   93


  XI.

  TRAINING A CHILD NOT TO TEASE                     101


  XII.

  TRAINING A CHILD’S APPETITE                       109


  XIII.

  TRAINING A CHILD AS A QUESTIONER                  119


  XIV.

  TRAINING A CHILD’S FAITH                          129


  XV.

  TRAINING CHILDREN TO SABBATH OBSERVANCE           139


  XVI.

  TRAINING A CHILD IN AMUSEMENTS                    155


  XVII.

  TRAINING A CHILD TO COURTESY                      165


  XVIII.

  CULTIVATING A CHILD’S TASTE IN READING            175


  XIX.

  THE VALUE OF TABLE-TALK                           187


  XX.

  GUIDING A CHILD IN COMPANIONSHIPS                 197


  XXI.

  NEVER PUNISH A CHILD IN ANGER                     205


  XXII.

  SCOLDING IS NEVER IN ORDER                        217


  XXIII.

  DEALING TENDERLY WITH A CHILD’S FEARS             223


  XXIV.

  THE SORROWS OF CHILDREN                           239


  XXV.

  THE PLACE OF SYMPATHY IN CHILD-TRAINING           247


  XXVI.

  INFLUENCE OF THE HOME ATMOSPHERE                  257


  XXVII.

  THE POWER OF A MOTHER’S LOVE                      263


  XXVIII.

  ALLOWING PLAY TO A CHILD’S IMAGINATION            277


  XXIX.

  GIVING ADDED VALUE TO A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS         283


  XXX.

  GOOD-NIGHT WORDS                                  291


  INDEX                                             301



I.

_CHILD-TRAINING: WHAT IS IT?_


The term “training,” like the term “teaching,” is used in various
senses; hence it is liable to be differently understood by different
persons, when applied to a single department of a parent’s duties in
the bringing up of his children. Indeed, the terms “training” and
“teaching” are often used interchangeably, as covering the entire
process of a child’s education. In this sense a child’s training
is understood to include his teaching; and, again, his teaching is
understood to include his training. But in its more restricted sense
the training of a child is the shaping, the developing, and the
controlling of his personal faculties and powers; while the teaching of
a child is the securing to him of knowledge from beyond himself.

It has been said that the essence of teaching is causing another
to _know_. It may similarly be said that the essence of training is
causing another to _do_. Teaching gives knowledge. Training gives
skill. Teaching fills the mind. Training shapes the habits. Teaching
brings to the child that which he did not have before. Training enables
a child to make use of that which is already his possession. We teach a
child the meaning of words. We train a child in speaking and walking.
We teach him the truths which we have learned for ourselves. We train
him in habits of study, that he may be able to learn other truths
for himself. Training and teaching must go on together in the wise
upbringing of any and every child. The one will fail of its own best
end if it be not accompanied by the other. He who knows how to teach a
child, is not competent for the oversight of a child’s education unless
he also knows how to train a child.

Training is a possibility long before teaching is. Before a child is
old enough to know what is said to it, it is capable of feeling, and
of conforming to, or of resisting, the pressure of efforts for its
training. A child can be trained to go to sleep in the arms of its
mother or nurse, or in a cradle, or on a bed; with rocking, or without
it; in a light room, or in a dark one; in a noisy room, or only in a
quiet one; to expect nourishment and to accept it only at fixed hours,
or at its own fancy,—while as yet it cannot understand any teaching
concerning the importance or the fitness of one of these things. A very
young child can be trained to cry for what it wants, or to keep quiet,
as a means of securing it. And, as a matter of fact, the training of
children is begun much earlier than their teaching. Many a child is
well started in its life-training by the time it is six weeks old; even
though its elementary teaching is not attempted until months after that.

There is a lesson just at this point in the signification of the Hebrew
word translated “train” in our English Bible. It is a noteworthy fact,
that this word occurs only twice in the Old Testament, and it has no
equivalent in the New. Those who were brought up in the household of
Abraham, “the father of the faithful,” are said to have been “trained”
(Gen. 14: 14). A proverb of the ages gives emphasis to a parent’s duty
to “train up” his child with wise considerateness (Prov. 22: 6). And
nowhere else in the inspired record does the original of this word
“train,” in any of its forms, appear.

The Hebrew word thus translated is a peculiar one. Its etymology shows
that its primary meaning is “to rub the gullet;” and its origin seems
to have been in the habit, still prevalent among primitive peoples,
of opening the throat of a new-born babe by the anointing of it with
blood, or with saliva, or with some sacred liquid, as a means of giving
the child a start in life by the help of another’s life. The idea of
the Hebrew word thus used seems to be that, as this opening of the
gullet of a child at its very birth is essential to the habituating of
the child to breathe and to swallow correctly, so the right training of
a child in all proper habits of life is to begin at the child’s very
birth. And the use of the word in the places where we find it, would
go to show that Abraham with all his faith, and Solomon with all his
wisdom, did not feel that it would be safe to put off the start with a
child’s training any later than this.

Child-training properly begins at a child’s birth, but it does not
properly end there. The first effort in the direction of child-training
is to train a child to breathe and to swallow; but that ought not to
be the last effort in the same direction. Child-training goes on as
long as a child is a child; and child-training covers every phase of a
child’s action and bearing in life. Child-training affects a child’s
sleeping and waking, his laughing and crying, his eating and drinking,
his looks and his movements, his self-control and his conduct toward
others. Child-training does not change a child’s nature, but it does
change his modes of giving expression to his nature. Child-training
does not give a child entirely new characteristics, but it brings him
to the repression and subdual of certain characteristics, and to the
expression and development of certain others, to such an extent that
the sum of his characteristics presents an aspect so different from
its original exhibit that it seems like another character. And so it
is that child-training is, in a sense, like the very making of a child
anew.

Child-training includes the directing and controlling and shaping of
a child’s feelings and thoughts and words and ways in every sphere of
his life-course, from his birth to the close of his childhood. And that
this is no unimportant part of a child’s upbringing, no intelligent
mind will venture to question.



II.

_THE DUTY OF TRAINING CHILDREN._


It is the mistake of many parents to suppose that their chief duty is
in loving and counseling their children, rather than in loving and
training them; that they are faithfully to show their children what
they ought to do, rather than to make them do it. The training power of
the parent is, as a rule, sadly undervalued.

Too many parents seem to take it for granted that because their
children are by nature very timid and retiring, or very bold and
forward; very extravagant in speech and manner, or quite disinclined
to express even a dutiful sense of gratitude and trust; reckless in
their generosity, or pitiably selfish; disposed to overstudy, or given
wholly to play; one-sided in this, or in that, or in the other, trait
or quality or characteristic,—therefore those children must remain
so; unless, indeed, they outgrow their faults, or are induced by wise
counsel and loving entreaty to overcome them.

“My boy is irrepressible,” says one father. “He is full of dash and
spirits. He makes havoc in the house while at home; and when he goes
out to a neighbor’s he either has things his own way, or he doesn’t
want to go _there_ again. I really wish he had a quieter nature; but,
of course, I can’t change him. I have given him a great many talks
about this; and I hope he will outgrow the worst of it. Still he is
just what he is, and punishing him wouldn’t make him anybody else.” A
good mother, on the other hand, is exercised because her little son
is so bashful that he is always mortifying her before strangers. He
will put his finger in his mouth, and hang down his head, and twist
one foot over the other, and refuse to shake hands, or to answer the
visitor’s “How do you do, my boy?” or even to say, “I thank you,” with
distinctness, when anything is given to him. And the same trouble is
found with the tastes as with the temperaments of children. One is
always ready to hear stories read or told, but will not sit quiet and
look at pictures, or use a slate and pencil. Another, a little older,
will devour books of travel or adventure, but has no patience with
a simple story of home life, or a book of instruction in matters of
practical fact.

Now it is quite inevitable that children should have these
peculiarities; but it is not inevitable that they should continue
to exhibit them offensively. Children can be trained in almost any
direction. Their natural tendencies may be so curbed and guided as no
longer to show themselves in disagreeable prominence. It is a parent’s
privilege, and it is a parent’s duty, to make his children, by God’s
blessing, to be and to do what they should be and do, rather than what
they would like to be and do. If indeed this were not so, a parent’s
mission would be sadly limited in scope, and diminished in importance
and preciousness. The parent who does not recognize the possibility of
training his children as well as instructing them, misses one of his
highest privileges as a parent, and fails of his most important work
for his children.

The skilled physician in charge of a certain institution for the
treatment of feeble-minded and imperfectly developed children, has
said, that some children who are brought to him are lacking in just one
important trait or quality, while they possess a fair measure of every
other. Or it may be said, that they have an excess of the trait or
quality opposite to that which they lack.

One girl, for example, will be wholly without a sense of honesty; will
even be possessed with a love of stealing for stealing’s sake, carrying
it to such an extent that when seated at the table she will snatch a
ball of butter from a plate, and wrap it up in a fold of her dress.
If she should be unchecked in this propensity until she were a grown
woman, she might prove one of the fashionable ladies who take books or
dry goods from the stores where they are shopping, under the influence
of “kleptomania.”

Again, a boy has no sense of truth. He will tell lies without any
apparent temptation to do so, even against his own obvious interests.
All of us have seen persons of this sort in mature life. Some of them
are to-day in places of prominence in Christian work and influence. Yet
another child is without any sense of reverence, or of modesty, or of
natural affection. One lacks all control of his temper, another of his
nerves. And so on in great variety.

The physician of that institution is by no means in despair over any of
these cases. It is his mission to find out the child’s special lack,
and to meet it; to learn what traits are in excess, and to curb them;
to know the child’s needs, and to _train_ him accordingly.

Every child is in a sense a partially developed, an imperfectly formed
child. There are no absolutely perfect children in this world. All of
them need restraining in some things and stimulating in others. And
every imperfect child can be helped toward a symmetrical character by
wise Christian training. Every home should be an institution for the
treatment of imperfectly developed children. Every father and every
mother should be a skilled physician in charge of such an institution.
There are glorious possibilities in this direction; and there are
weighty responsibilities also.



III.

_SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF CHILD-TRAINING._


Child-training can compass much, but child-training cannot compass
everything, in determining the powers and the possibilities of a child
under training. Each child can be trained in the way _he_ should go,
but not every child can be trained to go in the same way. Each child
can be trained to the highest and fullest exercise of _his_ powers, but
no child can be trained to the exercise of powers which are not his.
Each child can be trained to _his_ utmost possibilities, but not every
child can be trained to the utmost possibilities of every other child.
Child-training has the fullest scope of the capacity of the particular
child under treatment, and child-training is limited in every case by
the limitations of that child’s capacity.

A child born blind can be trained to such a use of his other senses
that he can do more in the world than many a poorly trained child
who has sight; but a blind child can never be trained to discern
differences in colors at a distance. A child who has by nature a dull
ear for music can be trained to more or less of musical skill; but a
child who is born without the sense of hearing can never be trained
to quickness in the discerning of sounds. A child can be trained to
facility in the use of every sense and faculty and limb and member
and muscle and nerve which he possesses; but no training will give to
a child a new sense, a new faculty, a new limb, a new member, a new
muscle, a new nerve. Child-training can make anything of a child that
can be made of that child, but child-training cannot change a child’s
nature and identity.

The limitations of child-training are more likely to be realized than
its extensive scope. Indeed, the supposed limitations of child-training
are very often unreal ones. Many a parent would say, for example,
that you cannot change a child’s form and features and expression
by training; yet, as a matter of fact, a child’s form and features
and expression can be, and often are, materially changed by training.
The chest is expanded, the waist is compressed, a curved spine is
straightened, or a deformity of limb is corrected, by persistent
training with the help of mechanical appliances. Among some primitive
peoples, the form of every child’s head is brought to a conventional
standard by a process of training; as, among other primitive peoples,
the feet or the ears or the eyes or the lips are thus conventionally
trained into—or out of—shape. And in all lands the expression of the
face steadily changes under the process of persistent training.

As it is with the physical form, so it is with the mental and moral
characteristics of a child; the range is wide within the limitations
of possible results from the training process. A nervous temperament
cannot, it is true, be trained into a phlegmatic one, or a phlegmatic
temperament be trained into a nervous one; but a child who is quick and
impulsive can be trained into moderation and carefulness of speech and
of action, while a child who is sluggish and inactive can be trained
to rapidity of movement and to energy of endeavor. An imbecile mind
can never be trained into the possibilities of native genius, nor can
a moral nature of the lowest order be trained to the same measure of
high conscientiousness as a nature that is keenly sensitive to every
call of duty and to the rights and the feelings of others; but training
can give unsuspected power to the dormant faculties of the dull-minded,
and can marvelously develop the latent moral sense of any child who is
capable of discerning between right and wrong in conduct.

The sure limitations of a child’s possibilities of training are
obvious to a parent. If one of the physical senses be lacking to the
child, no training will restore that sense, although wise training
may enable the child to overcome many of the difficulties that meet
him as a consequence of his native lack. And so, also, if the child
have such unmistakable defects of mind and of character as prove him
to be inferior to the ordinary grade of average humanity, the wisest
training cannot be expected to lift him above the ordinary level of
average humanity. But if a child be in the possession of the normal
physical senses, and the normal mental faculties, and the normal moral
capacities, of his race, he may, by God’s blessing, be trained to the
best and fullest use of his powers in these several spheres, in spite
of all the hindrances and drawbacks that are found in the perversion or
the imperfect development of those powers at his start in life.

In other words, if the child be grievously deformed or defective at
birth, or by some early casualty, there is an inevitable limitation
accordingly to the possibilities of his training. But if a child be
in possession of an ordinary measure of faculties and capacity, his
training will decide the manner and method and extent of the use of his
God-given powers.

It is, therefore, largely a child’s training that settles the question
whether a child is graceful or awkward in his personal movements,
gentle or rough in his ways with his fellows, considerate or
thoughtless in his bearing toward others; whether he is captious or
tractable within the bounds of due restraint; whether he is methodical
and precise, or unsystematic and irregular, in the discharge of his
daily duties; whether he is faithful in his studies, or is neglectful
of them; whether he is industrious or indolent in his habits; whether
the tastes which he indulges in his diet and dress and reading and
amusements and companionships are refined, or are low. In all these
things his course indicates what his training has been; or it suggests
the training that he needed, but has missed.



IV.

_DISCERNING A CHILD’S SPECIAL NEED OF TRAINING._


Some one has said, that a mother is quite right when she declares
enthusiastically of her little one, “There never was such a child as
this, in the world, before!” for in fact there never before was such a
child. Each child starts in life as if he were the only child in the
world, and the first one; and he is less like other people then than
ever he will be again. He is conformed to no regulation pattern at the
outset. He has, to begin with, no stock of ideas which have been passed
on and approved by others. He neither knows nor cares what other people
think. He is a law unto himself in all matters of thought and taste and
feeling. He is, so far, himself; and, just so far, he is different from
everybody else.

Left to himself, if that were a possibility, every child would continue
to be himself; but no child is left to himself: he is under training
and in training continually. And so it is that the training of a child
is quite as likely to change him from his best self to a poorer self,
as it is to develop and perfect that which is best in his distinctive
self. Child-training is, in many a case, the bringing of a child into
purely conventional ways, instead of bringing out into freest play,
in the child, those qualities and characteristics which mark him as a
unique and individual personality among the sons of men. How to learn
wherein a child’s real self needs stimulating, and wherein it needs
curbing or changing, is a question of questions in child-training.

No quality of a good physician is of more importance than skill in
making a diagnosis of a patient’s case. If a master-mind in this realm
were to pass with positiveness on the disease of every patient, the
treatment of that disease would be comparatively easy. A young graduate
from the medical school, or a trained nurse, would then, in most
instances, be capable of knowing and doing that which was needful in
the premises. But until the diagnosis is accurate, the best efforts
of the ablest physician are liable to be misdirected, and so to be
ineffective for good. As it is with the physician and his patient,
so it is with the parent and his child. An accurate diagnosis is an
essential prerequisite to wise and efficient treatment. The diagnosis
secured, the matter of treatment is a comparatively easy matter. A
parent’s diagnosis of his child’s case is in the discerning of his
child’s faults, as preliminary to a process of training for their
cure. Until _that_ is secured, there is no hope of intelligent and
well-directed treatment.

Yet it is not the easiest thing in the world to say what are a child’s
peculiar faults, and what is, therefore, that child’s peculiar need of
training. Many a parent is disturbed by a child’s best traits, while
he underestimates or overlooks that child’s chief failings. And many
another parent who knows that his child is full of faults cannot say
just what they are, or classify them according to their relative
prominence and their power for evil. “That boy’s questions will worry
my life out. He is always asking questions; and _such_ questions. I
can’t stand it!” This is said by many a father or mother whose child is
full of promise, largely because he is full of questions.

But if a boy has a bright mind and positive preferences, and is ready
to study or to work untiringly in the line of his own tastes, and in no
other line, it does not always occur to his parents that just here—in
this reluctance to apply himself in the line of wise expediency rather
than of personal fancy—there is a failing which, if not trained out of
that boy, will stand as a barrier to his truest manhood, and will make
him a second-rate man when he might be a first-rate one; a one-sided
man instead of a well-proportioned man. Such a boy is quite likely to
be looked upon as one who must be permitted to have his own way, since
that way is evidently not a bad way, and he shows unusual power in its
direction. So that boy may be left untrained in this particular until
he is hopelessly past training, merely because his chief fault is
unrecognized by those who could correct it, and who would gladly do so
if they saw it in its due proportions.

Careful study and a wise discrimination are needed on a parent’s part
to ascertain a child’s peculiar faults. Each parent would do well to
ask himself, or herself, the questions, “What are the special faults
of my child? Where is he weakest? In what direction is his greatest
strength liable to lead him astray, and when is it most likely to fail
him? Which of his faults is most prominent? Which of them is of chief
importance for immediate correction?” Such questions as these should
be considered at a time favorable to deliberate judgment, when there
is least temptation to be influenced by personal feeling, either of
preference or dissatisfaction. They should be pondered long and well.

The unfriendly criticisms of neighbors, and the kind suggestions of
friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate
of his child’s failings and faults. Rarely is a parent so discerning,
so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and
through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the
every imperfection and exaggeration, of their characters, with unerring
accuracy and absolute fairness. A judge is supposed to be disqualified
for an impartial hearing of a case in which he has a direct personal
interest. A physician will not commonly make a diagnosis of his own
disorders, lest his fears or hopes should bias his judgment. And a
parent is as liable as a judge or a physician to be swayed unduly by
interest or affection, in an estimate of a case which is before him for
a decision.

Even though, therefore, every parent must decide for himself concerning
the interests and the treatment of his own children, he ought to be
glad to take into consideration what others think and say of those
children, while he is making up his mind as to his duty in the
premises. And what is written or said on this subject by competent
educators is worthy of attention from every parent who would train
his children understandingly. There is little danger that any parent
will give too much study to the question of his child’s specific needs,
or have too many helps to a wise conclusion on that point. There is
a great deal of danger that the whole subject will be neglected or
undervalued by a parent.

If a parent were explicitly to ask the question of a fair and
plain-speaking friend, familiar with that parent’s children, and
competent to judge them, What do you think is the chief fault—or the
most objectionable characteristic—of my son—or daughter? the frank
answer to that question would in very many cases be an utter surprise
to the parent, the fault or characteristic named not having been
suspected by the parent. A child may be so much like the parent just
here, that the parent’s blindness to his or her own chief fault or lack
may forbid the seeing of the child’s similar deformity. Or, again,
that child may be so totally unlike the parent, that the parent will
be unable to appreciate, or even to apprehend, that peculiarity of
the child which is apparent to every outside intelligent observer.
A child’s reticence from deep feeling has often been counted by an
over-demonstrative parent as a sign of want of sensitiveness; and so
_vice versa_.

Parents need help from others, from personal friends whom they can
trust to speak with impartiality and kindness, or from the teachers of
their children, in the gaining of a proper estimate and understanding
of their children’s characteristics and needs. The parent who does
not realize this truth, and act on it, will never do as well as might
be done for his or her child. God has given the responsibility of the
training of that child to the parent; but he has also laid on that
parent the duty of learning, by the aid of all proper means, what are
that child’s requirements, and how to meet them.



V.

_WILL-TRAINING, RATHER THAN WILL-BREAKING._


The measure of will-power is the measure of personal power, with a
child as with an adult. The possession or the lack of will-power is
the possession or the lack of personal power, in every individual’s
sphere of life and being. The right or the wrong use of will-power is
the right or the wrong exercise of an individual’s truest personality.
Hence the careful guarding and the wise guiding of a child’s will
should be counted among the foremost duties of one who is responsible
for a child’s training.

Will-training is an important element in child-training; but
will-breaking has no part or place in the training of a child. A broken
will is worth as much in its sphere as a broken bow; just that, and
no more. A child with a broken will is not so well furnished for the
struggle of life as a child with only one arm, or one leg, or one eye.
Such a child has no power of strong personality, or of high achievement
in the world. Every child ought to be trained to conform his will to
the demands of duty; but that is bending his will, not breaking it.
Breaking a child’s will is never in order.

The term “will” as here employed applies to the child’s faculty of
choosing or deciding between two courses of action. Breaking a child’s
will is bringing the pressure of external force directly upon that
will, and causing the will to give way under the pressure of that
force. Training a child’s will is bringing such influences to bear upon
the child that he is ready to choose or decide in favor of the right
course of action.

To break a child’s will is to crush out for the time being, and so far
to destroy, the child’s privilege of free choice; it is to force him
to an action against his choice, instead of inducing him to choose in
the right direction. A child’s will is his truest personality; the
expression of his will in a free choice is the highest expression of
his personality. And a child’s personality is to be held sacred by
God’s representative who is over the child, even as God himself holds
sacred the personality of every human being created in the image of God.

God never says unqualifiedly to a human being, “You shall not exercise
your faculty of choice between the way of life and the way of death;
you shall walk in the way which I know to be best for you.” But, on the
contrary, God says to every one (Deut. 30: 15): “See, I have set before
thee this day life and good, and death and evil,”—for thy choice.
Here, as everywhere, God concedes to man the privilege of exercising
his will-power in the direction of life and good, or of death and
evil. The strictest Calvinist and the broadest Arminian are at one in
their opinion so far. Whatever emphasis is laid, in their philosophy,
on God’s influencing or enabling the human will to its final choice,
neither of them disputes the fact that man is actually permitted to use
that will in the direction of his choice. “It is God that worketh _in_
man to _will_ and to work for His good pleasure.” It is not that God
worketh above man to crush out man’s faculty of willing whether to act
for or against His good pleasure. In other words, God has fore-ordained
that every man shall have the freedom of his will—and take the
consequences.

It is true that God holds out before man, as an inducement to him in
his choosing, the inevitable results of his choice. If he chooses good,
life comes with it. If he chooses evil, death is its accompaniment. The
rewards and the punishments are declared in advance; but after all, and
in spite of all, the choice is man’s own. And every soul shall have
eternally the destiny of its own choosing. The representative of God
clothed with power, as he stood before the people of Israel, did not
say, “You _shall_ choose God’s service now; and if you deliberately
refuse to do so, God will break your will so that you do do it;” but he
said, “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day
whom ye will serve” (Josh. 24: 15).

As God, our wise and loving Father in heaven, deals with us his
children, so we, as earthly fathers, should deal with our children. We
should guard sacredly their privilege of personal choice; and while
using every proper means to induce them to choose aright, we should
never, never, never force their choice, even into the direction of our
intelligent preference for them. The final responsibility of a choice
and of its consequences rests with the child, and not with the parent.

A child’s will ought to be strong for right-doing. If it be not so at
the start, it is the parent’s duty to guide, or train, it accordingly.
But to break, or crush, a child’s will, is inconsistent with the
educating and training of that will. A conflict between a parent and a
child, where the only question is, Whose will shall yield to the other?
is, after all, neither more nor less than a conflict of brute force.

Whether, in any instance, the will of the parent be set on having his
child commit some repulsive crime against which the child’s moral
nature recoils, or whether the will of the parent be set on the
child’s reciting a Bible text or saying a prayer, the mere conflict of
wills as a conflict of wills is a conflict of brute force; and in such
a conflict neither party ought to succeed,—for success in any such case
is always a failure. If the parent really wills that the child shall do
right, the parent’s endeavor should be to have the child will in the
same direction. Merely to force one will into subjection to the other
is, however, an injury both to the one who forces and to the one who
submits.

A hypothetical illustration may make this matter clearer. A father says
to his strong-willed child: “Johnny, shut that door.” Johnny says, “I
won’t.” The father says, “You shall.” Johnny rejoins, “I won’t.” An
issue is here made between two wills—the father’s and the son’s. Many
a parent would suppose that in such a case the child’s will ought to
be broken, subjugated, forced, if need be, under the pressure of the
father’s will; and the more conscientious the parent, the firmer is
likely to be his conviction of duty accordingly.

It is at such a point as this that the evil of breaking a child’s will,
instead of training it, finds its foothold in many a Christian home.
The father is determined not to yield his will to his child’s will. The
child is determined not to yield his will to his father’s will. It is
the old conflict between “an irresistible force and an immovable body.”
In such a case, brute force may compel the child to do that which he
chooses not to do, just as the rack and thumb-screws of the Inquisition
could compel the tortured one to deny a belief which he chooses to
adhere to; but in the one case, as in the other, the victim of the
torturing pressure is permanently harmed, while the cause of truth and
right has been in no sense the gainer by the triumph. Oh, what if God
should treat his children in that way!

What, then, it may be asked, should be done with such a child in an
issue like this? It certainly would have been better, it would have
been far better, for the parent not to make a direct issue by following
the child’s first refusal with the unqualified declaration, “You
shall.” But with the issue once made, however unfortunately, then what?
Let the parent turn to the child in loving gentleness,—not _then_ in
severity, and never, never, never in _anger_,—and tell him tenderly of
a better way than that which he is pursuing, urging him to a wiser,
nobler choice. In most cases the very absence of any show of angry
conflict on the father’s part will prompt the child to choose to do
that which he said he would not do. But if worst comes to worst (for
we are here taking the extremest supposable issue, which ought indeed
rarely, if ever, to occur), let the parent say to the child: “Johnny, I
shall have to give you your choice in this matter. You can either shut
that door or take a whipping.” Then a new choice is before the boy, and
his will is free and unbroken for its meeting.

Be it understood, the father has no right to say, “I will whip you
until you shut that door;” for that would be to deprive the boy of
a choice, to deprive the boy of his will-power in the direction of
his action: and that no parent is ever justified in doing. If the boy
chooses to be whipped rather than to obey, the father must accept the
result so far, and begin again for the next time; although, of course,
there must be no undue severity in a child’s punishment; even the
civil law forbids that. The father as a father is not entitled to have
his will stand in the place of his child’s will; even though he is
privileged to strive to bring the child to will in the same direction
that the father’s will trends.

All the way along through his training-life, a child ought to know
what are to be the legitimate consequences of his chosen action, in
every case, and then be privileged to choose accordingly. There is
a place for punishment in a child’s training, but punishment is a
penalty attached to a choice; it is not brute force applied to compel
action against choice. No child ought ever to be punished, unless he
understood, when he chose to do the wrong in question, that he was
thereby incurring the penalty of that punishment.

In most cases it is better, as has been said, for a parent to _avoid_
a direct issue with a child, than to seek, or even than to recognize
and meet, an issue. And in the endeavor to train a child’s will, there
is often a gain in giving the child an alternative consequence of
obedience or disobedience. _That_ is God’s way of holding out rewards
and punishments. For example, a wise young mother was just giving her
little boy a bit of candy which was peculiarly prized by him, when,
in speaking to a lady visitor he called her by the familiar term used
by older members of the family in addressing her. The mother reminded
him of the manner in which he should speak to the lady. He refused to
conform to this. “Then I cannot let you have this candy,” said the
mother. “All right,” was the wilful reply. “I’d rather go without the
candy than call her what you tell me to.” The mother turned quietly
away, taking the candy with her. An hour later that child came to his
mother, saying, “Mamma, perhaps you can give me that candy now; for
I will always call that lady just what you tell me to.” A few added
words from the mother at that juncture settled that point for all time.
Thenceforward the child did as he had thus been led to will to do. His
will had not been broken, but it had been newly directed by judicious
training.

But, it may be asked, if a child be told by his mother to leave the
room, at a time when it is peculiarly important that he should not
remain there, and he says that he will not go, what shall be done with
him? Shall he be permitted to have his own way, against his own true
welfare? If the chief point be to get him out of the room, and there
is no time just then for his training, the child can be carried out by
main strength. But that neither breaks nor trains the child’s will. It
is not a triumph of will, but of muscle. The child, in such a case,
leaves the room against his will, and in spite of it. His will has
simply been ignored, not broken. And there are times when a child’s
bodily removal from one place to another is more important for the
time being than is, just then, the child’s will-training. Such would
be the case if the house were on fire, or if the child were taken
suddenly ill. But that is apart from the question of will-training or
will-breaking. The distinction here noted ought not to be lost sight of
in considering this question.

If, however, in the case above cited, the purpose of the mother be to
meet the issue which is there raised, and to have it settled once for
all whose will shall triumph, right or wrong, the mother can bring the
pressure of brute force to bear on the child’s will, in order to its
final breaking. Under that pressure, the child’s life may go out before
his will is broken. In many an instance of that sort, this has been the
result. Or, again, the child’s will may then be broken. If it be so,
the child is harmed for life; and so is his mother. The one has come
into a slavish submission to the conscientiously tyrannical demands of
the other. Both have obtained wrong conceptions of parental authority,
wrong conceptions of filial obedience, and wrong conceptions of the
plan and methods of the Divine-Paternal government. But if, on the
other hand, now be the time for teaching a child to use his own will
aright, at the summons of one who is older and wiser than himself, and
who is over him in the plan of God for his guidance and training, there
is a better way than either the forcing a child out of the room against
his will, or the breaking of his will so that that will is powerless to
prompt him to stay or to go.

The course to be pursued in this case is that already suggested in
the case of the child whose father told him to shut the door. Let the
mother give herself, at once, to firm and gentle endeavors to bring
that child to use his own will, freely and gladly, in the direction of
her commands to him. If necessary, let there be no more of sleeping or
eating in that home until that child, under the forceful pressure of
wise counsel and of affectionate entreaty, has willed to do that which
he ought to do,—has willed to be an obedient child. Here, again, is the
difference between the wise training of the will, and the always unwise
and unjustifiable breaking of the will.

Even in the matter of dealing with the lower animals, it has been
found that the old idea of “breaking” the will as a substitute for,
or as a necessary precedent of, the “training” the will, is an
erroneous one; and the remarkable power of such horse-trainers as
Rarey and Gleason grows out of the fact that they are _trainers_, and
not _breakers_, of horses. A standard work on Dog Training, by S. T.
Hammond, is based on the idea, indicated in one of its titles, of
“Training _versus_ Breaking.” It might seem, indeed, that the counsel
of this latter writer, concerning the wise treatment of a young dog
taken newly in hand for his training, were given to a parent concerning
the wise treatment of a young child when first taken in hand for this
purpose.

“Do not fail to abundantly caress him and speak kindly words,” he says;
“and never under any circumstances, no matter what the provocation,
allow yourself to scold, or [in this early stage] strike him, as this
is entirely at variance with our system, and is sure to result in
the defeat of our plans.... Be very gentle with him at all times.
Carefully study his disposition, and learn all of his ways, that you
may the more readily understand just how to manage him. You should be
in perfect sympathy with him, and humor all his whims and notions, and
endeavor to teach him that you truly love him. In a short time you
will find that this love will be returned tenfold, and that he is ever
anxiously watching for your coming, and never so happy as when in your
presence and enjoying your caresses.” This, be it borne in mind, is in
a line of work that seeks to bring the entire will of the trained in
loving subjection to the will of the trainer. And that which is none
too high a standard for a young dog ought not to be deemed too high for
attainment by a rational child.

Surely that which is found to be the best way for a trainer of dogs on
the one hand, and which, on the other hand, is God’s way with all his
children, may fairly be recognized as both practicable and best for a
human parent’s dealing with his intelligent little ones. And all this
is written by one who in well-nigh forty years of parental life has
tried more than one way in child-training, and who long ago learned
by experience as well as by study that God’s way in this thing is
unmistakably the best way.



VI.

_THE PLACE OF “MUST” IN TRAINING._


With all the modern improvements in methods of dealing with
children,—and these improvements are many and great,—it is important to
bear in mind that judicious _discipline_ has an important part in the
wise training of the young. Discipline is not everything in the sphere
of child-training; but discipline is much, in that sphere. Discipline
is an important factor in will-training; and will-training is an
important factor in wise child-training, although will-breaking is not.

Formerly, discipline was the great feature, if not, indeed, the only
feature, in the training of children. There was a time when children
were not allowed to sit in the presence of their parents, or to speak
to them unless they were first spoken to, or to have a place with
their parents at the home table or in the church pew; when the approved
mode of teaching was a primitive and very simple one. “They told a
child to learn; and if he did not, they beat him.” The school-days
of children were then spoken of as “when they were under the rod.”
Even the occasional celebration of a holy day did not bring unalloyed
delight to the little ones; as, for instance, “on Innocents’ Day, an
old custom of our ancestors was to flog the poor children in their
beds, not as a punishment, but to impress on their minds the murder of
the innocents.”

But all this is in the long past. For a century or more the progress of
interest in and attention to the children has been steady and rapid.
And now the best talent of the world is laid under contribution for
the little ones. In the provisions of song and story and pictures and
toys and games, as well as in school buildings and school appliances
and school methods, the place of the children is foremost. At home they
certainly do not hesitate to sit down when and where they please, or
to speak without waiting to be spoken to. Indeed, there are parents
who wonder if _they_ will ever get a chance to sit down while their
children are in the house; or if ever those children will stop asking
questions. Meanwhile in secular schools and in Sunday-schools the aim
seems to be to make learning as attractive as possible to children, and
to relieve study, as far as may be, of all tediousness and discomfort.

Now, that this state of things is, on the whole, a decided improvement
over that which it displaced, there is no room for fair doubt. Yet
there is always a danger of losing sight of one important truth in
the effort to give new and due prominence to another. Hence attention
should be given to the value of judicious discipline in the training
of children. Children need to learn how to do things which they do
not want to do, when those things ought to be done. Older people have
to do a great many things from a sense of duty. Unless children are
trained to recognize duty as more binding than inclination, they will
suffer all their lives through from their lack of discipline in this
direction.

Children ought to be trained to get up in the morning at a proper hour,
for some other reason than that this is to be “the maddest, merriest
day in all the glad new year.” They ought to learn to go to bed at a
fitting time, whether they are sleepy or not. Their hours of eating,
and the quality and quantity of their food, ought to be regulated
by some other standard than their inclinations. In their daily life
there must be a place for tasks as tasks, for times of study under the
pressure of stern duty, in the effort to train them to do their right
work properly. It is not enough to have children learn only lessons
which they enjoy, and this at times and by methods which are peculiarly
pleasing to them. President Porter, of Yale, said, in substance, that
the chief advantage of the college curriculum is, that it trains a
young man to do what he ought to do, when he ought to do it, whether he
wants to do it or not. Any course of training for a young person that
fails to accomplish thus much, is part of a sadly imperfect system.

There are few, if any, children who do not need to be trained to
apply themselves earnestly to occupations which they dislike. The
tastes of some children are very good, and of others very poor; but
nearly all children have positive inclinations in one direction or
in another. They like playing better than working or reading; or
they prefer reading or working to playing. Some prefer to remain
indoors; others prefer to be outside. Some want to occupy themselves
always in mechanical pursuits; others would always be at games of one
sort or another. Some enjoy being with companions; others prefer to
be by themselves; yet others would attach themselves to one or two
persons only, having little care for the society of anybody else. In
their studies, children show, perhaps very early, a decided fancy
for geography, or history or mathematics, or the languages, and a
pronounced distaste for other branches of learning. Now, whether a
child’s tastes are elevated or unrefined, in the direction of better
or more undesirable pursuits, he ought not to be permitted to follow
always his own fancies, or to do only that which he really likes to do.

The parent or the teacher must decide what pursuit of activity, or what
branch of study, is best for each several child, and must train him to
it accordingly. In making this decision, it is important to consider
fully the tastes and peculiarities of the particular child under
training; but the decision itself must rest with the guardian rather
than with the child. Whatever place “elective” studies may properly
have in a university curriculum, there is need of positive limitations
to the elective system of duties in the nursery and in the home sphere
generally.

Hardly anything can be more important in the mental training of a
child than the bringing him to do what he ought to do, and to do it in
its proper time, whether he enjoys doing it or not. The measure of a
child’s ability to do this becomes in the long run, the measure of his
practical efficiency in whatever sphere of life he labors. No man can
work always merely in the line of his personal preferences. He must do
many things which are distasteful to him. Unless he was trained as a
child to do such things persistently, he cannot do them to advantage
when they are upon him as a necessity. Nor can any man do his best work
as well as he ought to, if he works always and only in one line. A
one-sided man is not a well-balanced man, even though his one side be
the right side. It is better to use the dextral hand than the sinister,
but it is certainly preferable to be ambidextrous.

There is little danger that intelligent Christian parents or teachers
will at this day refuse to consider duly a child’s tastes and
peculiarities, in their efforts to instruct and train him. While,
however, they are making study attractive and life enjoyable to a
child, parents should see to it that the child learns to keep quiet
at specified times, and to be active at other times; that he studies
assigned lessons, does set tasks, denies himself craved indulgences;
that he goes and comes, that he stands or moves, at designated
hours,—not because he wants to do these things, but because he _must_.
Now, as of old, “it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his
youth.”



VII.

_DENYING A CHILD WISELY._


One of the hardest and one of the most important things in the training
of a loved child is to deny him that which he longs for, and which
we could give to him, but which he would better not have. It is very
pleasant to gratify a child. There is real enjoyment in giving to him
what he asks for, when we can do it prudently. But wise withholding is
quite as important as generous giving in the proper care of a child.

Next to denying a child necessary food and raiment, for the sustenance
of very life, the unkindest treatment of a child is to give him
everything that he asks for. Every parent recognizes this truth within
certain limits, and therefore refuses an unsheathed knife, or a
percussion cartridge, or a cup of poison, to a child who cries for it.
But the breadth and the full significance of the principle involved
are not so generally accepted as they should be.

A child ought to be denied, by his parents, many things which in
themselves are harmless. It is an injury to any child to have always
at the table the dishes which he likes best; to have uniformly the cut
or the portion which he prefers; to have every plaything which his
parents can afford to give him; to dress—even within their means—just
as he wants to; and to go, with them, where and when he pleases. That
child who has never a legitimate desire ungratified is poorly fitted
for the duties and the trials of every-day life in the world. He does
not, indeed, enjoy himself now as he might hope to through a different
training. It is sadly to a parent’s discredit when a child can truly
say, “My father, or my mother, never denied me any pleasure which it
was fairly in his, or her, power to bestow.”

It is because of the evil results of not wisely denying the little
ones, that an only child is in so many instances spoken of as a
spoiled child. There is but one to give to in that household. He can
have just so much more, than if there were half a dozen children to
share it; and, as a rule, he gets it all. Parents give to him freely;
so do grandparents, and so do uncles and aunts. He hardly knows what
self-denial or want is. His very fullness palls upon him. It is not
easy to surprise him with an unexpected pleasure. He not only is
liable to grow selfish and exacting, but at the best he lacks all the
enjoyment which comes of the occasional gratification of a desire which
has been long felt without the expectation of its being speedily met.

But it is by no means _necessary_ that an only child should be spoiled
in training. Some of the best trained children in the world have been
only children. Many a parent is more faithful and discreet in securing
to his or her only child the benefits of self-denial than is many
another with half a dozen children to care for. But whether there be
one child or more in the family, the lesson of wise denial is alike
important to the young, and the responsibility of its teaching should
be recognized by the parent.

Few grown persons can have everything they want, everything that
love can give, everything that money can buy. Most of them have many
reasonable wishes ungratified, many moderate desires unfilled. They
have to get along without a great many things which others have,
and which they would like. It is probable that their children will
be called to similar experiences when they must finally shift for
themselves. Their children ought, therefore, to be in training for
this experience now. It is largely the early education which gives one
proper control over himself and his desires. If in childhood one is
taught to deny himself, to yield gracefully much that he longs for, to
enjoy the little that he can have in spite of the lack of a great deal
which he would like to have, his lot will be an easier and a happier
one, when he comes to the realities of maturer life, than would be
possible to him if, as a child, he had only to express a reasonable
wish, to have it promptly gratified.

For this reason it is that men who were the children of the rich are
so often at a disadvantage, in the battle of life, in comparison with
those who have risen from comparative poverty. Their parents’ wealth,
so freely at their disposal, increased the number of wants which
they now think must be gratified; and their pampering in childhood
so enervated them for the struggles and endurances which are, at the
best, a necessity in ordinary business pursuits, that they are easily
distanced by those who were in youth disciplined through enforced
self-denial, and made strong by enduring hardness, and by finding
contentment with a little. It is a great pity that the full and
free gifts of a loving parent should prove a hindrance to a child’s
happiness, a barrier to his success in life; that the very abundance of
the parent’s giving should tend to the child’s poverty and unhappiness!
Yet this state of things is in too many instances an undeniable fact.

Children of the present day—especially children of parents in
comfortable worldly circumstances—are far more likely than were their
fathers and mothers to lack lessons of self-denial. The standard of
living is very different now from a generation since. There were few
parents in any community in this country fifty years ago who could buy
whatever they wanted for their children; or, indeed, for themselves.
There was no such freeness of purchases for children, for the table,
for the house or the household, as is now common on every side.
Children then did not expect a new suit of clothes every few months.
Often they had old ones made over for them, from those of their parents
or of their elder brothers and sisters. A present from the toy-shop
or bookstore was a rarity in those days. There was not much choosing
by children what they would eat as they sat down at the family table.
There was still less of planning by them for a summer journey with
their parents to a mountain or seaside resort. Self-denial, or more or
less of personal privation, came as a necessity to almost every child
in the younger days of many who are now on the stage of active life.
But how different now!

The average child of the present generation receives more presents and
more indulgences from his parents in any one year of his life than the
average child of a generation ago received in all the years of his
childhood. Because of this new standard, the child of to-day expects
new things, as a matter of course; he asks for them, in the belief
that he will receive them. In consequence of their abundance, he sets
a smaller value upon them severally. It is not possible that he should
think as highly of any one new thing, out of a hundred coming to him in
rapid succession, as he would of the only gift of an entire year.

A boy of nowadays can hardly prize his new bicycle, or his
“double-ripper” sled, after all the other presents he has received, as
his father prized a little wagon made of a raisin-box, with wheels of
ribbon-blocks, which was _his_ only treasure in the line of locomotion.
A little girl cannot have as profound enjoyment in her third wax doll
of the year, with eyes which open and shut, as her mother had with
her one clumsy doll of stuffed rags or of painted wood. A new child’s
book was a wonder a generation since; it is now hardly more to one of
our children than the evening paper is to the father of the family. It
is now hard work to give a new sensation—or, at all events, to make
a permanent impression—by the bestowal of a gift of any sort on a
child. It would be far easier to surprise and to impress many a child
by refusing to give to him what he asked for and expected; and that
treatment would in some cases be greatly to a child’s advantage.

A distinctive feature of the child-training of the ancient Spartans
was the rigid discipline of constant self-denial, to which the child
was subjected from infancy onward. And this feature of child-training
among that people had much to do with giving to the Spartans their
distinguishing characteristics of simplicity of manners, of powers
of endurance, and of dauntless bravery. The best primitive peoples
everywhere have recognized the pre-eminent importance of this feature
of child-training. Its neglect has come only with the growth in luxury
among peoples of the highest material civilization. The question is an
important one, whether it is well to lose all the advantages of this
method of training, simply because it is not found to be a necessity as
a means of sustaining physical life, where wealth abounds so freely.

It is not that a child is to be denied what he wants, merely for the
sake of the denial itself; but it is that a child ought not to have
what he wants merely because he wants it. It is not that there is a
necessary gain in a denial to a child; but it is that when a denial to
a child is necessary, there is an added gain to him through his finding
that he must do without what he longs for. It is every parent’s duty to
deny a child many things which he wants; to teach him that he must get
along without a great many things which seem very desirable; to train
him to self-denial and endurance, at the table, in the play-room;
with companions, and away from them: and the doing of this duty by the
parent brings a sure advantage to the child. Whatever else he has, a
child ought not to lack this element of a wise training.



VIII.

_HONORING A CHILD’S INDIVIDUALITY._


A child is liable to be looked upon as if he were simply one child
among many children, a specimen representative of childhood generally;
but every child stands all by himself in the world as an individual,
with his own personality and character, with his own thoughts and
feelings, his own hopes and fears and possibilities, his own relations
to his fellow-beings and to God. This truth is often realized by a
child before his parents realize it; and if it be unperceived and
unrecognized by his parents, they are thereby shut off from the
opportunity of doing for him much that can be done by them only as they
give due honor to their child’s individuality as a child.

A little babe is not a mere bit of child-material, to be worked up by
outside efforts and influences into a child-reality; but he is already
a living organism, with all the possibilities of his highest manhood
working within him toward their independent development. Here is the
difference, on a lower plane, between a mass of clay being molded by
the sculptor’s hands into a statue of grace and beauty, and a seed of
herb or tree containing within itself the germ of a new and peculiar
individual specimen of its own unchanging species. An acorn is more
than the fruit of the oak that bore it; it is the germ of another oak,
like, and yet unlike, all the oaks that the world has known before the
growth of this one. So, also, a child is more than the mere child of
his earthly parents; he is, in embryo, a man with characteristics and
qualities such as his parents could never attain to, and which, it may
be, the world has never before seen equaled.

The possibilities of Moses, who was to put his impress upon the world’s
character, were in the Hebrew babe, as his loving mother laid him
tenderly in the pitch-daubed basket of papyrus, to hide him away among
the flags of the Nile-border, as they were not in any native babe of
the household of Pharaoh; and if his mother had any intuitive womanly
sense of his grand future in the providence of God, her zeal and faith
in his behalf were quickened and inspired accordingly. And so it has
been all along the ages; the germs of power and achievement were
already in the babe, who was afterward known as Plato, or Cæsar, or
Muhammad, or Charlemagne, or Columbus, or Shakespeare, or Washington.
And who will doubt that many a germ of such possibility in a young
child has been quickened or repressed, according as that child’s
parents have perceived and honored, or have failed to realize and to
foster, the best that was involved in the child’s individuality?

It was to the credit of the high-priest Eli, that he perceived that the
child Samuel was capable of receiving communications from the Lord,
such as were denied to the possessor of Urim and Thummim; and that he
honored the child’s individuality so far as to encourage him to declare
the message that God had sent by him; instead of treating the child
as one who could receive nothing from God, save as it came to him
through the medium of his guardians and seniors. This spirit it was
that prompted Trebonius to bare his head as he entered the school-room
where he was looked up to as the teacher; because, as he suggested,
he recognized in every child before him there the possibility of
lofty attainment in his developed individuality. And it can hardly be
doubted that this attitude of the teacher Trebonius had its measure of
influence in bringing to its fruition the germinal power in his pupil
Martin Luther. Trebonius and Eli are—so far, at least—a pattern to the
parents of to-day.

It is not merely that the child _is to be_ the possessor of a marked
and distinctive individuality, and that therefore he is to be honored
for his possibilities in that direction; but it is that _he already
is_ the possessor of such an individuality, and that he is worthy of
honor for that which he has and is at the present time. Many a child,
while a child, is the superior of his parents in the basis and scope
of character, in the attributes of genius, and in the instincts of high
spiritual perception. This is the true order of things in the progress
of God’s plans for the race; the better is in the coming generations,
not in the past. But even where the child is not the superior, he is
always the peer in individuality of those to whom he looks up with
honoring reverence as his parents, and he is entitled to recognition by
them in that peership.

Every one who recalls clearly his child-time thoughts and feelings,
remembers that even in his earliest days he had his own standpoint of
observation and reflection; that he was conscious of his individual
relations to others and to God; and that, in a sense, his independent
outlook and his independent uplook as an individual were the same then
as now, in kind, although not in degree. He also remembers that, as a
child, he was often made to feel that his individuality was not fully
recognized by others, but that it was frequently ignored or trenched
upon by those who took it for granted that, because he was still a
child, he had as yet no truly individual position, attitude, and rights
in the world. Yet it is not an easy thing for a parent of to-day to
bear always in mind that every child of his is as truly an individual
as he was when he was a child.

In little things, as in larger, a child’s individuality is liable to
be overlooked, or to be disregarded. A little boy was taken alarmingly
ill one day. For several hours his loving mother watched him anxiously.
The next day he was in his accustomed health again. His mother, with
the evident thought that a child could have no comprehension like a
parent’s of such a state of things as that, said to him, tenderly: “My
dear boy, you don’t know how sick you were yesterday.” “Oh, yes! I do,
dear mamma,” he answered; “I know a great deal better than you do; for
I was the one that was sick.” And many a child has the thought that
was in that child’s mind, when he is spoken to as though he must get
all his ideas of his own feelings and conditions and needs from some
one who is supposed to represent him better than he can represent
himself—while he is still in childhood.

It is much the same in the matter of personal rights, as in the
matter of personal feelings. A child finds that his individuality is
constantly lost sight of, because he is a child; as it ought not to be.
A little fellow who had been given a real watch, was conscious of an
advance in his relative position by that possession. His uncle, having
taken his own watch to the watchmaker’s, asked the loan of the little
fellow’s watch for the time being, saying that he could not get along
without one. “Can’t you get along without a watch?” asked the nephew.
“No, I cannot,” replied the uncle. “If I had mine at the watchmaker’s,
would you lend me yours till mine came back?” was the little fellow’s
searching inquiry. “Why, no; I don’t suppose I would,” replied the
other. “But then, you know, I’m a man, and you are a boy.” “Well,
then,” said the individual boy to the individual man; “if you can’t get
along without a watch, and you wouldn’t lend me yours if I needed it,
I can’t get along without a watch, and I can’t let you have mine.”

Now, the trouble in that case was that the boy’s individuality was
not sufficiently recognized and honored by the manner of that request
for his watch. It seemed to be taken for granted that, because he
was a child, he had no such rights in his own possessions as a man
has in his, and that he put no such value on that which he had, as a
man would be sure to put on his belongings. Against that assumption
the child quite naturally, and with a good show of logic, resolutely
asserted himself. If, on the other hand, the boy had been appealed to
as an equal, to render a favor to the other because of a special and a
clearly explained need, there is no reason to doubt that he would have
been prompt to respond to it, with a feeling of satisfaction in being
able to render that favor.

Just here is where so many children are deprived of their rights as
individuals, by inconsiderate parents or others. When seats are lacking
for new comers in a room or a street-car, and two or three children
are seated together by themselves in absorbing chat, the temptation is
to speak quickly to the little ones, telling them to vacate those seats
for their elders, in a tone that seems to indicate that a child has no
rights in comparison with a grown person; instead of showing by the
very manner of address that the children’s attention is called to their
privilege of showing courtesy to their elders. In the one case, every
child of that party feels aggrieved through being made to feel that his
rights are not recognized as rights. In the other case, he is gratified
by the implied confidence in his gentlemanliness, and in his readiness
to yield his rights gracefully. A child’s rights as an individual are
as positive and as sacred as a man’s; and it is never proper to ignore
these rights in a child, any more than it would be in a man.

When a child shows an unexpected interest in a subject of conversation
between adults, it is not fair for the adults to brush aside the
child’s questions or comments in a way that seems to say, “Oh! you are
only a child. Your opinions are of no account. This is a matter for
real people to think and talk about.” Yet how common a thing it is for
parents to treat their children in this way; and what a mistake it is!
If, indeed, the subject be one that is fairly beyond a child’s grasp,
it is quite proper to give the child to understand this fact, without
any lack of respect for his individuality; but under no circumstances
is it right to ignore that individuality at such a time.

The deeper the theme of converse, and the profounder the thought
involved in it, the greater the probability of a child’s freshness
and life in its considering, if he indicates an appreciative interest
in its discussion. It is not merely in the story of the child Samuel
that there is a gleam of childhood’s possibilities in the direction
of closer communion with God than is granted to ordinary manhood; but
all the teachings of Scripture and of human experience tend to the
disclosure and confirmation of this same truth. “Verily I say unto
you,” says our Lord, “Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye
shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And again: “See
that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that
in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is
in heaven.” And there is an echo of these Divine words in the familiar
teachings of the Christian poet of nature:

  “Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
  Shades of the prison-house begin to close
    Upon the growing Boy,
  But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,—
    He sees it in his joy;
  The Youth, who daily farther from the East
  Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,
    And by the vision splendid
    Is on his way attended;
  At length the Man perceives it die away,
  And fade into the light of common day.”

There is, indeed, a possibility of retaining the child-freshness of
acquaintance with spiritual truths even into manhood and through all
one’s life. That possibility every parent ought to strive to attain to.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,” said
our Lord, as he pointed to a veritable human little one, “the same is
the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And he who is greatest through
being most child-like, will be readiest to recognize the individuality
and the glorious possibilities of each and every child committed to
his charge. Even while training a child, he will learn from the child;
and so he and his child will grow together toward the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ.



IX.

_LETTING ALONE AS A MEANS OF CHILD-TRAINING._


Not doing is always as important, in its time and place, as doing;
and this truth is as applicable in the realm of child-training as
elsewhere. Child-training is a necessity, but there is a danger of
over-doing in the line of child-training. The neglect of child-training
is a great evil. Over-doing in the training of a child may be even
a greater evil. Both evils ought to be avoided. In order to their
avoidance, their existence and limits as evils must be recognized.

Peculiarly is it the case that young parents who are exceptionally
conscientious, and exceptionally desirous of being wise and faithful
in the discharge of their parental duties, are liable to err in the
direction of over-doing in the training of their children. It is not
that they are lacking in love and tenderness toward their little ones,
or that they are naturally inclined to severity as disciplinarians;
but it is that their mistaken view of the methods and limitations of
wise child-training impels them to an injudicious course of watchful
strictness with their children, even while that course runs counter to
their affections and desires as parents. Their very love and fidelity
cause them to harm their children by over-doing in their training, even
more than the children of parents less wise and faithful are harmed
by a lack of systematic training. It is, in fact, because they are so
desirous of well-doing, that these parents over-do in the line of their
best endeavors for their children.

A young father who was an earnest student of methods of child-training,
and who sincerely desired to be faithful in the training of his
first child at any cost to his feelings of loving tenderness toward
that child, made a mistake in this direction, and received a lesson
accordingly. His child was as full of affection as she was of life
and spirit. She had not yet learned what she might do and what she
might not do, but she was rapidly developing impulses and tastes in
various directions; and her strength of personal character was showing
itself in her positiveness of purpose in the line of her tastes and
impulses for the hour. Her father had heard much about the importance
of parental training and discipline, but had heard nothing about the
danger of over-doing in this line; hence he deemed it his duty to be
constantly directing or checking his child, so as to keep her within
the limits of safety and duty as he saw it.

To his surprise and regret, the father found that, while his little
daughter was not inclined to waywardness or disobedience, she was
steadily coming into a state of chronic resistance to his attempts
at her stricter governing. This resistance was passive rather than
active, but it was none the less real for that. She would not refuse
to obey, but she would not be ready or prompt to obey. She would not
be aroused to anger or show any open sign of disrespect, but she would
seem unable or unwilling to act as she was told to. Kind words and
earnest entreaties were of no avail at this point, neither were they
ever resented or explicitly rejected. If punishment was attempted, she
submitted to it with a good grace, but it seemed to have no effect in
the way of removing the cause of original trouble. The father never,
indeed, lost his temper, or grew less loving toward his child; he
prayed for guidance, and he gave his best thoughts to the problem
before him; but all to no apparent purpose. The matter grew more and
more serious, and he was more and more bewildered.

One day, after a serious struggle with his little daughter over a
matter that would have been a trifling one except as it bore on the
question of her character and welfare, the father left his house
with a heavy heart, and almost in despair over this question of wise
child-training. At the door he met a friend, much older than himself,
with whom he had been a co-worker in several spheres of Christian
activity. Seeing his troubled face, that friend asked him the cause of
his evident anxiety, and the young father opened his heart, and told
the story of his trouble. “Isn’t the trouble, that you are over-doing
in the training of your child?” asked the listener; and then he went
on to give his own experience in illustration of the meaning of this
question.

“My first child was my best child,” he said; “and I harmed her for
life by over-doing in her training, as I now see, in looking back over
my course with her. I thought I must be training her all the time,
and I forced issues with her, and took notice of little things, when
I would have done better to let her alone. So she was checked unduly,
and shut up within herself by my course with her; and she grew up in a
rigid and unnatural constraint which ought not to have been hers. I saw
my mistake afterwards, and I allowed my other children more freedom,
by letting them alone except when they must be interfered with; and
I’ve seen the benefit of this course. My rule with all my children,
since my first, has been to avoid an issue with them on a question of
discipline whenever I could do so safely. And the less show of training
there is, in bringing up a child, the better, as I see it.”

This was a revelation to that young father. He determined at once to
try to act on its suggestions, since the opposite course had been such
a signal failure in his hands. When again in his home, an opportunity
for an experiment was soon before him. His little daughter came into
the room, through a door which she had been repeatedly told to push to,
after she had passed it. Without any special thought on the subject,
the father, who sat writing at his desk, said, as often before: “Push
the door to, darling.” And, as often before, the child stood quiet and
firm, as if in expectation of a new issue on that point. The counsel
of the morning came into the father’s mind, and he said gently, “You
needn’t shut the door to, darling, if you don’t want to. Papa will do
it,” and at once he stepped and closed the door, returning afterwards
to his desk, without a word of rebuke to his child.

This was a new experience to the poor overtaxed child. She stood in
perplexed thought for a few minutes. Then she came lovingly to her
father, and, asking to be taken up on his knee, she clasped her arms
about his neck, and said: “Dear papa, I’m sorry I didn’t shut that
door. I will next time. Please forgive me, dear papa.” And that was the
beginning of a new state of things in that home. The father had learned
that there was a danger of over-doing in the work of child-training,
and his children were afterwards the gainers by his added knowledge of
the needs and tastes of childhood.

In the case of this father, the trouble had been that he made too many
direct issues with his child on questions of authority and obedience,
and that thus he provoked conflicts which might have been wisely
avoided. After this new experience he was very cautious at this point,
and he soon found that his child could be trained to obey without
so often considering the possibility of resisting or questioning
parental authority. When, in any case, an issue had to be accepted,
the circumstances were so well considered that the child as well as
the parent saw that its right outcome was the only outcome. The error
of this father had been the error of a thoughtful and deliberate
disciplinarian, who was as yet but partially instructed; but there are
also thoughtless and inconsiderate parents who harm, if they do not
ruin, their children’s dispositions by over-doing in what they call
child-training. And this error is even worse than the other.

There are many parents who seem to suppose that their chief work in the
training of a child is to be incessantly commanding or prohibiting;
telling the child to do this or to do that, and not to do this, that,
or the other. But this nagging a child is not training a child; on
the contrary, it is destructive of all training on the part of him
who is addicted to it. It is not the driver who is training a horse,
but one who neither is trained nor can train, who is all the time
“yanking” at the reins, or “thrapping” them up and down. Neither
parent nor driver, in such a case, can do as much in the direction of
training by doing incessantly, as by letting alone judiciously. “Don’t
be always don’t-ing,” is a bit of counsel to parents that can hardly
be emphasized too strongly. Don’t be always directing, is a companion
precept to this. Both injunctions are needful, with the tendency of
human nature as it is.

Of course, there must be explicit commanding and explicit prohibiting
in the process of child-training; but there must also be a large
measure of wise letting alone. When to prohibit and when to command, in
this process, are questions that demand wisdom, thought, and character;
and more wisdom, more thought, and more character, are needful in
deciding the question when to let the child alone. The training of
a child must go on incessantly; but a large share of the time it
will best go on by the operation of influences, inspirations, and
inducements, in the direction of a right standard held persistently
before the child, without anything being said on the subject to the
child at every step in his course of progress. Doing nothing, as a
child-trainer, is, in its order, the best kind of doing.



X.

_TRAINING A CHILD TO SELF-CONTROL._


An inevitable struggle between the individual and the several powers
that go to make his individuality, begins in every child at his very
birth, and continues so long as his life in the flesh continues. On
the outcome of this struggle depends the ultimate character of him
who struggles. It is, to him, bondage or mastery, defeat or triumph,
failure or success, as a result of the battling that cannot be evaded.
And, as a matter of fact, the issue of the life-long battle is
ordinarily settled in childhood.

A child who is trained to self-control—as a child may be—is already
a true man in his fitness for manly self-mastery. A man who was not
trained, in childhood, to self-control, is hopelessly a child in his
combat with himself; and he can never regain the vantage-ground which
his childhood gave to him, in the battle which then opened before
him, and in the thick of which he still finds himself. It is in a
child’s earlier struggles with himself that help can easiest be given
to him, and that it is of greatest value for his own developing of
character. Yet at that time a child has no such sense of his need in
this direction as is sure to be his in maturer years; hence it is that
it rests with the parent to decide, while the child is still a child,
whether the child shall be a slave to himself, or a master of himself;
whether his life, so far, shall be worthy or unworthy of his high
possibilities of manhood.

A child’s first struggle with himself ought to be in the direction of
controlling his impulse to give full play to his lungs and his muscles
at the prompting of his nerves. As soon as the nerves make themselves
felt, they prompt a child to cry, to thrash his arms, to kick, and to
twist his body on every side, at the slightest provocation,—or at
none. Unless this prompting be checked, the child will exhaust himself
in aimless exertion, and will increase his own discomfort by the very
means of its exhibit. A control of himself at this point is possible to
a child, at an age while he is yet unable to speak, or to understand
what is spoken to him. If a parent realizes that the child _must_ be
induced to control himself, and seeks in loving firmness to cause the
child to realize that same truth, the child will _feel_ the parent’s
conviction, and will yield to it, even though he cannot comprehend the
meaning of his parent’s words as words. The way of helping the child
will be found, by the parent who wills to help him. To leave a child to
himself in these earliest struggles with himself, is to put him at a
sad disadvantage in all the future combats of his life’s warfare; while
to give him wise help in these earliest struggles, is to give him help
for all the following struggles.

As soon as a child is able to understand what is said to him, he ought
to be taught and trained to control his impulse to cry and writhe
under the pressure of physical pain. When a child has fallen and hurt
himself, or has cut his finger, or has burned his hand, or has been hit
by an ill-directed missile, it is natural for him to shriek with pain
and fright, and it is natural for his tender-hearted mother to shrink
from blaming him just then for indulging in this display of grief.
But even at such a time as this, a mother has an unmistakable duty of
helping her child to gain a measure of control over himself, so as to
repress his cries and to moderate his exhibit of disturbed feeling.

A child can come to exercise self-control under such circumstances as
these. His mother can enable him to do this. It is better for both
child and mother that he should have her help accordingly. Because of
the lack of help just here, many a child is a sufferer through life in
his inability to control himself under physical pain. And because of
this inability many a person has actually lost his life, at a time when
calmness of mind was essential to that endurance of physical suffering
which was the only hope of prolonged existence. Because he was not
trained to control his nerves, he is hopelessly controlled by his
nerves.

Coaxing and rewarding a child into quiet at such a time is not what is
needed; but it is the encouraging a child into an intelligent control
of himself, that is to be aimed at by the wise parent. It is only a
choice between evils that substitutes a candy-paid silence for a noisy
indulgence of feeling on a child’s part. A good illustration of the
unwise way of inducing children to seem to have control of themselves,
is given in the familiar story of the little fellow throwing himself
on the floor and kicking and yelling, and then crying out, “Grandma,
grandma, I want to be pacified. Where are your sugar-plums?”

Dr. Bushnell, protesting against this method of coaxing a child out
of a state of irritation, in a fit of ill-nature, by “dainties that
please the taste,” says forcefully, “It must be a very dull child
that will not cry and fret a great deal, when it is so pleasantly
rewarded. Trained, in this manner, to play ill-nature for sensation’s
sake, it will go on rapidly, in the course of double attainment, and
will be very soon perfected in the double character of an ill-natured,
morbid sensualist, and a feigning cheat besides. By what methods, or
means, can the great themes of God and religion get hold of a soul
that has learned to be governed only by rewards of sensation, paid to
affectations of grief and deliberate actings of ill-nature?”

That control of himself which is secured by a child in his intelligent
repression of an impulse to cry and writhe in physical pain, is of
advantage to the child in all his life-long struggle with himself; and
he should be trained in the habit of making his self-control available
to him in this struggle. “I buffet my body [or give it a black eye] and
bring it into bondage; lest by any means, after that I have preached
to others, I myself should be rejected,” says the Apostle Paul; as
if in recognition of the fact that a man’s battle with his body is a
vital conflict, all his life through. Every child needs the help of his
parents in gaining control over his body, instead of allowing his body
to gain the control of him. The appetites and passions and impellings
of the outer man are continually striving for the mastery over the
inner man; and unless one is trained to master these instead of being
mastered by them, he is sure to fail in his life-struggle.

A parent ought to help his child to refrain from laughing when he ought
not to laugh; from crying when he ought not to cry; from speaking when
he ought not to speak; from eating that which he ought not to eat,
even though the food be immediately before him; from running about
when it is better for him to remain quiet; and to be ready to say and
to do just that which it is best for him to say and do, at the time
when it needs to be said and done. Self-control in all these things is
possible to a child. Wise training on the parent’s part can secure it.
The principle which is operative here, is operative in every sphere of
human existence. By means of self-control a child is made happier, and
is fitted for his duties, while a child and ever after, as otherwise
he could not be. Many a man’s life-course is saddened through his
hopeless lack of that self-control to which he could easily have been
helped in childhood, if only his parents had understood his needs and
been faithful accordingly.



XI.

_TRAINING A CHILD NOT TO TEASE._


A child who never “teases” is a rarity; yet no child ought to tease.
If a child does tease, the blame of his teasing properly rests on his
parents, rather than on himself. The parent who realizes this fact,
will have an added stimulus to the work of training his child not to
tease; and no phase of the work of child-training is simpler, or surer
of its result, than this one.

“To tease” is “to pull,” “to tug,” “to drag,” “to vex [or carry] with
importunity.” A child teases when he wants something from his parents,
and fails to get it at the first asking. He pulls and tugs at his
parents, in the hope of dragging them to his way of thinking, or to
a consent to his having what he wants in spite of their different
thinking. He hopes to vex or carry them into the line of his desires
by means of his importunities, whatever their view of the case may have
been, to begin with. If a child could have what he wanted at his first
asking, he would not tease; for there would be no room for his teasing.
If a child never secured anything through teasing, he would not come
into the habit of teasing; for there would be no inducement to him to
tease. When, therefore, a child is accustomed to tease, it is evident
that he has been trained by his parents to tease, instead of being
trained by them not to tease; and they are to bear the responsibility
and blame of his teasing.

Many a child does not expect to get what he wants, if it is out of the
ordinary line of his daily needs, unless he teases for it; therefore
he counts teasing a part of his regular duty in life, as truly as
“beating down” the city shop-keeper on his prices is supposed to be
the duty of a shopper from the country. If a child asks for a slice
of bread-and-butter, or a bit of meat, at the family table, or for
a glass of water between meals, he expects to get it at the first
asking. Teasing for that is not in his mind as a necessity. But if
he wants to stay at home from school without any reason for it, or to
start off with some of his schoolmates on a long and hazardous tramp
on a Saturday, or to sit up an hour later than usual at night, or to
have a new sled or velocipede or bicycle, or to go to the circus or to
hear the minstrels, “like all the other fellows,”—he is not so sure
of gaining his request at the first asking. So, when the answer “No”
comes back to him, in such a case, he meets it with the appeal, “Do let
me. Oh, do!” and then he enters upon a nerve struggle for the mastery
over his parents at this point, with the idea in his mind that it is a
single question of who shall be most persistent in adhering to his side
of the conflict.

There are few children who always succeed in carrying their point by
teasing; but there are fewer who never succeed by this means. Most
parents give way, sooner or later, in some of these conflicts with
their children. It may be that they are less determined than their
children, and that they are simply tired out by the teasing. It may be
that they are moved by their children’s earnestness in the matter, and
that they yield because of their tenderness toward the little pleaders.
It may be that their first answer to the appeal is a thoughtless one,
and that their fuller considering of the matter leads them to see it to
be right to reverse their impulsive decision. Whatever be the parents’
reason for their course in such a case, if they give a negative answer
to their children’s first request, and an affirmative one in response
to more or less teasing on the children’s part, they train their
children so far to believe that teasing is an important factor in a
child’s progress in life; and of course they are responsible for their
children’s continuance in the habit of teasing.

It is a misfortune to a child to suppose that teasing is essential to
his gaining a point that he ought to gain. A result of such a view in
his mind is, that he looks not to his parents’ wisdom and judgment, but
to his own positiveness and persistency, as the guide of his action
in any mooted case of personal conduct; not to principles which are
disclosed to him by one who is in authority, but to impulses which are
wholly in his own bosom. Such a view is inimical to all wise methods
of thinking and doing on a child’s part. And it is even more of a
misfortune to the parent than to the child, for a child to have the
idea that the parent’s decision is a result of the child’s teasing,
rather than of the parent’s understanding of what is right and best in
a given case. No parent can have the truest respect of a child, while
the child knows that he can tease that parent into compliance with the
child’s request, contrary to the parent’s real or supposed conviction.
For the child’s sake, therefore, and also for the parent’s, every
child ought to be trained not to tease, and not to expect any possible
advantage from teasing.

Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, was accustomed
to say, of her children, that they all learned very early that they
were not to have anything that they cried for, and that so they soon
learned not to cry for a thing that they wanted. Who will doubt that
John and Charles Wesley were stronger men, for this training, than
they could have been if they were trained to look upon crying as a
means of securing what was best for them? Who will doubt that Susannah
Wesley was more of a woman, and more respected by her sons because of
her unvarying firmness at this point, than would have been possible
if she had frequently yielded to the pressure of their piteous crying
for that which it was against her judgment to give to them? Any parent
who would apply this rule of Susannah Wesley to the matter of teasing,
might be sure of a corresponding result in the children’s estimate of
the practical value of teasing. Any child who finds that he is never
to have anything for which he teases, will quickly quit teasing. How
simple this rule, for this department of child-training!

Simple as it seems, however, to be uniformly positive in refusing
to give to a child anything for which he teases, it is not an easy
thing to adhere to this rule, unvaryingly, and to do it wisely. And
the trouble in the case is not with the child, but with the parent.
In order to give promptly, to a child’s request, an answer that can
rightly be insisted upon against all entreaties, a parent must do his
thinking before he gives that answer, rather than afterwards. Too often
a parent denies a child’s request at the start without considering the
case in all its bearings; and then, when the child presses his suit,
the parent sees reasons for granting it which had not been in his mind
before. The child perceives this state of things, and realizes that the
question is to be settled by his teasing, rather than by his parent’s
independent judgment; and that, therefore, teasing is the only means of
securing a correct decision in the premises.

Training a child not to tease, is a duty incumbent upon every parent;
but, as a prerequisite to this training of the child, the parent
must himself be trained. When a child asks a favor of a parent, the
parent must not reply hastily, or thoughtlessly, or without a full
understanding of the case in all its involvings. If necessary, he may
question the child, in order to a better understanding of the case,
or he may postpone his answer until he can learn more about it; but he
must not be over quick to reply merely as a means of pushing away the
request for the time being. He must consider carefully what his final
answer ought to be, before he gives an answer that the child is to
accept as final; and when the parent gives that answer, it ought to be
with such kindly firmness that the child will not think of pressing his
suit by teasing. And thus it is that any well-trained parent can train
his child well in this sphere.



XII.

_TRAINING A CHILD’S APPETITE._


What a grown person likes to eat or drink depends largely on what that
person was trained to eat or drink while a child. And a child can
be trained to like almost any sort of food or drink, either good or
bad. No small responsibility, therefore, for both the health and the
enjoyment of a child, devolves on him who has in hand the training of a
child’s appetite.

That a child inherits tastes in the matter of food and drink cannot be
questioned; but this fact does not forbid the training of a child’s
tastes away from its inborn tendencies; it merely adds an element to
be considered in the training process. A child born in the tropics
soon learns to like the luscious fruits which are given to him freely;
while a child born in the arctic regions learns with the same rapidity
to like the grosser diet of fish and oil which is his chief supply of
food. In one region the people live mainly on roots and berries; in
another, they devour raw flesh or drink fresh blood; in yet another,
they eat dried locusts or grasshoppers; in yet another, it is milk or
honey which is their chief means of sustaining life. In every region
the children are easily trained to enjoy the eating of that which they
have to eat; and if a child is taken at an early age from one region to
another, he quickly adapts himself to his new conditions, and learns
to like that which is given to him as his means of satisfying hunger.
All of which goes to show that the natural appetite of a child does not
demand one kind of food above another, to that extent which forbids the
training of a child to enjoy that which he can have and which he ought
to use.

As a rule, very little attention is given to the training of a child’s
appetite. The child is supplied with that food which is easiest
obtained, and which the child is readiest to take. If the parents give
little thought to their children’s welfare, they simply allow their
children to share with them at the common table, without considering
whether or not the food is that which is best suited to the children’s
needs. If the parents are tender-hearted, and lovingly indulgent toward
their children, they are quite likely to show favor by giving to them
those things which please a child’s palate, or which are favorites with
the parents themselves.

Finding that a child likes sugar, a parent is tempted to give a bit
of sugar to a child who is not ready to take anything else at its
meal-time; even though that bit of sugar may destroy the child’s
appetite for the hour, or disturb the child’s stomach for all day.
Again, seeing that the child is glad to try any article of food which
his parent enjoys, the parent, perhaps, proffers from his own plate
that which he deems a delicacy; although it may be of all things the
least suited to the child’s state of health, or condition of being. And
so it is that the child is trained in wrong ways of eating, at the very
time when he most needs training in the right way.

A child is quite likely to have his freaks and fancies of appetite,
which a kind parent is tempted to indulge instead of checking. One
child would eat only the softer part of bread, while rejecting its
crust. One would eat meat without vegetables; another would refuse one
kind of meat, or of vegetables, while eating all others freely; and so
on. The more these peculiarities are indulged, the stronger becomes
their hold on the child. The more they are checked and restrained,
the weaker their power becomes. Yet most parents seem to count such
peculiarities as beyond their control, and therefore to be accepted as
inevitable; instead of realizing their personal responsibility for the
continuance or the removal of them.

“Your boy ought to eat less meat and more farinaceous food,” says a
physician to a mother, whose boy is in the doctor’s hands. “Let him
have oatmeal and milk for breakfast; and see to it that he eats meat
only once a day, and sparingly at that.” “Johnny is a great hand for
meat,” is the answer; “and he can’t take oatmeal.” And in that
answer the mother shows that all the blame in the case rests on
herself, and not on her Johnny. Johnny ought to have been trained to
eat what is good for him, instead of indulging his personal whims in
the eating line.

When a mother says, “My boy won’t eat potatoes,” or “He won’t eat
tomatoes,” or “He will eat no meat but beef,” she simply confesses to
her culpable failure of duty in the training of her boy’s appetite. If
she were to say that she did not approve of one of those things, or of
the other, and therefore she would not give it to him, that would be
one thing; but when she says that he will not take it even though she
thinks it best for him, that is quite another thing; and there is where
the blame comes in.

Of course, it is to be understood that there are articles of food in
familiar use which, here and there, a child cannot eat with safety.
On the seashore, for example, the clam, which is eaten freely by
most persons, seems to be as poison to certain individuals. It is
not that these persons do not like the clam; but it is that their
systems recoil from it, and that its eating is sure to bring on a
serious illness. A like state of things exists with regard to fresh
strawberries in the country. They are a delicious fruit in the
estimation of most persons. They are as a mild form of poison to
certain individuals. But these cases are abnormal ones. They have no
practical bearing on the prevailing rule, that a child can be trained
to like whatever he ought to eat, and to refrain from the eating of
whatever is not best for him. And herein is the principle of wise
training in the realm of a child’s appetite.

A prominent American educator put this principle into practice in his
own family, consisting of four boys and four girls. He was a man of
limited means, and he felt the necessity of training his children to
eat such food as he deemed proper for them, and as good as he could
afford to supply. His choice of food for his family table was wisely
made, to begin with; and then he showed wisdom in his mode of pressing
it upon his children.

If those children deemed a dish distasteful, they were privileged to
wait until they were willing to eat it. There was no undue pressure
brought to bear on them. They could simply eat it, or let it alone. If
they went without it that meal, the same dish, or a similar one, was
before them for the next meal; and so on until hunger gave them the
zest to eat it with unfeigned heartiness. By this means those children
learned to eat what they ought to eat; and when they had come to years
of maturity they realized the value of this training, which had made
them the rulers of their appetite, instead of being its slaves. It
needs no single example to illustrate the opposite course from this
one. On every side we see persons who are subject to the whims and
caprices of their appetite, because their appetite was never trained to
be subject to them. And in one or another of these two directions the
upbringing of every child is tending to-day.

Peculiarly in the use of candy and of condiments is a child’s appetite
likely to be untrained, or trained amiss. Neither the one nor the other
of these articles is suited to a child’s needs; but both of them are
allowed to a child, regardless of what is best for him. The candy is
given because the child fancies it. The condiments are given because
the parents fancy them. Neither of the two is supposed to be beneficial
to the child, but each is given in its turn because of the child’s wish
for it, and of the parent’s weakness. There _are_ parents who train
their children not to eat candy between meals, nor to use condiments
at meals. These parents are wiser than the average; and their children
are both healthier and happier. There ought to be more of such parents,
and more of such children. The difficulty in the way is always with the
parents, instead of with the children.

It is affirmed as a fact, that some Shetland ponies which were brought
to America had been accustomed to eat fish, and that for a time they
refused to eat hay, but finally were trained to its eating until they
seemed to enjoy it as heartily as other ponies. Children to whom
cod-liver oil was most distasteful when it was first given to them as
a medicine, have been trained to like cod-liver oil as well as they
liked syrup. And so it has been in the use of acid drinks, or of bitter
coffee, by young children under the direction of a physician. By firm
and persistent training the children have been brought to like that
from which for a time they recoiled. It is for the parents to decide,
with the help of good medical counsel, what their children ought to
like, and then to train them to like it.

It is by no means an easy matter for a parent to train a child’s
appetite; but it is a very important matter, nevertheless. Nothing
that is worth doing in this world is an easy matter; and whatever is
really worth doing is worth all that its doing costs—and more. In spite
of all its difficulties, the training of any child’s appetite can be
compassed, by God’s blessing. And compassed it ought to be, whatever
are its difficulties. It is for the parent to decide what the child
shall eat, as it is for the parent to decide what that child shall
wear. The parent who holds himself responsible for what a child shall
put on, but who shirks his responsibility for what that child shall
take in, would seem to have more regard for the child’s appearance than
for his upbuilding from within; and that could hardly be counted a sign
of parental wisdom or of parental love.



XIII.

_TRAINING A CHILD AS A QUESTIONER._


A child is a born questioner. He does not have to be trained to be
a questioner; but he does need to be trained as a questioner. A
child has been not inaptly called “an animated interrogation-point.”
Before a child can speak his questions, he looks them; and when he
can speak them out, his questions crowd one another for expression,
until it would seem that, if a parent were to answer all of his
child’s questions, that parent would have time to do nothing else. The
temptation to a parent, in view of this state of things, is to repress
a child as a questioner, rather than to train him as a questioner; and
just here is where a parent may lose or undervalue a golden privilege
as a parent.

The beginning of all knowledge is a question. All progress in knowledge
is a result of continued questioning. Whence? What? Why? Wherefore?
Whither? These are the starting-points of investigation and research
to young and to old alike; and when any one of these questions has
been answered in one sphere, it presents itself anew in another.
Unless a child were a questioner at the beginning of his life, he
could make no start in knowledge; and if a child were ever caused to
stay his questionings, there would be at once an end to his progress
in knowledge. Questioning is the expression of mental appetite. He who
lacks the desire to question, is in danger of death from intellectual
starvation.

Yet with all the importance that, on the face of it, attaches to a
child’s impulse to ask questions, it is unmistakably true that far
more pains are taken by parents generally to check children in their
questionings, than to train them in their questioning. “Don’t be asking
so many questions;” “Why will you be asking questions all the time?”
“You’ll worry my life out with your questions.” These are the parental
comments on a child’s questions, rather than, “I’m glad to have you
want to know about all these things;” or, “Never hesitate to ask me a
question about anything that you want to know more of;” or, “The more
questions you ask, the better, if only they are proper questions.”

Sooner or later the average child comes to feel that, the fewer
questions he asks, the more of a man he will be; and so he represses
his impulse to inquire into the nature and purpose and meaning of that
which newly interests him; until, perhaps, he is no longer curious
concerning that which he does not understand, or is hopeless of any
satisfaction being given to him concerning the many problems which
perplex his wondering mind. By the time he has reached young manhood,
he who was full of questions in order that he might have knowledge,
seems to be willing to live and die in ignorance, rather than to make a
spectacle of himself by multiplying questions that may be an annoyance
to others, or that may be deemed a source of discredit to himself.

There are obvious reasons why the average parent is not inclined to
encourage his child to ask all the questions he thinks of. In the first
place, it takes a great deal of time to answer a child’s questions.
It takes time to feed a child, and to wash it and dress it; but it
takes still more time to supply food and clothing for a child’s mind.
And when a parent finds that the answering of fifty questions in
succession from a child only seems to prompt the child to ask five
hundred questions more, it is hardly to be wondered at that the parent
thinks there ought to be a stop put to this sort of thing somewhere.
Then, again, a child’s questions are not always easy to be answered
by the child’s parent. The average child can ask questions that the
average parent cannot answer; and it is not pleasant for a parent to
be compelled to confess ignorance on a subject in which his child has
a living interest. It is so much easier, and so much more imposing,
for a parent to talk to a child on a subject which the parent does
understand, and which the child does not, than it is for the parent
to be questioned by the child on a subject which neither child nor
parent understands, that the parent’s temptation is a strong one to
discountenance a habit that has this dangerous tendency.

That there ought to be limitations to a child’s privilege of
question-asking is evident; for every privilege, like every duty, has
its limitations. But the limitations of this privilege ought to be as
to the time when questions may be asked, and as to the persons of whom
they may be asked, rather than as to the extent of the questioning. A
child ought not to be free to ask his mother’s guest how old she is,
or why she does not look as pleasant as his mother; nor yet to ask one
of his poorer playmates why he has no better shoes, or how it is that
his mother has to do her own washing. A child must not interrupt others
in order to ask a question that fills his mind, nor is it always right
for him to ask a question of his father or mother before others. When
to ask, and of whom to ask, the questions that it is proper for him to
ask, must be made known to a child in connection with his training by
his parents as a questioner.

It is to the parent that a child ought to be privileged to come in
unrestrained freeness as a questioner. Both the mother and the father
should welcome from a child any question that the child honestly
desires an answer to. And every parent ought to set apart times for a
child’s free questioning, when the child can feel that the hour is as
sacred to that purpose as the hour of morning and evening devotion is
sacred to prayer. It may be just before breakfast, or just after, or at
the close of the day, that the father is to be always ready to answer
his child’s special questions. It may be when father and child walk out
together, or during the quieter hours of Sunday, that the child is sure
of his time for questioning his father. The mother’s surest time for
helping her child as a questioner, is at the child’s bed-time; although
her child may be free to sit by her side when she is sewing, or to
stand near her when she is busy about other household matters, and to
question her while she is thus working. Whenever the child’s hour for
questioning his parent has come, the child ought to be encouraged to
ask any and every question that he really wants to ask; and the parent
ought to feel bound to give to the child’s every question a loving and
well-considered answer.

A child needs parental help in his training as a questioner. While he
is to be free to ask questions, he is to exercise his freedom within
the limits of reason and of a right purpose. A child may be inclined to
multiply silly questions, thoughtless questions, aimless questions. In
such a case, he needs to be reminded of his duty of seeking knowledge
and of trying to gain it, and that neither his time nor his parent’s
time ought to be wasted in attending to questions that have no point to
them. Again, a child may be inclined to dwell unduly on a single point
in his questioning. Then it is his parent’s duty to turn him away from
that point by inducing him to question on another point. Whenever a
child is questioning his parent, that parent has the responsibility
and the power of training the child as a questioner, by receiving in
kindness and by shaping with discretion the child’s commendable impulse
and purpose of questioning.

When a child asks a question that a parent really cannot answer, it is
a great deal better for the parent to say frankly, “I do not know,”
than to say impatiently, “Oh! don’t be asking such foolish questions.”
But, on the other hand, it is often better to give a simple answer, an
answer to one point in the child’s question, than to attempt an answer
that is beyond the child’s comprehension, or than to say that it is
impossible to explain that subject to a child just now. For example, if
a child asks why it is that the sunrise is always to be seen from the
windows on one side of the house, and the sunset from the windows on
the other side, there is no need of telling him that he is too young
to have that explained to him, nor yet of attempting an explanation of
the astronomical facts involved. The better way is to answer him that
the one window looks toward the east and the other toward the west; and
that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This will give the
child one new item of knowledge; and that is all that he cares for just
then.

A child may ask a question on a point that cannot with propriety be
made clear to him just yet. In such a case he ought not to be rebuked
for seeking light, but an answer of some kind is to be given to him,
in declaration of a general truth that includes the specific subject
of his inquiry; and then he is to be kindly told that by and by he can
know more about this than he can now. This will satisfy a well-disposed
child for the time being, while it will encourage him to continue in
the attitude of a truth-seeking questioner.

A very simple answer to his every question is all that a child looks
for; but that is his right, if he is honestly seeking information, and
it is his parent’s duty to give it to him, if he comes for it at a
proper time and in a proper spirit. A child is harmed if he be unduly
checked as a questioner; and he is helped as he could be in no other
way, as a truth-seeker, if he be encouraged and wisely trained by his
parents in a child’s high prerogative as a questioner.



XIV.

_TRAINING A CHILD’S FAITH._


There is no need of trying to implant faith in a child’s nature, for
it is there to begin with. But there is need of training a child’s
faith, so that it shall be rightly directed and wisely developed. Every
child has the instinct of faith, as surely as it has the instinct of
appetite. The inborn impulse to seek nourishment is not more real and
positive in a normal child, than is the impulse in such a child to
cling to and to trust another. Both instincts are already there, and
both need training.

The faith here spoken of is that faith that rests on a person, not that
miscalled “faith” which applies to an assent to a series of dogmas.
True faith, indeed, always rests on a person. Any other use of the term
is only by accommodation, and is liable to be misleading. One of the
best definitions of Christian faith is, “That act by which one person,
a sinner, commits himself to another person, a Saviour.” Even before
a child is old enough to learn of a Saviour, the instinct of faith
is one of the child’s qualities; just as the instinct of hunger is a
child’s quality before the child is old enough to know the nature of
its fitting food. If a mother, or a nurse, or even a stranger, puts a
finger into the chubby hand of an infant, that little hand will close
over the proffered finger, and cling to it as for dear life. And it is
not until a child has learned to distrust, that it is said to be “old
enough to be afraid.” While a child’s faith is yet undisturbed, as also
after a child’s faith has become discriminating, a child’s faith needs
wise directing and developing; and to this end there is need of wisdom
and of care on the part of those who have the responsibility of this
training.

While the instinct of faith is innate in the child, a knowledge of
the One on whom his faith can rest with ultimate confidence is not
innate. A knowledge of God comes to man by revelation; and whoever has
responsibility for a child’s moral training, has the duty of revealing
to that child a knowledge of God. But a child can understand God, and
can grasp a true conception of him, quite as easily as the profoundest
philosopher can. A child does not need to be led by degrees into a
knowledge of God. As soon as he is capable of learning that his voice
can be heard by his loving mother or his loving father in another room,
he is capable of learning that his voice can be heard by a loving
Father whom he has never seen; who is always within hearing, but never
within sight; who is the loving Father of his father and mother, as
well as of himself and of everybody else; who is able to do all things,
and who is sure to do all things well. In the knowledge of this truth,
a child can be taught to pray to God in faith, as early as he can
speak; and even to know something of the meaning of prayer before he
can utter words intelligently.

From the very beginning the child can take in the great truths
concerning God’s nature, and the scope of God’s power, as fully as a
theologian can take them in. Therefore there need be no fear that too
much is proffered to the child’s mind in this sphere, if only it all be
proffered in simplicity as explicit truth, without any attempt at its
explanation.

Bishop Patteson, in his missionary work among the South Sea Islanders,
found it best to begin with John’s Gospel, in imparting religious
instruction to untutored natives; for they could take that in easier
than they could comprehend the historical books of the Bible. It is
much the same with children. They can receive the profoundest truths of
the Bible without any explanation. When they are older, they will be
better fitted to grapple with the difficulties of elementary religious
teachings. The idea that a child must have a knowledge of the outline
of the Bible story before he knows the central truth that Jesus Christ
is his loving Saviour, is as unreasonable as it would be to suppose
that a child must know the anatomy of the human frame before he is
able to believe in his mother’s love for him.

The first lesson in the training of a child’s faith is the lesson that
he is to have faith in God. Many a child is told to have faith in the
power of prayer, or faith in the value of good conduct, without being
shown that his faith should rest wholly and absolutely on God. He is
told that he can hope to have whatever he prays for; and that if he is
a good boy he can expect a blessing, while if he is a bad boy he cannot
expect to be blessed. With this training the child’s faith is drawn
away from God, and is led to rest on his personal conduct; whereas his
faith ought to be trained to rest on the God to whom he prays, and in
loving obedience to whom he strives to be good.

If you tell a child that God is able and ready to give him everything
that he prays for, the child is prompt to accept your statement as
a truth, and so he prays for a pleasant day, when a pleasant day is
desired by him. If the pleasant day comes accordingly, the child’s
faith in prayer is confirmed; but if the day be a stormy one, the
child’s mind is bewildered, and a doubt is likely to creep into his
mind whether prayer is always so effective as he had been told to
believe it to be. And the case is similar when the child prays for
the health of one whom he loves, or for some gift which he longs to
receive, or for success in some personal endeavor, and the issue is not
in accordance with his petition.

If, however, on the other hand, you plainly tell a child that God knows
what is best for us better than we know for ourselves, and that, while
God is glad to have us come to him with all our wishes and all our
troubles, we must leave it to God to decide just what he will give to
us and do for us, the child is ready to accept this statement as the
truth; and then his faith in God is not disturbed in the slightest
degree by finding that God has decided to do differently from his
request to God in prayer. On every side, children are being taught
to have faith in prayer, rather than to have faith in God; and, in
consequence, their faith is continually subject to shocks which would
never have disturbed it if it had been trained to rest on God instead
of resting on prayer.

If you tell a child that God loves good children, and that he does
not love bad children, the child will believe you; and then, when he
thinks he is a good child, he will be glad that there is a God who can
appreciate him; but when he knows he is a bad child, he will perhaps
be sorry that there is a God in the universe to be his enemy. So far
as your training does its legitimate work, in this instance, the
child is trained, not to have faith in God, but to have confidence in
his own merits as a means of commending him to the God whom you have
misrepresented to him. If, on the other hand, you tell a child that
God is love, and that his love goes out unfailingly toward all, even
toward those who have no love for him, and that, while God loves to
have children good, he loves them tenderly while they are very bad, the
child will take in that great truth gratefully; and then he is readier
to have faith in God, and to want to be good because the loving God
loves to have him good. And in this way a child’s faith in God may be
the means of quickening and shaping his desires in the direction of
well-doing.

As a means of training a child’s faith in God more intelligently and
with greater definiteness, the fact of the Incarnation may be disclosed
to him in all the fulness of its richest meaning. A very young child
can comprehend the truth that God in his love sent his Son into this
world as a little child, with the name Jesus—or Saviour; that Jesus
grew up from childhood into manhood, that he loved little children,
that he died for them, that he rose again from the dead, and ascended
into heaven, that still he loves children, that he watches over them
tenderly, and that he is ready to help them in all their trials and
needs, and to be their Saviour forever. With this knowledge of Jesus
as God’s representative, a child can be trained to trust Jesus at all
times; to feel safe in darkness and in danger because of his nearness,
his love, and his power; to be sure of his sympathy, and to rest on
him as a sufficient Saviour. That a child is capable of such faith as
this, is not fairly a question. The only question, if question there
be, is whether any one but a child can attain to such faith. One thing
is as sure as the words of Jesus are true, and that is, that “whosoever
shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise
enter therein;” or, in other words, that a little child’s faith is a
pattern for the believers of every age.

The training of a child’s faith is the most delicate and the most
important duty that devolves upon one who is set to the work of
child-training. More is involved in it for the child’s welfare, and
more depends upon it for the child’s enjoyment and efficiency in life,
than pivots on any other phase of the training of a child. He who would
train a child’s faith aright has need of wisdom, and yet more has need
of faith,—just such faith as that to the exercise of which he would
train the child of his charge. Peculiarly has a parent need to watch
lest he check or hinder unduly the loving promptings of a child’s
faith; for it is our Lord himself who has said: “Whoso shall cause one
of these little ones which believe on me to stumble, it is profitable
for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and
that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea.”



XV.

_TRAINING CHILDREN TO SABBATH OBSERVANCE._


Every day in the week is the Lord’s day, for children; but one day
in the week is peculiarly the Lord’s day, for children as well as
for older persons. How to train a child to wise and faithful Sabbath
observance, on the Lord’s day, is a question that puzzles many a
Christian parent; and, as a rule, the more true and loving and
Christ-like the parent, the greater the practical puzzle at this point.
The difficulty in the case is not so much, how to secure the observance
of the Sabbath by a child, as it is to decide what should be the proper
observance of the Sabbath by a child.

If, indeed, it were simply a question of compelling a child to
conform to certain fixed and rigid rules of Sabbath observance, any
able-bodied and determined parent, with a stern face, and the help of
a birch rod and a dark closet, could compass all the difficulties of
the case. But while it is a question of bringing the child to enjoy
the loving service of God on God’s peculiar day, it requires other
qualities than sternness on the parent’s part, and other agencies
than a birch rod and a dark closet, to meet the requirements of the
situation. And so it is that a right apprehension of the nature of a
wise and proper observance of the Sabbath is an essential prerequisite
of the wise and proper training of children to such an observance.

Love must be at the basis of all acceptable service of God. Any
observance of the commands of God which is slavish and reluctant, is
sure to lack God’s approval. The Sabbath is a sign, or a token, of the
loving covenant between God and his people. It is to be borne in mind,
it is to be remembered, it is to be counted holy, accordingly. One day
in seven is to be given up to loving thoughts of God, to a loving rest
from one’s own work and pleasure, and to a loving part in the worship
of God. On that day, above other days, the thought of God’s children
should be:

  “This is the day which the Lord hath made;
  We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

How to train children to a joyous observance of the Lord’s day, to a
joyous looking forward to its coming, and to a joyous looking back upon
its memories, is a weightier question, with thoughtful and intelligent
Christian parents, than how to conform the conduct of children to the
traditional ideas of legitimate Sabbath observance. An utter disregard
of the Sabbath in the training of children is a great wrong; but even a
greater wrong than this is the training of children to count the Lord’s
day a day of irksome constraint instead of a delight.

As a child’s occupation on other days of the week is different from
the occupation of his parents, so a child’s occupation on the Lord’s
day ought to be different from his parents’ occupation on that day. It
would be cruel, indeed, to insist that on the Lord’s day alone a child
should be forced to do the same things that his parents do, and that so
that day above all others should be a day of toil and of discomfort to
a child. For parent and for child alike, the Lord’s day should be a day
of rest and of worship; but neither for parent nor for child is simple
inaction rest; nor is hard Bible-study, or merely sitting still in
church-time, worship. Rest is to be secured by a change of occupation,
and worship is to be performed by turning the thoughts God-ward. How to
help children to refreshing rest and to joyous worship on the Lord’s
day, is the practical matter at issue.

To bring a child into habits of loving and reverent Sabbath observance
is a matter of training; and that training ought to begin at a very
early age of the child, and continue throughout the years of his
childhood. Long before a child can know what is the distinctive idea
of the Sabbath, or why it is to be observed in a manner peculiar
to itself, he can be trained to perceive that one day in seven is
different from the other six days, and that its standard is higher and
its spirit more joyous; that its tone is quieter, and its atmosphere
more reverent. And all this ought to be secured to every child in a
Christian home, from the very outset of the child’s training to its
close. Even a dog, or a horse, or an ox, learns to know and to prize
some of the privileges and enjoyments of the Sabbath; and an infant
in arms is as capable as one of the brutes of receiving an impression
of truth in this realm of fact and sentiment. But in the case of the
infant or of the brute everything depends upon those persons who have
it in training.

A common cause of trouble in this matter is, that the training does
not begin early enough. A child is permitted to go on for months, if
not for years, without any direct suggestion of a difference between
the Lord’s day and other days of the week; and when the first attempt
is made to show him that such a difference ought to be recognized, he
is already fixed in habits which stand in the way of this recognition,
so that the new call on him breaks in unpleasantly upon his course
of favorite infantile action. Yet it ought to be so that a child’s
earliest consciousness of life is linked with the evidences of the
greater light and joy and peace of the day that is above other days of
the week, in his nursery experiences, and that his earliest habits are
in the line of such a distinction as this. And thus it can be.

It is for the parents to make clear the distinction that marks, in the
child’s mind, the Lord’s day as the day of days in the week’s history.
The child may be differently dressed, or differently washed, or
differently handled, on that day from any other. Some more disagreeable
detail of his morning toilet, or of his day’s management, might on that
day be omitted, as a means of marking the day. There may be a sweeter
song sung in his hearing, or a brighter exhibit of some kind made in
his sight, or a peculiar favor of some sort granted to him, which links
a special joy with that day in comparison with the days on either side
of it. As soon as the child is old enough to grasp a rattle or to play
with a toy, there ought to be a difference between his Sabbath rattle
or other toy, and his week-day delights in the same line. By one means
or another he should have the Lord’s day to look back upon as his
brightest memory, and to look forward to as his fondest anticipation.
And in this way he can be trained to enjoy the Lord’s day, even before
he can know why it is made a joy to him. A child is well started in the
line of wise training when he is carried along as far as this.

When the anniversary of a child’s birthday comes around, a loving
parent is likely to emphasize and illustrate to the child the parental
love which should make that season a season of gladness and joy to the
child. Special gifts or special favors are bestowed on the child at
such a time, so that the child shall be sure to welcome each successive
return of his birthday anniversary. So, again, when the Christmas
anniversary has come, the Christian parent sees to it that the child
has a cause of delight in the enjoyments and possessions it brings.
It is not that the parents are lacking in love at other times; but
it is that the child shall have fresh reminders, at these anniversary
seasons, of that love which is unfailing throughout the year. So it
ought to be, in the effort to make clear and prominent, on the return
of each Lord’s day, the love of God which is the same at one time as at
another. As the parents will treasure little gifts as loving surprises
for their children on the birthday and the Christmas anniversary,
so the parents ought to plan to make each new Lord’s day a better,
brighter day than any other of the week; and to this end the best
things for the child’s enjoyment may well be kept back until then, as a
help to this uplifting of the delights of the day above the week-days’
highest level.

It is customary to keep a child’s best clothing for use on the Lord’s
day. It might well, also, be customary to keep a child’s best toys,
best pictures, best books, best enjoyments, for a place in the same day
of days in the week’s round. This is a custom in many a well-ordered
Christian home, and the advantages of it are apparent there.

The Sabbath closet, or Sabbath cabinet, or Sabbath drawer, ought to be
a treasure-house of delights in every Christian home; not to be opened
except on the Lord’s day, and sure to bring added enjoyment when it is
opened in the children’s sight. In that treasure-house there may be
bright colored pictures of Bible scenes; Sunday-school papers; books
of stories which are suitable and attractive above others for Sabbath
reading; dissected maps of Bible lands, or dissected pages of Bible
texts, of the Lord’s Prayer, or of the Apostles’ Creed; models of the
Tabernacle, or of Noah’s Ark and its inmates. Whatever is there, ought
resolutely to be kept there at all other times than on the Lord’s
day. However much the children may long for the contents of that
treasure-house, between Sabbaths, they ought to find it impossible to
have a view of them until that day of days has come round again. The
use of these things should be associated inseparably, in the children’s
minds, with the Lord’s day and its privileges, and so should help to
make that day a delight, as a day of God’s choicest gifts to those
whom God loves and who love him. By such means the very plays or
recreations of the children may be made as truly a means of rest and of
worship on the children’s part as are the labors of the parents, in the
line of Bible study or of Sunday-school teaching, a means of Sabbath
rest and of Sabbath worship to _them_ on each recurring Lord’s day.

Even for the youngest children there may be a touch of Sabbath
enjoyment in a piece of Sabbath confectionery, or of Sabbath cake, of
a sort allowed them at no other time. There are little ones who are
not permitted to have candy freely at their own homes, but who are
privileged to have a choice bit of this at their grandmother’s, where
they visit, after Sunday-school, on every Lord’s day. And there are
grown-up children who remember pleasantly that when they were very
little ones they were permitted to have a make-believe Sabbath visit
together in their happy home, with a table spread with tiny dishes of
an attractive appearance, which they never saw except on the Lord’s
day. There are others who remember with what delight they were
accustomed, while children, after a certain age, to sit up and have a
place at the family table at tea-time, on Sundays; although on other
days they must be in bed before that hour.

If, indeed, the Lord’s day is, in any such way, made a day of peculiar
delight to children, with the understanding on their part—as they come
to years of understanding—that this is because the day is peculiarly
the Lord’s day, there is a gain to them, so far, in the Lord’s plan of
the Sabbath for man’s welfare in the loving service of the loving God.
But if, on the other hand, the first impressions in the children’s mind
concerning this day of days are, that it is a day of harsh prohibitions
and of dreariness and discomfort, there is so far a dishonoring in
their minds of the day and of Him whose day it is; and for this result
their unwise parents are, of course, responsible.

As children grow older, and are capable of comprehending more fully the
spiritual meanings and privileges and possibilities of the Sabbath,
they need more help from their parents,—not less help, but more,—in
order to their wise use of the day, and to the gaining of its greatest
advantages. The hour of family worship ought to have more in it on the
Lord’s day than on any other day of the week. Its exercises should be
ampler and more varied. Either at that hour, or at some other, the
Sunday-school lesson for the week should be taken up and studied by
parents and children together.

There are homes where the children have a Sunday-school of their own,
at a convenient hour of the day, in the family room, led by father
or mother, or by older brother or sister, with the help of maps and
blackboard, or slates. There are other homes in which the father leads
a children’s service of worship, in the early evening, and reads a
little sermon from some one of the many published volumes of sermons
for children. Wherever either of these plans is adopted, there should
be a part for each of the children, not only in the singing and
reading, but in asking and answering questions.

Apart from such formal exercises as these, one child can be showing
and explaining a book of Bible pictures or of Scripture cards to
younger children; or one group of children can be picking out Bible
places or Bible persons from their recent lessons and arranging them
alphabetically on slates or on slips of paper, while another group is
studying out some of the many Bible puzzles or curious Bible questions
which are published so freely for such a purpose. Variety in methods is
desirable from week to week, and variety is practicable.

The singing of fitting and attractive songs of joy and praise will
naturally have larger prominence, at the hours of family worship, and
at other hours of the day and evening, on the Lord’s day, than on
other days of the week. And parents ought to find time on the Lord’s
day to read aloud to their children, or to tell them, stories suited
to their needs, as well as to lead in familiar conversation with them.
For _this_ mode of training there can be no satisfactory substitute. Of
course, it takes time, and it calls for courage, for high resolve, or
self-denial, and for faith. But it is worth more than all it costs.

All this is apart from the question of the attendance and duties
of the little ones at the Sunday-school or at the place of public
worship. When a child is of suitable age to have an intelligent part
in the exercises of the Sunday-school, he should be helped to find
those exercises a means of sacred enjoyment. When, at a later day, he
is old enough to be at the general service of worship without undue
weariness, it is the duty of the parents to make that place a place of
gladsomeness to him, as often as he is found there. Not wearisomeness,
but rest, is appropriate to the holiest Sabbath services of the Lord’s
day. Not deepened shadow, but clearer sunlight, is fitting to its
sacred hours.

The spirit of the entire day’s observances ought to be a reverent
spirit; but it should be understood by the parents that true reverence
is better shown in gladness than in gloom. Where the Lord’s day is
counted a dismal one by the children, it is obvious that the parents
have failed to train their children to hallow that day, as the day
which is peculiarly sacred to the love of their loving Father in
heaven. Whether at home, or at Sunday-school or any other church
service, the children should be helped to realize that the day is a day
of brightness and of cheer; that while differing in its occupations
and enjoyments from all other days, it is the best of them all. When
a little boy, out of a home thus ordered, heard one of his companions
express, on Sunday, a wish that it was already Monday, the little
fellow said, with evident heartiness, “Why! don’t _you_ like Sunday?
I like it best of all the days.” And so it ought to be in the case of
every boy and girl in a Christian home.

The difference is not in the children, but in the mode of their
training, when in one home the Sabbath is welcomed and in another home
it is dreaded by the little ones. Such a difference ought not to exist.
By one means or another, or by one means and another, all children
ought to be trained to find the Lord’s day a day of delight in the
Lord’s service; and parents ought to see to it that _their_ children,
if not others, are thus trained. It can be so; it should be so.



XVI.

_TRAINING A CHILD IN AMUSEMENTS._


Amusements properly belong to children. A child needs to be amused
while he is a child, and because he is a child. It may be a question
whether a grown-up person, of average intelligence and of tolerable
moral worth, does really need amusements, however much he may need
diversion or recreation within due limits; but there can be no fair
question as to the need of amusements for a child. And if a child has
need of amusements, he has need to be trained in his choice and use of
amusements.

How to amuse a child wisely and with effectiveness, is a practical
question with a nurse or loving parent, from the time that the little
babe first begins to look up with interest at a ball or a trinket
swung before his eyes just out of reach of his uplifted hands, or to
look and listen as a toy rattle is shaken above him,—all the way along
until he is old enough to choose his own methods of diversion and
recreation. And on the answering of this question much depends for the
child’s character and happiness; for amusements have their influence in
shaping a child’s estimates of life and its purposes, and in fitting or
unfitting him for the duties he has to perform in life.

There is a wide range in a child’s amusements; in their nature, in
their tendency, and in the companionships which accompany them. The
differences between some of these which may seem but slight at the
start, involve differences of principle as well as of method; and they
need to be looked at in view of their probable outcome, rather than as
they present themselves just now to the surface observer. Indeed, it
is the looking for the underlying principle in the attractiveness of a
given form of amusement, and for the obvious trend of its influence,
that is the primary duty of a parent who would train his children
wisely in their amusements, from the earliest beginning of effort to
amuse those children.

The center of companionships in a child’s amusements ought to be the
parents themselves. In the nature of things it is impossible for the
parents to be a child’s only companions in this line, or to be always
his companions; but parents ought, in some way and at some time, to
evidence such an interest in their every child’s amusements that he
will feel that he is as close to his parents, and that his parents are
as much to him, in this thing as in any other. If, indeed, a child had
no companionship with his parents in his amusements, there would be
reared a sad barrier between him and his parents in that sphere of his
life which is largest and most attractive while he is at an age to be
most impressible.

“One of the first duties of a genuinely Christian parent,” says
Bushnell, “is to show a generous sympathy with the plays of his
children; providing playthings and means of play, inviting suitable
companions for them, and requiring them to have it as one of their
pleasures, to keep such companions entertained in their plays, instead
of playing always for their own mere self-pleasing. Sometimes, too,
the parent having a hearty interest in the plays of his children, will
drop out for the time the sense of his years, and go into the frolic of
their mood with them. They will enjoy no other time so much as that,
and it will have the effect to make the authority, so far unbent, just
as much stronger and more welcome, as it has brought itself closer to
them, and given them a more complete show of sympathy.”

A true mother will naturally incline to show a hearty interest in her
child’s amusements, and she ought to encourage herself to feel that the
time taken for this exhibit of her loving sympathy with him is by no
means lost time. It may be harder for the father, than for the mother,
to give the time or to show the interest essential to this duty; but he
ought to secure the benefit of it in some way. A few minutes given to
the little ones, as they are privileged to clamber into the father’s
bed before he is up in the morning, and romp with them there, will do
much to connect him pleasantly with their play-time. So, again, will a
brief season at the close of the day, when he becomes acquainted with
their special amusements, and shows that they are much to him, because
they are much to his dear ones.

No companionship should be permitted to a child in his amusements that
is likely to lower his moral tone, or to vitiate his moral taste. There
are cases in which a parent is tempted to allow his children to be
taken into a portion of the home establishment, or of the immediate
neighborhood, in order that they may be amused by or with the children
or the grown persons there, when he would be unwilling to have them
under such influences or in such surroundings for any other purpose.
This is a great mistake. The companionships of a child in the stable or
at the street corner, while he is merely being amused, are likely to
be quite as potent and pervasive as those which are around him in the
parlor or the dining-room, at a time when his nature is not so actively
and freely at its fullest play. In fact, the companionships which
accompany a child’s amusements are an important feature in the training
forces of this sphere.

Amusements may be, and ought to be, such as will aid in developing and
upbuilding a child’s manliness or womanliness. Again, they may be such
as will prove an injury to the tastes and character of the child. Even
the simplest forms of amusement may have in them the one or the other
of these tendencies. A child’s earlier playthings and games may have
much to do with training his eye and ear and hand and voice and bodily
movements. They ought all to be watched and shaped accordingly. This
truth is the fundamental one in the kindergarten system; and a study
of the methods of that system may be of service to a parent who would
learn how to guide a child in his amusements in this direction.

Peculiarly is it important that a child’s amusements should not have
in them any element of _chance_, as tending to give him the idea that
his attainments or progress in life will depend in any measure upon
“luck.” From his play with building-blocks or with jack-straws, up to
his games of ball or of chess, every movement that a child is called on
to make in the sphere of his amusements ought to be one in which his
success or his failure is dependent on his skill or his lack of it. A
child may be harmed for life by the conviction that his hope of success
in the world rests on that “streak of luck” which seemed to be his in
the games of chance he played in boyhood. And a child may be helped for
life by the character which was developed in him in his boyhood’s games
of skill. It was an illustration of this principle, when the Duke of
Wellington pointed to the playground of Eton, and said, “It was there
that the battle of Waterloo was won.”

Children’s amusements should be such as do not of themselves involve
late hours, or tend directly to the premature developing of their young
natures. They should not be such as are likely to become permanent
occupations rather than temporary amusements; such as gain a stronger
and stronger hold with the passing years instead of being outgrown
with childhood; or such as open the way to the child’s becoming a
professional amusement-maker. They should be such as will have a
centripetal rather than a centrifugal force, as related to the home
circle.

It ought to be so, in every well-ordered home, that a child can find
more pleasure at home than away from home; and this state of things
will depend very much upon the kind of amusements that are secured
in a child’s home. It is not enough that there be amusements at the
home, but the amusements there must be those that cannot be engaged in
elsewhere as well as there. Many a parent makes the mistake of trying
to keep his children at home by introducing amusements there that
arouse in the children a desire to go elsewhere for something of the
same sort in greater freshness or variety. But wiser parents secure to
their children such home amusements as cannot be indulged in to the
same advantage outside of that home.

A child may have such a “baby-house,” such a collection of dolls and
doll-furniture, such a “playcloset,” such a store of building-blocks
and mechanical toys, such a cellar or such a garret, in his or her
own home, as cannot be found in any other home. To be at home with
these will be more attractive than to be in another home without
them. There may be such an interest excited in scrap-book making, in
picture-painting, in candy-making, with the advantages for carrying it
on, at the child’s home, that to go away from home would be a loss, so
far, instead of a gain. Singing and music may be such a feature in the
home life that the loss of it will be felt outside of that home. So it
may be with those social games that involve a measure of intelligence
and information not to be found in ordinary homes elsewhere. All such
amusements partake of the centripetal rather than the centrifugal
force, as related to the children’s home; and they have their advantage
accordingly. It is for the parents to secure these for the children, or
to incur the penalty of their lack.

Children will have amusements, whether their parents choose their
amusements for them, or leave the children to choose them for
themselves. The amusements of children will tend to the gain or to the
loss of the children. It is for parents to decide whether the children
shall be left to choose their own amusements, with the probability of
their choosing to their own harm; or whether the parents shall choose
helpful amusements for their children, and shall make these amusements
more attractive than the harmful ones. The result of this choice is
an important one to the parents, and a yet more important one to the
children.



XVII.

_TRAINING A CHILD TO COURTESY._


Unless a man is courteous toward others, he is at a disadvantage in
the world, even though he be the possessor of every other good trait
and quality possible to humanity, and of every material, mental, and
spiritual acquisition which can belong to mere man. And if a man be
marked by exceptional courtesy in all his intercourse with others, he
has an advantage to start with in the struggle of life, beyond all that
could be his in health and wealth and wisdom without courtesy. Yet
courtesy is never wholly a natural quality. It is always a result of
training; albeit the training will be far easier in one case than in
another.

Courtesy is the external manifestation of a right spirit toward others.
Its basis is in an unselfish and a fitting regard for the rights and
feelings of those with whom one is brought into intercourse; but the
principles of its expression must be a matter of wise study on the
part of those who have had experience in the ways of the world, and
who would give the benefit of their experience to those who come after
them. Courtesy is not merely a surface finish of manners; although
courtesy is sure to show itself in a finished surface of manners. Good
breeding, politeness, and fine manners, are all included in the term
“courtesy;” but these all are the expression of courtesy, rather than
its essence and inspiration. “Good breeding,” says one, “is made up of
a multitude of petty sacrifices.” “True politeness,” says another, “is
the spirit of benevolence showing itself in a refined way. It is the
expression of good-will and kindness.” Fine manners, De Quincey says,
consist “in two capital features: first of all, respect of others;
secondly, in self-respect.”

The courteous man is sure not to be lacking in self-respect, but he
is sure to be lacking in self-assertion. His self-respect is shown in
his sense of a responsibility for the comfort and welfare of others;
and his unselfish interest in others causes him to lose all thought of
himself in his effort to discharge his responsibility toward others.
His courtesy will be evidenced in what he is ready to do for others,
rather than in what he seems to look for from others.

Attractiveness of personal appearance, gracefulness in bearing,
tastefulness in dress, elegance in manners, and carefulness in word
and tone of voice, may, indeed, all be found where there is no true
courtesy. The very purpose on the part of their possessor to be thought
courteous, to command respect, and to appear to advantage, may cause
him or her to show a lack of courtesy, to fail of commanding respect,
and to appear far otherwise than advantageously. On the other hand,
there are, for example, ladies whose attractions of face and form
are but slight, who care little for dress, who pay no attention to
mere manners, who are yet so unselfishly thoughtful of others, in all
their intercourse with them, that they are called “just delightful”
by everybody who knows them. When they have callers, or when they are
making calls, they have absolutely no thought about themselves, their
appearance, their modes of expression, or the impression they may make
on others. They are for the time being absolutely given up to those
with whom they converse. They question and listen with enthusiastic
interest; they say kindly words because they feel kindly; they avoid
unpleasant subjects of mention, and they introduce topics that cannot
but be welcome. Because they keep self out of sight, they win respect,
admiration, and affection, beyond all that they would dare hope for.
And many a man shows a similar self-forgetfulness in his courteous
interest in others, and wins a loving recognition of his courtesy on
every side. Real courtesy is, however, impossible, in either sex,
except where self is practically lost sight of.

In training a child to courtesy, it is of little use to tell him
to be forgetful of himself; but it is of value to tell him to be
thoughtful of others. The more a person tries to forget himself, the
surer he will be to think of himself. Often, indeed, it is the very
effort of a person to forget himself, that makes that person painfully
self-conscious, and causes him to seem bashful and embarrassed. But
when a child thinks of others, his thoughts go away from himself, and
self-forgetfulness is a result, rather than a cause, of his action.

To tell a young person to enter a full room without any show of
embarrassment, or thought of himself, is to put a barrier in the way
of his being self-possessed through self-forgetfulness. But to send a
young person into a full room with a life-and-death message to some one
already there, is to cause him to forget himself through filling him
with thought of another. And this distinction in methods of training
is one to be borne in mind in all endeavors at training children to
courtesy.

In order to be courteous, a child must have a care to give due
deference to others, in his ordinary salutations and greetings, and in
his expression of thanks for every kindness or attention shown to him.
So far most parents, who give any thought to a matter like this, are
ready to go. But true courtesy includes a great deal more than this;
and a child needs training accordingly.

Many a boy who is careful to give a respectful greeting to his
superiors on the street, or in the house, and who never fails to
proffer thanks for any special favor shown to him, lacks greatly in
courtesy in his ordinary intercourse with others, because he has not
been trained to feel and to show an unselfish interest in those with
whom he is brought face to face. Such a boy is more ready to talk of
himself, and of that which has a personal interest to him, than to find
out what has an interest to others, and to make himself interested
in that, or to express his interest in it if he already feels such
an interest. If, indeed, from any reason, he finds himself unable to
talk freely of that which immediately concerns him, he is often at a
loss for a topic of conversation, and is liable to show awkwardness
and embarrassment in consequence. And so while courteous at points of
conventional etiquette, a boy of this sort is constantly exhibiting
his lack of courtesy.

This liability of a child must be borne in mind by his parents in
his training, and it must be guarded against by wise counsel and by
watchful inquiry on their part. When a child has a playmate with him
in his home, he must be trained to make it his first business to find
out what that playmate would enjoy, and to shape his own words and ways
in conformity with that standard, for the time being. When a child
is going into another home, he must be told in advance of his duty
to be a sharer with those whom he meets there, in their employments
and pleasures, and to express heartily his sense of enjoyment in that
which pleases them. When he returns from a visit from another home, he
should be asked to tell what he found of interest there, and what he
said about it while there; and he should be commended or counseled in
proportion to his well-doing or his lack in his exhibit of courtesy in
this connection. When he has been talking with an older person, in
his own home or abroad, his parents ought to ascertain just how far
he has been lacking in courtesy by putting himself forward unduly, or
how far he has shown courtesy by having and evidencing an interest in
that which was said to him or done for him by his superior; and kindly
comment on his course should be given to him by his parents at such a
time.

If, indeed, a child has shown any lack of courtesy toward another,
whether a person of his own age or older, he should be instructed to
be frank and outspoken in expression of his regret for his course, and
of his desire to be forgiven for his fault. True courtesy involves a
readiness to apologize for any and every failure, whether intentional
or unintentional, to do or say just that which ought to have been done
or said; and the habit of frank apologizing is acquired by a child
only through his careful training in that direction. He who has any
reluctance to proffer apologies on even the slightest cause for them,
is sadly lacking in the spirit of courtesy; for just so far as one is
thoughtfully considerate of the feelings of another will he want to
express his regret that any performance or failure on his part has been
a cause of discomfort to another.

All this is, of course, a trying matter to a child, and a taxing matter
to a parent; but it is to the obvious advantage of both parties. If a
child is seen to be lacking in courtesy, his parents are understood to
be at fault in his training, so far. If, on the other hand, a child is
not trained to courtesy while a child, he is at a disadvantage from
his lack of training, as long as he lives. If he has not been trained
to give others the first place in his thoughts while he is with them,
and to give open expression to all the interest in them which he
really has, he cannot be free and unembarrassed in conversation with
any and all whom he meets. If, on the other hand, he has had wise and
careful training in this direction, he is sure to be as pleasing as he
is courteous to others; and to receive as much enjoyment as he gives,
through his courtesy in intercourse with all whom he meets.

Personal embarrassment in the presence of others, and a lack of freedom
in the expression of one’s interest in others, are generally the result
of an undue absorption in one’s own interests or appearance, and of
one’s lack of self-forgetful interest in the words and ways and needs
of those whom he is summoned to meet. The surest protection of one’s
children against these misfortunes, is by the wise training of those
children to have an interest in others, and to give expression to that
interest, whenever they are with others, at home or abroad; and so to
be courteous and to show their courtesy as a result of such training.



XVIII.

_CULTIVATING A CHILD’S TASTE IN READING._


“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” says Addison.
“As, by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated;
by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive,
cherished, and confirmed.” And Dr. Johnson adds, “The foundation of
knowledge must be laid by reading.”

But there is reading, and reading; there is reading that debilitates
and debases the mind; as there is reading that strengthens and
invigorates it. There is reading that forms the basis of knowledge,
and there is reading that lessens the reader’s desire for knowledge. A
love of reading is an acquired taste, not an instinctive preference.
The habit of reading is formed in childhood; and a child’s taste in
reading is formed in the right direction or in the wrong one while
he is under the influence of his parents; and _they_ are directly
responsible for the shaping and cultivating of that taste.

A child ought to read books that are helpful to his growth in character
and in knowledge; and a child ought to love to read these books. A
child will love to read such books as his parents train, or permit,
him to find pleasure in reading. It is the parent who settles this
question—by action or by inaction. It is the child who reaps the
consequences of his parents’ fidelity or lack in this sphere.

Of course, it is not to be understood that a child is to read, and to
love to read, only those books which add to his stock of knowledge,
or which immediately tend to the improvement of his morals; for there
is as legitimate a place for amusement and for the lighter play of
imagination in a child’s reading, as there is for recreation and
laughter in the sphere of his physical training. As one of the fathers
of English poetry has told us,

  “Books should to one of these four ends conduce,
  For wisdom, piety, delight, or use;”

and that reading which conduces merely to “delight” for the time being,
has its essential part in the formation of a character that includes
wisdom and piety and useful knowledge. But it is to be understood that
no child should be left to read only those books to which his untutored
tastes naturally incline him; nor should he be made to read other books
simply as a dry task. His taste for instructive books as well as for
amusing ones should be so cultivated by the judicious and persistent
endeavors of his parents, that he will find enjoyment in the one class
as truly as in the other.

“Nonsense songs” and the rhymes of “Mother Goose” are not to be
undervalued, in their place, as a means of amusement and of attraction
in the direction of a child’s earliest reading. Their mission in
this realm is as real as that of the toy rattle in the education of a
child’s ear, or the dancing-jack in the training of his eye. But these
helps to amusement are to be looked upon only as aids toward something
better; not as in themselves sufficient to an end. So, also, it is with
the better class of fairy tales. They meet a want in a child’s mind
in the developing and exercising of his imagination; and he who has
never read them will inevitably lack something of that incitement and
enjoyment in the realm of fancy which they supply so liberally. But it
is only a beginning of good work in the sphere of a child’s reading,
when he has found that there is amusement there together with food for
his imagination and fancy. And it is for the parent to see that the
work thus begun does not stop at its beginning.

There is a place for fiction in the matter of a child’s reading.
Good impressions can be made on a child’s mind, and his feelings
can be swayed in the direction of the right, by means of a story
that is fictitious without being false. And thus it is that the
average Sunday-school library book has its mission in the work of
child-training. But fiction ought not to be the chief factor in any
child’s reading, nor can influence and impressions take the place
of instruction and information in the proper filling of his mind’s
treasure-chambers. Even if a child were to read only the best religious
“story-books” which the world’s literature proffers to him, this
reading by itself would not tend to the development of his highest
mental faculties, or to the fostering of his truest manhood. Unless
he reads also that which adds to his stock of knowledge, and which
gives him a fresh interest in the events and personages of the world’s
history, a child cannot obey the Divine injunction to grow in knowledge
as well as in grace, and he will be the loser by his lack.

That a child is inclined by nature to prefer an amusing or an exciting
story-book to a book of straightforward fact, everybody knows. But that
is no reason why a child should follow his own unguided tastes in the
matter of reading, any more than he should be permitted to indulge at
all times his preference, in the realm of appetite, for sweet cakes
instead of bread and butter, or for candies rather than meat and
potatoes. “A child left to himself causeth shame to his mother,”—and
dishonor to himself, in one sphere of action as in another; and unless
a parent cultivates a taste for right reading of every sort on a
child’s part, that child can never be at his best in the world, nor
can his parents have such delight in his attainments as otherwise they
might have.

A wise parent can train his children to an interest in any book in
which they ought to be interested. He can cultivate in their minds
such a taste for books of history, of biography, of travel, of popular
science, and of other useful knowledge, that they will find in these
books a higher and more satisfying pleasure than is found by their
companions in the exciting or delusive narrations of fiction and
fancy. Illustrations of this possibility are to be seen on every
side. There are boys and girls of ten and twelve years of age whose
chief delight in reading is in the realm of instructive fact, and
who count it beneath them to take time for the reading of fictitious
story-books—religious or sensational. And if more parents were wise
and faithful in this department of child-training, there would be more
children with this elevated taste in their reading.

It is, however, by no means an easy matter, even though it be a simple
one, for a parent to cultivate wisely the taste of his children in
their reading. He must, to begin with, recognize the importance and
magnitude of his work so far, and must give himself to it from the
earlier years of his children until they are well established in the
good habits he has aided them to form. He must know what books his
children ought to read, and what books ought to be kept away from them.
Then he must set himself to make the good books attractive to his
children, while he resolutely shuts out from their range of reading
those books which are pernicious. All this takes time, and thought, and
patience, and determination, and intelligent endeavor on his part; but
it is work that is remunerative beyond its extremest cost.

The exclusion of that which is evil is peculiarly important in this
realm of effort; for if a child has once gained a love of the exciting
incidents of the book of sensational fiction, it is doubly difficult to
win him to a love of narrations of sober and instructive fact. Hence
every parent should see to it that his child is permitted no indulgence
in the reading of high-colored and over-wrought works of fiction
presented in the guise of truth—with or without a moral; whether they
come in books from a neighbor’s house, or as a Christmas or birthday
gift from a relative, or are brought from the Sunday-school library.
Fairy tales are well enough in their time and way, if they are read
as fairy tales, and are worth the reading—are the best of their kind.
Fiction has its place in a child’s reading, within due bounds of
measure and quality. But neither fancy nor fiction is to be tolerated
in a child’s reading in such a form as to excite the mind, or to
vitiate the taste of the child. And for the limitation of such reading
by a child the child’s parent must hold himself always responsible. No
pains should be spared to guard the child from mental as well as from
physical poison.

Keeping bad books away from a child is, however, only one part of
the work to be done in the effort at cultivating a child’s taste in
reading. A child must be led to have an intelligent interest in books
that are likely to be helpful to him; and this task calls for skill and
tact, as well as patience and persistency on the parent’s part. Good
books must be looked up by the parent, and when they are put into the
child’s hand it must be with such words of commendation and explanation
as to awaken in the child’s mind a desire to become possessed of their
contents. The sex and age and characteristics and tendencies of the
child, as well as the circumstances and associations of the hour, must
all be borne in mind in the choice and presentation of the book or
books for a child’s reading; and a due regard to these incidents will
have its effect on the mind of the child under training.

For example, when the Fourth of July is at hand, or is in some way
brought into notice, then is a good time to tell a child briefly about
the war of the American Revolution, and to give him a book about the
Boys of Seventy-six. When his attention is called to a picture of
the Tower of London, he is in a good mood to read some of the more
impressive stories of English history. If he is at the seashore,
or among the mountains, on a visit, he can be shown some object of
nature,—a shell or a crab, a rock or a tree,—as a means of interesting
him in a little book about this or that phase of natural history or of
woodcraft.

A child’s question about Jerusalem, or Athens, or Rome, may be improved
to his advantage by pointing him to the narrative of the Children’s
Crusade, or to some of the collections of classic stories in guise for
children. An incidental reference to Africa, or India, or the South Sea
Islands, may open the way for a talk with a child about missions in
those parts of the world, and may be used to give him an interest in
some of the more attractive books in description of missionary heroes
ancient and modern. The every-day mentions of men and things may, each
and all of them, in their order, be turned to good account, as a help
in cultivating a taste in reading, by a parent who is alert to make use
of such opportunities.

A parent ought to be constantly on the watch to suggest books that
are suitable for his child’s reading, and to incite his child to an
interest in those books. It is a good plan to talk with a child in
advance about the subject treated in a book, which the parent is
disposed to commend, and to tell the child that which will tend to
awaken his wish to know more about it, as preparatory to handing
the book to him. Reading with the child, and questioning the child
concerning his reading, will intensify the child’s interest in his
reading, and will promote his enjoyment as he reads.

And so it is that a child’s taste in reading will be cultivated
steadily and effectively in the right direction by any parent who is
willing to do the work that is needful, and who is able to do it
wisely. A child needs help in this sphere, and he welcomes help when
it is brought to him. If the help be given him, he will find pleasure
as well as profit in its using; but if he goes on without help, he is
liable to go astray, and to be a lifetime sufferer in consequence.



XIX.

_THE VALUE OF TABLE-TALK._


In proportion as man rises in the intellectual scale, does he give
prominence to mental and moral enjoyments in conjunction with his
daily meals. He who looks upon the table merely as a place for feeding
the body, is so far upon the level of the lower order of animals. He
who would improve his time there for the advantage of his mind and
character, as well as for the supply of his physical wants, recognizes
a standard of utility in the humbler offices of daily life that is
perceptible only to one whose higher nature is always striving for
supremacy above the lower.

With all the tendency to excesses in the line of appetite among the
Greeks and Romans in classic times, there were even then gleams of a
higher enjoyment at the table through social intercourse than that
which mere eating and drinking supplied. When the Perfect Man was here
among men, he showed the possibility of making the household meal a
means of mental and spiritual improving; and there are no profounder
or more precious truths in the record of our Lord’s earthly teachings,
than those which are found in his words spoken to those who sat with
him eating and drinking at their common meal. The “table talk” of
great men has, for centuries, been recognized as having a freeness, a
simplicity, and a forcefulness, not to be found in their words spoken
elsewhere.

There are obvious reasons why the social talk at daily meals should
possess a value not attainable under other circumstances, in the
ordinary Christian household. Just there is the place where all the
members of the family must be together. However closely and however
diversely they may be occupied at other times, when the hour for the
household meal has arrived, everything else must be dropped by them
all for the one duty of eating and drinking; and they must all come
together for that common purpose. In the very nature of things,
too, those who have gathered at the family table must, for the time
being, have left all their work behind them, and be in a state of
relaxation and of kindlier feeling accordingly. Now it is, therefore,
that they are freest to speak with one another of matters having a
common interest to all, rather than to dwell in absorbed thought on the
special duties from which they have, severally, turned away, or toward
which they must turn at the meal’s close.

It is a matter of fact that those who sit together at a family table,
whether as members of the household or as guests there for a season,
learn to understand one another, and to give and receive help and
inspiration in their social converse, as they could not without the
advantage of this distinctive opportunity. It is also a fact that only
now and then is there a family circle the members of which recognize at
the fullest, and make available at the best, the value of table-talk
as a training agency for all who have a share in it, or who are under
its immediate influence. Yet he who would train his children as they
should be trained, cannot ignore this important training agency without
serious and permanent loss to them.

With family customs as they are in the United States, there is more of
an opportunity here than abroad, for the training of children by means
of table-talk. In England, and in Europe generally, young children are
likely to be by themselves with nurses or governesses, at meal-time,
rather than at the table with their parents. But in this country
children are, as a rule, brought to the family table at a very early
age, and are permitted to be there not merely while the members of the
family are there gathered, but on occasions when a guest is, for the
time being, made a member of the household circle. Therefore it is that
an important feature of child-training in American families is the
table-talk in those families. This feature varies much in different
homes; but at its best it is one of the most potent factors in the
intellectual and moral training of the young.

Fifty years ago a gentleman of New England had, as a philanthropist,
an educator, and an author, an exceptional acquaintance with men of
prominence in similar fields of endeavor in this country and abroad.
His home was a place of resort for them. He had a large family of
children, all of whom were permitted to be at the family table while
those guests were present, as well as at other times. The table-talk
in that home, between the parents and the guests, or between the
parents and their children when no guests were present, was in itself
“a liberal education.” It gave to those children a general knowledge
such as they could hardly have obtained otherwise. It was a source of
promptings and of inspiration to them in a multitude of directions. Now
that they are themselves parents and grandparents, they perceive how
greatly they were the gainers by their training through the table-talk
of their early home; and they are doing what they can to have the value
of table-talk as a training agency for the young recognized and made
effective in the homes which they direct or influence.

In another New England home, the father was a man of quiet
thoughtfulness, and at ordinary times a man of peculiar reticence
before his children. But at the family table he was accustomed to
unbend as nowhere else. He, also, had a large family of children, and
there were frequent visitors among them. The utmost freedom of question
and of expression was cultivated in the table-talk of that home. The
spirited discussions carried on there, between father and mother and
children and visitors, were instructive, suggestive, and stimulating,
in a very high degree. The family table was, in fact, the intellectual
and moral center of that home. No other place was so attractive as
that. Not a person, young or old, would leave that table until he had
to; and now that the survivors of that happy circle are scattered
widely, every one of them will say that no training agency did more for
him in his early life than the table-talk of his childhood’s home.

In one home, where parents and children enjoy themselves in familiar
and profitable table-talk, it is a custom to settle on the spot every
question that may be incidentally raised as to the pronunciation
or meaning of a word, the date of a personage in ancient or modern
history, the location of a geographical site, or anything else of that
nature that comes into discussion at the family table. As an aid to
knowledge in these lines, there stands in a corner of the dining-room a
book-rest, on the top of which lies an English dictionary, while on the
shelves below are a biographical dictionary and a pronouncing gazetteer
of the world, ready for instant reference in every case of dispute or
doubt.

At the breakfast-table, in that home, the father runs his eye over
the morning paper, and gives to his family the main points of its
news which he deems worthy of special note in the family circle. The
children there are free to tell of what they have studied in school,
or to ask about points that have been raised by their teachers or
companions. And in such ways the children are trained to an intelligent
interest in a variety and range of subjects that would otherwise be
quite beyond their ordinary observation.

One father has been accustomed to treasure up the best things of his
experience or studies for each day, with a view to bringing them
attractively to the attention of his children at the family table, at
the day’s close, or at the next day’s beginning. Another has had the
habit of selecting a special topic for conversation at the dinner-table
a day in advance, in order that the children may prepare themselves, by
thinking or reading, for a share in the conversation. Thus an item in
the morning paper may suggest an inquiry about Bismarck, or Gladstone,
or Parnell, or Henry M. Stanley; and the father will say, “Now let
us have that man before us for our talk to-morrow at dinner. Find
out all you can about him, and we will help one another to a fuller
knowledge of him.” In this way the children are being trained to an
ever-broadening interest in men and things in the world’s affairs, and
to methods of thought and study in their search for knowledge.

There is no end to the modes of conducting table-talk as a means of
child-training; and there is no end to the influence of table-talk in
this direction, however conducted. Indeed, it may be said with truth,
that table-talk is quite as likely to be influential as a means of
child-training when the parents have no thought of using it to this
end, as when they seek to use it accordingly. At every family table
there is sure to be talking; and the talk that is heard at the family
table is sure to have its part in a child’s training, whether the
parents wish it to be so or not.

There are fathers whose table-talk is chiefly in complaint of the
family cooking, or in criticism of the mother’s method of managing
the household. There are mothers who are more given to asking where
on earth their children learned to talk and act as they do, than to
inquiring in what part of the earth the most important archæological
discoveries are just now in progress. And there are still more fathers
and mothers whose table-talk is wholly between themselves, except as
they turn aside, occasionally, to say sharply to their little ones,
“Why don’t you keep still, children, while your father and mother are
talking?” All this table-talk has its influence on the children. It
leads them to have less respect for their parents, and less interest in
the home table except as a place of satisfying their natural hunger. It
is potent, even though it be not profitable.

Table-talk ought to be such, in every family, as to make the hour of
home meal-time one of the most attractive as well as one of the most
beneficial hours of the day to all the children. But in order to make
table-talk valuable, parents must have something to talk about at
the table, must be willing to talk about it there, and must have the
children lovingly in mind as they do their table-talking.



XX.

_GUIDING A CHILD IN COMPANIONSHIPS._


A child cannot easily go on through childhood without companions, even
if it were desirable for him to do so. Moreover, it is not desirable
for a child to go on through childhood without companions, even if it
were every way practicable for him to do so. Companions are a necessity
to a child, whether the case be looked at in the light of the world
as it is, or in the light of the world as it ought to be. Hence, as a
child will have companions, and as he needs to have them, it is doubly
important that a parent be alive to the importance of guiding his every
child in the choice of his companions and in his relations to those
companions whom he has without choosing.

No child can be rightly trained all by himself, nor yet wholly by
means of those agencies and influences that come to him directly
from above his head. There are forces which operate for a child’s
training through being brought to bear upon him laterally rather than
perpendicularly; coming in upon him by way of his sympathies, instead
of by way of his natural desire for knowledge. There are lessons which
a child cannot learn so well from an elder teacher above him as from a
young teacher alongside of him. There are impulses which can never be
at their fullest with a child when he is alone as a child, but which
will fill and sway him when they are operative upon him as one of a
little company of children. Only as he learns these lessons from, and
receives these impulses with, wisely chosen and fitting companions, can
a child have the benefit of them to which he is fairly entitled.

Any observing parent will testify that, on more than one occasion,
his child has come to him with a new interest in a thought or a
theme, inspired by the words or example of a young companion, to
the surprise of the parent—who had before sought in vain to excite
an interest in that very direction. All that the parent had said on
the subject had been of no value, in comparison with that which had
been said or done by the child’s companion, as another self. Again,
there are few parents who have not found to their regret that their
child has received lessons and impulses directly opposed to all the
parental counsel and purposes, through a brief and comparatively
unnoticed companionship that ought to have been guarded against. And
these are but illustrations of the instructive and swaying power of
child companionships. Such a power as this ought not to be ignored or
slighted by any parent who would do most and best for his child’s wise
training.

Any thoughtful parent will realize that a child cannot be trained to
be unselfishly considerate of his companions; to bear and forbear with
companions who are weak or impatient or exacting; to show sympathy with
companions who need sympathy, and to minister lovingly to companions
who deserve a loving ministry,—unless he has companions toward whom
he can thus exercise and evidence a right spirit at all times. And no
parent will say, or think, that it would be well for a child to be
without these elements of character-training in his life-progress.

An only child is naturally at a disadvantage in his home, because he is
an only child. He lacks the lessons which playmates there would give
him; the impulses and inspirations which he would receive from their
fellowship; the demands on his better nature, and the calls on his
self-control and self-denial, which would come from their requirements.
Parents who have but one child ought to see to it that the lack in this
regard is, in a measure, supplied by the companionships of children
from other homes. It is, indeed, a mistake for any parent to attempt
the training of his child without the help of child companionships.
No child can be so inspiringly and symmetrically trained without, as
with, these. Even where there are half a dozen or more children in one
family, there is still a need of outside companions for each child, of
the same age and wants of that child; for it is not possible for any
person to bring himself into the same relations with a child as can be
entered into by a child of his own years and requirements.

Because a child’s companionships are so influential, it is the more
important that they be closely watched and carefully guided by the
child’s parents. In choosing a neighborhood—for a residence or
for a summer vacation; in choosing a week-day school; in choosing
a Sunday-school, where a choice is open to the parents, the
companionships thus secured to their child ought to have prominence
in the minds of the parents. And when the neighborhood, and week-day
school, and Sunday-school, are finally fixed upon, the responsibility
is still upon the parent to see to it that the best available
companionships there are cultivated, and the most undesirable ones are
shunned, by the child. Neglect or carelessness at this point may be a
means of harm to the child for his lifetime. Attention just here may
do more for him than were possible through any other agency.

It is a parent’s duty to know who are his child’s companions, and to
know the character, and course of conduct, and influence upon his
child, of every one of those companions separately. Here is where
a parent’s chief work is called for in the matter of guiding and
controlling his child’s companionships. A parent must have his child’s
sympathy, in order to gain this knowledge; and a parent must give
his sympathy to his child, in order to be able to use this knowledge
wisely. It may be necessary to keep an open house for these companions,
and an open heart and hand to them personally, as it surely is
necessary to keep an open ear to the child’s confidences concerning
their sayings and doings, if the parent would know all about them that
he needs to know. There are parents who do all this for and with their
children, as an effective means of guiding those children in their
companionships. It is a pity that there are net more who are willing
to do it, in view of all that it may be a means of accomplishing for
children.

Knowing his child’s companionships, a parent ought to encourage such
of them as are worthiest, and discourage such as he cannot approve.
He ought to help his child to see the advantages of the one class and
the disadvantages of the other, and to regulate his social intimacies
according to the standards thus set before him. It will not do for a
parent to allow matters in this line to take their own course, and to
accept all companionships for his child just as they may come to him.
He must feel responsible for his child’s wise selection, from among
the number of proffered companions, of those who are to be retained
while others are dropped or avoided. And it devolves upon a parent to
see to it that his child’s companionships are of growing value to his
companions as well as to himself; that his child’s influence over his
very playfellows is for their good, while his good is promoted by their
association with him. A child’s companionships, like those of older
persons, ought to be of advantage to both parties alike, through the
very purpose of making them so.

Recognizing the desirableness and importance of companionships for
his child, securing the best that are available, learning fully their
characteristics and tendencies, aiding in their sifting, and seeking
in their steady uplifting, a parent can do effective service in the
way of guiding his child in and through that child’s companionships.
To neglect this agency of a child’s training, would be to endanger his
entire career in life, whatever else were done in his behalf.



XXI.

_NEVER PUNISH A CHILD IN ANGER._


Anger is not always wrong. A parent may be angry without sin. And, as
a matter of fact, most parents do get angry, whether they ought to or
not. Children are sometimes very provoking, and parents are sometimes
very much provoked. It is not always wrong to punish a child. A child
may need punishing, and it may be a parent’s duty to punish a child
accordingly. But it is always wrong for a parent to punish a child in
anger; and however great may be the need of a child’s punishing, a
parent ought never to administer punishment to a child while angry.

Here is a rule which, strictly speaking, knows no exception; yet, as a
matter of fact, probably nine-tenths of all the punishing of children
that is done by parents in this world is done in anger. And this is
one of the wrongs suffered by children through the wrong-doing of their
parents.

Anger is hot blood. Anger is passion. Anger is for the time being a
controlling emotion, fixing the mind’s eye on the one point against
which it is specifically directed, to the forgetfulness of all else.
But punishment is a judicial act, calling for a clear mind, and a cool
head, and a fair considering of every side of the case in hand. Anger
is inconsistent with the exercise of the judicial faculty; therefore no
person is competent to judge fairly while angry.

If, indeed, in any given case, the anger itself be just, the impulse
of the angry man may be in the right direction, and the punishment he
would inflict a fitting one; but, again, his impulse may be toward
a punishment that is not merited. At all events, the man is not in
a frame of mind to decide whether or not his impulse is a wise one;
and it is his duty to wait until he can dispassionately view the case
in another light than that in which it presents itself to his heated
brain. No judge is worthy of the office he administers, if he acts on
the impulse of his first estimate of a case before him, without taking
time to see what can be shown on the other side of that case. And no
parent acts worthily who jumps to the punishment of a child while under
the impulse of an angry mood.

There are strong provocatives to anger in many a child’s conduct,
especially to a parent who is of an intense nature, with an inclination
to quickness of temper. A child is disobedient at a point where he has
been repeatedly told of his duty; he is quarrelsome with his playmates,
or insolent toward his nurse; he is persistently irritable, or he gives
way to a fit of ungovernable rage; he destroys property recklessly, or
he endangers life and limb; he snatches away a plaything from a little
brother, or he clutches his hands into his mother’s hair; he indulges
in foul language, or he utters threats of revenge; he meets a proffered
kiss with a slap or a scratch; his conduct may be even that which would
excite anger in a saint, but it certainly is such as to excite anger
in the average parent—who is not a saint. Then, while the parent is
angry, and while punishment seems merited by the child, the temptation
of the parent is to administer punishment; but that temptation is one
that ought never to be yielded to, or, if yielded to, it is not without
sin.

Punishment may be needed in such a case, but the punishment, to be
surely just and to be recognized as just, must be well considered, and
must be administered in a manner to show that it is not the outcome
of passionate impulse. No punishment ought to be administered by a
parent at any time that would not be administered by that parent when
he was cool and calm and deliberate, and after he had had a full and
free talk on the subject with the child, in the child’s best state of
mind. Whether the punishment that seems to the parent to be the desert
of the child, while the parent is still angry, is the punishment that
the parent would deem the fitting one in his cooler, calmer moments,
can be better decided after the parent has looked at it in both frames
of mind, than before he has had the advantage of a view from the
standpoint of fuller deliberation.

“What?” inquired a surprised parent, in conversing with the present
writer on this very subject, “do you say that I must never punish my
boy while I’m angry with him? Why then I should hardly ever punish him
at all. It is while I am sitting up for him hour after hour, when I’ve
told him over and over again that he must come in early, evenings,
that I feel like taking hold of him smartly when he does come in. If I
should say nothing to him then, but should leave the matter until the
next morning, I should sleep off all my feeling on the subject, and he
wouldn’t be punished at all.” And that father, in that statement of the
case, spoke for many a parent, in the whole matter of the punishing of
a child while angry. The punishment which the child gets is the result
of the passion of the parent, not of the parent’s sense of justice; and
the child knows this to be the case, whether the parent does or not.

How many boxes of the ear, and shakings of the shoulders, and
slappings and strikings, and sentences of doom, which the children
now get from their parents, would never be given if only the parents
refrained from giving these while angry, but waited until they
themselves were calm and unruffled, before deciding whether to give
them or not! It is not by any means easy for a parent always to control
himself in his anger, so as to refrain from acting on the impulse which
his anger imparts; but he who has not control of himself is the last
person in the world to attempt the control of others. And not until a
parent has himself in perfect control ought he to take his child in
hand for the judicial investigation and treatment of his case as an
evil-doer.

Of course, there are cases where instant action on the part of parents
in checking or controlling their children’s conduct is a necessity,
whether the parent be excited or calm; but in such cases the action,
however vigorous or severe, is not in the line of punishment, but of
conservation. A child may be thoughtlessly tugging away at the end of
a table-cloth, with the liability of pulling over upon his head all the
table crockery, including the scalding tea-pot; or he may be endangering
himself by reaching out toward a lighted lamp, or an open razor. No
time is to be lost. If the child does not respond to a word, he must be
dealt with promptly and decisively. A sharp rap on the fingers may be
the surest available means of saving him from a disaster.

So, again, a wayward child may be aiming a missile at a costly mirror,
or at a playmate’s head, in a fit of temper. Not a moment can then
be wasted. Angry or not angry, the parent may have to clutch at the
child’s lifted arm to save property or life. In such a case, wise
action is called for, regardless of the frame of mind of him who acts.
But this is the action of the peacekeeper rather than of the minister
of justice. The parent fills for the moment the place of the policeman
on his beat, rather than of the judge on his bench. The question of
punishment for the child’s action is yet to be considered; and that,
again, must be delayed until there is no anger in the parent’s mind.

Anger, in the sense of hot indignation, may, indeed, as has already
been said, be, upon an occasion, a fitting exhibit of parental feeling;
but this is only in those utterly exceptional cases in which a child
transcends all ordinary limits of misdoing, and is guilty of that
which he himself knows to be intolerable. As Dr. Bushnell says at
this point, “There are cases, now and then, in the outrageous and
shocking misconduct of some boy, where an explosion is wanted; where
the father represents God best by some terrible outburst of indignant
violated feeling, and becomes an instant avenger, without any counsel
or preparation whatever.” But this is apart from all questions of
punishment as punishment.

A child knows when punishment is administered to him in anger, and
when it is administered to him in a purely judicial frame of mind;
and a child puts his estimate accordingly on him who administers the
punishment. In a city mission-school, many years ago, there was a wild
set of boys who seemed to do all in their power to anger and annoy
their teachers. Cases of discipline were a necessity there; for again
and again a boy attempted violence to a teacher, and force was required
to save the teachers from serious harm. But love swayed those teachers
even when force on their part was a necessity; and the boys seemed to
understand this fully.

There came a time, however, when the young superintendent of that
school, who had often held a scholar in check by force, was made public
sport of in such way, with the rude linking of a lady teacher’s name
with his in ridicule, that his self-control failed him for the moment,
and he evidently showed this as he took hold of the offender with
unwonted warmth. Instantly the boy started back in surprise, with the
reproachful exclamation: “Trumbull, you’re mad; and that’s wicked.”
Those words taught a lesson to that young superintendent which he has
never forgotten. They showed him that his power over those rough boys
was a moral power, and that it pivoted on his retaining power over
himself. It was theirs to get him angry if they could; but if they
succeeded he was a failure, and they knew it. And that lesson is one
that parents as well as superintendents could learn to advantage.

When a parent punishes a child only in love, and without being
ruffled by anger, the child is readier to perceive the justice of the
punishment, and is under no temptation to resent passion with passion.
A child who had been told by her father, that if she did a certain
thing he must punish her for it, came to him, on his return home, and
informed him that she had transgressed in the thing forbidden. He
expressed sincere regret for this. “But you said, papa, that you would
punish me for it,” she added. “Yes, my dear child, and I must keep my
word,” was his answer. Then, as he drew her lovingly to him, he told
her just why he must punish her. Looking up into his face with tearful
trust, she said: “You don’t like to punish me,—do you, papa?” “Indeed I
don’t, my darling,” he said, in earnestness. “It hurts you more than
it hurts me,—doesn’t it, papa?” was her sympathetic question, as if she
were more troubled for her father than for herself. “Yes, indeed it
does, my darling child,” was his loving rejoinder. And the punishment
which that father gave and that daughter received under circumstances
like these, was a cause of no chafing between the two even for the
moment, while it brought its gain to both, as no act of punishment in
anger, however just in itself, could ever bring, in such a case.

As a rule, a child ought not to be punished except for an offense that,
at the time of its committal, was known by the child to be an offense
deserving of punishment. It is no more fair for a parent to impose a
penalty to an offense after the offense is committed, than it is for a
civil government to pass an _ex post facto_ law, by which punishment is
to be awarded for offenses committed before that law was passed. And if
a child understands, when he does a wrong, that he must expect a fixed
punishment as its penalty, there is little danger of his feeling that
his parent is unjust in administering that punishment; and, certainly,
there is no need of the parent hastening to administer that punishment
while still angry.

Punishment received by a child from an angry parent is an injury to
both parent and child. The parent is the worse for yielding to the
temptation to give way to anger against a child. The child is harmed by
knowing that his parent has done wrong. A child can be taught to know
that he deserves punishment. A child needs no teaching to know that his
parent is wrong in punishing him while angry. No parent ought to punish
a child except with a view to the child’s good. And in order to do good
to a child through his punishing, a parent must religiously refrain
from punishing him while angry.



XXII.

_SCOLDING IS NEVER IN ORDER._


Many a father who will not strike his child feels free to scold him.
And a scolding mother is not always deemed the severest and most unjust
of mothers. Yet, while it is sometimes right to strike a child, it is
at no time right to scold one. Scolding is, in fact, never in order, in
dealing with a child, or in any other duty in life.

To “scold” is to assail or revile with boisterous speech. The word
itself seems to have a primary meaning akin to that of barking or
howling. From its earliest use the term “scolding” has borne a bad
reputation. In common law, “a common scold” is a public nuisance,
against which the civil authority may be invoked by the disturbed
neighborhood. This is a fact at the present time, as it was a fact in
the days of old. And it is true to-day as it was when spoken by John
Skelton, four centuries ago, that

  “A sclaunderous tunge, a tunge of a skolde,
  Worketh more mischiefe than can be tolde.”

Scolding is always an expression of a bad spirit and of a loss of
temper. This is as truly the case when a lovely mother scolds her
child for breaking his playthings wilfully, or for soiling his third
dress in one forenoon by playing in the gutter which he was forbidden
to approach, as when one apple-woman yells out her abuse of another
apple-woman in a street-corner quarrel. In either case the essence of
the scolding is in the multiplication of hot words in expression of
strong feelings that, while eminently natural, ought to be held in
better control. The words themselves may be very different in the two
cases, but the spirit and method are much alike in both. It is scolding
in the one case as in the other; and scolding is never in order.

If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent
ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a
natural tone of voice, and with carefully measured words. If the parent
is tempted to speak rapidly, or to multiply words without stopping to
weigh them, or to show an excited state of feeling, the parent’s first
duty is to gain entire self-control. Until that control is secured,
there is no use of the parent’s trying to attempt any measure of
child-training. The loss of self-control is for the time being an utter
loss of power for the control of others. This is as true in one sphere
as in another.

Mr. Hammond’s admirable work on “Dog-Training,” already referred to in
these pages, says on this very point, to the dog-trainer: “You must
keep perfectly cool, and must suffer no sign to escape of any anger or
impatience; for if you cannot control your temper, you are not the one
to train a dog.” “Do not allow yourself,” says this instructor, “under
any circumstances to speak to your pupil in anything but your ordinary
tone of voice.” And, recognizing the difficulties of the case, he
adds: “Exercise an unwearied patience; and if at any time you find the
strain upon your nerves growing a little tense, leave him at once, and
wait until you are perfectly calm before resuming the lesson.” That is
good counsel for him who would train a dog—or a child; for in either
dog-training or child-training, scolding—loud and excited talking—is
never in order.

In giving commands, or in giving censure, to a child, the fewer and
the more calmly spoken words the better. A child soon learns that
scolding means less than quiet talking; and he even comes to find a
certain satisfaction in waiting silently until the scolder has blown
off the surplus feeling which vents itself in this way. There are
times, indeed, when words may be multiplied to advantage in explaining
to a child the nature and consequences of his offense, and the reasons
why he should do differently in the future; but such words should
always be spoken in gentleness, and in self-controlled earnestness.
Scolding—rapidly spoken censure and protest, in the exhibit of strong
feeling—is never in order as a means of training and directing a child.

Most parents, even the gentler and kindlier parents, scold their
children more or less. Rarely can a child say, “My parents never scold
me.” Many a child is well trained in spite of his being scolded. Many
a parent is a good parent notwithstanding the fact that he scolds his
children. But no child is ever helped or benefited by any scolding that
he receives; and no parent ever helps or benefits his child by means
of a scolding. Scolding is not always ruinous, but it is always out of
place.

If, indeed, scolding has any good effect at all, that effect is on
the scolder, and not on the scolded. Scolding is the outburst of
strong feeling that struggles for the mastery under the pressure of
some outside provocation. It never benefits the one against whom it
is directed, nor yet those who are its outside observers, however it
may give physical relief to the one who indulges in it. If, therefore,
scolding is an unavoidable necessity on the part of any parent, let
that parent at once shut himself, or herself, up, all alone, in a room
where the scolding can be indulged in without harming any one. But let
it be remembered that, as an element in child-training, scolding is
never, never, in order.



XXIII.

_DEALING TENDERLY WITH A CHILD’S FEARS._


The best child in the world is liable to be full of fears; and the
child who is full of fears deserves careful handling, in order that his
fears may not gain permanent control of him. Fears are of a child’s
very nature, and every child’s training must be in view of the fact
that he has fears. How to deal wisely, firmly, and tenderly with a
child’s fears is, therefore, one of the important practical questions
in the training of a child.

To begin with, it should be understood that a child’s fears are no sign
of a child’s weakness, but that, as a rule, the stronger a child is in
the elements of a well-balanced and an admirable character, the more
fears he will have to contend with in the exercise of his character.
Hence a child’s fears are worthy of respect, and call for tenderness
of treatment, instead of being looked at as a cause of ridicule or of
severity on the part of those who observe them.

“Fear” is not “cowardice.” Fear is a keen perception of dangers, real
or imaginary. Cowardice is a refusal to brave the dangers which the
fears recognize. Fear is the evidence of manly sensitiveness. Cowardice
is the exhibit of unmanly weakness. Fear is a moral attribute of
humanity. Cowardice is a moral lack. A child, or a man, who is wholly
free from cowardice, may have more fears than the veriest coward
living. The one struggles successfully against his many fears; the
other yields in craven submission to the first fear that besets him.

It is by no means to a child’s credit that it can be said of him, “He
doesn’t know what fear is.” A child ought to know what fear is. He
is pitiably ignorant if he does not. The same is true of the bravest
man. It is not the soldier who does not know fear but it is the
soldier who will not yield to the fears he feels, who is the truly
courageous man. Without a fine perception and a quick apprehension
of dangers on every side, no soldier could be fully alive to the
necessities of his position and to the demands of his duty; and it
is, in a sense, peculiarly true, that the best soldier is likely to
be the most fearful. It is the Braddocks who are “not afraid” that
needlessly suffer disaster; while the Washingtons who have timely fears
are prepared to act efficiently in the time of disaster. There is a
suggestion of this truth in the words of the Apostle, “Let him that
thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;” or, as it might be said,
Let him who has no fears have a care lest he fail from his lack of
fears.

A child’s fears are on various planes, and because of this they must be
differently dealt with. A child has fears which are reasonable, fears
which are unreasoning, and fears which are wholly imaginary; fears
which are the result of a process of reasoning, fears which are apart
from any reasoning process, and fears which are in the realm of fancy
and imagination. In one child one phase of these fears is the more
prominent, and in another child another phase. But in every child there
is a measure of fear on all three of these planes.

A child who has once fallen in trying to stand or walk, or from coming
too near the top of a flight of stairs, is liable to be afraid that he
will fall again if he makes another effort in the same direction. “A
burnt child dreads the fire.” That is a reasonable fear. Again, a child
comes very early to an instinctive shrinking from trusting himself to a
stranger; he recoils from an ill-appearing person or thing; he trembles
at a loud noise; he is fearful because of the slamming of shutters,
even when he knows that the wind does it; he is afraid of thunder as
well as of lightning, apart from any question of harm to him from the
electric bolt. This is without any process of reasoning on his part,
even while there is a basis of reality in the causes of his fear. Yet
again, a child is afraid of being alone in the darkness; or he is
afraid of “ghosts” and “goblins,” about which he has been told by
others. It is his imagination that is at work in this case.

That all these different fears should call for precisely the same
treatment is, of course, an absurdity. How to deal with each class of
fears by itself, is an important element in the question before the
parent who would treat wisely the fears of his children.

A child would be obviously lacking in sense, if he were never afraid
of the consequences of any action to which he was inclined. If he had
no fear of falling, no fear of fire or water, no fear of edged tools
or machinery, no fear of a moving vehicle, it would be an indication
of his defectiveness in reasoning faculties. Yet that there is a wide
difference among children in the measure of their timidity in the
presence of personal danger, no one will deny.

One child inclines to be unduly cautious, while another inclines to be
unduly venturesome. Moreover, that the timidest child can be brought to
overcome, in large measure, his fears of physical harm, is apparent in
view of the success of primitive peoples in training their children
to swim before they can walk, or to climb as soon as they can stand;
and of circus managers in bringing the children of civilized parents
to feats of daring agility. How to train a child to the mastery of
his fears in this line, without the brutal disregard of his feelings
that too often accompanies such training by savages or professional
athletes, is a point worthy of the attention of every wise parent.

Because these fears are within the realm of the reasoning faculties,
they ought to be removed by means of a process of reasoning. A child
ought not to be beaten or threatened or ridiculed into the overcoming
of his fears, but rather encouraged and directed to their overcoming,
through showing him that they ought to, and that they can, be overcome.
His fears are not unworthy of him; therefore he ought neither to be
punished nor to be made sport of because he has them. The meeting and
surmounting of his fears, within bounds, is also worthy of a child;
therefore he ought to be helped to see this fact, and kindly cheered
and sympathized with in his efforts accordingly.

Many a child has been trained to intelligent fearlessness, so far as
he ought to be fearless, through the wise and tender endeavors of his
parents to show him his power in this direction, and to stimulate him
to the exercise of this power. And many a child has been turned aside
from the overcoming of his fears, through the untimely ridicule of him
for his possession of those fears. Because he must be a laughing-stock
while struggling to master his fears, he decides to evade the struggle
in order to evade the ridicule. Tenderness in pointing out to a child
the wiser way of meeting his fears, is better than severity on the one
hand, or ridicule on the other.

Unreasoning or instinctive fears are common to both the brightest and
the dullest children. They are among the guards which are granted to
humanity, in its very nature, for its own protection. It would never
do for a child to make no distinction between persons whom he could
trust implicitly, and persons whom he must suspect, or shrink from. It
is right that he should be won or repelled by differences in form and
expression. He needs to be capable of starting at a sudden sound, and
of standing in awe of the great forces of nature. The proper meeting of
these instinctive fears by a child must be through his understanding
of their reasonable limits, and through the intelligent conforming of
his action to that understanding. It is for the parent to train his
child to know how far he must overcome these fears, and how far they
must still have play in his mind. And this is a process requiring
tenderness, patience, and wisdom.

When a child shows fear at the moaning of the wind about the house, and
at its rattling of the shutters on a winter’s night, it is not fair to
say to him, “Oh, nonsense! What are you afraid of? That’s nothing but
the wind.” There is no help to the child in that saying; but there is
harm to him in its suggestion of the parent’s lack of sympathy with
him. If, however, the parent says, at such a time, “Does that sound
trouble you? Let me tell you how it comes;” and then goes on to show
how the wind is doing God’s work in driving away causes of sickness,
and how it sometimes makes sweet music on wires that are stretched out
for it to play upon,—the child may come to have a new thought about the
wind, and to listen for its changing sounds on the shutters or through
the trees.

One good mother sought to overcome her little boy’s fear of thunder by
simply telling him that it was God’s voice speaking out of the heavens;
but that was one step too many for his thoughts to take as yet. The
thunder just as it was, was what gave him trouble, no matter where it
came from; so when the next peal sounded through the air, the little
fellow whimpered out despairingly, “Mamma, baby doesn’t like God’s
voice.” And that mother was too wise and tender to rebuke her child for
his unreadiness for that mode of revelation from above.

On the other hand, an equally wise and tender father, whose little
daughter was afraid of the thunder, took his child into his arms, when
a thunder-storm was raging, and carried her out on to the piazza, in
order, as he said, to show her something very beautiful. Then he told
her that the clouds were making loud music, and that the light always
flashed from the clouds before the music sounded, and he wanted her to
watch for both light and music. His evident enthusiasm on the subject,
and his manifest tenderness toward his child, swept the little one
away from her fears, out toward the wonders of nature above her; and
soon she was ready to believe that the thunder was as the very voice
of God, which she could listen to with reverent gratitude. If there
were more of such loving wisdom exercised in parental dealing with
children’s fears, there would be less trouble from the unmastered fears
of children on every side.

The hardest fears to control are, however, the fears which are purely
of the imagination; and no other fears call for such considerate
tenderness of treatment as these, in the realm of child-training. It
is the more sensitive children, children of the finest grain, and of
the more active and potent imaginings, who are most liable to the sway
of these fears, and who are sure to suffer most from them. Persons who
are lacking in the imaginative faculty, or who are cold-blooded and
matter-of-fact in their temperament and nature, are hardly able to
comprehend the power of these fears over those who feel them at their
fullest. Hence it is that these fears in a child’s mind are less likely
than any others to receive due consideration from parents generally,
even while they need it most.

Because these fears are not of the reason, they are not to be removed
by reason. Because they are of the imagination, the imagination must be
called into service for their mastery. It is not enough to pronounce
these fears unreasonable and foolish. They are, in their realm, a
reality, and they must be met accordingly. While children suffer from
them most keenly, they are not always outgrown in manhood. A clergyman
already past the middle of life was heard to say that, to this day,
he could never come up the cellar stairs all by himself, late at
night, after covering up the furnace fire for the night, without the
irrational fear that some one would clutch him by his feet from out of
the darkness below. The fear was a reality, even though the cause was
in the imagination. And a soldier who had been under fire in a score of
battles, said that he would to-day rather go into another battle than
to be all alone in a deserted house in broad daylight.

In neither of these cases was the person under the influence of
superstitious fears, but only of those fears which an active
imagination will suggest in connection with possibilities of danger
beyond all that can yet be seen. And these are but illustrations of
the sway of such fears in the minds of men who are stronger by reason
of their very susceptibility to such fears. These men have added
power because of their vivid imaginations; and because of their vivid
imaginations they are liable to fears of this sort. What folly, then,
to blame a child of high imagination for feeling the sway of similar
fears!

The heroic treatment of these fears of the imagination is not what is
called for in every instance; nor is it always sufficient to meet the
case. A child may be trained to go by himself into the darkness, or to
sleep in a room shut away from other occupants of the house, without
overcoming his fears of imagination. And if these fears be constantly
spoken of as those which are utterly unworthy of him, the child may
indeed refrain from giving expression to them, and suffer all by
himself with an uncalled-for sense of humiliation, even while he is
just as timid as before. It would be better, in many a case, to refrain
from an undue strain on a sensitive child, through sending him out of
the house in the evening to walk a lonely path, or through forcing
him to sleep beyond the easy call of other members of the household;
but in every instance it is right and wise for a parent to give his
child the evidence of sympathy with him in his fears, and of tender
considerateness of him in his struggles for their overcoming.

The help of helps to a child in meeting his fears of the imagination,
is found in the bringing to his mind, through the imagination, a sense
of the constant presence of a Divine Protector to cheer him when his
fears are at their highest. A little child who wakened in the middle of
the night, called to her parents, in another room, and when her father
was by her bedside, she told him that she was afraid to be alone.
Instead of rebuking her for this, he said, “There’s a little verse in
the Bible, my darling, that’s meant for you at a time like this; and
I want you to have that in your mind whenever you waken in this way.
It is a verse out of one of David’s psalms; and it is what he said to
the Lord his Shepherd: ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.’
That is the verse. Now, whenever you are afraid, you can think of that
verse, and say it over as a loving prayer, and the Good Shepherd will
hear you, and will keep you from all harm.”

The child repeated the verse after her father, and she saw its peculiar
fitness to her case. As her father then prayed to the God of David in
loving confidence, she realized more fully than before how near God
was to her in the time of her greatest fears. And from that time on,
that little child was comforted through faith when her imagination
pressed her with its terrors. She never forgot that verse; and it still
is a help to her in her fears by day and by night.

A child’s imagination ought, indeed, to be guarded sacredly. It should
be shielded as far as possible from unnecessary fears, through foolish
stories of ghosts and witches, told by nurses or companions, or read
from improper books. But whether a child’s fears in this realm be few
or many, they should be dealt with tenderly by a loving parent; not
ignored, nor rudely overborne. Many a child has been harmed for life
through a thoughtless disregard by his parents of the fears of his
imagination. But every child might be helped for life by a sympathetic
and tender treatment of these fears, on the part of his parents, while
he is still under their training.

In no realm of a child’s nature has a child greater need of sympathy
and tenderness from his parents, than in the realm of his fears. It is
because he is sensitive, and in proportion as he is sensitive, that a
child’s fears have any hold upon him. And a child’s sensitiveness is
too sacred to be treated rudely or with lightness by those to whom he
is dearest, and who would fain train him wisely and well.



XXIV.

_THE SORROWS OF CHILDREN._


The trials and sorrows of children and young people have not always
had the recognition they deserve from parents and teachers. It is even
customary to speak of childhood as an age of utter freedom from anxiety
and grief, and to look upon boys and girls generally as happier and
lighter-hearted than they can hope to be in later life. No mistake
could be greater than this. The darker side of life is seen first. The
brighter side comes afterward.

“Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” The first sound
of a child’s voice is a cry, and that cry is many times repeated before
the child gives his first smile. How easily the best-behaved baby
cries, every mother can testify. It is the soothing of a crying child,
not the sharing in the joy of a laughing one, which taxes the skill
and the patience of a faithful nurse. Only as the child is trained,
disciplined, to overcome his inclination to cry, and to find happiness
in his sphere, does he come to be a joyous and glad-hearted little one.

Every burden of life—and life’s burdens seem many—rests at its heaviest
on a child’s nature. A child is refused more requests than are granted
to him. He is subjected to disappointments daily, almost hourly. The
baby cannot reach the moon, nor handle papa’s razor, nor pound the
looking-glass, nor pull over the tea-pot, nor creep into the fire. The
older child cannot eat everything he wants to, nor go out at all times,
nor have papa and mamma ever at his side. Then there come school-tasks
to shrink from, and the jealousies and unkindnesses of playmates and
companions to grieve over. And as more is known of life and the world,
and the inevitable struggles with temptation, and of the injustice and
wrongs which must in so many instances be suffered, it becomes harder
and harder for a young person to see only the brighter side of human
existence, and to bear up bravely and cheerily under all that tends to
sadden and oppress us. There are more clouds in the sky of life’s April
than of life’s August.

As the young grow older they come to be less sensitive to little
trials, and they control themselves better. They are not tempted to
shed tears whenever they find their plans thwarted, or themselves
unable to do or to have all they would like to, or their companions
unlike what they had hoped for. They learn to philosophize over their
troubles, to look at the compensations of life, and to recognize the
fact that many things which they have longed after would not have been
good for them if they had obtained them, and that, at all events, time
will soften many of their trials. And so life’s troubles seem lighter,
and life’s joys greater—if not more intense—to maturer minds than to
the young. Even when men are far greater sufferers than ever children
can be, they come to be calloused in a measure through the very
continuance of their grief, and they bear as a little thing that which
would have crushed them a few years before.

But how their former experiences and their earlier tumults of feeling
are forgotten by men and women as they get farther and farther away
from childhood! They fail to remember how deeply they grieved as little
ones. They forget, in large measure, how heavy the burdens of life
seemed in their earlier years. They are sure that many things which now
trouble them had no power over them when they were younger. It seems
to them, indeed, that the little trials of children cannot seem very
large even to children. And so, as they watch the little ones in their
brighter moments, they think that childhood is the age of freedom from
sorrow and care; and they are even inclined to wish that they were
young once more, that they might have no such hours of trial and grief
as now they are called to so frequently.

Values are relative; so are losses; so are sorrows. One person puts a
high estimate on what another deems quite worthless. One grieves over
a loss for which another would feel no concern. That which a child
values highly may be of no moment to the child’s father; but its loss
might be as great a grief to the child as would the loss to the father
of that which, in the father’s sight, is incalculably more important.
The breaking of a valued toy may be as serious a disaster, from the
child’s point of view, as the bankrupting of the father’s business
would seem from the father’s standpoint. And the child’s temporary
censure by his playmates for some slight misdoing of his, may cause to
him as bitter a sorrow as would the condemnation by the public, cause
to his father when the father’s course had brought him into permanent
disgrace.

A little girl was startled by what she heard said at the family table
concerning a neighbor’s loss of household silver through a visit of
robbers. “Mamma,” she whispered, “do robbers take _dolls_?” Her dolls
were that child’s treasure. If _they_ were in danger, life had new
terrors for her. “No, my dear,” said her mamma; “robbers don’t want
dolls. Why should they take them?” “I didn’t know but they would want
them for their little girls,” was the answer; as showing that, in the
child’s estimation, dolls had a value for children in the homes of
robbers as well as elsewhere. With the assurance that her dolls were
safe, that little girl had less fear of midnight robberies. What, to
her mind, was the loss of the family silver, or of clothing and jewels,
if the dolls were to be left unharmed! A child’s estimate of values may
be a false one; but the child’s sorrows over losses measured by those
estimates are as real as any one’s sorrows.

It must, indeed, be a sore pressure of sorrow and trial on a child’s
mind and heart, to bring him to commit suicide; yet the suicide of
a child is by no means so rare an act as many would suppose. The
annual official statistics of suicides in France show a considerable
percentage of children among the unhappy victims. Hundreds of suicides
are reported in England, year by year. In America the case is much
the same. Month by month the public prints give the details of child
suicides as a result of some sore trial or sorrow to the little ones.

“Forgive me for committing suicide,” wrote a bright and affectionate
lad, in a note to his father just before committing the fatal act. “I
am tired of life,” he added. And everything in connection with his
suicide showed that that lad had planned the act with a cool head and
an aching heart. In fact, most persons of adult years can recall out of
the memories of their earlier life some experiences of disappointment,
or of grief, or of a sense of injustice, which made life seem to them
for the time being no longer worth living, and the thought of an end to
their trial in death not wholly terrible. Very _childish_ all this was,
of course; but that is the point of its lesson to parents; childish
griefs are very real and very trying—to children.

One plain teaching of these facts concerning the sorrows of children
is, that the young need the comfort and joys of a Christian faith for
the life that now is, quite as surely as the aged need a Christian
hope for the life that is to come. The surest way of bringing even
a child to see the brighter side of this life is by inducing him to
put his trust in an omnipotent Saviour, who loves him, and who makes
all things work together for good to him if only he trust himself to
His care and walks faithfully in His service. The invitations and
the promises of the Bible are just what children need, to give them
happiness and hope for now and for hereafter.



XXV.

_THE PLACE OF SYMPATHY IN CHILD-TRAINING._


A child needs sympathy hardly less than he needs love; yet ten children
are loved by their parents where one child has his parents’ sympathy.
Every parent will admit that love for his children is a duty; but only
now and then is there a parent who realizes that he ought to have
sympathy with his children. In fact, it may safely be said that, among
those children who are not called to suffer from actual unkindness on
the part of their parents, there is no greater cause of unhappiness
than the lack of parental sympathy. And, on the other hand, it is
unquestionably true that in no way can any parent gain such power over
his child for the shaping of the child’s character and habits of life
as by having and showing sympathy with that child.

Love may be all on one side. It may be given without being returned
or appreciated. It may fail of influencing or affecting the one
toward whom it goes out. But sympathy is in its very nature a twofold
force. It cannot be all on one side. From its start it is a response
to another’s feelings or needs. It is based on the affections, or
inclinations, or sufferings, or sense of lack, already experienced by
another. Hence sympathy is sure of a grateful recognition by the one
who has called it out. Love may be proffered before it is asked for or
desired. Sympathy is in itself the answer to a call for that which it
represents. Love may, indeed, be unwelcome. Sympathy is, in advance,
assured of a welcome.

In his joys as in his sorrows a true child wants some one to share his
feelings rather than to guide them. If he has fallen and hurt himself,
a child is more helped by being spoken to in evident sympathy than by
being told that he must not cry, or that his hurt is a very trifling
matter. The love that shows itself in tenderly binding up his wound,
in a case like this, has less hold upon the child than the sympathy
that expresses a full sense of his pain, and that recognizes and
commends his struggle to control his feelings under his injury. It is
easier, indeed, to comfort a child at such a time, and to give him
power over himself, by showing him that you feel with him, and how you
want him to feel, than by telling him, never so lovingly, what he ought
to do, and how to do it. And it is the same with a child in any time of
joy, as in every time of grief. He wants your sympathy with him in his
delights, rather than your loving approval of his enjoying himself just
then and in that way.

Herbert Spencer, who makes as little of the finer sentiments of
human nature as any intelligent observer of children can safely do,
emphasizes this desire of a child for sympathy, in the realm of mental
development. “What can be more manifest,” he asks, “than the desire
of children for intellectual sympathy? Mark how the infant sitting
on your knee thrusts into your face the toy it holds, that you too
may look at it. See, when it makes a creak with its wet finger on the
table, how it turns and looks at you; does it again, and again looks at
you; thus saying as clearly as it can—‘Hear this new sound.’ Watch how
the older children come into the room exclaiming, ‘Mamma, see what a
curious thing,’ ‘Mamma, look at this,’ ‘Mamma, look at that;’ and would
continue the habit, did not the silly mamma tell them not to tease her.
Observe how, when out with the nurse-maid, each little one runs up to
her with the new flower it has gathered, to show her how pretty it is,
and to get her also to say it is pretty. Listen to the eager volubility
with which every urchin describes any novelty he has been to see, if
only he can find some one who will attend with any interest.”

How many parents there are, however, who are readier to provide
playthings for their children than to share the delights of their
children with those playthings; readier to set their children at
knowledge-seeking, than to have a part in their children’s surprises
and enjoyments of knowledge-attaining; readier to make good, as far
as they can, all losses to their children, than to grieve with their
children over those losses. And what a loss of power to those parents
as parents, is this lack of sympathy with their children as children.
There are, however, parents who sympathize with their children in all
things; and as a result, they practically train and sway their children
as they will: for when there is entire sympathy between two persons,
the stronger one is necessarily the controlling force with both.

In order to sympathize with another, you must be able to put yourself
in his place, mentally and emotionally; to occupy, for the time being,
his point of view, and to see that which he sees, and as he sees it,
as he looks out thence. It is not that your way of looking at it is
his way from the start, but it is that his way of looking at it must
be your way while you are taking your start in an effort to show
your sympathy with him. In many relations of life, sympathy would be
impossible between two parties, because of the differences of taste
and temperament and habits of thought; but in the case of parent
and child, the parent ought to be able to learn the child’s ways of
thinking and modes of feeling, so as to come into the possibility of
sympathy with the child at all times.

How the child ought to feel is one thing. How the child does feel is
quite another thing. The parent may know the former better than the
child does; but the latter the child knows better than the parent.
Until a parent has learned just how the child looks at any matter, the
parent is incapable of so coming alongside of the child in his estimate
of that matter as to win his confidence and to work with him toward a
more correct view of it. To stand off apart from the child, and tell
him how he ought to think and feel, may be a means of disheartening
him, as he finds himself so far from the correct standard. But to stand
with the child and point him to the course he ought to pursue, is more
likely to inspire him to honest efforts in that direction, until he
comes to think and to feel as his parents would have him.

A parent misses an opportunity of gaining added power over his
child, when he fails to show sympathy with that child in the child’s
enjoyments and ordinary occupations. If, indeed, the parent would
be always ready to evidence an interest in his child’s plays and
companionships and studies, the parent would grow into the very life of
his child in all these spheres; and there would be hardly less delight
to the child in talking those things over with his parent afterward,
than in going through with them originally. But if the parent seems
to have no share with the child in any one or all of these lines
of childhood experience, the child is necessarily shut away so far
from his parent, and compelled to live his life there as if he were
parentless.

Still more does a parent lose of opportunity for good to his child, if
he fails to have sympathy with his child in that child’s weaknesses
and follies and misdoings. It is in every child’s nature to long
for sympathy at the point where he needs it most; and when he has
done wrong, or has indulged evil thoughts, or is feeling the force of
temptation, he is glad to turn to some one stronger and better than
himself, and make confession of his faults and failures. If, as he
comes to his parents at such a time, he is met with manifest sympathy,
he is drawn to his parents with new confidence and new trust. But if he
is met unsympathetically, and is simply told how wrong he is, or how
strange it seems that he should be so far astray, he is turned back
upon himself to meet his bitterest life-struggle all by himself; and
a new barrier is reared between him and his parents, that no parental
love can remove, and that no parental watchfulness or care can make a
blessing to either child or parent.

It is a great thing for a parent to have such sympathy with his child
that his child can tell him freely of his worst thoughts or his
greatest failures without any fear of seeming to shock that parent, and
so to chill the child’s confidence. It is a great thing for a parent
to have such sympathetic thoughts of his child when that child has
unintentionally broken some fragile keepsake peculiarly dear to the
parent, as to be more moved by regret for the child’s sorrow over the
mishap than for the loss of the precious relic. There is no such power
over children as comes from such sympathy with children.

There is truth in the suggestion of Herbert Spencer, that too often
“mothers and fathers are mostly considered by their offspring as
friend-enemies;” and that it is much better for parents to _show_ to
their children that they are “their best friends,” than to content
themselves with _saying so_. It ought to be so, that children would
feel that they could find no such appreciative sympathy from any other
person, in their enjoyments or in their sorrows and trials, as they
are sure of from their parents. This is so in some cases; and wherever
it is so, the parents have such power over and with their children as
would otherwise be impossible. On the other hand, there are parents who
love their children without stint, and who would die to promote their
welfare, who actually have no sympathy with their children, and who,
because of this lack of sympathy, are without the freest confidences of
their children, and are unable to sway them as they fain would.

The power of sympathy is not wholly a natural one. It is largely
dependent upon cultivation. An unsympathetic parent may persistently
train himself to a habit of sympathy with an unsympathetic child, by
recognizing his duty of learning how the child thinks and feels, and
by perceiving the gain of getting alongside of that child in loving
tenderness in order to bring him to a better way of thinking and
feeling. But if a parent and child are not in sympathy, the best and
most unselfish love that that parent can give to that child will be
fruitless for such results in child-training as would be possible if
that love were directed by sympathy.



XXVI.

_INFLUENCE OF THE HOME ATMOSPHERE._


In the world of nature, life is dependent on the atmosphere. Whatever
else is secured, the atmosphere is essential to life’s existence. It
is, in fact, the atmosphere that gives the possibility of all the
varied forms of vegetable and animal life in the earth and the sea
and the air. So, again, the atmosphere brings death to every living
thing, if elements that are hostile to life prevail in its composition.
When the question of the date of man’s first appearance on our planet
is under discussion, a chief factor in the unsolved problem is the
nature of the atmosphere of the earth at any given period of antiquity.
Without a life-sustaining atmosphere, life were an impossibility.
Similarly, the question of the probability of other planets being
inhabited, pivots on this consideration. Life and death are in the
atmosphere.

It is not alone the component elements of the atmosphere that bring
life or death to all within its scope; but the temperature and the
measure of movement of the atmosphere go far to decide the degree
of life that shall be attained or preserved within the scope of its
influence. Unless there is a due measure of oxygen in the air, the
atmosphere is death-giving. Without sufficient warmth to the air, its
oxygen is of no avail for the sustaining of life. And even though the
oxygen and the warmth be present, the force of the swift-moving air may
carry death on its vigorous wings. No gardener would depreciate the
importance of a right atmosphere for his most highly prized plants;
nor would any wise physician undervalue the sanitary importance of
the atmospheric surroundings of his patients. As it is in the natural
world, so it is in the moral sphere: life and death are in the
atmosphere.

A vital question in connection with every home is, Is the atmosphere
of this home suited to the life and growth, to the developing of the
vigor and beauty, of a child’s best nature? That question cannot always
be answered in the affirmative; and where it cannot be, it is of little
use to talk of the minor training agencies which are operative in
behalf of the children in that home.

The atmosphere of a home is the spirit of that home, as evidenced in
the conduct and bearing of the parents, and of all whom the parents
influence. The atmosphere itself—there, as in all the natural world—is
not seen, but is felt. Its effects are clearly observable; but as a
cause it is inferred rather than disclosed. Indeed, the better the
atmosphere in a home, the more quietly pervasive its influence. Only
as the home atmosphere is inimical to the best interests of those
who feel its power, does that atmosphere make itself manifest as an
atmosphere, rather than give proof of its existence in results that
cannot otherwise be accounted for.

You enter one home, and, mingling with the family there, you feel the
balmy air of love and sympathy. Parents and children seem to live
for one another, and to be in complete accord in all their enjoyments
and occupations; and all is restful in the peace that abides there.
You are sure that everything in the moral and social atmosphere of
that home tends to the fostering and growth of whatever is best in the
child-nature. It is obvious that it is easier for a child to be good,
and to do well, in such a home as that, than in many another home.

You enter another home, and the chill of the household air strikes you
unpleasantly, at the first greeting given to you by any member of the
family. There is a side of the child-nature that you know needs more
warmth than that for its developing. Again it is the burning heat of
an excited and ever-driving household life that you are confident is
withering the more delicate and sensitive tendrils of the young hearts
being trained there. Yet again, it is the explosive storm-bursts of
passion which tear through the air, that make a home a place of peril
to the young for the time being, however it may seem in the lulls
between tempests. In the one case as in the others, it is the home
atmosphere that settles the question of the final tendency of the home
training.

In view of the importance of the home atmosphere, parents ought to
recognize their responsibility for the atmosphere of the home they
make and control. It is not enough for parents to have a lofty ideal
for their children, and to instruct and train those children in the
direction of that ideal. They must see to it that the atmosphere
of their home is such as to foster and develop in their children
those traits of character which their loftiest ideal embodies. That
atmosphere must be full of the pure oxygen of love to God and love to
man. It must be neither too hot in its intensity of social activities,
nor too cold in its expressions of family affection, but balmy and
refreshing in its uniform temperature of household living and being. It
must be gentle and peaceful in its manner and movement of sympathetic
intercourse. All this it may be. All this it ought to be.

Every home has its atmosphere, good or bad, health-promoting or
disease-breeding. And parents are, in every case, directly responsible
for the nature of the atmosphere in their home; whether they have acted
in recognition of this fact, or have gone on without a thought of it.
In order to secure a right home atmosphere for their children, parents
must themselves be right. They must guard against poisoning the air
of the home with unloving words or thoughts; against chilling it with
unsympathetic manners, or overheating it with exciting ways; against
disturbing its peaceful flow with restlessness, with fault-findings, or
with bursts of temper.

Parents must, as it were, keep their eyes on the barometer and the
thermometer of the social life of the home, and see to it that its
temperature is safely moderated, and that it is guarded against the
effect of sudden storms. Only as such care is taken by wise parents,
can the atmosphere in their home be what the needs of their children
require it to be.



XXVII.

_THE POWER OF A MOTHER’S LOVE._


In estimating the agencies which combine for child-shaping through
child-training, the power of a mother’s love cannot be overestimated.
There is no human love like a mother’s love. There is no human
tenderness like a mother’s tenderness. And there is no such time for a
mother’s impressive display of her love and tenderness toward her child
as in the child’s earliest years of his life. That time neglected, and
no future can make good the loss to either mother or child. That time
improved, and all the years that follow it shall give added proof of
its improvement.

Even when a man seems to be dead to every other influence for good,
the recollection of a mother’s prayers and a mother’s tears often has
a hold upon him which he neither can nor would break away from. And a
mother is so much to a man when he is a man, just because she was all
in all to him when he was a child.

Although God calls himself our Father, he compares his love with
the love of a mother, when he would disclose to us the depth of its
tenderness, and its matchless fidelity. “As one whom his mother
comforteth, so will I comfort you,” he says, as if in invitation to the
sinner to come like a grieved and tired child, and lay down his weary
head on his mother’s shoulder, where he is sure of rest and sympathy,
and of words of comfort and cheer. “Can a woman forget her nursing
child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?”
asks God, as if to turn attention to that which is truest and firmest
of anything we can know of human affection and fidelity. And then to
show that he is a yet surer support than even mothers prove to their
loved children, he adds, “Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget
thee.”

David, the man after God’s own heart, could find no words which could
express his abiding confidence in God, like those wherein he declares,
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me
up.” Nor could he find any figure of the profoundest depth of human
sorrow more forcible than that in which he says of himself, “I bowed
down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.” When David’s
greater Son was hanging on the cross in agony, with the weight of
a lost world upon him, he could forget all his personal suffering,
and could turn, as it were, for a moment, from the work of eternal
redemption, to recognize the tenderness and fidelity of his agonized
mother at his feet, and to commend her with his dying breath to the
faithful ministry of the disciple whom he loved.

The Bible abounds with pictures of loving mothers and of a mother’s
love,—Hagar, weeping in the desert over her famishing boy; Rachel
mourning for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were
not; Jochebed playing the servant to secure the privilege of nursing
her babe for the daughter of Pharaoh; Hannah joying before God over
her treasure of a longed-for son; the true mother in the presence
of Solomon, ready to lose her child that it might be saved; Rizpah,
watching on the hill-top the hanging bodies of her murdered sons, month
after month, from the beginning of harvest until the autumn rains,
suffering “neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor
the beasts of the field by night;” the wife of Jeroboam, longing to be
at the bedside of her dying son, and torn at heart with the thought
that as soon as she should reach him there he must die; the widow
of Zarephath, and the Shunammite woman, securing the intercession
of the prophet for the restoration to life of their dead darlings;
the mother of James and John pleading with Jesus for favors to her
sons; the Syro-Phœnician woman venturing everything, and refusing to
be put aside, that she might win a blessing from Him who alone was
able to restore to health and freedom her grievously vexed daughter;
the mother of Timothy, teaching her son lessons by which the world
is still profiting; and so on through a long list of those who were
representative mothers, chosen of God for a place in the sacred record,
and whose like are about us still on every side.

And the Bible injunctions concerning mothers are as positive as the
examples of their loving ministry are numerous. “Honor thy father and
thy mother” is a commandment which has pre-eminence in the reward
attached to it. “Forsake not the law of thy mother,” said Solomon;
“and despise not thy mother when she is old.” It is indeed a “foolish
man,” as well as an unnatural one, who “despiseth his mother,” or who
fails to give her gratitude and love so long as she is spared to him.
In all ages and everywhere, the true children of a true mother “rise
up and call her blessed;” for they realize, sooner or later, that God
gives no richer blessing to man than is found in a mother’s love. Even
in the days when a queen-wife was a slave, a queen-mother was looked
up to with reverence, not because she had been a queen, but because
she was still the king’s mother. “A mother dead!” wrote gruff and
tender-hearted Carlyle. “It is an epoch for us all; and to each one of
us it comes with a pungency as if peculiar, a look as of originality
and singularity.” And it was of the mother whose death called out this
ejaculation, of whom, while she was still living, Carlyle had written,
“I thought, if I had all the mothers I ever saw to choose from, I would
have chosen my own.”

A mother can never be replaced. She will be missed and mourned when she
has passed away, however she may be undervalued by the “foolish son” to
whom she still gives the wealth of her unappreciated affection. Indeed,
the true man never, while his mother is alive, outgrows a certain sense
of dependence on a loving mother’s sympathy and care. His hair may
be whitened with age; he may have children, and even grandchildren,
looking up to him in respect and affection; but while his mother lives
she is his mother, and he is her boy. And when she dies he for the
first time realizes the desolateness of a motherless son. There is
then no one on earth to whom he can look up with the never-doubting
confidence and the never-lacking restfulness of a tired child to a
loving mother. There is a shelter taken away from above his head, and
he seems to stand unprotected, as never before, from the smiting sun
and the driving storms of life’s pilgrimage. He can no more be called
“My dear son” in those tones which no music of earth can equal. To him
always:

  “A mother is a mother still,
  The holiest thing alive.”

Biography is rich with illustrations of this truth, although the
man whose mother is still spared to him need not go beyond his own
experience to recognize its force. Here, for example, is testy old Dr.
Johnson, bearish and boorish in many things. When he is fifty years
old, and his mother is ninety, he writes to her in tenderness: “You
have been the best mother, and, I believe, the best woman, in the
world. I thank you for your indulgence to me, and beg forgiveness of
all that I have done ill, and of all that I have omitted to do well.”
How many men there are whom the world little thinks of as child-like,
who could make these words their own, and set their hands to them with
Johnson’s closing assurance, “I am, dear, dear mother, your dutiful
son.” And the lion-hearted Luther, who seems better suited to thunder
defiance at spiritual oppressors than to speak words of trustful
affection to a kind-hearted woman, turns from his religious warfare
to write to his aged and dying mother: “I am deeply sorrowful that
I cannot be with you in the flesh, as I fain would be.” “All your
children pray for you.”

St. Augustine has been called the most important convert to the
truth from St. Paul to Luther. Near the close of his eventful life,
St. Augustine said: “It is to my mother that I owe everything. If I
am thy child, O my God! it is because thou gavest me such a mother.
If I prefer the truth to all things, it is the fruit of my mother’s
teachings. If I did not long ago perish in sin and misery, it is
because of the long and faithful years which she pleaded for me.” And
of his mother’s remembered devotedness to him, he said at the time of
her death: “O my God! what comparison is there between the honor that I
paid to her, and her slavery for me?”

John Quincy Adams’s mother lived to be seventy-four; but he had not
outgrown his sense of personal dependence upon her, when she was taken
away. “My mother was an angel upon earth,” he wrote. “She was the real
personification of female virtue, of piety, of charity, of ever-active
and never-intermitting benevolence. O God! could she have been spared
yet a little longer!” “I have enjoyed but for short seasons, and at
long, distant intervals, the happiness of her society, yet she has been
to me more than a mother. She has been a spirit from above watching
over me for good, and contributing, by my mere consciousness of her
existence, to the comfort of my life. That consciousness has gone, and
without her the world feels to me like a solitude.” When President
Nott, of Union College, was more than ninety years old, and had been
for half a century a college president, as strength and sense failed
him in his dying hours, the memory of his mother’s love was fresh and
potent, and he could be hushed to needed sleep by patting him gently on
the shoulder, and singing to him the familiar lullabies of long ago,
after the fashion of that mother, who he fancied was still at hand to
care for him.

Lord Macaulay has been called a cold-hearted man, but he was never
unmindful of the unique preciousness of a mother’s love. He it was who
said: “In after life you may have friends, fond, dear, kind friends,
but never will you have again the inexpressible love and gentleness
lavished upon you which a mother bestows. Often do I sigh, in my
struggles with the hard, uncaring world, for the sweet deep security
I felt when, of an evening, nestling in her bosom, I listened to some
quiet tale, suitable to my age, read in her untiring voice. Never can
I forget her sweet glances cast upon me when I appeared asleep; never,
her kiss of peace at night. Years have passed since we laid her beside
my father in the old churchyard, yet still her voice whispers from the
grave and her eye watches over me as I visit spots long since hallowed
to the memory of my mother.”

Napoleon Bonaparte, with all his self-reliance and personal
independence of character, never ceased to look up to his mother with
a reverent affection, and he was accustomed to say that he owed all
that he was, and all that he had, to her character and loving ministry.
“Ah, what a woman! where shall we look for her equal?” he said of
her. “She watched over us with a solicitude unexampled. Every low
sentiment, every ungenerous affection, was discouraged and discarded.
She suffered nothing but that which was grand and elevated to take root
in our youthful understandings.... Losses, privations, fatigue, had no
effect on her. She endured all, braved all. She had the energy of a man
combined with the gentleness and delicacy of a woman.”

When all else seemed lost to him, as he lay a lonely prisoner on the
shores of St. Helena, Napoleon was sure of one thing. “My mother loves
me,” he said; and the thought of his mother’s love was a comfort to him
then. He who had felt able to rule a world unaided, was not above a
sense of grateful dependence on a love like that. “My opinion is,” he
said, “that the future good or bad conduct of a child depends entirely
upon its mother.”

A young army officer lay dying, at the close of our American civil
war. He had been much away from home even before the war; and now for
four years he had been a soldier in active army service. On many a
field of battle he had faced death fearlessly, and in many an hour of
privation and hardship he had been dependent on his own strength and
resources. What could more have tended to wean a man from reliance on a
mother’s presence and sustaining care? The soldier’s mind was wandering
now. It was in the early morning, after a wakeful, restless night.
Exciting scenes were evidently before his mind’s eye. The enemy was
pressing him sorely. He was anxious as to his position. He gave orders
rapidly and with vehemence. His subordinates seemed to be failing him.
Everything was apparently wrong. Just then the young officer’s mother,
who had come from the North to watch over him, entered the room where
he lay. As the door opened for her coming, he turned toward it his
troubled face, as if expecting a new enemy to confront him. Instantly,
as he saw who was there, his countenance changed, the look of anxiety
passed away, the eye softened, the struggle of doubt and fear was at an
end, and with a deep-drawn sigh of relief he said in a tone of restful
confidence, “Ah, mother’s come! It’s all right now!” And the troubled
veteran soldier was a soothed child again.

Soldier, statesman, scholar, divine; every man is a child to his
mother, to the last; and it is the best that is in a man that keeps
him always in this child-likeness toward his loving mother. Were it
not for the power of a mother’s love, that best and truest side of a
man’s nature would never be developed, for the man’s good and for the
mother’s reward. It costs something to be a good mother; but there is
no reward which earth can give to be compared with that love which a
faithful mother wins and holds from the son of her love. Oh! if good
mothers could only know how much they are doing for their children by
their patient, long-suffering, gentle ways with them, and how sure
these children are to see and feel this by and by, the saddest of them
would be less sad and more hopeful, while toiling and enduring so
faithfully, with perhaps apparently so slight a return.



XXVIII.

_ALLOWING PLAY TO A CHILD’S IMAGINATION._


Imagination is a larger factor in the thoughts and feelings of a child
than in the thoughts and feelings of an adult; and this truth needs to
be recognized in all wise efforts at a child’s training. The mind of a
child is full of images which the child knows to be unreal, but which
are none the less vivid and impressive for being unreal. It is often
right, therefore, to allow play to a child’s imagination, when it would
not be right to permit the child to say, or to say to the child, that
which is false.

A child who is hardly old enough to speak perceives the difference
between fact and fancy, and is able to see that the unreal is not
always the false. Hence a very young child can understand that to
“make believe” to him is not to attempt to deceive him. A child in his
mother’s lap, who is not yet old enough to stand alone, is ready to
pull at a string fastened to a chair in front of his mother’s seat, and
play that he is driving a horse. As he grows older, he will straddle
a stick and call that riding horseback; telling his parent, perhaps,
of the good long ride he is taking. Not only is it not a parent’s duty
to tell that child that the chair or the stick is not a horse, but it
would be unfair, as well as unkind, to insist on that child’s admission
that his possession of a horse is only in his fancy.

The child is here not deceived to begin with; therefore, of course, he
does not need to be undeceived. Yet it would be wrong for the parent
to permit his child to say, as if in reality, that he had been taken
out to ride by his father, when nothing of the kind had happened. In
the latter case the statement would be a false one, while in the former
case it would be only a stretch of fancy. The child as well as the
parent would have no difficulty in recognizing the difference between
the two statements.

A little girl will delight herself with setting a table with buttons
for plates and cups, from which she will serve bread and cake and
tea to her invited guests; and she will be lovingly grateful for her
mother’s apparently hearty suggestion that “this tea is of a fine
flavor,” when she would feel hurt if her mother were to tell her,
coolly and cruelly, that it was only a dry button which had been passed
as a cup of tea. The fancy in this case is truer by far than the fact.
There is no deception in it; but there is in it the power of an ideal
reality. And it is by the dolls and other playthings of childhood that
some of the truest instincts of manhood and of womanhood are developed
and cultivated in the progress of all right child-training.

It is in view of this distinction that the story of Santa Claus and
Christmas Eve may be made one of reprehensible falsity, or one of
allowable fancy. The underlying idea of Santa Claus is, that on the
birth-night of the Holy Child Jesus there comes a messenger from him
to bring good gifts to children. So far the idea is truth. Just how
the messenger from Jesus comes, and just who he is, are matters in
the realm of fancy. The child is entitled to know the truth, and is
entitled also to indulge in a measure of fancy. For a parent to take a
child, the night before, and show him all the Christmas gifts arranged
in a drawer as preparatory to the stocking-filling, leaving no room for
the sweet indulgings of fancy, would neither be wise nor be kind. It
would not accord with the God-given needs of the child’s nature. Nor,
again, would it be wise or kind for the parent to tell the full story
of Santa Claus and his reindeers as if it were an absolute literal
fact. Children have, indeed, been frightened by the belief that Santa
Claus would come down the chimney at night, and would refuse them
presents if they were awake at his coming; and this is all wrong. The
child should be taught the truth as the truth, and indulged in the
fancy as fancy.

It is, indeed, much the same in this realm as in the Bible realm. To
say that Jesus is the Good Shepherd is to present a truth in the guise
of fancy; and unless a child is helped to know the measure of truth and
to perceive the sweep of fancy, there is a danger of trouble in using
this Bible figure; for it is a fact that children have suffered from
the thought that they were to be literal “lambs” in the Saviour’s fold.
This recognition of the limits between the fanciful and the false needs
to be borne in mind at every stage of a child’s training. The false is
not to be tolerated. The fanciful is to be allowed a large place.

This truth applies also to the realm of fairy-tale reading. A child
can read choice fairy tales, understanding that they are fanciful,
with less danger to his mind and character than he would incur in the
reading of a falsely colored religious story-book. In the one case he
knows that the narration is wholly fanciful, while in the other case he
is liable to be misled through the belief that what is both fictitious
and false may have been a reality. Not the wholly fanciful, but the
fictitiously false, in a child’s reading, is most likely to be a means
of permanent harm to him.

A child’s imagination can safely be allowed large play, in his
amusements, in his speech, and in his reading. He knows the difference
between the fanciful and the false quite as well as his parents do.
It is the line between the false and the real in moral fiction that
he needs help in defining. It will be well for him if he has parents
who understand that distinction, and who are ready to give him help
accordingly.



XXIX.

_GIVING ADDED VALUE TO A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS._


Christmas is a day of days to the little folks, because of the gifts it
brings to them. But Christmas gifts have a greater or a lesser value in
the eyes of children according to the measure of the giver’s self which
is given with them. It is not that children intelligently prize their
gifts, as older persons are likely to, in proportion as they read in
them the proofs of the giver’s loving labor in their preparation. But
it is that to children the Christmas gifts by themselves are of minor
value, in comparison with the interest excited in the manner of their
giving, through labors that really represent the giver’s self, whether
the children perceive this, at the time, or not.

The Christmas stocking and the Christmas tree give added value to the
gifts that they cover; and neither tree nor stocking can be made ready
for Christmas morning without patient and loving labor, on the part of
the parents, during the night before. Moreover, beyond the dazzling
attractions of the ornamented tree, and the suggestive outline of the
bulging stocking, the more there is to provoke curiosity and to incite
endeavor, on the children’s part, in the finding and securing of their
Christmas portion, the better the children like it, and the more they
value that which is thus made theirs.

It takes time and work and skill to make the most, for the children,
of a Christmas morning; but it pays to do this for the darlings, while
they still are children. They will never forget it; and it will be
a precious memory to them all their life through. It is one of the
child-training agencies which a parent ought to be glad to use for good.

One good man might be named who has brought to perfection the art of
making Christmas delightful to children. He has no children of his
own; so he makes it his mission to give happiness to other people’s
children. The story of bright and varied Christmas methods in his home
would fill a little volume. His plans for Christmas are never twice
alike; hence the children whom he gathers say truly, “There was never
anything like _this_ before.” Take a single Christmas for example.
This child-lover was busy getting ready for it for weeks in advance.
Money he spent freely, but he did not stop with that. Day and evening,
with a loving sister’s help, he worked away getting everything just
to his mind—which was sure to be just to the children’s mind. At last
Christmas eve was here; so were the children—nieces and nephews,
and others more remote of kin, gathered in his home to wait for the
hoped-for day.

Christmas morning came at last. Waking and sleeping dreams had all been
full of coming delights to the children; for they knew enough from the
past to be sure that good was in store for them. No one overslept, that
morning. According to orders, they gathered in the breakfast-room.
Their stockings were hanging from the mantel, but limp and empty. Not
one suspicious package or box was to be seen. Breakfast was first out
of the way, that the morning might be free for a right good time. Then
the day was fairly open. Each went to his or her stocking. There was
nothing in it but a little card, pendent from a thread coming over
the mantel edge. On that card was a rhyming call to follow the thread
wherever it might lead; somewhat after this form:

  “Charley, dear, if you’ll follow your nose,
    And your nose will follow this string
  Throughout the house, wherever it goes,—
    You will come to a pretty thing.”

Every stocking told the same story, in varied form, and every child
stood holding a frail thread, wondering to what it would lead, and
waiting the signal for a start. At the word, all were off together.

It was a rare old house, richly furnished with treasures of art and
fancy from all the world over. The breakfast-room was heavily paneled
in carved wood and hung with ancient Gobelin tapestry. The threads
which the children followed passed back of the large Swiss clock, along
the wall under the tapestry, out by the parlor with its Cordova-leather
panels, into a picture-hung reception room, and there mounted to the
ceiling above, up through a colored glass sky-light. When the children
saw that, they scampered through the marble-tiled hall, up the broad
polished walnut staircase to the passage above, and there drew up their
threads, and started on a new hunt.

From this fresh point of departure the different threads took separate
directions. They led hither and thither, the children following, almost
holding their breaths with the excitement of pursuit and expectation.
Along the corridor walls, under rows of Saracen tiles and Italian
majolica and Sèvres porcelain, back of old paintings, through the
well-filled library, into and out of closets stored with fishing-tackle
and hunting-gear, through rooms spread with Turkish mats and rich with
coverings of Persian embroidery, up into the third story, and down
along the under side of the banister rail, back to the lower floor,
again the threads led the way and the children followed. It was a happy
hour for old and young.

By and by the threads came once more to a common point, passing under a
closed door out of a rear hall, where a printed placard called on each
child to wait until all were together. One by one they came up with
beaming faces and bounding hearts. The door was opened. There in the
center of the disclosed room were seven mammoth pasteboard Christmas
boots, holding from one to three pecks each, marked with the names of
the several children, and filled to overflowing. Each child seized a
boot, and hurried, as directed, back to the breakfast-room.

Then came new surprises. All hands sat on the floor together. Only one
package at a time was opened, that all might enjoy the disclosures to
the full. And there were unlooked-for directions on many a package.
One child would take a package from her Christmas boot, and, on
removing the first wrapper, would find a written announcement that
the package was to be handed over to her cousin. A little later, the
cousin would be directed to pass along another package to a third one
of the party. And so the morning went by. How happy those children
were! What life-long memories of enjoyment were then made for them! And
how thoroughly the good uncle and aunt enjoyed that morning with its
happiness which they had created!

There were elegant and fitting presents found in those Christmas boots;
but the charm of that day was in the mysteries of that pursuing chase
all over that beautiful house, and in the excitements of prolonged
anticipation and wonder. Those children will never have done enjoying
that morning. The choicest gifts then received by them had an added
value because their generous giver had put so much of himself into
their preparation and distribution. And this is but an illustration of
a truth that is applicable in the whole realm of efforts at gladdening
the hearts of the little ones on Christmas or any other day. It
matters not, so far, whether the home be one of abundance or of close
limitations, whether the gifts be many or few, costly of inexpensive.

He who would make children happy must do for them and do with them,
rather than merely give to them. He must give himself with his gifts,
and thus imitate and illustrate, in a degree, the love of Him who gave
himself to us, who is touched with the sense of our enjoyments as
well as our needs, and who, with all that He gives us, holds out an
expectation of some better thing in store for us: of that which passeth
knowledge and understanding, but which shall fully satisfy our hopes
and longings when at last we have it in possession.



XXX.

_GOOD-NIGHT WORDS._


If there is one time more than another when children ought to hear only
loving words from their parents, and be helped to feel that theirs is a
home of love and gladness, it is when they are going to bed at night.
Good-night words to a child ought to be the best of words, as they are
words of greatest potency. Yet not every parent realizes this important
truth, nor does every child have the benefit of it.

The last waking thoughts of a child have a peculiar power over his mind
and heart, and are influential in fixing his impressions and in shaping
his character for all time. When he turns from play and playmates, and
leaves the busy occupations of his little world, to lie down by himself
to sleep, a child has a sense of loneliness and dependence which he
does not feel at another time. Then he craves sympathy; he appreciates
kindness; he is grieved by harshness or cold neglect.

How glad a true child is to kneel by his mother’s knee to pray his
evening prayer, or to have his father kneel with him as he prays! How
he enjoys words of approval or encouragement when they precede the good
night kiss from either parent! With what warm and grateful affection
his young heart glows as he feels the tender impress of his mother’s
hand or lips upon his forehead before he drops asleep. How bright and
dear to him that home seems at such an hour! How sorry he is for every
word or act of unkindness which he then recalls from his conduct of the
day! How ready he then is to confess his specific acts of misdoing, and
all his remembered failures, and to make new resolves and purposes of
better doing for the future!

Whatever else a child is impatient to grow away from, he does not
readily outgrow the enjoyment of his mother’s good-night. As long as
she is willing to visit his bedside, and give him a kiss, with a
loving word, just before he goes to sleep, he is sure to count that
privilege of his home as something above price, and without which he
would have a sense of sad lack. And at no time is he more sure than
then to be ready to do whatever his mother would ask of him; at no time
do gentle, tender words of loving counsel from her sink deeper into his
heart, or make an impression more abiding and influential.

There are young men and women, still at their childhood’s home, who
look for their mother’s coming to give them her good-night kiss,
with no less of interest and grateful affection than when they were
little boys and girls. And there are many more people—both young and
old—away from their homes, who thank God with all their hearts for the
ineffaceable memories of such tokens of their dear mother’s love, while
yet they were with her.

Notwithstanding this, however, there is perhaps no one thing in which
parents generally are more liable to err than in impatient or unloving
words to their children when the little ones are going to bed. The
parents are tired, and their stock of patience is at the lowest. If the
children are not as quiet and orderly and prompt as they should be, the
parents rebuke them more sharply than they would for similar offenses
earlier in the day. Too often children go to bed smarting under a sense
of injustice from their parents, and brood over their troubles as they
try to quiet themselves down to sleep. Their pillows are often wet with
their tears of sorrow, and their little hearts are, perhaps, embittered
and calloused through the abiding impressions of the wrong they have
suffered, or the harshness they have experienced, while they were most
susceptible to parental influences for good or ill.

It is a simple matter of fact that some parents actually postpone the
punishment of their children for the misdeeds of the day until the
leisure hour of twilight and bed-time. A great many mothers besides the
“old woman who lived in a shoe,” in providing for a large family of
children, have often “whipped them all soundly, and sent them to bed.”
Perhaps children, as a rule, receive more whippings at bed-time than at
any other of the twenty-four hours. And unquestionably they then have
more scoldings.

“Do you hear me, children?” sounds out the voice of many a mother into
the nursery as the children are getting to bed. “If you don’t stop
playing and talking, and go right to sleep, I’ll come up there and just
_make_ you.” And that is the echo of that mother’s voice which rings
longest in her children’s ears.

Again, there are mothers who, without any thought of unkindness,
are unwise enough to deliberately refuse a good-night kiss to their
children, as a penalty for some slight misconduct; not realizing the
essential cruelty of withholding from the little ones this assurance of
affection, at a time when the tender heart prizes it above all else.
The first effect of such a course as this is to cause bitterness of
grief to the children. The repetition of such a course is liable to
loosen the parent’s loving hold on the little ones, and to diminish
the value of the good-night kiss. It is, indeed, probably true, that
more children out of reputable homes are soured, and estranged, and are
turned astray, through harshness and injustice, or by unwise severity,
at their bed-time hour, than from any other provoking cause in their
home-life.

Even where there is no harshness of manner or severity of treatment on
the part of the parents, there is often an unwise giving of prominence,
just then, to a child’s faults and failures, so as to sadden and
depress the child unduly, and to cast a shade over that hour which
ought to be the most hopeful and restful of all the waking hours.
Whatever is said by a parent in the line of instruction toward a better
course, at such a time, should be in the way of holding up a standard
to be reached out after, rather than of rebuking the child’s misdoings
and shortcomings in the irrevocable past. The latest waking impressions
of every day, on every child, ought to be impressions of peace and joy
and holy hope.

A sensitive, timid little boy, long years ago, was accustomed to lie
down to sleep in a low “trundle-bed,” which was rolled under his
parents’ bed by day, and was brought out for his use by night. As he
lay there by himself in the darkness, he could hear the voices of his
parents, in their lighted sitting-room, across the hall-way, on the
other side of the house. It seemed to him that his parents never slept;
for he left them awake when he was put to bed at night, and he found
them awake when he left his bed in the morning. So far this thought was
a cause of cheer to him, as his mind was busy with imaginings in the
weird darkness of his lonely room.

After loving good-night words and kisses had been given him by both
his patents, and he had nestled down to rest, this little boy was
accustomed, night after night, to rouse up once more, and to call out
from his trundle-bed to his strong-armed father, in the room from which
the light gleamed out, beyond the shadowy hall-way, “Are you there,
papa?” And the answer would come back cheerily, “Yes, my child, I am
here.” “You’ll take care of me to-night, papa; won’t you?” was then his
question. “Yes, I’ll take care of you, my child,” was the comforting
response. “Go to sleep now. Good-night.” And the little fellow would
fall asleep restfully, in the thought of those assuring good-night
words.

A little matter that was to the loving father; but it was a great
matter to the sensitive son. It helped to shape the son’s life. It
gave the father an added hold on him; and it opened up the way for his
clearer understanding of his dependence on the loving watchfulness of
the All-Father. And to this day when that son, himself a father and a
grandfather, lies down to sleep at night, he is accustomed, out of the
memories of that lesson of long ago, to look up through the shadows
of his earthly sleeping-place into the far-off light of his Father’s
presence, and to call out, in the same spirit of child-like trust and
helplessness as so long ago, “Father, you’ll take care of me to-night;
won’t you?” And he hears the assuring answer come back, “He that
keepeth thee will not slumber. The Lord shall keep thee from all evil.
He shall keep thy soul. Sleep, my child, in peace.” And so he realizes
the twofold blessing of a father’s good-night words.

A wise parent will prize and will rightly use the hour of the
children’s bed-time. That is the golden hour for good impressions on
the children’s hearts. That is the parent’s choicest opportunity of
holy influence. There should be no severity then, no punishment at that
time. Every word spoken in that hour should be a word of gentleness and
affection. The words which are most likely to be borne in mind by the
children, in all their later years, as best illustrating the spirit and
influence of their parents, are the good-night words of those parents.
And it may be that those words are the last that the parents shall ever
have the privilege of speaking to their children; for every night of
sleep is a pregnant suggestion of the night of the last sleep. Let,
then, the good-night words of parents to their children be always those
words by which the parents would be glad to be remembered when their
voices are forever hushed; and which they themselves can recall gladly
if their children’s ears are never again open to good-night words from
them.



INDEX.


  Abraham as a child-trainer, 14, 15.

  Accidents, sympathy with children in, 255.

  Adams, John Quincy, on the mother-love, 271.

  Addison, Joseph, on reading, 175.

  Affectation, of grief, for selfish ends, 98.

  Afraid, when a child is old enough to be, 130.

  Allowing play to a child’s imagination, 277–282 (see Imagination).

  Ambidextrous, gain of being, 59.

  Amusements:
    training a child in, 155–164;
    necessary to children, 155;
    bad companionship to be avoided in, 159;
    should have no element of chance, 160;
    should not involve late hours, 161;
    a choice of reading in, 176.

  Anger:
    never right in conference with a child, 44;
    never punish a child in, 205–216;
    defined, 205, 206;
    confession by a parent of its influence on him, 209;
    its exhibit as “indignation” in punishing, 212;
    illustration of its evil on the mission-school superintendent, 213.

  Animals:
    training better than breaking for them, 50;
    their knowledge through training, 143;
    gain of calmness in training them, 220.

  Answering:
    a child’s request deliberately, 107;
    a child’s questions, importance of, 122;
    wise methods of, 124–128.

  Apologizing, duty and manliness of, 172.

  Appetite:
    early control of, possible, 99;
    training a child’s, 109–118.

  Assertion, self, inconsistent with courtesy, 166.

  Atmosphere, influence of the home, 257–262.


  BAD boy, the:
    some traits of, 207;
    example of, in a mission-school, 213.

  Bashful child, the, 18.

  Bedtime:
    a child’s impressibility at, 291–293;
    a parent’s irritability at, 293–295;
    mistakes of parents at, 295–297;
    illustrative memories of, 297–300.

  Beginning:
    of training for a child, 15;
    of a child’s self-control, 94.

  Bending a child’s will, distinguished from its breaking, 38.

  Best things kept for Sunday, 146.

  Bible-study on Sunday is not always worship, 142.

  Books [see Reading].

  Braddock and Washington as contrasting cowardice and fear, 225.

  Bravery consistent with fear, 225.

  Breaking a child’s will is never right, 47–52.

  Bushnell, Horace:
    on giving a premium to a child’s fretting, 97;
    on rewarding silence with “dainties,” 97;
    on a parent’s sympathy with a child’s plays, 157 f;
    on the place for a parental explosion against evil, 212.


  CANDY:
    used wrongly, 97, 116;
    reserved for Sunday, 148.

  Censure:
    few words better than many in, 220;
    a child’s sorrow from a playmate’s, 243;
    evil of unsympathetic, 254.

  Centripetal force of some amusements, 162.

  Chance, the element of, not admissible in children’s amusements, 160.

  Character:
    shaped by child-training, 16;
    possibilities of, perceived, 73;
    shown in fears, 223.

  Choice:
    faculty of, identified with the will, 38;
    God’s dealings with men, on the basis of their freedom of, 39;
    not abrogated by rewards and punishments, 40;
    of obedience or punishment, a fair one, 44, 46;
    for a child by parents, of studies and duties, 58;
    of food and drink, 109;
    of amusements, 156, 164;
    of reading, 176;
    of companionships, 197 f.;
    of a residence, school, a week-day school, or a Sunday-school, 201.

  Christ [see Jesus Christ].

  Christian faith, the remedy for child-sorrows, 245.

  Christmas:
    celebration of, may illustrate Sabbath observance, 146;
    distinguishing then between fact and fancy, 279;
    giving added value to a child’s, 283–290.

  Church services should be made attractive to children, 153.

  Classic examples of table-talk, 187.

  Coaxing a child to be quiet, 97.

  College curriculum, its value as a means of training, 56.

  Comforting children by sympathy, 249.

  Companionships:
    in a child’s amusements to be guarded, 159;
    guiding a child in, 197–204.

  Condiments, a child’s use of, 111, 115.

  Confession:
    of faults won through parental sympathy, 254;
    a child’s readiness for, at bed-time, 292.

  Conscientiousness, of young parents, as a cause of over-doing
    child-training, 84 f.

  Control [see Self-Control].

  Conversation:
    honoring a child’s interest in adult, 79;
    evil to a child of having himself for the topic of, 170, 174;
    favorable occasion for, at family meals, 189.

  Counseling, not identical with training, 17.

  Courtesy, training a child to, 165–174.

  Cowardice, distinguished from fear, 224.

  Criticism, of our children, by others, to be heeded, 34.

  Crying:
    controlling by self-control, 96;
    not recognized as a means of gain, 106;
    a child’s earliest action, 239.

  Cultivating a child’s taste for reading, 175–186 [see Reading].

  Curbing, an element in training, 30.


  DARK side of life, seen first by the child, 239.

  David’s recognition of the mother-love, 264.

  Dealing tenderly with a child’s fears, 223–238 [see Fears].

  Death in the atmosphere, 258.

  Definition:
    of training, 11;
    of teaching, 12;
    of faith, 129;
    of courtesy, 165;
    of good-breeding, 166;
    of anger, 206;
    of punishment, 207;
    of scolding, 217;
    of sympathy, 248;
    of home atmosphere, 259;
    of the false and of the unreal, 277.

  Denying:
    a child wisely, 61–70;
    not to be done hastily, 107.

  De Quincey on “fine manners,” 166.

  Diagnosis, important in parental care, as in medical practice, 30.

  Dictionary, at hand for use in table-talk, 193.

  Discerning a child’s special need of training, 29–36.

  Discipline:
    by the use of “must” in child-training, 53 f.;
    example of Spartan, 68;
    danger of its over-doing, 85, 90;
    in eating and drinking, 109 f.;
    in the mission-school, 213, 214.

  Dogs:
    to be trained, not broken, 50 f.;
    a natural tone of voice in the training of, 219.

  Dolls, as a child’s treasure, 243.

  Duty of training children, 17–22.


  EDUCATION:
    begins with training rather than teaching, 12;
    progress in methods of, 54.

  Eli honoring the child Samuel’s individuality, 73.

  English custom of separating parents and children at meal-time, 190.

  Etiquette, distinguished from courtesy, 170.

  Eton, influence of its playground on the battle of Waterloo, 161.

  _Ex post facto_ laws not justifiable, 215.

  Eye and ear, trained by playthings and games, 160.


  FACT and fancy, a child distinguishes between, 277.

  Fairy-tales:
    value and place of, 178;
    safer reading than falsely colored religious story-books, 281.

  Faith, training a child’s, 129–138.

  Fancy and fact [see Fact].

  Fathers sharing the amusements of children, 158.

  Faults:
    of children, friends and neighbors may see those which parents
      do not, 33;
    should excite parental sympathy, 253;
    children more ready to confess, at bed-time, 292.

  Fears, dealing tenderly with a child’s, 223–238.

  Feeble-minded children, their special lack, 20, 21.

  Fiction:
    place and value of, in child’s reading, 178;
    no place for the highly colored and over-wrought, 182;
    when false is pernicious, 281.

  First child, danger of over-doing the training of the, 84, 87.

  Food:
    for children, should be chosen by parents, 109;
    inherited tastes for, may be overcome by training, 109;
    freaks of appetite for, 112;
    an American educator’s method of training his children’s tastes
      for, 114.

  Forcing a child’s will:
    never right, 42 f.;
    permanent harm of, 48.

  Freedom:
    of man’s will, the basis of divine dealing, 39, and fore-ordained,
      40;
    to ask questions, limited, 123;
    should be permitted in family table-talk, 192;
    from anxiety and sorrow not characteristic of childhood, 239.

  Freshness of a child’s thought on profound themes, 80, 131.

  “Friend-enemies,” parents as, according to Herbert Spencer, 255.


  GAMES:
    for Sunday, 147;
    should be made a means of good, 159;
    the element of chance should be excluded from, 160;
    of an intellectual nature, 163;
    the right use of imagination in, 278, 279.

  Gentlemanliness, appealing to a boy’s, 79.

  Gentleness:
    in child-training, 44;
    in dog-training, 50, 219;
    in managing a city mission-school, 213, 214;
    in censuring, 220;
    in dealing with a child’s fears, 223 f.

  “Ghosts and goblins,” in child-fears, 226, 237.

  Gifts:
    abundance of, now unappreciated, 67;
    at Christmas, valued in proportion to the giver’s self going with
      them, 283, 289.

  Gleason, the horse-trainer, methods of, 50.

  Good-breeding, defined, 166.

  Good-night words, 291–300.

  Gospel of John, as a first Bible book for South Sea Islanders, 132.

  Grief:
    affectation of, for rewards, 97;
    freedom from, not characteristic of childhood, 239.

  Guests, permitting children to sit at table with, 189.

  Guiding a child in companionships, 197–204 [see Companionships].

  Gullet, rubbing of the, a primitive custom, 14.

  HABITS:
    formed in infancy, 13, 94;
    affected by training, 27;
    should be regulated by parents, 56, 110, 112, 117.

  Hagar, an example of the mother-love, 265.

  Hammond, S. T., on dog-training, 50, 219.

  Hannah, an example of the mother-love, 266.

  Hasty denial of a child’s request, unwise, 107.

  History, a child trained to enjoy books of, 180.

  Home:
    amusements of, should be a centripetal force, 162;
    to be made attractive, 163.

  Home atmosphere, influence of, 162 f., 257–262.

  Honoring a child’s individuality 23, 29, 37, 57, 71–82.

  Horses trained, not broken, 50.


  ILLUSTRATIONS:
    on the effects of training, 24;
    Johnny and his father, as to shutting the door, 42;
    a boy addressing a visitor by a familiar title, 46;
    from animal-training, 50, 219;
    flogging children on Innocents’ Day, 54;
    the raisin-box wagon, 67;
    self-denial of Spartans, 68;
    difference between clay and the living germ, 72;
    boy who knew better than his mother how sick he was, 76;
    boy who could not spare his watch, 77;
    stanzas from Wordsworth, 81;
    a young father over-disciplining his first child, 84, 87;
    “yanking” at the reins, 91;
    “I want to be pacified,” 97;
    an American educator training the children’s appetite for food, 114;
    Shetland ponies trained to eat hay, 116;
    Bishop Patteson among the South Sea Islanders, 132;
    a boy’s rejoicing that Monday had come, 153;
    battle of Waterloo won on Eton’s playground, 161;
    Fourth of July suggesting study of American history, 184;
    the table-talk of famous guests, as a means of education, 191;
    lateral and perpendicular forces, 198;
    a parent who could punish only when angry, 209;
    a mission-school boy reproving his superintendent, 213;
    a child punished in love, responding with love, 214;
    Braddock and Washington in the presence of peril, 225;
    a baby who “doesn’t like God’s voice,” 231;
    a father overcoming his child’s fear of lightning, 231;
    power of imaginary fear over a strong man, 233;
    trusting God when afraid, 236;
    “Do robbers take dolls?” 243;
    a boy suicide, 245;
    from Herbert Spencer, on sympathy, 249;
    life and death in the atmosphere, 258;
    historical, of a mother’s love, 263–276;
    of the play of a child’s imagination, 278;
    of Christmas festivities, 284 f.;
    “the old woman that lived in a shoe,” 294;
    the boy calling from his “trundle-bed” to his father, 297.

  Imagination:
    encouraging free play of a child’s, 176;
    a cause of child-fears, 225;
    its part in the fears of the mature man, 233;
    distinguished from superstition, 234;
    to be appealed to, in overcoming such fears, 235, 236;
    a child’s, to be guarded from ghost-stories, 237;
    allowing play to a child’s, 277–282.

  Imperfect development of every child, 21.

  Improvements in school appliances, etc., 54.

  Incarnation, disclosure of, in training child-faith, 136.

  Inclination must submit to discipline, 57.

  Indignation, in punishing, distinguished from anger, 212.

  Influence of the home atmosphere, 257–262.

  Innate, faith toward God is, but knowledge of him is not, 130.

  “Innocents’ Day,” a time for flogging children, 54.

  Instinctive:
    faith of every child, 129;
    fears, the value of, 229.

  Interrogation-point, a child as an animated, 119.

  Issue with a child to be avoided as far as possible, 46, 88.


  JAMES and John, their mother’s example of the mother-love, 266.

  Jeroboam’s wife, an example of the mother-love, 266.

  Jesus Christ:
    incarnation of, readily grasped by a child’s faith, 136;
    table-talk of, 188;
    recognizing, on the cross, his mother’s love, 265;
    sympathizes with our enjoyments, 290.

  Jochebed, an example of the mother-love, 265.

  John’s Gospel as a first book for heathen converts, 132.

  Johnson, Dr., on reading, 175;
    on the mother-love, 269.

  Joyful observance of the Lord’s Day, 141, 153.

  Judgment, in judge or parent, should not be hasty, 206.


  KINDERGARTEN, a fundamental truth in its system, 160.

  Knowledge:
    begins with a question, 119;
    questions should be directed in order to gain, 125;
    regarding God, must be disclosed to the child, 130.


  LATE hours, amusements of the child should not involve, 161.

  Laughing:
    a time for, 99;
    not so easy, for a baby, as crying, 239.

  Letting alone as a means of child-training, 83–92.

  Life:
    children see dark side of, first, 239;
    burdens of, rest heaviest on the child-nature, 240;
    death and, in the atmosphere, 258.

  Lightning and thunder, overcoming a child’s fears of, 231.

  Limitations:
    scope and, of child-training, 23–28;
    to a child’s privilege of question-asking, 123.

  Lord’s Day:
    every day is, 139;
    set apart from other days, in childish occupations, toys, etc., 144.

  Love:
    God’s, includes the bad child, 135;
    necessary to acceptable worship or work, 140;
    parental, in punishing, awakens child’s, 214;
    distinguished from sympathy, 248, 256;
    an element of the home atmosphere, 261;
    the power of a mother’s, 263–276;
    the divine compared with a mother’s, 261;
    historical illustrations of, and testimonies to a mother’s, 263–276.

  “Luck,” no place for it in children’s games, 160.

  Luther, Martin:
    individuality of, in childhood, honored by Trebonius, 74;
    on the mother-love, 270.


  MACAULAY, Lord, on the mother-love, 272.

  Making believe as distinct from deception, 278.

  Manliness promoted by amusements, 160.

  Manners, fine, according to De Quincey, 166.

  Meals, mental and moral enjoyments at, 187.

  Memory:
    of a mother’s love, its permanent influence, 263;
    illustrated, 266–273;
    of Christmas festivities, 289;
    of the good-night kiss, 293.

  Mental defects remedied, 25.

  Misrepresenting God to a child, 135.

  Mission-school, illustration of the bad boy in one, 213.

  Moses, the possibilities of his character in infancy, 72.

  Mother Goose, value of, 177.

  Mother:
    has more time than the father to share children’s amusements, 158;
    scolding by a, no better than an apple-woman’s, 218;
    commandments to honor, 267.

  Mother’s love:
    the power of a, 263–276;
    memory of, in the good-night kiss, 293.

  Music in the home, 163.

  “Must” the place of, in training, 53–60 [see Discipline].


  “NAGGING” is not training, 90.

  Napoleon Bonaparte, on the mother-love, 273.

  Natural:
    objects, suggesting lines of reading, 184;
    tone of voice, in dog-training and in child-training, 219;
    power of sympathy not wholly, 256.

  Neighbors’ criticism of our children valuable, 33.

  Never punish a child in anger, 205–216.

  News, daily, outlined by father at breakfast table, 193.

  Night [see Good-night Words].

  Nonsense songs, value of, 177.

  Nott, President, soothed at ninety by old lullabies, 271.


  OBSERVANCE of Sabbath, training a child to, 139–154.

  “Only child, the:”
    not always “spoiled,” 63;
    disadvantage of his lack of companions at home, 200.

  Opinions of a child, honoring the, 80.

  Over-doing in child-training:
    danger of, 83;
    an error of the thoughtful as well as the thoughtless, 90.

  Oxygen, analogy from, 258 f.


  PARENTS:
    undervalue their power to train, 17, 35;
    blindness of, to the peculiar faults of their children, 31;
    should heed criticism of neighbors and friends, 33;
    faults of, often reappear in their children, 35;
    should never force a child’s choice, 41;
    anger no help to, in training, 44, 205;
    permanent harm to, in breaking their child’s will, 48;
    should control a child’s personal habits, 56;
    must often deny a child’s requests, 62;
    must honor a child’s individuality, 71;
    often inferior in possibilities to their children, 75;
    young, in danger of over-disciplining a child, 83;
    should seek to avoid direct issues with a child, 89;
    teaching the infant self-control, 94;
    training children to tease, 102;
    respect of, lost by children who tease, 105;
    giving sugar and condiments, 116;
    average, unable to answer questions of average children, 122;
    as revealers of revelation, 131;
    must have faith in order to train a child’s faith, 137;
    should provide peculiar occupations and privileges for Sunday, 144,
      148;
    should be the center of their children’s amusements, 157, 163;
    should learn from the kindergarten system, 160;
    should train children to courtesy, 173;
    responsible for children’s reading, 176, 180;
    should give children a share in family table-talk, 190, 196;
    responsible for choice of a child’s companions, 197, 201;
    should never punish in anger, 205;
    as peace-keepers and policemen, 211;
    should never scold, 217;
    should deal tenderly with child-fears, 223;
    should have sympathy for child-sorrows, 242;
    should point to Christ, as the way of comfort, 246;
    as “friend-enemies,” 255;
    responsible for a home-atmosphere, 259–261;
    allowing play to a child’s imagination, 277 f.;
    should prepare for Christmas festivities, 283 f.;
    the good-night words of, 291.

  Passions and appetites, self-control of, should begin early, 99.

  Patience, necessity of:
    in dog-training and child-training, 220;
    especially at child’s bed-time, 294.

  Patteson, Bishop, among the South Sea Islanders, 132.

  Paul’s self-control, 98.

  Person, faith rests on a, 129.

  Personal:
    power measured by will-power, 37;
    character to be held sacred, 39, 71;
    rights of children, honoring, 77;
    merit, not a means of acceptance with God, 135.

  Physical:
    defects remedied, 25;
    pain, endurance of, 96.

  Place of “must” in training, the, 53–60.

  Place of sympathy in child-training, 247–256.

  Playmates:
    treatment of visiting, 171;
    unkindnesses of, 240 [see Companionships].

  Playthings:
    use of, in training the faculties, 160;
    not a substitute for parental sympathy, 250;
    imagination in the use of, 279, 280.

  Politeness, true, 166.

  Porter, President, on a college curriculum, 56.

  Power of a mother’s love, the, 263–276 [see Mother’s Love].

  Prayer:
    meaning of, taught before the child can talk, 131;
    faith in, not to supplant faith in God, 133;
    sharing a child’s, 292;
    a new meaning of, gained through a child’s good-night words, 299.

  Preferences, personal:
    not to control study and work, 59;
    nor reading, 177.

  Profound thought possible to a child, 80;
    as of God’s personality and love, 131;
    or, the doctrine of the incarnation, 136.

  Protection of a child, in danger, distinguished from punishment,
    210, 211.

  Punish a child in anger, never, 205–216.

  Punishment:
    divine, not destructive of free-will, 40;
    teaching a child to choose obedience or, 44 f.;
    undue severity of, 45;
    has a proper use, 205;
    should be a calm and judicial act, 206;
    distinguished from prompt protection of a child in danger, 210, 211;
    administered in love, is recognized as love prompted, 214;
    often harder for a parent than for his child, 215;
    not to be inflicted upon an offense of ignorance, 215;
    child’s permanent good the purpose of, 216;
    evil of postponing until the child’s bed-time, 294, 295.

  Puzzles, for Sunday, 151.


  QUESTIONER, training a child as a, 119–128.

  Questions:
    children encouraged to ask, 120;
    discouraged from asking improper, 123;
    value of a set time for answering, 124;
    should be in order to gain knowledge, 125;
    wisdom of deferring answers to some, 127;
    asking, in family table-talk, 192.

  Quiet talking more effective than scolding, 220.


  RACHEL, an example of the mother-love, 265.

  Rarey, the horse-trainer, method of, 50.

  Reading:
    cultivating a child’s taste for, 175–186;
    its value, according to Addison and Johnson, 175;
    place and value of fiction in, 177, 178;
    taste for good should be aroused in childhood, 180.

  Reasonable fears to be met by reason, 228.

  Recreation distinguished from amusement, 155.

  Reference-books, use of, in family table-talk, 193.

  Residence, companionships for children to be in mind, when choosing
    a, 201.

  Respect, self, of the courteous man, 166.

  Rest, not in inaction, but in change, 142.

  Rewards:
    divine use of, 40;
    dangers in the use of, 97.

  Rich children in danger of being untrained in self-denial, 65.

  Ridicule cannot overcome child-fears, 224, 228.

  Rizpah, an example of the mother-love, 266.

  Romans, their table-talk, 187.

  Rubbing the gullet, a primitive custom, 14.


  SABBATH observance, training children to, 139–154.

  Samuel’s individuality, in childhood, honored by Eli, 73.

  Santa Claus, as a Christmas fancy, 279.

  Science, training a child to enjoy books of, 180.

  Scolding:
    never in order, 217–222;
    most common at bed-time, 294.

  Scope and limitations of child-training, 23–28 [see Limitations].

  Self-assertion not consistent with courtesy, 166.

  Self-control:
    training a child to, 93–100;
    necessary for parents before punishing a child, 210;
    before censuring a child, 220.

  Self-denial:
    importance of training children to, 62;
    an only child liable to lack stimulus to, 200.

  Self-forgetfulness the basis of courtesy, 168.

  Selfishness fostered by the granting of every request, 63.

  Self-respect of the courteous man, 166.

  Sermons for children, read at home on Sunday, 150.

  Sharing:
    children’s joys and sorrows, 248, 253;
    children’s Christmas pleasures, 290;
    in children’s evening prayer, 292.

  Shetland ponies trained to eat hay, 116.

  Shunammite woman, an example of the mother-love, 266.

  Silly questions not to be encouraged, 125.

  Skelton, John, on scolding, 218.

  Skill, not chance, in children’s games, 161.

  Soldier:
    fear felt by every, 224;
    imaginary fears of a, 234;
    finding peace on his death-bed through the mother-love, 274.

  Solomon:
    on child-training, 15;
    on honoring a mother, 267.

  Sorrows of children, the, 239–246;
    they call for sympathy, 247–256;
    because of harsh treatment at bed-time, 294.

  South Sea Islanders taught from John’s Gospel first, 132.

  Spartan children trained to self-denial, 68.

  Special need of training, discerning a child’s, 29–36.

  Spencer, Herbert, on intellectual sympathy with children, 249.

  Spoiled child, the:
    not always an “only child,” 63;
    may be a first child, over-disciplined, 87.

  Studying a child’s specific needs, 35.

  Sugar-plums to “pacify” crying children, 97, 111.

  Suicide of children, 244.

  Sunday-school:
    lesson, studied at home on Sunday, 150;
    attendance of, in early childhood, 152;
    library-book, mission of the average, 179;
    companionships in view while choosing a, 201.

  Symmetry in child-training, dependent on companionships, 200.

  Sympathy:
    of parents with children in amusements, 157;
    in companionships, 199;
    in fears, 235 f.;
    place of, in child-training, 247–256;
    defined, 248, 256;
    Herbert Spencer on, 249;
    in a child’s misdeeds and accidents, 254;
    not wholly natural to parents, 256;
    in the “home-atmosphere,” 261;
    craved by a child at bed-time, 292.

  Syro-Phœnician woman, an example of the mother-love, 266.


  TABLE-TALK, the value of, 187–196.

  Taste in reading, cultivating a child’s, 175–186 [see Reading].

  Teaching distinguished from training, 11.

  Tease, training a child not to, 101–108.

  Tenderly dealing with a child’s fears, 223–238 [see Fears].

  Thought, profound, possible to a child, 80.

  Thoughtfulness for others distinguished from self-forgetfulness, 169.

  Thunder and lightning, overcoming a child’s fear of, 231.

  Timidity to be overcome by training, 227.

  Timothy’s mother, an example of the mother-love, 266.

  Topics, assigning special, for next day’s family table-talk, 194.

  Toys:
    for Sunday, 145–147;
    breaking of, a serious matter to a child, 243.

  Training:
    distinguished from teaching, 11;
    defined, 12;
    should begin at birth, 15;
    shapes character, 16;
    more than counseling, 17;
    limited by a child’s capacity, 23;
    special, necessary for every child, 29;
    danger of its developing the poorer self, 30;
    the child’s will, 37;
    need of gentleness in, 44;
    by discipline, 53;
    a child to do unpleasant duties, 55, 59;
    by denying requests, 61;
    of an only child, 62;
    letting alone as a means of, 83–92;
    of a first child, 84 f.;
    over-doing in, an error, 90;
    “nagging” is not, 90;
    to self-control, 93–100;
    not to tease, 101–108;
    Susannah Wesley’s method of, 105;
    a child’s appetite, 109–118;
    children as questioners, 119–128;
    a child’s faith, 129–138;
    to Sabbath observance, 139–154;
    in amusements, 155–164;
    to courtesy, 165–174;
    a child’s taste in reading, 175;
    value of table-talk in, 189;
    child-companionships as an element in, 197;
    has no place for scolding, 217–222;
    tone of voice in, 219;
    by tenderness toward a child’s fears, 223–238;
    joyousness as a result of, 240;
    sympathy as an aid in, 247–256;
    home atmosphere as a power in, 257–262;
    power of a mother’s love in, 263–276;
    through the play of a child’s imagination, 277–282;
    by good-night words and deeds, 291–300.

  Trebonius, honoring the individuality of children, 74.

  Trust:
    child’s, is instinctive, 130;
    prayer is not mere asking, but, 134.

  “Tunge of a skolde,” John Skelton’s couplet on, 218.


  UNSELFISHNESS:
    the basis of courtesy, 165;
    in a child’s companionships, 199.


  VALUE:
    of table-talk, 187–196;
    giving added, to a child’s Christmas, 283–290.

  Values, child-sorrows measured by those of the child, 243.

  Voice, necessity of natural tone of, in training, 219.


  WAGON, raisin-box, 67.

  Wanting not always reason for granting, 69.

  Washington and Braddock as to fear, 225.

  Watch, boy who could not spare his, 77.

  Waterloo, battle of, won on Eton’s playground, 161.

  Wear, parents should decide what children may, 117.

  Wellington, Duke of, quoted, 161.

  Wesley, Susannah, her method in training, 105.

  Whipping at bed-time, unwisdom of, 295.

  Will, training of, rather than breaking, 37–52.

  Wisdom:
    in denying a child, 61–70;
    more needed for letting alone than for commanding, 91.

  Words, good-night [see Good-night].

  Wordsworth, quoted, 81.

  Worship:
    more than mere quietness in church, 142;
    family, on Sunday, 150.


  “YANKING” at the reins is not good driving, 91.

  Young:
    parents, in danger of over-disciplining, 83;
    teachers, peculiar influence of, 198;
    people, welcoming the mother’s good-night kiss, 293.





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