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GIFT OF




HQ75-1

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SELF-TRAINING
FOR MOTHERS



BY

MRS. BURTON CHANCE

AUTHOR OF "THB CARE OF THE CHILD," "MOTHER AND DAUGHTER," ETC.

J










PHILADELPHIA AND LONDON
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY



COPYRIGHT 1914. BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY










... .,

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Electrotyped and Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company
The Washington Square Press, Philadelphia, U. S.A.



"And what is writ, is writ would it were worthier."

BYRON.



PREFACE

THE aim of this book is to help the mother in a
simple and practical way to meet such questions as
these:

How can I bring to my work the greatest
amount of physical and mental efficiency?

What can I do to make home a real influence?

What books should the children read, when
should they begin school, can I guide their friend-
ships and amusements?

What kind of discipline counts?

Ought the children be made to go to church ?

Is it right to insist that they shall bear their share
of the burden and responsibility of keeping up the
home?

How shall boys and girls be fitted, while chil-
dren, to be in their turn true home-builders ?

These, and a multitude of other questions of the
same nature, come to every mother, and it is not by
any means easy to answer them. True vision and
keen, sympathetic judgment are fruits of the trained
mind. That the mother's mind is not always trained
to the service she has undertaken is why she some-
times fails to do her work in the very best way it
can be done.



PREFACE

The endeavor of this book is to show how the
busy mother can save time to develop her personality
and to cultivate her emotional and intellectual life.
For only by self-training can she bring to her work
the high type of practical efficiency necessary to
success.

Several chapters of this book have appeared in
magazine form. My thanks are due therefore to the
editors of the Mothers' Magazine, the Philadelphia
Press, and others for their courteous permission
to reprint them. I must also thank the many
authors and publishers who have so very kindly
allowed me to use quotations and excerpts from their
books.

MARIA SCOTT BEALE CHANCE.

RADNOR, PA., October 15, 1914.



CONTENTS

PAGE

I. WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER ? i

II. THE MOTHER'S DUTY TO HERSELF 17

III. MAKING TIME 27

IV. HEALTH 38

V. NURSERY DAYS SPIRITUAL 52

VI. NURSERY DAYS PHYSICAL 68

VII. DISCIPLINE 81

VIII. RESPONSIBILITY 96

IX. SCHOOL DAYS no

X. AMUSEMENT 132

XI. BOOKS FOR CHILDREN 146

XII. INDIVIDUALITY 157

XIII. INFLUENCING OLDER CHILDREN 178

XIV. HOME AND THE CHILD 189

XV. How MUCH SHALL WE TELL THE CHILDREN ? 207

XVI. CHAPERONAGE 216

XVII. WHEN THE CHILDREN MARRY (SPIRITUAL PREPA-
RATION) 230

XVIII. WHEN THE CHILDREN MARRY (PHYSICAL PREPA-
RATION) 246

XIX. A FOURTH " R " IN EDUCATION. . . 260



SELF-TRAINING
FOR MOTHERS



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD
MOTHER?

" The wise educator is never one who is ' educating ' from
morning to night. She is one, who, unconsciously to the chil-
dren, brings to them the chief sustenance and creates the su-
preme conditions of their growth. Primarily she is the one
who, through the serenity and wisdom of her own nature
is dew and sunshine to growing souls. She is one who under-
stands how to demand in just measure, and to give at the right
moment. She is one whose desire is law, whose smile is re-
ward, whose disapproval is punishment, whose caress is bene-
diction."

ELLEN KEY.

" Long as the heart beats life within her breast

Thy child will bless thee, guardian mother mild
And far away thy memory will be blessed
By children of the children of thy child."

THIS is Queen Victoria's tribute to her mother !
Lord Tennyson wrote the words at her request,
for inscription upon a statue of the Duchess of Kent.
' l



SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

Thus the great Queen and Empress publicly rever-
enced her noble mother, and thus every child should
be able to bless in his heart his own " guardian
mother/' whose memory and influence reigned in his
life, and were handed down through him to the
" children of the children of his child."

Every one longs to be remembered, but influence
is no hap-hazard thing, to be had for the asking. It
is not the result of a sudden tearful waking up to
failure, nor can it flower in an instant, however hard
we grieve and pray.

Influence true influence, which projects through
the mother into her child and on indefinitely to the
widening circles of her race, is the harvest of a
careful time of seed-sowing. It can not be got
suddenly, it can not be bought or shammed, it is a
result.

I often think of the child as a vine. The vine
shoots out a number of feelers, and only those feelers
mount which find something to mount upon. Other-
wise they trail aimlessly along the ground.

The mother who is going to be remembered by
" the children of the children of her child " is the
mother who presents in her own personality some-
thing upon which the strongest feelers her children
put out can take hold upon and mount.

The vine, by the very reason of its nature, is
2



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

quick to proceed as directed by something higher
and more permanent than itself. A child can not
grow quickly, normally, happily, and eternally, unless
he follows the lead of a stronger soul. To fit her-
self to be the standard for the vine is the true work
of motherhood. Influence is the unconscious product
of a life lived with a sense of such consecration.

Now, while in the heat of the day, while yet
malleable, is the time for us to ask ourselves what
qualities live longest in influence ; for very soon our
limitations harden around us like a plaster cast.
Then it is already too late to become anything new.
The golden time for self-knowledge and self -im-
provement is when the children are little, when our
problems are still new and interesting, and we go
forward to meet them with the courage, initiative,
and enthusiasm of youth. Then, because we are still
plastic, we can learn to do or be, well anything!
But after a while it becomes very different and be-
cause we have not sown in time, there is no harvest.

One of the first characteristics to produce in-
fluence in a woman is a willingness to be herself.
The craze for imitation has wrecked many splendid
natures. The pitiful sight of a life dominated by the
thought of what " people will say/' is common.
Women blindly put vices and clamps upon their own
natures in an endeavor to shape themselves accord-

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SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

ing to somebody's else pattern, and make absolute
ciphers of themselves by trying to become some-
thing they were never intended to be.

Go into the street of small houses is not every
window the same as every other window? In the
big shops, do not the girls seem even to try to efface
their individualities by adopting the same arrange-
ment of the hair; by wearing precisely the same type
of jewelry, the same cut of lace collar, the same
round locket suspended on the same length of imi-
tation gold chain ?

It is the woman who does her hair in a way that
is becoming to her own face, no matter how other
people do theirs ; who has ideas about her front cur-
tains that make her windows different from her
neighbor's; it is the woman who, in other words,
has the courage to be herself, it is she whom we
find standing out against the light and shadow of
family life as a real person, and handing on her in-
fluence through her children to the generations that
are to come.

It never really pays to copy other people. A
woman may make a very poor imitation of some
other woman and yet have the power to be a strong
helpful personality along her own lines. One ounce
of that mysterious thing called personality is worth
pounds of imitation when it comes to generating

4



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

influence. One may even have one's fine points
entirely blotted out by years of unconscious imitation
of an admired friend. Imitation is fatal to individ-
ual development.

I know two cousins, both married, both with three
little children. One is strong, vigorous, impelling;
the other frail, delicate, and bound by years of will-
ing moral servitude to the much loved stronger soul.
As I study the more yielding nature, I often feel that
it has gradually become only a pane of glass through
which the other radiant dominating face looks out.
The children are suffering because to them is applied
the ideals which govern the animal-like robustness
of their little cousins. In her effort to bring her chil-
dren up as they are being brought up, this delicate
mother meets innumerable obstacles differences in
character, disposition, and environment which she re-
fuses to see! If she would throw off the yoke 'of
imitation, and be herself there would be none of the
friction which now leaves her a nervous wreck
at the end of the day. Her influence would be greater
if she would teach her children to revolve around
herself. Instead she tries harder every year to attach
them to a system which they were not created to join
and where they look and feel and are out of place.

To gain influence one must be self-reliant, not
imitative, and beware of imposing a line of treat-

5



SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

ment or discipline upon children simply because it has
proved effective elsewhere !

We women have many hereditary faults. Love
of ease, caprice, self-indulgence, vacillation of pur-
pose, indecision, hastiness of speech these are ours
and have been ours throughout the ages. And un-
fortunately the very simplicity and directness of the
child's mind cause him to rebel instinctively against
them.

He is all single-purposed energy with desires well
pointed toward a definite goal. He resents injustice,
whims, or fancies. He can not understand depres-
sion, why our enthusiasms grow suddenly cold, our
tempers vague, our commands and indulgences vari-
able. He recognizes no law in us, therefore he with-
holds his allegiance. He waits and watches us out
of the keen adorable candor of his open soul.

Watching, he begins to judge. Now is the time
to show him what we are made of; now is the time
to compel his allegiance, to make him see by the
work of every day that in us his little soul has found
its true captain, and that under our colors he may
safely sail. This is influence.

Self-control helps in gaining influence. Self-
control helps us to marshal our forces to the best
advantage. It helps us also to keep the weak points
in our defence in the background. This, unfor-

6



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

tunately, we do not always do, and the children
suffer.

Every day, we act and say things, which we
regret. How self-control, if only used in time, would
have helped ! Self-control gains for the irritable tem-
per just the necessary moment for reflection, only a
moment, and yet in it balance and cheerfulness are
regained.

By very reason that she is herself, all a woman's
virtues, however beautiful and gentle, have, without
self-control, an inherent tendency to be spasmodic,
governed by circumstances, dependent upon health.
With self-control, time is gained, sense of proportion
and that little instant before speech which is so indis-
pensable. Only by virtue of self-control can the
mother keep her vagaries hidden within herself, and
ease the atmosphere, surcharged as it so often is with
the warring little personalities of her own creating.

People often say that it is " instinctive " in
woman to be a good mother. This may perhaps
be true to a certain extent, but instinct is proverbially
blind, and it is safe to temper instinct with knowl-
edge.

The " instinctively " good mother wonders tear-
fully if it could have been the red sourball or the
canned corn or the strong tea that made her baby
" sick " ! The mother who has added knowledge to

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SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

instinct understands her baby's digestive tract just
as practically as she understands the mysteries of
cutting out a pinafore or baking a cake, and she
makes no mistakes. She has learned that it is neither
necessary nor worth while to make mistakes.

We often hear one man say admiringly of an-
other, " He's right on his job." We mothers should
be the same ; it pays to study our job and learn to do
it the very best way it can be done. It is fatal to
rely upon instinct, for instinct without knowledge
is a broken reed.

I often think of mothers as wireless towers, with
the little voyagers they send out communicating with
them day and night in the mysterious speechless way.
It is for the mother to keep her tower in order and
the sensitive instrument alert and ready to receive
each faltering message. Sympathy and love help in
doing this, but so does knowledge. Think how a
woman studies to become an artist or a musician,
yet to become a good mother she relies upon vague
instinct and gives it little aid.

Results follow organization. Children respond
best to a definite plan. Their lives need organization.
A garden to be successful must be laid out in certain
well- formed groups with forethought and intelli-
gence. Children, also, must have their lives planned,
they must be guided by thought as well as instinct.

8



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

If we would have influence, we must lead de-
voted, simple, and often self-sacrificing lives. Chil-
dren are the keenest judges of character. They
scorn counterfeits. Do not for one moment think
that they will be deceived by handsome clothes,
costly toys, and an occasional " peep " into the nurs-
ery, for it is not so. Their love must be earned,
and their admiration won by something real. The
mother who is a mother, and who takes the thread
of her child's life into her hands from the moment
he is born, and guides and guards and strengthens
it, will gain from him that treasure besides which
mountains of gold are as nothing, his honest, stead-
fast and enduring love. It is worth trying for, for
life holds no deeper or more enduring joy.

There is a simple, cricket-like little virtue which
chirps cheerily in the home where there is a successful
mother, and oh, how it helps ! It is not a great or
noble thing ; it is not a star to be snatched from the
high heavens for the ultimate glory of the mother's
crown, it is only a little virtue, a little habit of daily
life, not much, and yet in many ways hard to win
and when won often proving itself a strong and in-
vincible ally it is cheerfulness.

" It is worth a thousand pounds a year to have
the habit of looking on the bright side of things,"
says Samuel Johnson.



SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

Did you ever sit in a crowded street car and
look at the people opposite, and wonder what they
are really like ? Nothing is more fascinating ! But
the study reveals one astonishing fact hardly a
woman but has lines in her face of nervous strain
and irritability; yet many of these women are
adored wives and much-loved mothers! How
strange it is ! Where is the halo of the serene sancti-
fied life, the peace of the satisfied soul, the tender
light, the clear undisturbed happiness of the well-
beloved ?

Try to be cheerful if only for the sake of those
who must look into your face to find the blessing, in-
spiration, and happiness of every day. Can it possi-
bly give them these if scarred, lined, furrowed, cross ?

Cheerfulness is greatly a matter of point of view.
Much depends upon the answer each woman gives to
the question, " What is my struggle for am I here
to dodge duty and to lead as easy and comfortable
a life as I can; or to make character, and fit myself
for a continued and higher existence ? "

To look upon the events of every day as the
material God sends, the material He means us to
have with which to make our lives, and to accept such
events, through their very difficulty, as being a test
of one's mettle, is, I believe, the only point of view
which secures cheerfulness under the daily strain

10



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

that comes to all. It is the point of view of faith.
Not a faith which accepts in the spirit of " of course
/ couldn't expect anything else," but a very wide and
far-seeing faith, which realizes the plan underlying
each circumstance of life, which accepts the heat of
the crucible willingly, seeing ahead the divine shape
of the ultimate purified soul, fully realizing that it is
all worth while.

James Whitcomb Riley with his inimitable whim-
sical sweetness sets forth a very valuable philosophy
in these words :

" It ain't no use to grumble and complain ;

It's just as cheap and easy to rejoice.
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,
Why rain's my choice."

Cheerfulness is rather more often than we would
admit a matter of self-control. One can always train
one's self to look at the best side of the day's event.
One can make it a matter of self-discipline that the
regretted word is checked, the ominous fears remain
unspoken, and the threatening frown is banished. I
know a woman whom nothing has helped to remain
cheerful under the petty exactions of each day as
much as the words of Omar to the effect that all
will soon be " with Yesterday's Seven Thousand
Years." The words rang in her ears during a pain-
ful operation, and she repeated to herself again and

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SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

again, " it will all soon be over and with Yester-
day's Seven Thousand Years. The only thing that
matters is how I meet my trial because that is inde-
structible."

Or, as Priscilla Leonard puts it:

"No man can choose what coming hours may bring
To him of need, of joy, of suffering;
But what his soul shall bring unto each hour
To meet its challenge this is in his power."

Why should we associate the " positive " quality
with man rather than woman? Nothing helps the
mother of a little family of lusty boys and girls
more effectively than positiveness. Not crossness, or
argumentativeness, neither of which leads to any-
thing but separation; but pure, loyal, just positive-
ness; expressed in character, not in criticism; in
daily living, not in empty words.

The "positive" father has well-thought-out
views upon politics, religion, love, business, right
and wrong, and every other question that involves
decision and action. Why should not the mother
have the same ? A little exertion of her will gives this
great advantage into her hands. Directness, self-
assurance, knowledge of and a kind speaking of the
truths of life, these lead her children to know " what
mother will say " even before they ask, and this
knowledge, though they are unconscious of it, is their

12



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

guide through all the personal struggles of their life.
She is positive in her construction of right and
wrong, of mine and thine, of all the details of inner
and personal life; not vacillating or changing, as the
wind may blow, like a spoiled and petted child.

A " positive " mother admits of no deviation,
however slight, from that which she believes to be
right and honorable ; she leaves her children the most
blessed of all gifts that of inherited high principle.
It is when children first push out into the wider
fields of life and are assailed by all kinds of tempta-
tion and mistrust, that the mother whose simple
directness has bounded their home, stands out like a
beacon. She now assumes the position of a second
conscience. Her personality, character, and example
unite to guard them and establish in them for all
time the virtues which she has been cultivating within
herself even as they, too, grew.

Probably the mother's most enduring gift to her
children is courage. The true mother should be
before all else an infuser of courage. This, in her,
will help more than any material advantage.
Courage is a kind of spiritual candle at which a
hundred little tapers may be lit and it remains the
same bright and fortifying star. Courage is mag-
netic. We instantly feel it and all that is good in
us responds. We are up in arms at once to receive its

13



SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

inspiration and do its will. Discouragement, on the
other hand, drains strength away even to its last red
drop, and absolutely annihilates influence. Even lit-
tle children feel their efforts benumbed and their
courage sink to nothing under the weight of mental
depression as shown them in their mother's face.

Courage is very near to faith, so near indeed, as
to stand beside faith in the very foreground of the
spiritual life. While cultivating courage we are in-
creasing our spiritual bone and sinew, for all who
pursue an ideal need courage, and courage is to those
who seek that which is noble and high and far away,
what the buoyant wave is to the swimmer, the wing to
the dove, the string to the harp, the flame to the
candle. It is their very life.

The mother who refuses to be discouraged, who
refuses to see the narrow personal element in her
child's struggles, who stimulates and encourages him
to go on, is training and cultivating in him a moral
strength and a fortitude that in the bigger things
of life will not be downed.

To have this kind of a mother is the best thing
that can happen to a child. She stands behind him
in his course. Her enthusiasms and beliefs are
always wide awake. While handing him generous
sympathy, she gives at the same instant a subtle forti-
tude, born of her trust, which is strong enough to

14



WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A GOOD MOTHER?

keep him always moving on. He is appreciated, yet
at the same time governed. He is understood, yet
kept about his business by constant supervision and
control.

One word about the mother's voice. It may seem
a little thing, but I believe that the mother's voice
may be made a great influence or a great hindrance
in her work.

A young mother once said to me that she longed
to radiate spirituality and peace from her person, and
to make home a place of rest for her husband and
her children. Have this ideal, but be sure that the
words which fall from your lips are not thwarting
your effort even as they fall !

A loud, opinionated, dictatorial, irritating voice
will thwart the efforts of the best mother that ever
lived. A gentle voice will invest with dignity her
simplest word.

It is little wonder to me that in many homes
the children grow up silent and morose. They
are afraid, morally afraid, of the bitter, penetrating
" personal " manner of their mother's smallest word,
making a request an attack, an opinion an instant
invitation to battle.

An arrogant, critical, self-assertive, combative
manner of speaking in the mother hardens and
divides. On the other hand, gentle courtesy, respect

15



SELF-TRAINING FOR MOTHERS

for the opinion of others, true humility, and a soft,
appealing voice radiate influence of a kind which is
never forgotten.

A mother can not afford to raise her voice. Her
authority must be seated in the brain, not in the voice.
To scold, to nag, to assert herself and her opinion,
this the mother can not afford to do. It is said of
Florence Nightingale that during the two years of
her nerve-racking life in the Crimea she was never
heard to raise her voice, never once seen to lose, how-
ever pressed, the gentle dignity which made the men
who saw her turn to kiss her shadow as it fell upon
their pillows.

This is an ideal worthy of imitation! Think of
the homes that would profit if their domestic cam-
paigns could be carried out under the leadership of
such personal discipline and sweetness!



II

THE MOTHER'S DUTY TO HERSELF

" God did anoint thee with His odorous oil
To wrestle, not to reign and he assigns
All thy tears over, like pure crystallines
To younger fellow-workers of the soil
To wear for amulets. So others shall
Take patience, labor, to their hearts and hand
From thy hand, and thy heart, and thy brave cheer,
And God's grace fructify through thee to all."

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

IN the first flush of enthusiasm for her new life,
particularly if she is intelligent and unselfish, the
young mother often sacrifices herself in ways that
eventually prove unwise. Her special talents are
given up, her individuality lost, even her old
friends are turned away. " I have no time. I
must be at home," is her invariable reply to any
invitation she may get. Very soon people stop asking
her to join them and she sinks into the background
of life, submerged in the details of housekeeping,
sacrificed hopelessly and forever upon the altar of
home.

When there are several children, and the duties
and cares of life really begin to press upon her, an-
other change takes place. The woman, with her


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Online LibraryMaria Scott (Beale) Mrs ChanceSelf-training for mothers → online text (page 1 of 15)