Martha B Mosher.

Child culture in the home. A book for mothers online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryMartha B MosherChild culture in the home. A book for mothers → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Child Culture in the Home

A Book for Mothers


Martha B. Mosher

* The destiny of the nations lies far more in
the hands of women the mothers than
in the hands of those who possess power."



Fleming H. Revell Company


Copyright, 1898




He who helps a child helps humanity with a dis-
tinctness, with an immediateness, which no other help
given to human creatures in any other stage of human
life can possibly give again.











IX. CHARACTER ........... 113







XVI. Civic DUTIES . . . 222


THE best promise for to-morrow lies always
in the best fulfilment of the opportunities of
to-day. If the decision regarding the eligibil-
ity of women to higher social and political
status rested on their success as homekeepers
and mothers, a favorable one might be warmly
contested. There would be no impeachment
of their mother love, moral appreciation, or
good intention, but of their thoughtfulness,
consistency, and knowledge of the best meth-
ods to secure the best possible development of
their children.

Everywhere women of to-day are seeking
improvement their energies being aroused to
the utmost by the new independence and intel-
lectual life which has come to them. The fric-
tion of mind with mind, the stimulus from as-
sociated ideas is awakening thoughts and the-
ories on all possible subjects, which, if wisely
directed, will result in the greatest benefit to
mankind. But in their efforts for ameliorating
human conditions, women should bear in mind
that the best study in the humanities is in
their own home. The more one observes, the

8 Preface

more fervently must one feel the power and in-
fluence of woman in the life of the race and of
the nation ; and mothers are earnestly urged,
not only to place their best efforts in the home
because it is the nursery of souls and from it
emanates the influence which guides the des-
tiny of nations, but also to ascertain the best
methods and apply them with zeal. Knowl-
edge is of little value unless it body forth in
worthy activity and a fuller sense of responsi-
bility, at least to the nearest duty.

The world is a vast school which the child
enters at birth, and from which he is only re-
leased by death. Education is the most impor-
tant motive in that school, and he who is not
advancing is retrograding. Education is the
Hebe who hands man the elixir of the gods
wisdom and power. The great problem is,
what are the best means of distilling this much-
sought draught? Old methods are being re-
vised and better ones evolved to meet the
broader life, and this generation has shown it-
self most receptive to innovations engendered
by new conditions. In all educational depart-
ments there has been more progress in method,
and a better application of new methods, than
in the home, the place of all where the influence
is the greatest and most enduring.

The new educational method consists in a
truer appreciation of the child nature its long-

Preface 9

ings and capabilities, and confers mentally and
morally a more perfect observation, a nicer as-
similation, a finer expression.

The endeavor of this book is to select the
most essential, vital questions pertaining to this
progress, to urge the better way with an earn-
estness that will move some thoughtless
mother, and to offer a few practical sugges-
tions to some aspiring one. If it succeeds in
the least degree, it is its own excuse for being ;
if it does not, it is a misjudgment. Some of
the thoughts may not appear directly applica-
ble to the child's education, but these indicate
the line of his development. Parents must
lead the child, but they cannot do so in ad-
vance of their own enlightenment and appre-

If, by any suggestion, a single home is made
the living fountain of health and happiness
that it should be, if one girl or boy is inspired
to a truer, more cultured womanhood or man-
hood, the author will account herself priv-

Child Culture


EMEKSON has said that the great difference
between men is in their power of feeling.
Feeling is universal and becomes an element of
weakness or strength, as it is allowed to riot or
is wisely directed. Unallied with the moral
sense and the intellect, it degenerates into appe-
tite and passion, in the exercise of which man
is outdone by the brutes, to whose vehemence
he seldom attains and then only revoltingly.
But purified by the intellect and by true as-
piration, judiciously harnessed, it becomes the
strength of strengths, the fire which sets in mo-
tion the will, the energies and the mental fac-

The emotions are a prime factor in the spir-
itual life, and when balanced by the judgment
into perfect harmony with it, create the ideal
man. To achieve this blending of the emo-
tions and the intellect, requires a lifelong study
for natures that are born, as most natures are,

12 Child Culture

with a predominance of one over the other. It
is difficult for the strongly emotional tempera-
ment not to permit itself to be swayed by its
desires and impulses; in fact many lives are
thrown off the track altogether by ignorance
of the necessity or means of curbing their emo-
tional impulses, and of constantly submitting
them to the control of their reason. This ig-
norance converts a great power into a great
weakness. The man lacking emotional vitality
is equally imperfect, for a cold intellect unsof-
tened by a warm heart lacks one of the best in-
spirations to virtue.

It is easy to awaken the childish heart, and
the emotions should be educated before the in-
tellect. Read the children stories, or relate cir-
cumstances to them which will call forth their
sympathies, but only for worthy objects. One
can easily go too far and cultivate a spurious
feeling, a sickly sentimentality that would be
as objectionable as a lack of susceptibility. It
is found that children who come from the
slums, the offspring of the uncultured class,
require much stronger appeals to touch their
emotions than the children of highly developed
families. The latter are apt to be too highly
organized. Experienced kindergarten teachers
understand the point perfectly. A teacher who
had had charge of a phlegmatic class in a tene-
ment district, and had been obliged to use some

The Emotions * 13

effort to arouse its sensibilities, undertook to
fill a temporary vacancy in a class in a better
neighborhood, where the children of more cul-
tured families attended. Several mothers com-
plained to the superintendent that their chil-
dren seemed excited, could not sleep at night,
and the mothers were unable to quiet them or
to account for this unusual condition. The ex-
perienced superintendent considered the matter
and divined the cause ; she attended one of the
school sessions, when her conjecture was con-
firmed. The teacher was employing the same
methods with these more sensitive children
that she had found necessary with the impas-
sive class. The superintendent suggested a
selection of more quieting songs and games,
and the difficulty was corrected. Study the
child's temperament, and try the following
method to counterbalance excess or lack of
emotion. Give the highly organized child sim-
ple pleasures, phlegmatic attendants, quiet sur-
roundings. Give the child lacking in sensibili-
ties more stirring pleasures, a livelier maid, a
little more exciting environment. It is easy to
guide in the right direction the heart of a little
child, its nature is so impressionable.

A teacher tells of a little four year old boy
in one of the kindergartens, who used so many
" swear words," that for the good of the others
he was compelled to sit apart. He was per-

14 ' Child Culture

fectly willing to use other words, but until he
came to school he did not know there were any
just as good. His home surroundings were of
the roughest, coarsest kind. The kindergarten
was the opening of a new world to him ; he
was much interested in everything that hap-
pened, and seemed particularly fond of the
flowers that were brought to the kindergarten
by friends. The morning after Decoration
Day he came with a bunch of faded clover,
which he gave to the teacher. She asked him
where he found it, and the answer brought
forth a touching little story. He had been
thinking of one of the kindergarten songs, and
the thought of dewy meadows and white daisies
and clover blossoms really growing, had touched
his imagination, so after school he found an
older boy to go with him, and they started on
the elevated road to find the country. Just
where they went no one knows, but he found
some clover and brought a large bunch back
with him. On his way home he stopped at the
kindergarten, but as it was late in the after-
noon and no one was there he went home, still
holding tightly the beloved bunch of flowers
which he kept all the next day while the kin-
dergarten was closed. The following morning
he started bright and early, and brought his
teacher the clover, which by this time had
entirely withered. He told her he had tried

The Emotions 15

to bring some buttercups, too, but "they all

It is no small thing to secure the heart and
imagination of a small child. A wise man has
said, " To fill the imagination with beautiful
images is the best thing that can be done to
educate little children." At the end of the
year, this little boy's mother sent the teacher
an envelope. When it was opened it was found
to contain, as an expression of her gratitude for
all that had been done for her boy, two hard
earned dollars.

To touch the imaginations and emotions of
children is to render them receptive to the im-
pressions one wishes to make; for what they
feel with some keenness in the heart takes
stronger hold in the head. The heart, as the
source of man's noblest inspirations, is such an
important factor in his development that its use
cannot be overlooked.

The child who shows an undue sense of fear
can only be reasoned with until the fear is
shown to be unreasonable. Some parents try
to destroy the feeling by forcing the child to
enter dark rooms or to face the object of its
fear. I have known a child almost thrown into
spasms by this injudicious if not brutal method
of cure, while there are few children who, when
their reason is more developed, do not outgrow
such fear. It is unnatural, and I believe is

16 Child Culture

always superinduced upon children while they
are very young by nursemaids, who frighten
them into silence and submission, never realiz-
ing the enormity of the act or its lasting injury.
Apprehending such possibilities, I have always
explained to my children's maids when they
first entered my service, the harm such methods
would do a child, and have forbidden any
words containing a suggestion of objects to be
feared. A child should know nothing of ghosts
or hobgoblins.

There is nothing that the child-heart longs
for and appreciates so much as sympathy. It
is a talisman by which the heart can be moulded
to whatever the parent desires. Discover the
existing element of any faculty found weak or
insufficient, and by sympathizing with it, it can
be made to grow to the desired proportion.

Parents give their little ones food, clothing,
instruction, often everything but the best gifts
themselves, withholding sympathy and interest
from their little thoughts and happenings. The
children are absent from home so much, if they
attend school and spend further time in out-of-
door sports, that, when they are at home, the
busy parents forget to yield other interests for
a time and give heart to the child's affairs by
manifesting an interest in them.

When any faculty appears excessive, it may

The Emotions 17

be reduced by refusing to sympathize with it,
and at the same time developing other powers
to balance that one.

Hope should be cherished and led on from
the hope for material things, which will prob-
ably not need fostering, to a hope for higher
things which shall culminate in a power of
faith, one of the most valuable gifts man pos-
sesses. It is the faculty of hope which gives
man confidence without which there can be no
success, it is the faculty which enables a man
to rise when he has fallen ; to try again when
he has failed.

In nothing do children differ more than in
the kind and degree of their affections. Some
children, as well as adults, possess only their
lowest form, the instinctive love. It is the
form in which the animals love their young;
men, women and children love their pets ; it is
the love of the unwise mother when she cares
more for the child's gratification than for that
which bespeaks its ultimate welfare. It is the
untrained feeling, and needs to be linked to the
intellect and the moral sense to develop into
the higher forms.

The higher form is that which desires the
good of the beloved, which will sacrifice itself
for the good of its object. It is manifest in the
child that willingly remains quiet for a long
time that its little baby brother or sister may

i8 Child Culture

sleep undisturbed ; in the little girl who sews
for the dolly or shares some of her favorite toys
with her brother, sister, or playmate ; in the
performance of any act which is not pure self-
gratification, and whereby the loved one is
benefited. It is the self-sacrificing love of the
mother which places her at the service of the
family, which makes her willing to yield her
rest and ease by day, and if need be by night,
to attend her sick child. It is the love which
makes her work beyond her pleasure that her
children may be properly fed and their cloth-
ing made and kept in repair, the love which
denies the child that which may be detrimental
to its health or morals ; it is the love which
ennobles life.

The highest form of love is the impersonal
love, which has no fondness in it, but seeks
merely the welfare and happiness of others.
This is the love of the philanthropist and re-
former. It contains no thought of self-gratifi-
cation ; it is love in the abstract and includes
that " Charity which thinketh no evil." It is
the love which we are admonished by Christ to

There is also the passion of love which comes
with adult age and which leads to the marriage
relation. This form is often mistaken for pure
love which it may or may not include. When
it does not it is not worthy of the name. If

The Emotions 19

young men and women realized the difference
between a love which is simply infatuation and
one which embraces the higher qualities, there
would be fewer unhappy marriages and di-
vorces, both of which are becoming all too fre-
quent. The intensity of the feeling is no indi-
cation of its purity, only of its sensuous quality.
He who wishes to test the purity and strength
of his love, will ascertain if it be willing to
yield its own indulgence if the welfare of the
beloved demand the sacrifice.

Some human beings there are who seem to
have no affection, no power of attachment, and
walk ever alone. Harriet Martineau describes
and prescribes for these unfortunates. She
says : " They seem doomed to a hermit ex-
istence amidst the very throng of life. If they
are neglected they are lost, they must sink into
a slough of selfishness and perish. And none
are so likely to be neglected as they who
neither love nor win love. If such an one is
not neglected, he may become an able and use-
ful being, and it is for his parents to try this in
a spirit of reverence for his mysterious nature,
and of pity for the privations of his heart.
They will search out and cherish, by patient
love, such little power of attachment as he may
show, and they will perhaps find him capable
of general kindliness and the wide interests of
benevolence, though the happiness of warm

20 Child Culture

friendship and family endearment is denied

One of the sweetest qualities a woman can
possess is tenderness. There is no other that
renders her so lovable and attractive. It is
love in repose, touched with compassion, and
seems an essential quality of the feminine

Wholesome feelings are vastly more impor-
"" tant than logical thought, for feeling underlies
f thought, and the just regulation of the feelings
is the first essential of civilized man. There
are natures that are constantly running over
with feeling; they play the entire gamut of the
emotions, effervescing with delight, or weeping
and despairing, without cause ; they live on
Olympus or in Hades, and in action such per-
sons are as unstable as they are in feeling.
If they cannot entirely overcome their moods,
they can avoid extreme manifestations of them
and, by a determined self-control, attain a better
equilibrium and a more wholesome state. A
strong antiseptic for the overwrought emotional
temperament is the intellectual life. Study
and brain work counteract the undue excita-
tion of the feelings. If the emotions are al-
lowed to run riot in childhood, it will be very
difficult to overtake them at a later period.
No very intense emotions of any nature should
be created in a child's soul; it is better that

The Emotions 21

children, should not often feel too deeply. Let
us have more genuine honest emotions and less
of the premature and false.

Carlyle has said, " There never was yet the
wise head without first the generous heart."
Generosity is a quality that belongs to all noble
natures, and there is no one so poor that he
cannot know the happiness of giving; for, if he
can give nothing more, he can give crumbs to
the birds, or he can give his services, or he can
think generously. Giving is not all of generos-
ity. To think and to judge generously are as
true essences of the generous heart as gifts that
pass from hand to hand.

" Having seen the egotism of sensuality and
of intellect, who would not know the happiness
resulting from goodness. Do not look down
on the child's simplest acts of generosity, it is
these which lead the soul to self-denial and to
sublime character. Let the heart as .well as
the senses and the intellect have feasts."



DIFFERENT nations and different periods have
held different views of what constituted the
perfect man, and whatever ideal his fellow-men
happened to hold became the aim and object of
the ambitious youth of that time and nation.
Hereto he lent all his energies and succeeded
in greater or less degree. Public sentiment
hoists the standard, and the desire for public
approval is instinctive with men. The majority
bow before it. But what is the public and what
creates its sentiment ? The public is but the
aggregation of many individuals, and its senti-
ment is the last result of the thinking of the
most powerful of these individuals. These usu-
ally take the lead and impress their principles
and beliefs on others. Every great revolution
and all evolution are first the conception of a
single mind, a mind which is more radical,
more enlightened, farther seeing than others of
the time. This becomes the leaven by which
the masses are at last affected, and their opinion
in turn controls the attitude of the rising gen-
eration. History is an unbroken procession of
advanced thinkers and heroes, to whom is due

The Moral Sense 23

the progress of humanity. Htiss, Wickliffe,
Luther, struck the first great blows at the
abuses of religion, and for its liberty, standing
for conscience against the world ; Galileo, Plato,
Cromwell, Hampden, Lincoln, Froebel, Darwin,
and many others, in greater or less degree,
have aided in the social and moral evolution of
mankind, and rendered it true service. They
sometimes stood alone, unacknowledged by
their contemporaries, but recognized by subse-
quent generations at their true value, and the
principles for which they stood became incor-
porated in their highest ideals.

Men are not all born to be heroes before the
world, but every man, by the establishment of
high principle and by a faithful adherence
thereto, can be as true a hero in his own life as
he who shines before men.

What is the basis of high principle and noble
living ? It is the moral sense ; and the home is
the school where the moral sense is educated and
man's ideal is developed. In this little world,
whatever is the opinion of the parent becomes
in a large measure that of the child. If the
parents' ideal is a man of intellect, the child's
aims will be intellectual; if the parents' aims
are worldly advancement, the child will strive
in that direction. There are sporadic cases in
which the child's preferences can by no means
be made to conform to those of its parents,

24 Child Culture

sometimes to its advantage, oftener to its disad-
vantage ; but, as a rule, while under the pa-
rental roof, the child's aim will be determined
by that of the parents. This is a point which
constantly baffles philanthropists ; for which-
ever end they take hold of in endeavoring to
establish reform in a family seems to be the
wrong one. The plastic nature of the child ad-
mits of moulding so easily, that one feels that it
is the prehensile point ; and yet to secure de-
velopment seems futile so long as the child's
environments are so unfavorable, so long as
it is in close contact with an ignorant, indiffer-
ent, and perhaps immoral, mother.

It is much more difficult to regenerate the
adult, yet without her cooperation one works
against such serious odds.

The best statement I have met of what moral
instruction should effect is this : " To give a
power of self-control, a command of the pas-
sions and desires, and to direct the heart and
mind to high and worthy ends." A man may
be ever so brilliant, profound and learned, yet
if he have not moral power, he is valueless ; it
is the pivot on which his whole value hinges.

Many weaknesses result from a lack of com-
mon sense in expecting of one thing what be-
longs to another. How many men, ignorant
from love of ease, or poor from idleness, or un-
generous from shallow sympathies, groan never-

The Moral Sense 25

theless if they be not treated as are the learned,
the rich, and the generous.

Teach the young from the beginning the
great moral law of cause and effect teach them
not to look for wealth without work, for honor
without honesty ; teach them that character
stands above surroundings ; that esteem
should be bestowed where it is due. The ele-
mental man, with his vast mental and spiritual
endowments, is entitled to reverence as well as
he whose material wealth is his adornment.

It is not all of morals to moralize ; less pre-
cept and more example is to be commended;
the living realization, the quiet suggestion, the
favorable opportunity, are the efficient teachers.
Ignorance is responsible for a deal of wicked-
ness, but evil example and parental neglect are
responsible for vastly more.

The greatest and noblest of the moral powers
is conscientiousness ; it is the basis of all moral
action. There is no race nor any sane individ-
ual that has not in some degree a sense of right
and wrong. It means unmitigated honesty to
oneself and one's fellow-man, the faithful follow-
ing of one's idea of right, the avoiding that
which one feels to be wrong. This sense be-
longs to different persons in different degrees.
The merchant who hides defects in his goods,
the woman who dresses and entertains beyond
her means, the child who promises with no

26 Child Culture

thought of fulfilment, all are lacking in con-
scientiousness. Their conduct shows want of
honor, they take advantage of ignorance and
trust. One of my supreme admirations has
always been Thomas Babington Macaulay, who
sought strenuously to carry a measure in par-
liament which he deemed a wise and beneficial
one for others, but which, had it passed, would
have occasioned him the loss of almost his en-
tire fortune. Such heroism can but command
our deepest admiration. The truly conscien-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryMartha B MosherChild culture in the home. A book for mothers → online text (page 1 of 13)