Martha B Mosher.

Child culture in the home. A book for mothers online

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and virtuous that they managed their children
judiciously, or made their environment what it
should be. In like manner some adopted chil-
dren prove unsatisfactory by reason of unfavor-
able environment. But any woman who has
the moral fitness and can offer the right en-
vironmental advantages to such deprived little
ones, can do no greater charity than to take to
her heart and home one of them. And after
all, when one's full duty has been done, respon-
sibility ceases, and the rest may be left to God
who judges by the effort and not by the result.
It is difficult to draw the line of demarcation
between the two great influences ; it is often
difficult to state just whether the development
is the result of a man's environment or of his
heredity, so that if the influence of education
has not been completely demonstrated, it has
at least been shown that in countless cases
heredity is irregular and unreliable. We can-
not aid the latter for ourselves, so our faith and

Heredity and Environment 45

our efforts must turn to the former, endeavor-
ing to recover for ourselves and to secure to
our posterity a heritage more precious than



A BLUE book recently published in Great
Britain covering the criminal statistics of Eng-
land, Ireland, and Wales, discloses the fact that
in those countries there are more criminals be-
tween the ages of sixteen and twenty -one years
than of any other period. The United States
census reports show a similar condition in this
country ; also, that in proportion to the popula-
tion the increase in the number of juvenile
criminals is greater than of adult criminals.
Between 1880 and 1890 there was a material
decrease of adult criminals while the number
of juvenile criminals increased, and in 1890
fully thirty-five per cent, of the criminal popu-
lation of this country was under twenty-one
years of age.

Children who commit crime at that tender
age are presumably neglected in their homes,
have come under the influence of vice outside
when they should have been under judicious
home restraint. Does not such a condition
point to a failure of parental duty, or to neglect
by the state ? If the parent or the state has a
claim on the child for obedience and service,

The Training of the Senses 47

how much more has the child, an involuntary
partner, a moral right to be educated for these
relations ? When we reflect what difficulties
beset the narrow path even with the best en-
vironment, is not the importance of a more
careful guardianship most manifest ?

While the per cent, as shown by foregoing
statistics was as high as thirty-five, the figures
show that the increase in those ten years had
only been eight to the million of population,
which is a comparatively meagre increase, and
gives evidence of an effective moral agency in
this country which is encouraging, and which
should be an inducement for increased effort.

A century and a half ago the first powerful
blow was struck in behalf of a more thoughtful
humane education of the child, and the assail-
ant was that most inconsistent of men, the
superb scorner, Jean Jacques Rousseau. He
was a man of many misconceptions and posings,
but of at least one brilliant and penetrating
work, "Emile, or Concerning Education." Its
ideas on the natural training of the child were
the heralding thoughts of our present system,
while his ideas on the training of women were
as benighted and conceited as his others were
enlightened. Richter, the most charming and
noble of German authors, was a pupil of his, as
were also Pestalozzi and Froebel, to whom we
owe the present predominance of natural train-

48 Child Culture

ing during the earlier years of childhood. Un-
til Froebel's time little thought was given to
the training of the infant's natural instincts in
the development of conduct and character. He
made a scientific study of these apparently in-
significant instincts, and in his works " The
Science of Motherhood " and " Education of
Man," etc., shows how these instincts rightly
understood are the text-books of the child's
education. If parents understood the important
service he has rendered childhood and mother-
hood, and the value of his ideas to the race, the
next great monument erected in this or any
other country would be to FRIEDRICH FKOEBEL.
If understood and followed in every home his
methods would reconstitute human conduct
and character. Too few mothers, even of those
who know of his work, appreciate that this
system should not be confined to the kindergar-
ten, but is just as applicable in the home and
should be the study of every woman who
wishes to educate her children intelligently and
unto their best possibilities. The principles un-
derlying the kindergarten are the most enlight-
ened of modern educational ideas; and the ad-
vantage of extending their operation to the
child's home life is in the fact, that compara-
tively few children have the opportunity of at-
tending kindergarten, that such attendance sel-
dom extends beyond a period of two years and

The Training of the Senses 49

then only for three hours a day. The value of
the kindergarten work is very great, but would
be inestimable if the ideas there instilled were
cherished and continued in the home the re-
mainder of the day and the remainder of the
educational years. My apprehension is, that in
many cases a great deal is lost under a home
influence wholly subversive and in a subsequent
education, the ideas of which are unrelated to
this experience.

To begin with the infant, (one should begin
with his father or great grandfather) every child
has certain moral rights. It has a right to be
well-born. Henry Ward Beecher said when
speaking once on the subject of being "born
again " that if he could be born right the first
time he would take his chance on " the second."
Every child has the right to be born of parents
who can provide him adequately with food,
clothing, shelter and education ; every parent
should feel the infinite responsibility of parent-
age. It is seldom considered by the lower
classes, and the babies of the higher classes are
as greatly wronged in some ways as are those
of the poor in others. The babies of the
wealthy are too often provided with quarters
in a part of the house distant from the parents
and left to the charge of ignorant, indifferent
hirelings, and who knows what these little
things suffer from inattention and impatience,

50 Child Culture

if not absolute cruelty? We cannot expect
more of a servant than of a mother, and though
one would think a mother would never fail in
tenderness to her little helpless baby, we know
that mothers do lose patience sometimes ; and
how much oftener will the nurse, who has not
the mother love to sustain her self-control. On
the streets everyday one hears children spoken
to by their maids with a brutality that would
fire the mother's heart with indignation if she
knew of it. While the poor woman's child suf-
fers from her ignorance, the rich woman's child
suffers equally from the ignorance and indiffer-
ence of its attendant. The poor woman may
tuck her child's head under her arm and shawl
and unconsciously shut off every breath of air
from it, almost suffocating it; the better condi-
tioned child lies in a baby carriage with its little
eyes exposed to a glaring sun that almost
blinds it. At both extremes we find the igno-
rance and the consequent suffering. The
remedy for the ignorance in both cases is en-
lightenment and a closer attention on the
mother's part to her child's welfare. Unless
one can have a patient, well-trained nurse
whose intelligence, disposition and self-control
are beyond impeachment, one should keep very
near to the baby at all times, even though such
vigilance entail great personal discomfort and
self-sacrifice. True motherhood means con-

The Training of the Senses 51

tinued self-sacrifice, but a loving self-sacrifice
which has its compensations.

If a child's first right is to its mother, its next
is that it may be a child. Rousseau complained
that nothing was so misunderstood as child-
hood ; that everything is done later to teach a
man already neglected and spoiled in his early
years. He says : " Nature requires children
to be children before they are men. If we un-
dertake to pervert this plan we shall produce
forward fruits, having neither ripeness nor
taste, and certain soon to decay. We shall
have young professors and old children." And
again " When he leaves my hands I acknowl-
edge that he will be neither soldier, priest nor
magistrate ; he will be first of all, a man, all
that a man ought to be, and though fortune
change, he will be prepared for every con-

The extent of the training in many homes
consists in a series of time-honored " Don'ts ; "
"Don't make a noise," "Don't put your
finger in your nose," " Don't put your hands
in your pockets." In many parents' eyes,
the child is a puppet which is not to move
unless they pull the string. He has hands
which are to touch nothing^ eyes which may
see but must desire nothing, feet that may not
go, and a silent tongue. Such children exist
for the parents' sake, not for their own. Right

52 Child Culture

education is disinterested and brings up the
child for its own sake, and for the sake of its
race and country. It should be simultaneously
individual and social. " Bring the most inten-
sive individual existence into harmony with the
most extensive social life, and perfect harmony
will be found to underlie the individual and the
collective existence." The science of education
must harmonize with new conditions which
spring from new knowledge. As Spencer re-
marks, " The more perfect and therefore more
complex an organism is, the more difficulties
beset its harmonious development."

Society places no restraint on the parents'
absolutism, except that if they are brutal, the
" Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children" steps in, removes the unworthy
guardian and appoints another. Society does
nothing to parents who neglect their children,
who consciously or ignorantly instil wrong
principles into them, who permit them to de-
ceive, to lie, or commit other manner of wrong.
Was it not Socrates who said that every time
a youth offended against the right he would
have the parents of the wrong doer lashed for
the offence ?

We speak of educating our children, do not
our children educate us ? Does not woman at-
tain her best development, a finer moral dis-
cernment, a truer judgment, in the management

The Training of the Senses 53

and education of her children than by any
other experience that comes to her. Plato said
long ago : " The best way of training the
young is to train yourself at the same time ; not
to admonish them, but to be always carrying
out your own principles and practice." It is
certain that whatever we wish the child to be,
we must be that to the child ; as a single pre-
cept I know of no other that contains so much
of efficiency.

Every instinct that is manifest in the child
indicates a line of development, and needs only
to be trained and directed. The child that an-
noys a whole household by his restlessness, by
a constant turning from one mischief to another,
is the child who has generated a superfluity of
nervous force and seeks to relieve it in needed
activity. Instead of repressing this natural in-
stinct, find it a legitimate outlet ; it is the in-
stinct which is necessary to his physical growth
and development ; let him go out, run and play,
and change his superabundant vitality into in-
creased muscle, good digestion, thorough circu-
lation of the blood. If he cannot go out, seek
in his surroundings something to engage his
active mood, and Froebel's system here comes
to the rescue with alluring games and songs
which will afford the mother an endless means
of interesting him, and which establish a right
activity before the wrong one can assert itself.

54 Child Culture

One of these is a set of finger games for the
mother to teach her baby while still in arms.
It runs as follows :

"This is the mother good and dear,
This is the father with hearty cheer,
This is the brother stout and tall,
This is the sister who plays with her doll,
And this is the baby, the pet of all,
Behold the good family great and small."

And as the child personifies his fingers and re-
gards them as a small family which he can con-
trol, he has something to engage his thoughts
and affectionate interest. Again if the mother
wishes to put the baby to sleep, instead of hav-
ing a rebellious scene, she can suggest that the
little fingers are tired and wish to sleep, and to
the accompaniment of a soft lullaby, the baby
and the fingers fall asleep together.

The spirit of investigation which attacks all
intelligent children and which is the instinct
that leads to the acquirement of information
and knowledge can be directed by giving them
playthings that are made to take apart and re-
place ; for instance, blocks, which admit of such
a variety of combinations; and the negative
fault of destruction is thus trained to the pos-
itive one of construction. Before the child
turns in any wrong direction supply him with
positive activities in the right direction. This

The Training of the Senses 55

positive upbuilding principle is Froebel's sys-
tem, and it is beautifully elucidated and illus-
trated from her experience in Elizabeth Harri-
son's " Study of Child Nature." The old method
was to DESTROY the wrong, the new method is to
PREVENT it. " What avails it to drive out the
devil, sweep and garnish the house and leave it
empty, if the act only invites seven other de-
mons to come in and inhabit it." Every fault
is the lack of some virtue and the right educa-
tion prevents such defects by leading in the
positive right element as a first inhabitant ; and
then there are no dirty, slovenly tenants to
clean up after. Begin by building the wall
where it is weakest. By knowing her child
thoroughly and studying his tendencies the
mother can soon discover the points that need
propping and strengthening.

Froebel's method also includes the training
of the senses, so as to give the child complete
control of the lower senses which are organic,
and the higher ones which establish the child's
communication with the outer world. The
gratification of physical appetite should be sub-
ordinated to rational ends, giving us Emerson's
idea of "plain living and high thinking." The
control of his appetite is to be effected by cul-
tivating the child's taste for wholesome food
and for that kind alone. When he is old
enough to understand, it can be explained to

56 Child Culture

him that certain foods are required to nourish
the body, that such foods make good blood, and
good blood makes strong muscle, so if he wishes
to be strong he must confine himself to whole-
some food. This promise of strength is very
appealing to little boys. An appeal to the
child's reason sometimes produces unexpectedly
fruitful results, and an artificial appetite can be
discouraged as easily as it can be created. The
undue gratification of the senses leads to over-
indulgence, and this again to gluttony and sen-
suality. A child's appetite in its original nor-
mal state can be retained if the proper measures
are adopted from the beginning. In vicious
feeding is sown the seed of that most terrible
of woes, intemperance, for they are one and the
same in principle excessive stimulation of the
appetite, false food engendering false appetites.
Froebel appreciated this danger, and in his
" Education of Man " says : " In the early
years the child's food is a matter of very great
importance ; not only may the child by this
means be made indolent or active, sluggish or
mobile, dull or bright, inert or vigorous, but
indeed for his entire life. Impressions, inclina-
tions, appetites, which the child may have de-
rived from his food, the turn it may have given
to his senses, and even to his life as a whole,
can only with difficulty be set aside, even when
the age of self-dependence has been reached;

The Training of the Senses 57

they are one with his whole physical life, and
therefore intimately connected with his spiritual
life." And again " Parents and nurses should
ever remember, as underlying every precept in
this direction, the following general principle :
That simplicity and frugality in food and in
other physical needs during the years of child-
hood enhance man's power of attaining happi-
ness and vigor, true creativeness in every re-
spect. Who has not noticed in children over-
stimulated by spices and excess of food, appe-
tites of a very low order, from which they can
never again be free appetites which even when
they seem to have been suppressed, only slum-
ber and in times of opportunity reappear, to rob
man of all his dignity, and to force him away
from his duty. It is far easier than we think to
promote and establish the welfare of mankind,
and here it is easy to avoid the wrong and to find
the right. Always let the food be simply for
nourishment, never more, never less. Never
should it be taken for its own sake, but for the
sake of promoting bodily and mental activity.
Still less should the peculiarities of food, its
taste or delicacy, ever become an object, but
only a means to make it good, pure, wholesome
nourishment. Let the food of the little child
be as simple as the circumstances in which the
child lives can afford, and let it be in propor-
tion to his bodily and mental activities."

58 Child Culture

In the motto of the " Fasting Song " Froebel
says to the mother :

"Even through the senses Nature woos thy child,
Thou canst help him comprehend her lessons mild; "

He means that nature strives to educate your
child spiritually. His convictions are : " That
the soul, the Divine element in each child is as
it were sealed up when he first comes into the
world, and is gradually awakened and strength-
ened by the impressions which come to him
through the senses from the outside world; that
the physical and spiritual growth of the child
go forward simultaneously, but the one by
means of the other." The selfish side of amuse-
ments, of dress, of the body, should be relegated
to the background, and the inner motives lead-
ing to the higher spiritual side of character
brought forward. Commend the child more
for beautiful conduct, for kind thought, for
moral efforts, than for the brightness of his
eyes, the beauty of his hair or any physical su-
periority. If parents place appearances above
meritorious action the child will make the same
untrue discrimination ; the spirit of the parent
possesses the child, and the waters must first
be purified at their source before they can
throw out crystal clear streams for the child's
delectation. As Emerson says of man, so of

The Training of the Senses 59

the child, he " cannot hear what you say, what
you are roars so in (my) his ears."

By such elevated guidance the child will not,
as he matures, place his highest hopes on mate-
rial things. He whose reliance for happiness
is based on externals is doomed to disappoint-
ment ; it is only in the higher life of the spirit
that man can find a trustworthy anchorage. It
is the final view to which all human experience
and that mirror of human life, the best litera-
ture brings us, that in self and selfish ends man
need not look for happiness that only outside
of self can it be found. Man cannot know the
supreme moment until he

"Takes up the harp of life, and smites on all its chords

with might.
Smites the chord of Self, that trembling, passes in music

out of sight."


THE child's will shows itself very early in
life in the strength with which it is attracted
to some object, and the effort it makes to secure
that object. It cries and struggles with Lao-
coon desperation in its determination to have
its will, and the desire is usually granted by
the parents, because to yield to the child's wish
is the easiest way. Self-will is indulged until
it has obtained a healthy growth, when the
mother concludes that it must be broken, and
then a conflict ensues which is as harmful and
as injudicious as the first course. Before the
child's reasoning faculties are sufficiently de-
veloped to be appealed to, before it is old
enough to be moved in its sympathies to the
right, it can only be taught to submit its will.
If articles which it should not have are invaria-
bly withheld, and certain ones which it may
have always granted, it soon learns to distin-
guish between them and to coincide in the
regulation ; on the other hand, a series of most
disastrous scenes follow the irregularity which
sometimes cedes, sometimes refuses, the same
article. By being consistent, the mother not

The Training of the Will 61

only commands submission at the time, but
also a habit of obedience, which is the first and
most essential lesson in the child's curriculum.

Good sense on the mother's part is most nec-
essary in training the child to obedience, while
disobedience is often incited by arbitrary and
unnecessary exactions. There should be few
requirements, only such as are for the baby's
own sake and they should be invariable. Never
exact of him more than he is yet able to give,
and if a baby does not relish kisses, which are
not necessary to his moral, mental or physical
development, do not torment and compel him
to accept them. By making the exactions com-
mensurate with his strength he will grow in
power, and in time respond to the larger de-
mands on his obedience. He should be per-
mitted all the freedom of will that is consistent
with reason and convenience, and this method
united with a wise direction of his activities
will furnish safeguards against those rebellions
which are so detrimental to a child's character.

Rousseau says : " When the infant cries, it
is from discomfort. It is unable to help itself
in the least, and can only express its sensation
of pain by cries, which are calls for aid. Instead
of rocking, or tossing, or scolding it, ascertain
the cause of the uneasiness and relieve it. If
the cause cannot be found, it is useless to try
to console it by means unsuited to the source

62 Child Culture

of its discomfort. At first, in its weakness, it
implores needful aid, which should be accorded ;
but by injudicious responses to its prayers, the
latter are converted into commands. The
baby's commands should not be heeded; his
physical comforts should be diligently attended
to, but he should not be permitted to command
people, for he is not their master. He soon
looks on those around him as instruments, which
lie is to keep in motion, to use for securing
every capricious desire ; he thus becomes tyran-
nical, perverse and imperious, and the parents
have themselves created this spirit of domina-
tion by unwise administration. In helping him,
we must confine ourselves to what is really of
use to him, yielding nothing to his whims or
unreasonable wishes. Such caprice is unnec-
essary, contributes nothing to his happiness,
and will not be manifest except as we create it.
Give the child more personal freedom, and less
authority ; let him do more for himself and
exact less of others. He will thus become ac-
customed to desire only what he can obtain for
himself, and will feel less keenly the want of
what is not within his power.

" If the child is petted or coaxed when he
cries, he is educated to cry. If you- cannot
relieve a real discomfort, do nothing; do not
try to soothe him by petting him. Your ca-
resses cannot relieve his pain, but he will re-

The Training of the Will 63

member what is necessary to do to be humored,
and when lie discovers that he can, at will, en-
gage your solicitous attention, he is your master.
If we show indifference to his crying, if we
take no pains to hush it, he will, receiving no
satisfaction, discontinue the practice. Antici-
pate his needs and do not wait for him to notify
you by crying, which begets the habit; but do
not evince much uneasiness and distress at his
tears, for when he finds that they have power
to move, he will be very lavish of them. By
disregarding unreasonable crying the habit is
prevented, and if it already exists, can be

Judicious and consistent management are,
however, only the outer breastworks which pro-
tect the inner stronghold for a period, and to a
certain extent. Neither love nor wisdom can
construct a fortification strong enough to keep

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Online LibraryMartha B MosherChild culture in the home. A book for mothers → online text (page 3 of 13)