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Child culture in the home. A book for mothers online

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fellow-man, that only by an extension of his own
sympathies can he create love in those around
him. Only by suffering the consequences of
ignorance, sin, and weakness, is the need of a
remedy urged. On this law of cause and effect
hangs the progress of the world ; it is inevita-
ble, just, and to man's ultimate benefit. The
recognition of this law is the aim and attain-
ment of punishment, and the wise man knows
that it is useless to try to thwart or to evade it,
that he can only adjust himself to it, and the
wise parent will bring out in his child's disci-
pline the divine law of justice and compensa-

" He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but
he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
These words of Solomon have influenced
countless numbers of parents to the wielding
of the rod, but like many injunctions of the
Bible are probably symbolic. If by the " rod "
is meant "punishment," the proverb is a salu-

Punishment and Reward 83

tary one ; but as so many of the practices of
the Old Testament were set at naught by
Christ in the higher law of the New Testament,
it is remarkable that these words of the king
with the seven hundred wives and three hun-
dred other lady friends, who, though he uttered
much wisdom, did not always practice it, but
fell from the grace of the Lord, should have
such weight in all households, and in every
generation of parents. But all proverbs in
which another is the victim, are easier of re-
membrance and execution.

Rewarding children for goodness is a false
sentiment, and checks rather than aids their
right development, for it induces false motives.
Policy ! Expediency ! Diplomacy ! These words
should have no place in the child's education.
Without a doubt the right way is also ulti-
mately the advantageous way, but if it were
not, it should still be the guide ; instead of
teaching that "Honesty is the best policy,"
teach that honesty is the best principle^ even if
it were not the best policy ; that man must do
right whether it pays or not. When principle
is involved, the question, "Will it pay?" should
never arise. The child may be rewarded for
correcting himself of bad personal habits in
which no mortal question is involved, or even
for exceptional good work in his studies if the
effort has been a difficult one, although even

84 Child Culture

that is ot doubtful advisability; but for his
spiritual advancement, or moral rectitude,
never. That is his duty to God, and should
not be placed on a low material plane.



NOTHING more clearly demonstrates the
fallibility and mutability of human views than
the fact that what is deemed sinfulness in one
generation becomes a chief agency of educa-
tion in another; the playful tendencies of
children were regarded by Puritan asceticism
as evidence of depravity, while they are now
admitted to be the heart of child-education.
In the child's early years play is the agency
that gives him health, acquaintance with his en-
vironment, and unconscious sympathy with the
natural, the human, and the divine.

'Physical impressions are at first the only
mediums possible for awakening the child's
sensibilities ; the impressions of that early
period should therefore be regulated, and not

left to chance It is not advised that

one shall enter the realm of babyhood, and in-
terfere with the infant's legitimate tastes by
pragmatic pedagogic reasoning, but that one
shall select his toys and plays wisely, and then
let him enjoy the emotional impressions they
create ; his toys speak to his feelings, his im-
agination, as nothing else can. The baby has

86 Child Culture

not reached the age of investigation and has no
vulgar curiosity as to the internal arrangements
of his woolly bunny or kitten, but hugs it to
his breast and loves and reveres it in its en-
tirety.' As he advances in years and under-
stands and participates in games and play, these
should contain purpose and not be altogether
trivial in character ; if the moral and intel-
lectual powers, through evil heredity or other-
wise, are not properly balanced, rightly directed
plays may be made the agency for restoring the*
harmony. Play is an absolute necessity to his
physical life, which depends very greatly on
the exercise he takes, and no exercise is so
beneficial as that which has a motive, which is
therefore voluntary and pleasurable. Running
produces a healthy development of the lungs
and limbs attainable by no other method.

The work and business of life are so en-
grossing that in the ordinary household the
child is left to the atmosphere of servants, the
street and chance. The problem is how to
furnish fair, faithful environment for these
chrysalis breaking years, when the habits are
forming, the imagination is awakening, and the
emotions are quickening. A great deal may be
done through the medium of the child's play
and playthings. It is claimed that the periods
of man's life run parallel to the racial periods.
The races in their primitive savage states are

The Value of Play 87

preeminently physicial, and struggle for the
mastery of the material world ; so the first
years of the child's life are absorbed in its
physical growth, and in securing concrete im-
pressions. Then, in the development of the
race follows the period when the intellectual
begins to join forces with the physical, and the
dawn of civilization rises in the skilled use of
the primitive man's hands, in his mastery of
numbers; and in the modification of the choric
dances and shouting songs to the dawning
music of civilization. This is the time of his
greatest triumphs, and is the corresponding
period in the child's life which must be bridged
for him that he may emerge from the purely
physical, and begin to realize his intellectual
and moral possibilities.

The child thinks only through symbols, that
is, he realizes his own concept of what he has
seen and heard. Froebel's plays and games
give him a symbolic education, and he is led
through a series of primitive occupations such
as plaiting, weaving, modeling, through games
and dances which bring into play all the social
relations. The purpose of the plays is manifold ;
to awaken the child's interest and sympathy ;
to lead him along the path the race has trod,
and to teach him self-government. If the
child has not access to the kindergarten, many
of the songs and much of the manual work of

88 Child Culture

the Froebel System can be introduced into the
home, and when there are several children a
great number of the plays can be used. The
mother or superintendent of the plays should
not permit them to be carelessly produced,
nor to degenerate into mere romps. They
should be conducted by a woman educated in
the principles and theories underlying them.
The intellectual and moral development
through play is very important. The childish
heart opens spontaneously in play, and while
the barriers are down, the wise teacher can
enter and lead the child's sympathies as she
wishes. While his interest is aroused his emo-
tions are accessible, and through the emotions
one reaches his thought, thence his will, and
from his will the influence extends to his char-
acter. It is only necessary that his environ-
ment be right, for in his plays and in his grow-
ing personality he will reflect his environment.
The undirected plays of children are almost
always those of imitation : in fact not only their
plays, but their manners and personalities are
the result of an unconscious imitation of the
persons who surround them in childhood. A
child who has for sole associates his father and
mother will be a small copy of one or both ; he
cannot interpret their actions, but he gives a
blind imitation of them. In intercourse with
brother, sister or playmate, just so far as his

The Value of Play 89

sensibilities are moved, he imitates them, and
in imitation his habits are formed. It is, there-
fore, most important that while his habits are
crystallizing, his associates be of superior char-
acter, and if an underbred maid or street gamin
are his sole companions, what can one hope for?
By a varied contact, by receiving suggestions
from many sources instead of from only one or
two, he is compelled to make a choice, and thus
in the stress of the conflict of suggestions the
conscience is born and his ethical life dawns.
The friendships and companions should not,
therefore, be too limited, but should have some
variety, for variety of association is the soul of

By imitation the child learns to understand.
When he is imitating the fluttering and flight
of the bird or butterfly, he is entering into
sympathy with bird and butterfly life ; when
the boy, as father bird, roams out in search of
the worms for his baby birds, he not only expe-
riences the feelings of the father bird, but the
instincts of fatherhood, protection, and respon-
sibility are fostered in his own breast. As she
plays the mother sheep caring for her white
lambkins, the little girl's maternal instincts are
quickened, and she is for the moment the mother
of white lambkins, and learns to love her flock.
In all Froebel's plays he mirrors the instinct of
universal life ; he makes the child undergo " a

90 Child Culture

systematized sequence of experience through
which he grows into self-knowledge, clear ob-
servation and unconscious perception of, the
whole circle of relationships," until the symbols
of the plays become the truth symbolized in
the child's character and personality. Froebel
believes in positives, not negatives in teaching;
in stimulants instead of in deterrents. Every
child is on the warpath for something to do,
and his interest is in objects, in the concrete ;
he wants his senses fed, he wants to examine,
to feel, to see and hear the material things of
this, to him, new world, and when he has taken
in the living facts, when he has perceived, com-
pared, and been instructed in his surroundings,
then he is ready to see and hear what others
have seen and heard. He must first know ob-
jects, then thoughts and their progress.

As soon as the child attains consciousness,
he manifests a taste for imitating every live
thing with which he comes in contact ; first the
sounds of the rooster, the dog, cat and cow ;
then the actions and instincts of these animals
should be observed. He also personifies still
life, and his father's cane becomes an uncon-
trollable charger, which he seeks to tame. The
little girl showers on her rag babies all the love
and affection which she has herself received
from her own mother ; every toy, no matter how
damaged or memberless, plays a part in her

The Value of Play 91

dramatic imagination, and the child meanwhile
grows in sympathy and in comprehension of
the ever widening circle of human relationships.
"Every conscious intellectual phase of the
mind is preceded by the symbolic stage." The
child illumines with his imagination all the
realties that surround him and tries to combine
his fancy with the fact ; he overlooks most
glaring deficiencies for the purpose of his play ;
a wooden post makes a superb father, and a
chair or table a most satisfactory mother, and
the fertility of his mind is manifest in the use
he makes of the materials supplied by his en-
vironment. As the play progresses the pictures
of father and mother emerge strangely like the
ones in the next room ; the quality of his own
father and mother speak out to the life in their
wooden representatives; the tenderness, care,
dignity, self-denial of the mother are all de-
picted, and alas ! also any impatience or other
imperfection of which she may have been guilty.
The child sacrifices nothing to ideality he is
an intense realist. One may truly say that
heredity does not end, but only begins at

These plays embody very rich lessons for the
child. In the enactment of the role of mother,
so often played by little girls, in the kindly of-
fices which she takes pleasure in performing for
others, in her noble self-denial for her imaginary

92 Child Culture

child, in her sense of responsibility then as-
sumed, the little player receives direct valuable
education, none the less so because it is uncon-
sciously imbibed. In impersonating the good
qualities of her mother, she has also appreciated
them, and by frequent repeatings they become
ingrained in her nature. If good qualities pre-
dominate in the parents, then more good quali-
ties will be reflected in the little imitation ;
qualities of the opposite character are likewise
reflected. If, then, by the imitations of its en-
vironment the child's nature is formed and in-
structed, how carefully guarded should be that
environment ; how the mother should every
moment protect her little one from evil, stimu-
late it to good, how she should use its games
and plays to instil right impressions, direct its
communications with nature, and give it con-
tact only with goodness, beauty and wisdom.

Parents labor hard and self-sacrificingly for
their child's material welfare and advancement,
but too often the mental growth, the formation
of its character and personality is left to chance,
or to beings so ignorant and incompetent, if
not immoral, that in their unfitness for better
things they engage to attend a child. The
child's attendant is often the least capable, most
poorly compensated domestic in the household,
when she should be the superior, and the
best paid. Pater-familias pays forty dollars per

The Value of Play 93

month to some one to care for his horses, and
from ten to fifteen dollars for a maid to care for
his child. What matters it if cobwebs hang in
the corners, so long as none enter the child's
brain; what signifies it whether the kitchen
chef is adept at making entrees or pastries if
the child's heart and soul remain pure and
healthy ? Sidney Smith says, " If you make
children happy now, you will make them happy
twenty years hence by the memory of it." Let
the child have a joyous, natural, happy child-
hood in the best sense of happiness ; not by in-
dulging selfish, rude propensities, but by direct-
ing wisely his instincts into self-forgetfulness,
and consideration of the rights of all around
him, by unlocking to him the significance of
family and social relationships that he may grow
in sympathy with them.

" The further intellectual advantages of play
are the demands for concentration of attention
on the details and exigencies of the game, the
quick judgment necessary to success, and the
determined effort to execute the player's own
decision. These requirements produce the most
important of intellectual results * The co-
ordination of the different parts of the brain ;
they develop mental alertness, directness in
conclusions, and the tendency to execute these
conclusions wisely and skilfully to the full ex-
tent of the individual's power.'

94 Child Culture

"In play, moral qualities and powers are also
wrought into the child's character, which are
much more definite and thorough than those
developed by admonition. Self-control is re-
quired through the duties and demands of the
game, respectful submission to authority is a
rule which cannot be departed from ; energy is
cultivated by the needs of prompt, vigorous ef-
forts to succeed. Hopeful perseverance in over-
coming difficulties is the only road to victory,
and courage to rise again after defeat is taught
by the players repeating the struggle again
after every failure. All powers grow by self-
activity, by conscious putting forth of earnest
effort, and in games many intellectual and
moral activities are brought into play, and are
necessary to their success." l

Toys are valuable in promoting plays as they
appeal to the child's heart, and aid his imagina-
tion. A boy can realize himself much more of
a soldier if he is properly equipped with gun
and sword, breastplates, epaulets and vizor,
although sticks and brooms and paper caps
serve a very imaginative child admirably for
lack of better. A boy can realize himself a
much better engineer or conductor if he has an
engine with a real train of cars attached to it,
though a train of empty spools has been known

1 Educational Review Nov. 1894. Educational Value of
Play, by J. L. Hughes.

The Value of Play 95

to puff and whistle and let off steam in won-
drous fashion. By the aid of toys the child at
least realizes much better the prototype which
he emulates and which has become his ideal,
therefore the toys of different nations reveal the
leading characteristics and aims of those na-
tions. In France the dolls are most artistically
dressed, are surrounded by much detail of
finery, and all the toys show versatility and in-
genuity. The toys in Germany are much more
substantially and less artistically made ; the
doll house with clean floors and stiff furniture
and the complete kitchen with all the accesso-
ries of the thorough housewife the ideal char-
acter of the German woman. Then there are
beautiful, perfectly outfitted butchers' and bak-
ers' shops for boys, all representing the thrifty
trade life of the middle classes of Germany.
Some one has said : " If you tell me what your
children play with, we will tell you what sort
of women and men they will be ; so let this re-
public make the toys which will raise the moral
and artistic character of her children."

Kate Douglas Wiggin says in her chapter on
" Playthings " in " Children's Rights," " Every
thoughtful person knows that the simple nat-
ural playthings of the old-fashioned child,
which are nothing more than pegs on which he
hangs his glowing fancies, are healthier than
are the complicated modern mechanisms in

96 Child Culture

which the child has only to press the buttons
and the toys do the rest.

" The electric talking doll, for example ; im-
agine a generation of children brought up on
that ! And the toymakers are not even con-
tent with this grand personage, four feet high,
who says : l Papa !' * Mama ! ' She is passee al-
ready ; they have begun to improve on her !
An electrician described a superb new altruistic
doll, fitted to the needs of the present decade.
You are to press a judiciously located button
and ask her the test question which is, if she
will have some candy ; whereupon with angelic
detached movement smile (located in the left
cheek) she answers : ' Give brother BIG piece ;
give me little piece ! ' If the thing gets out of
order (and I devoutly hope it will) it will
doubtlessly return to a state of nature, and
horrify the bystanders by remarking : * Give
me big piece ; give brother LITTLE piece ! *

" Think of having a gilded dummy like that
given you to amuse yourself with ! Think of
having to PLAY, to PLAY, forsooth with a model
of propriety, a high-minded monstrosity like
that ! Doesn't it make you long for your dear
old darkey doll with the raveled mouth, and
the stuffing leaking out of her legs ; or your
beloved Arabella Clarinda, with the broken
nose, beautiful even in dissolution " creatures
not too bright or good for human nature's daily

The Value of Play 97

food ? " Banged, battered, hairless, sharers of
our mad joys and reckless sorrows, how we
loved them in their simple ugliness ! With
what halo of romance we surrounded them!
With what devotion we .nursed the one with
the broken head, in those early days when new
heads were not to be bought at the nearest
shop ! And even if they could have been pur-
chased for us, would we, the primitive children
of those dear, dark ages, have ever thought of
wrenching off the cracked blonde head of Eth-
elinda and buying a new strange, nameless bru-
nette head, gluing it calmly on Ethelinda's
body, as a small acquaintance of mine did last
week, apparently without a single pang ?
Never ! A doll had a personality in those
times, and has yet, to a few simple backwoods
souls even in this day and generation."

The imitations of real life appeal to the min-
iature man and woman ; they are adapted to
his and her size and symbolize the real things
which will interest them later. The little boy
sells the apples out of his toy cart with all the
dignity, tone and commercial spirit of the real
tradesman of whom he buys, and with the de-
light which an ever-varying trade confers. How
many battles the boy fights with his toy im-
plements of war before a real battle is forced
upon him ; how much responsibility the little
girl assumes in the management of her large

98 Child Culture

family of dolls, in the MENAGE of her doll house,
and the conduct of her kitchen, before she en-
ters on the real duties of motherhood ! The
child's powers are developed definitely by those
symbols which form a bridge between the mi-
crocosm and the macrocosm, between the little
man with his small capacities and the great is-
sues of life. They generate the powers in em-
bryo, which, in full development give him the
conquest of all the elements and forces of life,
and which, when mastered, surrender to him a
power which seems almost divine.

Most parents appreciate the need of play in
the child's life, even if they do not know the
elements that renders it wholesome and profit-

Let us examine into the pleasures provided
the older boys and girls.

It can scarcely be claimed that in America
the older children, the YOUTH are in this regard
maltreated or unduly restricted, although a bet-
ter balance might be established. In one
family the whole aim seems to be to repress the
animal spirits and love of pleasure, to give
them no indulgence, while in more families a
continual round of gaiety becomes the object
of the young man's and. young woman's ex-
istence ; they demand it as imperatively as
they do their food. It seldom occurs in cases
of unnatural restriction and of neglect to pro-

The Value of Play 99

vide legitimate amusements, that there is not a
rebound ; for the instinct for diversion is as
natural as any instinct in man's constitution,
and all attempts to destroy natural instincts
terminate in revolt and reversion. Neither
should the immoderately inclined young people
be permitted to indulge their bent, but it is the
duty of all parents to provide a modicum of
wholesome amusement and recreation for the
youth of the home, IN THE HOME, and by so
doing the privilege of directing their children's
pleasures will remain with the parents.

By far the best amusements are those that
contribute to the general vitality and physical
development all out-of-doors sports, which,
however, to be beneficial should be regular,
and not spasmodic as is too often the case.
Nothing contributes more to a healthy frame
of mind and banishes every taint of the morbid
as a free circulation of the blood induced by
an abundance of exercise and oxygen. Danc-
ing is good if the benefit is not counterbal-
anced by late suppers, late hours, and ill venti-
lated rooms. Wise parents provide their girls
and boys with elevated pleasures at home, that
they may have no temptations to seek them
elsewhere ; they let them feel that the freedom
of the house is theirs, that they may extend
its hospitality at any time with no, or with
only short, notice ; and if one can offer nothing

loo Child Culture

but crackers and cheese, it being served
daintily and with a gracious welcome, there is
nothing of which to be ashamed. One's table
appointments should always be such that they
will bear the scrutiny of an unexpected guest.

It is not advisable to permit young people to
pass the night away from home ; the habit is
open to so many abuses.

The drama, also, by judicious selections may
be employed not only for pleasure but also for
profit ; but parents must carefully choose plays
containing the right elements. The average
play is not, it is to be regretted, of an elevat-
ing character, and many are undisguisedly im-
moral; therefore it is most unwise to permit
young girls and boys to attend them indiscrim-
inately. There are, however, dramatic produc-
tions that are as powerful pleaders for good
morals, elevated sentiment, high-minded de-
termination, as many sermons one hears in the
pulpit, and when the stage can, like good litera-
ture, exert such a potent ethical influence, it is
lamentable that it does not do more in that di-
rection. One may as well say, because there
are pernicious books, that one will not read at
all, as to decline to discriminate in the matter
of the stage. Since the quality of the supply
must under existing conditions be regulated by
the demand, the present predominance of the
unfit and the superficial would indicate a de-

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Online LibraryMartha B MosherChild culture in the home. A book for mothers → online text (page 5 of 13)