|||| Gentle Hearth ||| A Story from 1856 on Self Improvemnt ||| Contact ||||
"My soul look, well around thee ere thou give thy timid unto sorrow"
One of the hot days of the last few weeks, it was my lot to be riding in the cars a long day's journey. When we started in the early morning the traveling was delightful. The country looked green and bright with the night's dew, and the soft, cool morning breeze refreshed us as it blew through the cars.
But as we went on, the sun grew hotter and hotter, the dust blew into the cars mingled with cinders, and we all felt that for the rest of the way we were doomed to discomfort. I tried, with a book, to lose my sense of the present trials, but my attention was diverted from reading by a group which occupied the seat nearest me. It consisted of a mother, a father, and a little bright-looking boy of three or four years old. I noticed them when the cars first started sitting at a distance from me, but they had now changed their seats, and were so near to me that I could not avoid both seeing and hearing all that was going on. " Be quiet, will you ?" were the first words from the mother, said in an excited and impatient manner.
But the little one could not be quiet. He had been travel- ling for many hours, he had exhausted all his means of amusement, and eaten cake and candy till he could eat no more. He had examined the cars over and over again, until the novelty was all at an end and he was evidently hot and uncomfortable. As well might you tell the wind to stop blowing, as to tell him to be quiet. So he looked at his mother, and then began to tease and whine, and to say that he was tired and wanted some water.
I thought she would sympathize with the little one, and try to amuse and comfort him. But the noise evidently irritated her. "If you are not still in a minute, George Henry, Iíll throw you out of the window; I will do it". The child looked frightened for a minute, and seemed to think it would be a terrible fate. But his reason, and experience too, we may suppose, told him that this threat would never be carried into execution.
He tried however for a little while to amuse himself with his mother's gloves, but they were snatched away from him, and then he was evidently compelled to begin again. "Mamma, mamma, I' m tired," and then came a louder demonstration. By this time the father had waked from his nap, in no very pleasant mood it seemed, for hearing the child's voice, he immediately made a dive at him, shook him, and boxed his ears violently. " There now, stop crying and be quiet." But that was evidently out of the question. He could not do it at once, and the mother joined her voice to say in the same impatient, angry way, " Hush, hush, I tell you, or you will get it again !" As soon as possible the child stopped the loud voice, and cowed down in his seat with a sulky look, and a disturbed expression on his face. The next time I looked he had fallen asleep, much to my satisfaction, and his sleep lasted till we were near our journey's end.
Very much of this kind of treatment of children is there in the world and if there were not a kind Providence watching over these little ones to overrule the bad influences of early training, still smaller than it is would be the proportion of good men and women.
How many parents there are who seem to forget the tremendous responsibility that rests upon them, the great work that God gave them to do when he put little children in their arms, and who act, instead, as if they sought only how to rear and educate them with the least trouble to themselves. They seem to begrudge the time it takes, as if their whole time were too much to give to the training of immortal souls. Oh, the impatience that seizes a little child and inflicts a punishment in the heat of an angry moment,-how much has it to answer for ? Do not be surprised to see the temper of your child uncontrolled as he grows older. You have been teaching him day by day, from his infancy, by your own impatience, and hasty yielding to passion, When waywardness and carelessness have irritated you.
Calmly, and quietly, and lovingly, must a child be governed. If severe punishment must be inflicted, if in no other way can obedience be gained, wait until every spark of angry feeling has left you, and let him see that you go about it solemnly and sadly.
This teaching children falsehood, too, by unmeaning threats; what a store of trouble is a parent laying up for himself who does it! Not in the smallest degree, not in the youngest child, ought it to be practiced. The child will remember it; he will look back a few years hence; be will feel that it a false; and he may say, If falsehood is justifiable in one case it is in another; if in my mother, in me.
Love and tenderness go very far in the management of children; not a foolish indulgence that pampers the appetite and yields weakly to every foolish desire, but the quiet love that wraps the arms about the child, and lays cheek to cheek, and speaks so softly that the little one feels in his inmost heart that he is blessed by it; feels that he cannot slight it or disobey it. The rough boy on whom threats would be lost, who feels too proud to be afraid of punishment, will be melted, and be ready to give up darling plans, by such a love as this.
To educate children as God would have us, to feel a hope that we are fittings them for heaven, requires a life of watchfulness and prayer. Of watchfulness lest we, by our example, by yielding to impatience or selfishness, may implant in the souls of our children, seeds that in coming years will bring forth bitter fruits. Of prayer; that we may be aided and strengthened by an Almighty hand.