This article originally appeared in Vol.1 No.6-7 (1936) of Pioneer Magazine
by B. Larkin Collis
When the women of America sauntered into the commercial life of the nation and sought so much activity outside of the home, when she decreed the home duties as menial and proclaimed motherhood as drudgery, then the home life of the nation began to depreciate.
The American home, during the last three decades, has begun to depreciate—there is a decadence of the “old type home”. The individual home has in so many instances given away to life in “apartments and family hotels” which are in many particulars with their curtailing freedom as detrimental to child welfare and the sacredness of family life as are tenements or slums.
Parenthood is a serious business and the charge of having a family is indeed a happy problem, but the ability to deal with this happy problem of parenthood does not come by instinct. The duties of motherhood and the discharge of maternal functions are responsibilities for which little preparation is made and seldom have they been considered in the light of professional duties and yet upon these mothers and the proper discharge of parental duties depends not only the happiness and success of the homes of the county, but the very life and death, the morality or delinquency of the nation’s children.
Mothers, by choice and divine consecration, love family life and they never regard the rearing of children as a burdensome task. Unsound psychologists, propounding revolutionary ideas concerning the bringing up of children and conflicting pseudo-scientific pronouncements by those who have devoted much of their time to the study of the science of child training but never have borne nor reared a child, have sprinkled fear in the ranks of wives who shrink from the responsibility of motherhood.’
The world is full of child experts enrolled in the prevailing schools of thought pertaining to bringing up of children. These experts specialize in some particular branch of the child culture, but they never experience the reality of the child-rearing mother.
Every true mother regards the charge of having a family as “a happy problem”—indeed this is true motherhood at its best and in its greatest wisdom.
The sincere and intelligent mother makes her most sacred offering in bearing a child; she shows her greatest wisdom in rearing the child in the light of tier experience and intelligent study of her own motherhood. She finds no one adage to follow nor any successful rule to apply in bringing up her children, She knows that the problems of childhood are as numerous as are the children who have problems.
There is no easy way for the bringing up of a child.
The wise and understanding mother knows this and she also knows that each child is different in characteristics and temperament arid each presents a separate individual problem with its own particular unfolding personality, all of which she must understand. A good mother is a wise interpreter for her child of the life about him—of persons—-of-things-—of conditions that confront him.
Discipline and restraint, of course, are necessary forces in the bringing up of the child and must not be relinquished by parents. Child protection and guidance are essential parental duties and throughout childhood the closest parental attention is required. A wise mother will study all aspects touching the physical, mental and spiritual life of her child. Each child has a very distinct personality of its own which must be carefully studied and intelligently understood.
Mother must get not only a mental grasp of the immediate problems of her child, but she must visualize the paths that lead to its life’s goal. Like great leaders good mothers must be endowed with the qualities of energy, thought and heart. Like good executives wise mothers get the facts, set an objective, make a plan: and concentrate upon the execution of her plan. – Like clever salesman, tactful mothers get their child to see things, as she sees them. The wise mother knows that she can no longer force by physical force, but by wisdom and superior knowledge. She must not only have knowledge of the child, but accurate knowledge of the environs of his life, and she must have the power to interpret the realities of life as they confront the child in its daily life.
Good rules come out of the analysis of success; success never cuts her rates. Her goods are always in demand and everyone must pay her price. If women love motherhood they will pay the price for the success of being a mother. They will have the heart to accept it, develop the energy to endure it and give it the thought required to make their motherhood a success.
Motherhood is a most intensely living and personal power; it shapes the patterns of childhood and fits child life into the life of the family unit. Wives who have not the love, the energy and thought to willingly accept it or who fear to face it with the privilege of having children lest that motherhood become burdensome find neither joy nor success in bringing up their children nor do they contribute much to the high ideals of the American home as the starting point in the life of the nation’s children.
The American home with its sturdy parents—with its happy children—with its social and economic freedom and security stands as the nation’s only sound basic institution. There must be no decadence of the family life of the American homes.
“Thinking, not growth, makes manhood. Accustom yourself, therefore, to thinking. Set-yourself to understand whatever you see or read. To join thinking with reading is one of the first maxims, and one of the easiest operations”— Isaac Taylor.
“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”—Confucius.