The principles, then, which are meant to be illustrated and enforced in this chapter are these:
1. That the mental faculties of children on which the exercise of judgment and of the power of reasoning depend are not among those which are the earliest developed, and they do not attain, in the first years of life, to such a degree of strength or maturity as to justify placing any serious reliance upon them for the conduct of life.
2. Parents should, accordingly, not put them to any serious test, or impose any heavy burden upon them; but should rely solely on their own authority, as the expression of their own judgment, and not upon their ability to convince the judgment of the child, in important cases, or in those where its inclinations or its feelings are concerned.
3. But they may greatly promote the healthy development of these faculties on the part of their children, by bringing to their view the less obvious bearings and relations of various acts and occurrences on which judgment is to be passed, in cases where their feelings and inclinations are not specially concerned—doing this either in the form of explaining their own parental principles of management, or practically, by intrusting them with responsibility, and giving them a degree of actual power commensurate with it, in cases where it is safe to do so; and,
4. They may enlarge the range of the children’s ideas, and accustom them to take wider views of the various subjects which occupy their attention, by discussing with them the principles involved in the several cases; but such discussions must be conducted in a calm, gentle, and considerate manner, the parent looking always upon what the child says in the most favorable light, putting the best construction upon it, and admitting its force, and then presenting such additional views as ought also to be taken into account, with moderate earnestness, and in an unobtrusive manner, thus taking short and easy steps himself in order to accommodate his own rate of progress to the still imperfectly developed capabilities of the child.