And your boy—now so ardent and impulsive, and often, perhaps, noisy, troublesome, and rude, from the exuberant action of his growing powers—when these powers shall have received their full development, and he has passed from your control to his place in the world as a man, and he comes back from time to time to the maternal home in grateful remembrance of his obligations to his mother, bringing with him tokens of his affection and love, you will think with pain of the occasions when you subjected him to the torture of the rod under the impulse of irritation or anger, or to accomplish the ends of discipline which might have been attained in other ways. Time, as you then look back over the long interval of years which have elapsed, will greatly soften the recollection of the fault, but it will greatly aggravate that of the pain which was made the retribution of it. You will say to yourself, it is true, I did it for the best. If I had not done it, my son would perhaps not be what he is. He, if he remembers the transaction, will doubtless say so too; but there will be none the less for both a certain sting in the recollection, and you will wish that the same end could have been accomplished by gentler means.
The substance of it is that children must, at all events, be governed. The proper authority over them must be maintained; but it is a great deal better to secure this end by gentle measures, if the parent have or can acquire the skill to employ them.
GRATITUDE IN CHILDREN.
Mothers are very often pained at what seems to them the ingratitude of their children. They long, above all things, for their love. They do every thing in their power—I mean, of course, that some mothers do—to win it. They make every sacrifice, and give every possible evidence of affection; but they seem to fail entirely of bringing out any of those evidences of gratitude and affection in return which, if they could only witness them, would fill their hearts with gladness and joy. But the only feeling which their children manifest towards them seems to be a selfish one. They come to them when in trouble, they even fly to them eagerly when in danger, and they consider their parents the chief resource for procuring nearly all their means of gratification. But they think little, as it often seems, of the mother’s comfort and enjoyment in return, and seldom or never do any thing voluntarily to give her pleasure.
It would be a great exaggeration to say that this is always the feeling of the mother in respect to her children. I only mean that this is sometimes, and I might probably say very often, the case.
Two Forms of Love.