“But you know,” added her mother, speaking in a very kind and gentle tone, “that you did not tell me the truth to-day about the apple that Bridget gave you.”
Louisa paused a moment, looked in her mother’s face, and then, reaching up to put her arms around her mother’s neck, she said,
“Mamma, I am determined never to tell you another wrong story as long as I live.”
Only a Single Lesson, after all.
Now it is not at all probable that if the case had ended here, Louisa would have kept her promise. This was one good lesson, it is true, but it was only one. And the lesson was given by a method so gentle, that no nervous, cerebral, or mental function was in any degree irritated or morbidly excited by it. Moreover, no one who knows any thing of the workings of the infantile mind can doubt that the impulse in the right direction given by this conversation was not only better in character, but was greater in amount, than could have been effected by either of the other methods of management previously described.
How Gentle Measures operate.
By the gentle measures, then, which are to be here discussed and recommended, are meant such as do not react in a violent and irritating manner, in any way, upon the extremely delicate, and almost embryonic condition of the cerebral and nervous organization, in which the gradual development of the mental and moral faculties are so intimately involved. They do not imply any, the least, relaxation of the force of parental authority, or any lowering whatever of the standards of moral obligation, but are, on the contrary, the most effectual, the surest and the safest way of establishing the one and of enforcing the other.
THERE MUST BE AUTHORITY.
The first duty which devolves upon the mother in the training of her child is the establishment of her authority over him—that is, the forming in him the habit of immediate, implicit, and unquestioning obedience to all her commands. And the first step to be taken, or, rather, perhaps the first essential condition required for the performance of this duty, is the fixing of the conviction in her own mind that it is a duty.
Unfortunately, however, there are not only vast numbers of mothers who do not in any degree perform this duty, but a large proportion of them have not even a theoretical idea of the obligation of it.
“I wish my child to be governed by reason and reflection,” says one. “I wish him to see the necessity and propriety of what I require of him, so that he may render a ready and willing compliance with my wishes, instead of being obliged blindly to submit to arbitrary and despotic power.”