Definition.—Each of us is a member of some family. We were born into the family circle, and our parents first taught us to obey. By insisting upon obedience, parents govern their children, and thus keep them from evil and from danger. The family, then, is a form of government, established for the good of the children themselves, and the first government that each of us must obey.
Purposes.—The family exists for the rearing and training of children, and for the happiness and prosperity of parents. All children need the comforts and restraints of home life. They are growing up to be citizens and rulers of the country, and should learn to rule by first learning to obey. The lessons of home prepare them for life and for citizenship.
The members of the family are the father, the mother, and the children; and the family government exists for all, especially for the children, that they may be protected, guided, and taught to become useful men and women. The welfare of each and of all depends upon the family government, upon the care of the parents and the obedience of the children.
Rights.—The members have certain rights; that is, certain just claims upon the family. Each has a right to all the care and protection that the family can give: a right to be kindly treated; a right to be spoken to in a polite manner; a right to food, clothing, shelter, and an opportunity to acquire an education; a right to the advice and warning of the older members; a right to the respect of all.
Duties.—As each of the members has his rights, each also has his duties; for where a right exists, a duty always exists with it. It is the duty of each to treat the others kindly; to teach them what is right and what is wrong; to aid them in their work; to comfort them in their sorrows; and to rejoice with them in their gladness. It is the duty of the children to love their parents; to obey them in all things; to respect older persons; and to abstain from bad habits and bad language.
The officers of the family government are the father and the mother. They were made officers when they were married, so that the rulers of the family are also members of the family. The office of a parent is a holy office, and requires wisdom for the proper discharge of its duties.
Powers.—The parents have power to make rules, to decide when these have been broken, and to insist that they shall be obeyed. They make the law of the family, enforce the law, and explain the law. They have supreme control over their children in all the usual affairs of life, until the children arrive at the legal age—twenty-one years.